Wilkins on combinatorial novelty

From: Scott Chase (osteopilus@yahoo.com)
Date: Fri 08 Apr 2005 - 03:14:51 GMT

  • Next message: Steve Wallis: "Re: Wilkins on combinatorial novelty"

    While attempting to read the book _Darwinism and Evolutionary Economics_ (2001. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited. Northampton, Massachusetts) I started reading the contribution by a guy named John Wilkins. I was slumbering after being lulled into a stupor by continuing reference to abstract economic terms in previous authors' contributions, with some momnents of brief excitement when Lamarckism and Steele's immunological theories came up. The author previous to Wilkins cites Milton Friedman and I perked up and said, hey that's a name I finally recognize. Anyway, Wilkins's essay is a breath of fresh air since there don't seem to be any airy economic terms and he usually knows what he's talking about (sigh of relief). This might be tangential to John's essay, but I couldn't help noticing his discussion of novelty generation and delineation between combinatorial and deep novelty citing someone named Margaret Boden. For combinatorial novelty John says: "Only the combinations are different- the 'building blocks' are potentially available at all times." He uses the analogy of always being dealt to from the same deck of cards. For deep novelty John says: "At its base, all evolution ultimately depends upon deep novelty, but mostly evolution proceeds through recombination of existing alternatives in different contexts." and
    "[d]eep novelty is rare." Based on the analogy to the cards he uses for deep novelty, I'm assuming this is kinda like genetic mutation. He can clarify I hope.

    Anyway, this makes me think of Jung's essay on cryptomnesia and what he says about material or elements remaining the same and only the combinations being responsible for generation of novelty. In
    "Cryptomnesia" (CW1, Psychiatric Studies, para 178) Jung said: "I said earlier that only the combinations are new, not the material, which hardly alters at all, or only very slowly and almost imperceptibly." This slow and imperceptible alteration sounds like the deep novelty John talks about. It's amazing how Carl Gustav's comments dovetail with John's. I'm sure he's more than thrilled that I'm using my memory to recombine him with Jung :-) But in some ways the guy was before his time, though we all know he had his quirks (Jung not John). Nothing new here. Just rehashing old stuff. Carry on...

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