Jane Jacobs: The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Introduction and connection to education

Parallels between designing a city and a learning environment: cities are learning environments.

The problem in education, as well as in city planning is more complex than what is commonly understood by decision makers in both areas. In order to properly plan to permit diversity and wealth to emerge, the needs of the people in the environment need to be understood. General principles can be learned by observing different cities and by finding relevant lessons out of their own special cases.

The problem that cities pose is that of handling organized complexity (pg. 14).

Some examples of bad city planning theories and theorists:
-Howard: Garden City: “He conceived of good planning as a series of static acts, in each case the plan must anticipate all that is needed d be protected, after it is built, against any but the most minor subsequent changes. He conceived of planning also as essentiall paternalistic, if not authoritarian.” pg. 19
-Le Corbusier: Decentrist: Lonely and quiet life. Robinson Crusoe style. No diversity. Lots of control.
-Daniel Burnham: City Beautiful: “Sorting out certain cultural or public functions and decontaminating their relationship with the workaday city… bringing order by repression of all plans but the planner’s” pg. 15

Chapter 2: The uses of sidewalks: safety

When city streets are safe from barbarism and fear, the entire city is safe from barbarism and fear.
Cities are by definition full of strangers.
People must feel safe and secure among strangers.

Recursive problem: The less people use the streets, the more unsafe these become.
It doesn’t take many incidents of violence to get people out of the streets. (PG. 30)

How is safety and public peace kept in the side walks -and therefore- in a city?
It isn’t kept by the police.
“It is kept primarily by an intricate unconscious, network of voluntary controls and standards among the people themselves, and enforced by the people themselves.” pg. 32
“A well-used city street is apt to be a safe street.” pg. 34

Places smaller than city streets keep safety by: “reputation, gossip, approval, disapproval and sanctions”, this works well when everyone knows each other.

3 qualities city streets need to be equipped with to handle strangers:
1. Clear demarcation of what is public and what is private space
2. There must be eyes upon the streets, the eyes of the proprietors.
3. Sidewalks must continually have people using them (supports 1 and 2).
-Give people reasons to use the streets.
-Give people reasons to crisscross paths.
-Store keepers and small business owners fix their surroundings to attract more people.
-Errands, food and drink make people walk from one place to another. Commerce attracts people.
-These people attract other people by the rule of: “the site of people attracts still other people (pg.37)”

*Turf system: A gang appropriates a certain are (parks, housing, streets) and other people that are not a part of the turf are not allowed to get in.

Pg. 46
How to live in places that are insecure?
1. Let the danger hold sway and let unfortunate people pay the consequences
2. Take refuge in vehicles. Never walk down the streets
3. Turf: Gangs owning certain spaces that other gangs cannot enter.

Chapter 3: The uses of sidewalks: contact

People hanging around at corners, bars, candy stores, etc: “The point of both the testimonial banquet and the social life of city sidewalks is precisely that they are public. They bring together people who do not know each other in an intimate, private social fashion and in most cases do not care to know each other in that fashion.” pg. 55

People caring for other people: feeling of public identity, public respect and trust. pg. 56

Privacy is precious and indispensable in cities: You decide what to share and with whom to share it.

SubmitPublic life and figures
SubmitInteraction in public spaces
Submitx – Togetherness or nothing

Authentically togetherness vs. planned togetherness. The first one is a spontaneous happening among people pursuing their individual interests, while the latter is about planning and forcing something to happen. Such forceful act, kills togetherness.

Chapter 4: The uses of sidewalks: Assimilating children

Many people hold the wrong belief that children playing in the streets is something dangerous that shou be replaced by children playing in playgrounds.

Children enjoy walking down the streets and the same rules of safety that apply to adults, apply to children too. Just that children are more vulnerable to danger than adults. That said, often when children go to playgrounds, they move from the streets where lots of people watch them and walk (the public eye), into playgrounds where fewer people go and where darker, lonelier and hiding spaces are more common. pg. 77

Having children walk and play out in the street is beneficiary to them not only for safety reasons. “they need an uspecialized outdoor home base from which to play, to hang around in, and to help form their notions of the world.” pg. 81
Modeling: Only people rear children and assimilate them into civilized society.
It is by being in the streets that children learn the fundamentals of successful city life: “People must take a modicrum of public responsibility for each other even if they have no ties to each other. This is a lesson nobody learns by being told. It is learned from the experience fo having other people without ties of kinship or close friendship or formal responsibility to you take a modicum of responsibility for you.” In other words, by having strangers care for you, you learn to care for other strangers too. pg. 82
People learn how to live in society, by living in a society; by being a part of it, by taking part of it, by actively engaging in it.
Children are always more interested in real life stuff than in game play, an this is no exception to such rule. Children of all times are drawn and keep on being drawn into the streets.
Rachel in the dialogue: Real life vs. contrived acts and experiences.

