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The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.

— Carl Jung

JACQUES HADAMARD (1905 — 1963):

Mathematician and Synthesizer


Hadamard was curious about how mathematicians invented new ideas. Based on a story of Poincaré (1854 — 1912) that his idea about Fuchsian functions came in a flash as he stepped on a bus, Hadamard devised a questionnaire sent to mathematicians of the day. From the answers, Hadamard came up with a sequence of stages in the development of creative insights:

  • Preparation: You have a problem you wish to address, you will work hard on it.

  • Incubation: The conscious effort stimulates unconscious mechanisms to continue the search.

  • Illumination: An epiphany, a satisfying idea emerging into the conscious, usually after a break from hard thinking.

  • Verification and “precising”: You continue consciously to make the idea precise, correct, and in words.

Hadamard’s book The Mathematician’s Mind is a classic exposition on creativity. His major emphasis was on conscious versus unconscious processing. In most of what he says, one can see McGilchrist’s emphasis on the independent yet simultaneous functions of the two hemispheres and the importance of deliberately attending to the messages from both; and one can see Panksepp’s and Solms’ discoveries that feelings underlie all thought.

Sudden illuminations: [I]t is possible, and of certainty it is only fruitful, if it is on the one hand preceded and on the other hand followed by a period of conscious work.

— Henri Poincaré

[W]ords … as they are written or spoken do not seem to play any role in my mechanisms of thought … The mechanisms of thought are certain signs and more or less clear images… It is clear that the desire to arrive finally at logically, correct concepts is the emotional base of the play with the above mentioned elements . . . visual and motor.

— Einstein’s personal answer to Hadamard

[The artist’s] sensibilities often intuit the hidden patterns of the human drama.

— Antonio Damasio


Art is exact information of how to rearrange one’s psyche in order to anticipate the next blow from one’s external faculties.

— Marshall McLuhan

The artist gives the beholder “more to do,” he draws him into the magical operation and allows him to experience something of the thrill of “making” which had once been the privilege of the artist.

— E. H. Gombright “Arts and Illusion”

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