What makes humans inventive?


The Origins of Creativity. By Edward Wilson. Liveright; 198 pages; $24.95. Allen Lane; £20.

The Runaway Species. By Anthony Brandt and David Eagleman. Catapult; 287 pages; $28. Canongate; £20.

DOES science spoil beauty? John Keats, an English Romantic poet, thought so. When Sir Isaac Newton separated white light into its prismatic colours, the effect, Keats wrote, was to “unweave a rainbow”. By explaining how rainbows occurred, the mystery and the lustre were lost. The idea that science and the arts are distinct, incompatible cultures is an enduring one. Two new books seem to cut to the heart of the matter: human creativity.

Edward Wilson, 88 and the author of “The Origins of Creativity”, is the grand old man of Harvard biology. His speciality is myrmecology—the study of ants. For a short book, “The Origins of Creativity” is brimming with ideas, many of which wander, as Mr Wilson’s writing often does, beyond the…Continue reading

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