Places that have a mixture of uses, public contact and cross-use of people, is desired if one aims for public safety.

Part II:
Chapter 7: The Generators of Diversity

To learn about the behavior and values of people, it is necessary to look at the relationships between groups of people or between one person and another person. Just by looking and separating one aspect of it, just by looking at people in isolation from other people, very little can be learned about behavior and values. That is, we will have little to no understanding of the phenomena that we were trying to observe and to learn from in the first place.

Chapter 11: The need for concentration

comment: To me, it makes perfect sense that a naturally developed/growth city will have variety in every sense. Why? Because it has naturally and in a process over the time, has been developed by individuals trying to satiety their needs and by entrepreneurs willing to satisfy the real need of others.

It seems a good ratio, to have most of the land in a neighborhood already build when people start to populate it. Why? Because if there are lots of land available for construction, the most probable thing to happen is that people will be building lots of similar tall apartments; whereas in the first case, people will have to adjust already existing buildings and maybe build one or two tall apartments.

Why is diversity something valuable?
Is diversity necessary, is it indispensable?


Montessori Primary level language training

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  • Montessorians do not teach language; Montessorians give opportunities to learn it.
  • Language is one of the human tendencies.
  • The absorbent mind: The brain acquires language subconsciously
  • Language can only be learned in a significant and contextual setting. Language exchange has to be meaningful in order for someone to acquire it. That’s one of the reasons why language is not acquired through watching T.V.
  • The sounds of baby babbling between 3 to 7 months of age are universal. Every single baby around the world makes the same babbling noises at this age. After 7 months, the babbling noises become specialized or shaped by the region where the baby lives.
  • Children point to things because they want to hear the names of all of these things.
  • 18 months – 2 ½ years: Children learn 10 words per day. At this stage, their parents and teachers should be talking to them as much as they can, even if the child doesn’t answer, he will answer in the future with the words that you taught them.

Reading before writing:

In Montessori, children learn how to write before they learn how to read. Why should children learn to write first? Reading requires interpretation, while writing is just about what’s on one’s mind, without the complexity of reading and absorbing what inside of someone else’s mind. About 6 months after a child has learned to write, they acquire reading.

Question: What should I do when a child says something to me and I can’t understand him/her? Most of the times, children just want to express themselves. The most important thing is for them to feel valued and appreciated. Nod respectfully and if you can catch a word that they say cling on to that to ask them a question that will invite them to keep on expressing themselves.


Wording to invite a child for a lesson:

Maria, are you available now? I would like to give you a lesson on _____.

Would you like me to give you a lesson?

May I give you a lesson on _____?


Role of the teacher:

  • Source of language
  • Observer: Unlike most of the Montessori materials, the language materials have fewer control of error. Still, the children should not perceive the teacher as the source of their control of error.* The teacher does not correct spelling.  
  • The teacher does not correct; but models, shows and uses language in a correct way.


4 precepts or conditions to learn oral language:

  1. Self-confidence: The Montessori tradition of getting down to a child level to have a conversation with them fosters self-confidence in a child because it shows them that who they are and what they say is valuable.
  2. Constant exposition them to enriching experiences: Telling them a story, showing them art, or bringing in to class interesting objects from nature.
  3. Constant exposition to an enriching vocabulary: instead of speaking to children in easy language, expose them to new words and explain them to the child.
  4. Providing constant opportunities for expression: As long as the limits are clear, e.g. A child can communicate with other but can’t distract or interrupt the concentration of others. “I just want to remind you that we are talking in a soft voice tone, other people are concentrated working.”


Before learning how to write, students need to have a broad vocabulary and to have certain knowledge on orientation: they need to be able to distinguish and name different objects.


Materials that foster orientation and vocabulary:

  • A variety of little objects
  • A variety of laminated pictures of animals, nature, countries, humans, etc.

“Do you know how this animal is called?” “Do you know what the name of this is?”

“Do you recognized this?” “Do you know what this is?” “What do you know about it?”

“This is an x” Give them tons of info about x. “What colors do you see on this picture?” “What characteristics do you see on this animal?”


