I’ve been following the work of David Eagleman for some time, partly because of the content and partly because this guy combines curiosity, creativity and the scientific method so enthusiastically. A neuroscientist who tackles everything from how to avert the collapse of civilization, law, time, the afterlife and now getting “under the hood of conscious awareness,” Eagleman digs into how our brains really affect our behaviors, our decisions and our experience of the world. He’s entertaining and fearless, but what I like most about him is he is always willing to reveal his ongoing discomfort with not knowing and be an advocate of the philosophy of uncertainty.
Robert Jensen’s terrific interview with Eagleman, “The Struggle for the (Possible) Soul of David Eagleman” illustrates Eagleman’s struggle “… between the confidence-bordering-on-hubris of a neuroscientist and the humility-that-produces-doubt of a writer who knows he’s chewing on questions that won’t be solved in this or any other age,” and reminds me why maintaining humility and a “not-knowing”or “beginner’s” mind is so essential to creativity AND the scientific process. Buddhist teacher Gil Fronsdal describes “not-knowing” this way:
“Not-knowing means not being limited by what we know, holding what we know lightly so that we are ready for it to be different. Maybe things are this way. But maybe they are not.”
“An expert may know a subject deeply, yet be blinded to new possibilities by his or her preconceived ideas. In contrast, a beginner may see with fresh, unbiased eyes. The practice of beginner’s mind is to cultivate an ability to meet life without preconceived ideas, interpretations, or judgments.”
Do you ascribe to the philosophy of uncertainty and a not-knowing mind when you create?