Are Inventions Inevitable? A Note on Social Evolution

Are Inventions Inevitable? A Note on Social Evolution

In conclusion, it is thought that the evidence presented of independent duplicate origins of inventions brings out forcibly the importance of the cultural factor in the production of inventions. Such data challenge us to analyze the relation of mental ability and cultural preparation as factors in the origin of inventions. To say that one of these factors is more important than the other is to condense the conclusion to unwarranted brevity. It is more satisfactory to summarize briefly the way these two factors are related. Mental ability is a factor, since no inventions could be made without it. And the mental ability of inventors is above the average. But the distribution of inherent mental ability at any one time is such that there is great probability of considerable frequency of exceptional native ability. The manifest ability necessary to produce inventions may be rare because the native ability has not been trained or applied to the problems of inventions. On the other hand, a specific invention depends upon a certain cultural preparation, and could not be made without the existence of the constituent cultural elements that make the invention.

William F. Ogburn and Dorothy Thomas

Political Science Quarterly 37, no. 1 (1922): 83–98

March 1922

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By |2018-01-01T00:00:00-08:00January 1st, 2018|Efficiency/Growth, Intellectual Property, Reference|