Lesson where a child is presented with animal cards:

The teacher presents each one of the cards to the child, asks questions about what the child knows or notices in the pictures and then gives the child more information. The cards with the animals that were new to the child were placed on the table, on a different pile. After she presented all of the cards inside that envelope, the teacher made a 3rd period lesson. She repeats the name of each animal twice and then asks the child more of a certain card or to put it somewhere else. The teacher can also give a description of the characteristics of the animal that she had previously discussed with the child for the child to figure out which animal she is talking about and then pointing to the respective card. Give them the hard clues first and end with the most obvious ones. E.g. -“I’m thinking about an animal, I will give you a description of it and you guess which animal I’m thinking about. I am thinking about a super fast animal, this animal eats meat, this animal has spots.” -”Cheetah!”


General principles Montessori teachers practice:

  • Voice tone is always super low and calm: while calling the kids, while having a conversation with them, while giving them a lesson.
  • The first child is always a model of behaviour. The most prepared or experienced student always goes first to set up a tone of seriousness and high standards: When a teacher asks the students to do something or when all of the students are presenting something, the teacher picks the most experienced and prepared students to start off.
  • Do as little activities as possible with the entire group of students, break them into small groups to keep the engagement of the children.
  • In your environment, set up a reading area:
    • Rotate books every 2 weeks, if you are exploring with the class a specific topic, display the themed books that you have on the topic. E.g. If you are exploring the life cycle of a butterfly, have all of your butterfly books on display.
    • Display 6-7 books at a time.
  • Make sure you give orientation to a child before he gives an exposition to the rest of the class. Before a child shares or shows something to the group, practice with him/her 1-1.
  • No cartoons are displayed in the classroom. Montessori is based on giving and showing the children reality. A picture is already an abstraction, a cartoon is an abstraction of that abstraction. A cartoon symbolized the symbol of a symbol. Peppa pig is an abstraction of a real pig or of a picture of a pig.
  • If a child is not using the material appropriately: “we don’t use the material that way, I’m gonna ask you to put the material away.”


Orientation games and opportunities for expression:

  • Give an oral command and if possible have follow up conversations:
    • Can you touch the tissue box?
    • Place your hand on the trash can.
    • Can you find a brush in the environment? -Compare different brushes in the environment, talk about their differences and similarities and about their uses.  
    • Have them express what they see.
    • Have them compare and contrast things.
  • Show them objects and have conversations about them.
    • Name the parts of the objects
    • Ask children what each part does
    • Allow the children to express themselves
    • E.g. show them a chair and name its parts.
  • Share what they did on the weekend:
    • Ask: who? what? where?
      • Try not asking when? or why? because time is too abstract for younger children to grasp.
  • Bringing objects to school:
  • Share information about yourselves (both students and teacher)
  • Oral art
    • Storytelling, books, poems (nature poems: Robert Frost), songs.


Reading to a group of children:

  • Try to have 3 children maximum.
  • Model reading: read it on your lap and not showing it up in the way that most traditional teacher do. Model for them how you actually read a book.
  • Don’t ask questions about the book. The teacher does not want to become the control of error.



Writing is the translation of words into symbols. Before doing any of this, a child should be very strong in oral language. In Montessori, writing is always thought on the child’s first language because sound recognition can only be done when one is very familiar with the sounds of the language.


Pre-requisites to writing:

Manual-motor prep:

  • Indirect preparations for writing in the Montessori environment include: practical life and sensorial which specifically develops control of movement, lightness of touch and grabing (pincers).
  • Direct preparation: Metal insets, white board, moveable alphabet, and Sandpaper letters.

Mental preparation:

  • Logical thinking: this is natural process that can be supported through indirect prep:
    • Let children solve problems by themselves: If there is a constant issue with something, the teacher can draw attention to some things, e.g. Showing a child who always struggles with zipping her sweater the parts parts of the zipper and the way to buckle one.
  • In Montessori, all of the material is presented in a structured and organized manner. The material is arranged in a logical sequenced and is always organized in the classroom.


Sound box (box with small objects inside):

Pick 3 objects whose names have sound contrast out of the sound box.

Objective: develop identification and differentiation of sounds before exposing them to letters.

In this order, present the following:

  • Initial sounds:
    • Name the objects pronouncing with great emphasis the initial letter sound.
      • “Turtle, ttttttt urtle, TTTTTTTTTT urtle, ttttttt urtle.
  • Last sounds:
    • Name the objects pronouncing with great emphasis the last sounds.
      • Do ggggggg, Dog ends with a gggggg sound, ggg, ggg, ggg, dogggg.
  • Middle sounds


2nd period lessons for the sound box:

“I spy with my little eye, an object that ends with a ggggg sound”


3rd period lessons:

“Do you remember our “a” sound, give me words that have the “a” sound.”



