Friday, October 28, 2011

On Great Minds

"You made connections in your mind. You asked questions."
"They were foolish questions."
"Questions that no expert would have ever asked. Yet they were exactly the questions that led Qing-jao to her most important conceptual breakthroughs."

-Jane and Wang-mu, Xenocide by Orson Scott Card

"Wonderful thing, the mind of a child is, hmm?"

I've heard it suggested that Albert Einstein was largely so successful in his endeavors because he refused to limit himself by what he was taught was true and instead tried to follow his own internal logic, the logic of a child. All the effort to reach astounding conclusions that the "great minds" coud not conceive of because they were too trapped in the notions of what they believe to be fixed and true. (I've also heard it said that scientists are in the process of proving Einstein wrong, especially along the lines of neutrino-studies, but that's entirely beside the point.)

Too often I hear people suggesting that "great minds think alike," when this really couldn't be much more false. Great minds, in a way, do think similarly, in the sense that they try to reach outside the bounds of what is accepted to be possible, but false in that they all think outside these bounds in different ways (else they would be limited to coming up with similar conclusions). In truth, great minds think differently, and the mind of a child is no different.