Excerpt from "Creative Collaboration"
I’m reading a really interesting book on the nature of the creative process in the context of collaboration. The author, Vera John-Steiner examines the relationship between literary, musical, and philosophical co-collaboraters. The opening passage in particular sums up the emerging role of collaboration in our society.
We have come to a new understanding of the life of the mind. The notion of the solitary thinker still appeals to those molded in the Western belief in individualism. however, a careful scrutiny of how knowledge is constructed and artistic forms are shaped reveals a different reality. Generative ideas emerge from joint thinking, from significant conversations, and from sustained, shared struggles to achieve new insights by partners in thought.
In this book, I address intellectual and artistic collaboration-the interdependence of thinkers in the co-construction of knowledge-among partners and in small groups. This exploration is sustained by a growing community of scholars who view learning and thinking as social processes. This large “thought community” of interactive scholars committed to transformation has a diverse membership; it includes social scientists, philosophers, literary critics, educators, organization theorists, and media specialists. We share a recognition that in our changing world, traditional concepts are overturned at an increasing rate, habitual modes of work are transformed, and new organizational forms are established in offices and factories. These changes are usually painful for the participants, who often cannot make these adjustments by themselves. We live in a period of “necessary interdependence,” wrote educator Kenneth Bruffee. It is through joint activities and partnerships that we confront our shifting realities and search for new solutions. This historical and technological context promotes collaboration in science, artistic endeavors, universities, industrial settings, and schools.
She also mentions the role Piaget played in the 1950s during the “cognitive revolution”, and how his teachings were interpreted into claims about responsibility and individuality…
And so, perhaps paradoxically, the theory that asserted the universality of mind and its development among all peoples in all societies, also gave voice to the distinctively twentieth-century belief that individuals are responsible for themselves and have the right to become whatever kind of person they choose to be.
The stories on the individuals described in the story, from Watson and Crick to Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, are especially interesting.