  • There is no independent work with the sound games. They can work with other kids as one of them models to the rest. It is mostly worked through individual lessons with the teacher.
  • The teacher needs to put a lot of emphasis on her mouth movements.
  • Break the sounds to their simplest forms. it’s not “pu”, it’s p,p,p,p.
  • It’s okay if a child echoes the sounds, but the purpose of this lesson is not echoing but rather sound identification.


Sand paper letters presentation:

Choose 2-3 visually and sound contrasting letters. Present vowels and other frequently used letters first.

Make sure that children are already familiar with identifying the sounds of the letters you are going to present.

“Do you remember the “a” sound? Think of words that have the “a” sound”

“Do you want to see how ‘a” looks like?”

Show the child the sandpaper letter: Outline it with two finders (index and middle fingers then make the phonetic sound of the letter.

Ask the child if he/she would like to try.

2nd period lesson:

“Trace the MMMMMM”, “move the aaa”, point with your finger to a spot in the table while you pronounce a letter.

Further work with the sandpaper letters:

Get a rug out, pick about 3 sandpaper letters and then find cards with pictures and objects and then classify their initial sounds underneath their respective sandpaper letters.

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Moveable alphabet:

Grab the letters that the child already knows from the sandpaper letters. Make the sounds of them and put them back on their place.


Metal insets:

Objective: practice grabbing a pencil and free hand movement. It is not about tracing but about the shapes and forms that children print on their papers.

*This and the moveable alphabet can be done at the same time.


Whiteboard presentation/ Sandbox:

After having had a lesson on the sandpaper letters, a child can then practice his handwriting on a whiteboard. After the child freely practices to write letters on the whiteboard, the teacher can use tape to ask the child to try to write the letter on a more restricted space. This is preparation for writing straight and on lined paper. Children can also write different letters on a sand box.


Writing on paper: Always have the following available: strips of plain white paper, strips of paper with one line, strips of paper with two lines, lined paper.

1st. Write on a strip of paper

2nd. Write on a strip of paper with only one line (“now try to write on one line”)

3rd. Write on a stripe of paper with two lines.

4th. Write on an entire piece of lined paper (not only a stripe, but an entire paper).

More on Writing: Give children opportunities for writing. Children can have a journal with observations of their science experiments. Adults should give the child rich experiences and then ask them to write about them: “Would you iike to write about your trip to the zoo?” “Would you like to write about the shape of your last drawing?”

Reading normally starts 6 months after a child has been working on the moveable alphabet. Teachers should check with the students every 3 weeks because sometimes children can read before the 6 months.

Montessori has the concept of a “whole reader”, a child who not only reads but also comprehends what he reads.


Phonetical commands

Phonogram box


Phonetic box:
Small box with a pouch with written words and 5-6 objects.

*The teacher’s writing tray is needed.

Get the objects out, grab each object and ask the child to name it and then put the object on the side of the rug or table. Tell the child: “I’m thinking about a word, I’ll write it and you tell me which object it is” The teacher uses the utensils on the writing tray to write the word on a piece of paper. After she is finished, she cuts the paper from the paper stripe and then matches it with each object.

Invite the child to use the material on his own, the pouches contains the written names of the objects for him to match. Let the child know that you will be changing the object and pouches every once in a while.


Single phonetic box:

The teacher writes down commands using the materials on her writing box.

E.g. Jump, get a mat, sing a song.

Show the the box with written commands for further independent work.


Phonetic box phonograms:

Introduce objects

Write down their names

Leave the phonograms (1-2 objects) for last: “This is called a phonogram” (phonogram: two letters together make a different sound).

The same day or a day after take the child to the moveable alphabet to practice phonograms.


Phonogram cards:

Get a group of 2-3 students, give each a set of phonogram cards, pick one yourself and share with them your phonogram and the example words you found on your cards. Ask if everyone knows the meaning of the words. Make sentences with each one of the words, ask the rest of the children to go around sharing one word and sentence at a time, and keep on going until no one has words left.

When children make sentences such as: “I have a __”, “I like ______”, ask: “What do you like about ___”, “How does ____ look like?” Make sure that everyone understand what a word means.


