The Game of Possibilities
As humans, we are the product of natural selection as summarized by the French Winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, François Jacob, a mixture of chance and competition. We are also the result of a very long history.
In the process of natural selection, time is an essential component. Mother Nature must have plenty of time to get her way. Nature is more patient than we are. We are complex objects consisting of a very large number of components. As complex objects, the evolutionary process of structuring of living beings is subject to two rules: (1) at each level of component organization, constraints determine the rules and define what is possible and what is not; (2) the circumstances establish the course of events and interactions between systems. In this set of possibilities, says François Jacob, "with increasing complexity grows the influence of history." Given the complexity of living systems, history plays a very important role in biology.
Two questions arise looking at a biological system: (1) How it works? (2) What is the story? In the evolution of species, we are struck by the fact that nature proceeds as a handyman. It has a lot of time and seems to take the opportunity to explore exhaustively all possible options. It does not seek perfection at all costs. Nature uses everything that comes to hand. Everything depends on the circumstances. By continuously experiencing, the biological system will eventually produce amazing results. In short, Nature is a tinkerer!
The creative process of a handyman is similar to the process of Nature. "From an old car wheel, he made a fan; a broken table, a parasol," says François Jacob. If you give tinkerers time, they will produce great things. A tinkerer will also discard many of his creations (like, for example, the extinction of species). The handyman is also a great collector.
Nature does not throw out much. Our brain is a good example of this. To produce the brain of Homo sapiens, it has not overhauled all parts. Nature showed tinkering by juxtaposing the neocortex of the brain of primitive mammals. The neocortex controls the intellectual and cognitive activity. The oldest, coming from rhinencephalon, governs visceral and emotional activities. The neocortex has evolved at an amazing speed. And it is not over yet!
NOW YOU PLAY!
Do you practice tinkering? Creative people usually do. Try it and let me know how your thougths. Explore many possibilities to fix something that you would like to fix. Once done, choose the idea you would like to transform in the best solution. Let me know the result!
Download our interactive tool to help your next tinkering session. Put an alarm. A short deadline. And go, write as many ideas you can!
SOURCE: Jacob, François. Le Jeu des possibles. Fayard. 1981.