Re: Pasteur, Chance and the Prepared Mind

From: Ayton, Daniel (
Date: Fri May 24 1996 - 16:35:37 BST

3.2 Pasteur's observations that "Chance Favours the Prepared Mind."

The ideas of creativity have a numbers of forms one of which is that of
Pasteurs and his theory, Chance favours the prepared mind (Le hasard
favorse Iesprit prepare) this is a matter of some discussion and one
which I will consider. Firstly I feel that there is a need to say how
complex the issue of creativity is and the fact that even the
definition of creativity is not clean cut.

Pastuer looked at the experimental process and said, were the results
experimental discoveries (serendipitous) or are they really accidents.
He saw that there was a element of chance but also a element of
preparation. The paradox is that the mind would be more creative if it
was prepared thus had learned what was already known. For example the
cure for cancer will probably not come from someone who has not done
his home work, and rather someone that already knows the area. Although
they may come up with a totally new theory by chance but there is the
element of preparation. Intellectual creativity must have a element of
surprise as well as being new and valuable. There is a conflict with
Pesteur dictum because preparation can only train our expectations. How
can it lead to a surprising result. His dictum resolves this problem,
by saying that preparation does not guarantee creativity. There is also
the essential element of chance, however there needs to be prepared
conditions, preparation only maximises the probability.

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