Printing resources:

Montessori print shop

Observations and feedback – School visit

Learning Environment: Private preschool: Liceo Montessori Santa Lucia

Location: Santa Lucia Cotz, Escuintla, Guatemala

Date: August 21, 2015

Time: 7:00 AM – 12:30 PM


Things they could improve:

  • Do a bit of research on the planes of development and on the different needs of people according to their planes of development.
    • Implement mixed aged classrooms.
    • Importance of manual work and repetition for concentration.
    • Practical life and sensorial materials.
    • Order and orientation: It is very important in the first plane of development to have a fixed routine that offers safety to the children as it gives children the opportunity to know what to expect and where to expect it.
  • Praise:
    • Replace praise for verbal acknowledgments (as in feedback) of what the teacher sees and let children make their own judgments about what is good and beautiful and about what isn´t.
  • Physical Environment:
    • Childproof: the place where children learn needs to be safe.
    • Delimited space: Have specific rooms or places where children work. This way everyone can see each other working, which is encouraging for children and teachers. Children can also learn by watching other kids work. The teachers can be more aware of the student’s needs if they are all in the a space where they can see all of them.
    • You could use the wooden book shelves that you have in your rooms to display your work materials.  

You can´t help a child if you don´t know what his/her needs are.


Guatemala – A poor vision of what children are capable of doing

I visited a rural public school in the coast of Guatemala. I was greeted by a teacher who told me she was sorry I came in today because Tuesday is the day when she is in charge of the food shop (along with other teachers) to celebrate Children´s Day which was almost 2 months away from the day I visited.

Children were doing inadequate work for their plane of development, they were still treated as very young children. The activity was not engaging for most of the classroom, except for the manual work. This meant that the teacher had to control and boss the students around so that they would work. This was supposed to be an art project, but the teacher dictaded how each child should use their materials in order to form a specific animal. This left very little room for creativity.  

Many adults have the idea that children are only happy and can only have fun when they are playing soccer or outdoors on a playground. Actually, both children and adults benefit from doing meaningful work that is challenging enough for them to keep them engaged and concentrated for long periods of time (Flow). Doing meaningful work builds up a real sense of self esteem as by working more one improves and expands the limits to our actions, one knows what one is capable and what one is worth because by constant work we prove ourselves that we are capable of doing and achieving things. We only know we have the capacity to do something because we have done it before (Nathaniel Branden).

The problem that Guatemala faces is a very complex problem that has no quick fix, it is a cultural problem. To my eyes, the issue is rooted in the culture, that is, in people’s values and theories of themselves, others and the world where we live in.

However, I am positive about changes occurring. We´ve all seen older cultures move from violence and power into more peaceful ways of living (Pinker). People used to live in fortes, and now people can peacuefuly walk down the streets without fear of being attacked.

There is hope because human beings are learners. Whatever it is that we do now we acquired -learned- from our culture and surroundings. No matter how difficult, human beings can also unlearn and change old ways of thinking for new ones. We can make connections, analyze, and most importantly we can choose. Once we are exposed to a different view of the world, to different paradigms and ideas, we can choose to little by little reflect on and then change how we see the world and therefore how we act.
I certainly do this to a small scale in my daily interactions with people, but how can I escale this up? How can I share this with the world? How can I give people the opportunity to experience transformative education? How can I show them that there is an alternative?


Awesome Day!

I feel extremely happy to be at the MPC and I feel especially grateful for days like today. The lessons I learned today and the feelings I had:

  1. What is wealth? Wealth is value that we gain by giving people something that they like/need/enjoy.
  2. What wealth is not: Contrary to what many think, wealth is not making or having money. Creating value is what makes economies robust because even if many countries print out money to have more medium of exchange (money), they still have the same amount of goods and services to offer, the later didn’t change and so prices are very likely to go up and the currency to inflate. Money is just a medium that people use to trade off and get the goods and services that others offer. What truly creates value and therefore wealth is human action, because people exchange whatever they can because they believe that doing so will permit them to be in a better state than in the one they used to be. We are the meaning and value makers.ImageImage
  3. Where does a drive to seek something better, to have a vision and to try very hard to achieve it come from? Passion, information, everyone is born with ethos (a god within), the system, framework and environment matter, liberty, doing what we love and do it often, taking risks, nature and nurture.
  4. If we are born with a god within, where does it go for most of the people? Maybe as Socrates would say, the ones who lost it or “forgot” it must recollect it throughout life. It is a shame that many people lose that enthusiasm and the drive to dream, learn and create. With my great project I want to help people get their ethos back so that they can become better and happier people who truly get to be themselves.
  5. How do we exercise entrepreneurship?
  6. Ideas on my Great project: recollect your ethos: moms, adolescents and adults; kids, don’t lose it!
  7. Steve Jobs ideas on value (maybe): people don’t know what they want until you show them.

