Please see below selected recent ideas-related change.
- Asking what sorts of thought are most important in a world emerging from a pandemic, Prospect presented the world’s top 50 thinkers for this moment. Its criteria were not only originality and eminence within a field, but the singular pursuit of an identifiable idea and an ability to gain traction for it. They also insisted on some form of “intervention” - be it a book, speech or a public stand - over the past 12 months.
- The concepts of knowledge, truth or justice appear to have been important enough to emerge across different cultures and endure over the ages. But why did we ever come to think in these unpractical terms? Matthieu Queloz, a member of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Oxford, argued that to understand how our loftiest abstractions earn their keep, we need to trace them to their practical origins. “There are two fundamental difficulties in answering these questions. One is that, just because the concepts of knowledge, truth or justice are as old and ubiquitous as they are, there’s no particular moment in the historical record to which we could turn to find out why they were originally introduced. Wherever we look, people always had these concepts already.”
- Ideologies take time to develop and are vital to individuals and society alike. Despite the adverse reaction that many have towards the very idea of ideology, it may an unavoidable aspect of the world. The dramatic rise in the power and prevalence of technology over the past three decades has challenged ideologies and the very nature of how society operates. In a far-reaching article, author Nicolas Villarreal argued that we need “new epistemologies”, capable of encompassing the old, but more appropriate for our present condition.
- Harvard Business Review noted that prior research has shown that people’s first ideas are rarely their most creative. Coming up with just one breakthrough idea typically requires a lengthy brainstorming process, in which you generate and iterate on a large pool of potential options before finally reaching your most creative idea. Despite this reality, however, most people consistently underestimate the value of persistence in the creative process.
- Raconteur claimed that generating innovative ideas and turning them into real opportunities is challenging for businesses, especially big ones, and particularly now with dispersed workforces. A pandemic of Zoom and Teams has seen digital collaboration and employee engagement on a scale unheard of a year ago. It’s no surprise then that in a coronavirus-conscious world, idea management software is also booming.
- Will China’s rise as a global economic power be accompanied by a global shift in ideologies? Are Western ideas the path to progress and growth, or a hangover from colonial dominance? Is the global community rightly sceptical about China’s ideological superiority, or will Daoism and Confucianism become increasingly influential around the world? Oxford professor of China Studies Vivienne Shue, political philosopher Jamie Whyte and author of How The World Thinks Julian Baggini joined China Dialogue's Isabel Hilton at the Insititute of Ideas to consider China’s influence on the future of thought.
- The School of Life noted that many of the world’s finest thinkers have equated ideas with winged creatures. Plato compared the mind to a large cage in which a number of birds – or ideas – will be circulating. He added that we can only catch these birds when they are sitting on a perch, but that they spend much of their time agitatedly racing from one end of the cage to the other. Great ideas may pass through our minds and yet it is quite another matter – as Plato knew – to persuade them to land in them. For Vladimir Nabokov, ideas were like butterflies - and the talented thinker, like a skilful lepidopterist (which Nabokov also happened to be), must learn to lie patiently in wait until they can be coaxed into flying into the net of awareness.
- Thomas Aquinas was a man of deep faith, and provided a philosophical framework for the process of doubt and open scientific inquiry. For The School of Life, he reminds us that wisdom (that is, the ideas we need) can come from multiple sources. From intuition but also from rationality, from science but also from revelation, from pagans but also from monks: he’s sympathetic to all of these; he takes and uses whatever works, without caring where the ideas come from.
- Further reading:
- Still relevant is a BBC Radio 4 series covering the big questions such as How did everything begin? What makes us human?What is love? How can I know anything at all?
- An ideas carrier finds socially-innovative ideas and passing them on, meme/virus-like. Meanwhile, a growing number of physical and virtual ideas festivals can expose attendees to ideas from different sectors or intellectual spheres to their own (see, for example, this recent debate at the Institute of ideas).
- Biologist Matt Ridley argued that throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. This closely reflects Theodore Zeldin's desire to introduce ideas that have never met.
- Experimental psychologist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker examined the need for an easily accessible universe of ideas in order for one to draw on it for inspiration in a process of synthesising innovation.
- At the end of any year, can we look back on a good year for ideas? In other words, did humankind advance knowledge through scientific discoveries or other breakthroughs in thinking in those past 12 months?
- Scientists claimed to have found that when just 10% of a population holds an unshakeable belief, their belief will always eventually be adopted by the majority of the society.