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Koestler, Arthur - Janus - Creative thought



Type of Spiritual Experience


In this extract Koestler is describing how flawed a process learning is and thus how unreliable so called knowledge and memory is.

A description of the experience

Janus – Arthur Koestler

When life confronts us with a problem or a task, it will be dealt with according to the same set of rules which enabled us to deal with similar situations in our past experience.. but when the difficulty or novelty of the task exceeds a critical limit, these routines are no longer adequate to cope with it.

The world is on the move and new situations arise, posing questions and offering challenges which cannot be met within the conventional frame of reference, the established rule books…

The challenge is often self imposed by the insatiable exploratory drive, which prompts the original mind to ask questions which nobody has asked before and to feel frustrated by dusty answers.. when the mind is at the end of its tether it can show itself capable of surprisingly original, quasi acrobatic feats, which lead to revolutionary breakthroughs ….. but every revolution has a destructive as well as constructive aspect.  The destruction is wrought by jettisoning previously sacrosanct doctrines and seemingly self evident axioms of thought cemented into our mental habits.

Creative originality always involves unlearning and relearning, undoing and re-doing.  It involves the breaking up of petrified mental structures; discarding ‘matrices’ which have outlived their usefulness and reassembling others in a new synthesis – in other words, it is a complex operation of disassociation and bisociation involving several levels of the mental hierarchy

The source of the experience

Koestler, Arthur

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Extreme emotion
Smoke inhalation


Suppressing memory