Schedule of the day:

  • Morning meeting-sharing about our vacation
  • “To tell the truth” activity
  • Acton Institute: The call of entrepreneurship
  • Dialogue on the video- what is wealth? What is entrepreneurship?
  • Lunch
  • Persepolis the Movie
  • Dialogue on Persepolis: I loved the movie and I cried a lot because I don’t want my grandma to die and because it hurts that people can so easily destroy each other and the things that we as humans have built and created together.

Other Ideas on my Great Project

Chapter 11 of “Act of Creation” by Koestler really made me question myself and think about the importance of education. Here are some ideas that came to my mind during our dialogue:

  • We inherit ideas, this process starts with parenthood.
  • We should not teach but rather, ask the right questions so that the kids and truly anyone can “recreate”, aka, think again (Mises, Human Action pg. 177-178). By doing so, people start to get used to questioning and to not accepting everything as given and truths. It makes people more logical, rational and gives them a firm base in which they can stand.
  • Confront the student with the problem, not the solution. This way they will get that feeling of awe and wonderment that the very same discoverer, author, genius or creator had after finding out the solution to the problem.
  • Setting right environments: the space is as important as the questions.
  • Give the child its place, make him or her feel important. But not only “imagine” this, you really have got to believe in this.
  • Having ethos (being enthusiastic, having a god within) so that the kids learn this from your example. This leads to the question: is enthusiastic inherent? Or do we need someone to impulse our “little god”?
  • Give them freedom and space to explore.
  • Nature and Nurture: both of them play their role.
  • Learning to be ourselves- self discovery
  • Give them “the invitation”: Why does it make sense to accept this invitation?
  • Remember that we are all different.
  • Be happy to share and expand this happiness to your kids and the people that surround you.

¿Qué es Arte?

El arte es mucho más complejo y hermoso de lo que a primera vista puede parecer. Arte es algo más allá de lo que vemos, está en la mente. Primero está dentro del artista, en su consciencia, que finalmente consigue sacar y compartir con el mundo sus ideas pasando sus pensamientos a sus manos, boca, dedos o cualquier parte del cuerpo que utilice para exteriorizar sus ideas. La mente está moldeada por el contexto social de la época con la historia, economía, ciencia, filosofía y cultura por lo que el arte es una expresión y combinación de todas estas ideas y valores. Además está el espectador que a través de sus sentidos y mente entiende, disfruta, cuestiona, sonríe, siente empatía o descontento cuando procesa lo que el artista ha creado. El arte, no está alienado de los sentidos ya que se percibe por ellos y se obtiene finalmente una reacción dentro de ellos mismos. El arte es algo complejo, es orden y desorden a la vez.

Hablemos primero del artista. Aunque hay corrientes marcadas compuestas por individuos, nunca debemos olvidar, como dice Mises que solo el individuo puede decidir y actuar. El colectivo y los nombres que se le dan al conjunto solamente se utilizan para referirnos con facilidad a distintas épocas y para tratar de clasificar lo que vemos. La mente del individuo está inspirada en muchas entes, incluyendo los grupos de los que ha formado parte desde niño, todo su contexto intelectual, cultural, filosofal, personalidad, gustos, etc. favorece de alguna manera u otra a su proceso de creación y es por esto que nuestras mentes son distintas, aquí es donde está el nicho de la creatividad, en la variedad y complejidad.  Sin embargo, muchas veces nos hacemos preguntas sobre la originalidad de ciertas formas artísticas. Nos preguntamos cómo Mark Twain se preguntó alguna vez: ¿Habrán ideas originales? ¿Habrá obras de arte originales? Estoy con Mises en la respuesta a esta pregunta: la naturaleza es algo dado para nosotros, las formas y la geometría que allí vemos es algo dado; lo que decidamos hacer con eso, como lo reorganizamos, lo trasformamos, lo unimos o separamos es una creación original del hombre. Para mí esto es arte. Entre las cosas dadas a la humanidad a parte de la naturaleza está nuestra lógica y raciocinio. Todo individuo tiene una mente que probablemente fue evolucionando poco a poco gracias a que era beneficiosa para el Homo Sapiens en su lucha por sobrevivir.  Nuestras mentes son entonces un instrumento, nuestras manos, pies, ojos, etc. también lo son y nos ayudan a interiorizar y exteriorizar ideas y conceptos.

Josep María Montaner habla de las formas en el arte, que es para él la esencia de las cosas. Montaner escribe en “Las Formas en el Siglo XX”  que un mecanismo es algo distinto de la forma, e.g. un mecanismo creativo es el proceso de creación del individuo, lo que está en la mente del artista, sus capacidades, etc. Mientras que el mundo formal es la obra misma. Me parece maravilloso que podamos reflejar lo que percibimos y pensamos por medio de un mecanismo creativo y crear algo que también tiene vida por sí mismo en los mundos formales. Esto es trascender de nuestros cuerpos, exteriorizar lo que sea que esté dentro de nuestros cerebros y compartirlo para siempre con el mundo entero. Podemos hacer tantas cosas, podemos crear y trasformar tantas formas. Desde la mímesis o mímica e imitación de lo que vemos hasta la abstracción y representación de la forma en su estado más puro de todo lo que nos rodea. Desde pensamientos hasta emociones, desde ideas brillantes hasta teorías de genios: expresar todas estas cosas, crear, es un arte. De acuerdo con Montaner no es tanto sobre la técnica, la función social o el lugar o época en la que el arte fue hecho. Va más allá de eso, va hacia la forma, la esencia, el contenido de las obras de arte. Detrás de cada corriente artística hay influencias y concepciones concretas del tiempo y del individuo o sujeto, de lo que está bien, de lo que está mal, de lo que nos gusta y de lo que cambiaríamos si pudiéramos. A pesar de todo esto, no debemos creer que es el esfuerzo lo que hace al arte, el esfuerzo es parte de, pero no es lo que hace que una obra sea más valiosa que otra. Lo que agrega valor es siempre la mente, desde el artista hasta el espectador que es él que ultimadamente valora las obras de arte. Al espectador probablemente le influencie lo que esta pieza trasmite, lo que significa para su época y para él mismo.

Encuentro un paralelo entre la República de la Ciencia de Michael Polanyi, la comunidad de científicos es en verdad una comunidad de artistas. Las personas dentro de ella se organizan y se juntan por su propia voluntad, siguiendo lo que les apasiona y lo que más les gusta hacer. Nadie podría organizar tal fenomenología por ser tan amplia y compleja. En el arte tenemos también innovación y de cierta manera regulación del espectador, lo que siente y lo que quiere ver en ciertas épocas. Algunos artistas se han atrevido a desafiar las reglas del momento y su arte ha sido recibida con gran asombro en su época o en épocas por venir. El arte no es algo estático, evoluciona de la misma manera en que nuestras mentes y cuerpos cambian. El arte suele ser representativo de la era, al ver el arte creado después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, uno nota como la gente está dolida, asustada, preocupada por la humanidad en general y años después viene la cultura pop y claramente se nota una diferencia en el espíritu y emociones de la gente, relajación y tranquilidad. El cambio se explica con el individuo que marca la tendencia y a diario define de distintas formas la belleza y el arte.

Entonces, ¿cómo apreciamos el arte?  E.H. Gombrich en “Historia del Arte” está dándonos consejos del tipo Sócrates, de acercarnos a las obras de arte y verlas como a unos extraños. Sin prejuicios, olvidando por un momento nuestros viejos hábitos y conocimientos que podamos tener sobre la obra, el artista y los estilos para realmente apreciar lo que tenemos frente a nuestros ojos. El artista hizo todo para que su obra estuviera perfecta para él, lo único que nos queda a nosotros es deleitarnos ante ellas. Ahora, creo que Joseph Montaner y E.H. Gombrich no están de acuerdo en algo: Para Montaner si existe la obra como tal a pesar de que fue creada por el individuo, él hace una distinción entre mecanismos creativos y los mundos formales. Gombrich dice que solo está el artista y no el arte como tal. Obviamente sin artista no habría arte, sin individuo y sin humano no existiría el arte. Sin embargo yo estoy con Montaner en esto. Creo que también existe la obra como tal, el mundo formal. Lo bonito de esto es que todo lo que creamos va a perdurar, va a trascender nuestras mentes y va a estar siempre aunque el artista muera. Son tantos los años de historia del arte, desde cientos de años antes de Cristo, cuando se empezó a pintar en las cuevas, a tallar cuchillos y piedras. El mecanismo creativo quedó atrás, no lo conocemos, lo único que tenemos hoy y lo único que podemos conocer, observar y estudiar es ese especial mundo formal. A través de la obra misma, podemos conocer mejor las mentes de nuestros antepasados, ¡así de poderoso es el arte!

Arte en pocas palabras es conseguir que lo que imagino en mi mente llegue a mi mano y así transcienda de mí interior.  Arte es entonces riqueza, porque es un intercambio de ideas que nunca se asfixian ni se acaban. Arte es un diálogo en el que todos podemos aprender de lo que otras personas hacen, en el que nos expresamos y somos escuchados. Para que el artista sea exitoso tiene que poder transmitirles a las demás personas como él o ella piensa y se siente. Para ser Artista tenemos que preparar nuestro cuerpo y mente con trabajo y estudio, porque ultimadamente lo que hacemos es lo que pensamos, vemos, conocemos y sabemos. El descubrimiento y la creación favorecen a las mentes preparadas, dice Henri Poincaré.

“Act of Creation” Arthur Koestler

Chapter 3: Varieties of Humor

Pun and witticism:

Pun: bisociation of a single phonetic form with two meanings. “two strings of thought tied together by an accoustic knot.”

Reversals of logic: see the same thing, or read the same thing in a different way.

If we have matrices of “different magnitudes” or “different forms of reference” involved with one another, we laugh. The codes of the matrices need not be incompatible to makes us laugh, they only have to be different from what we expect. Why pun? Different magnitude/reference but same code.

Man and animal:

Disney characters: intersection of two: man and animal. Perception of animal (cartoon character) and man (their attributes and behavior).


The impersonator is two different people at the same time.

Drama or comedy: drama (more sympathy from the audience), comedy (degrading for you, fun for the public).

The trivial and the exalted:

Parody is a form of impersonation. Intersection between two planes : exalted and the trivial. Making fun of our human mistakes.

Trivial: banal

Exalted: general law of nature

Caricature and satire:

In a political cartoon what you see (symbols), triggers off memories and other ideas. You need to “see the joke” because it is not only what is on the picture, but also what is in your mind in regards to this.

Portrait caricature: at the same time we see ourselves and something else, but this is only and purely visual. We also need to know the person that has been drawn or the type of person that it represents so that we could find it funny.

The comic and the aesthetic come from the polarity between self-assertive (comic, burla) and self-transcending (sympathy, aesthetic experience) tendencies.


In a satire, allegories can be made with animals. For instance in Animal Farm, by using animals to describe or present how societies work, when we see things in another plane, in another matrix, we are finally able to really perceive them, of being aware of them. The satirist most effective weapon is irony because it defeats an idea by accepting its values, premises and method of reasoning, and by using and applying them show its absurdity.

The misfit:

We need to know more about the background in order to laugh or feel pity towards something. The same action or situation might or might not make us laugh: an accent when it is an imitation is fun and when it is real it is accepted without laughter. Things that we don’t perceive as normal or as a “normal person” are laughable. E.g. how people made fun of how barbarians talked.

The paradox of the centipede:

Difference into taking things as parts and taking them as wholes. For instance, in examining a sentence “the whole is greater than the part”, if we understand English we understand the phrase but if not we are just going to examine the sentence word by word  and it will not make sense to us. “the” “whole” “is” “greater”, etc.

Paradox of the centipede: we can’t concentrate at the same time in the performing that we are doing and in performing at the same time. This might be tacit knowledge, because we know how to exercise this performance, that’s why we are performing it, but since it works at a lower level we can’t get as low as that goes and at the same time be working on our higher level performance: the act itself.


The displacement of attention is an unexpected change from noticing the whole to noticing the part or to noticing the dominant of something or noticing a previously neglected aspect of the whole.

I see how this relates to discovery: seeing a previously neglected aspect of the whole in light of an old one previously noted, or obvious to note.


Essence of humor (Bergson): Simultaneous participation in two or more series of events that are independent from one another and that can be interpreted into two different meanings.


“One type of comic verse lives on the bisociation of exalted form with trivial content.”

“ya yo veré dijo la nube” something that is connected or bisociated in a way but trivial in content. The words and have a relationship to each other, but their meaning could be completely different. Even if it is the same word, it can be used with different senses.

Nonsense can only be fun if we pretend or aim at it making sense.


We only laugh if we perceive the tickling as a mock attack (mock-aggressive), as something meant to make us laugh. If we were to perceive it as a real attack we don’t laugh.

The clown:

The character of a clown, since one sees one is a compilation of humor. His face painted in a ridiculous way and their clumsy way of acting, speaking and walking are all in one fun. Still, they speak out a discharge of sadistic, sexual and scatological impulses that lead everyone to laugher (they are repressed in the audience).

Originality (surprise effect), emphasis (suggestiveness), economy (filling the gaps)

What differentiates a good joke from a bad joke? Koestler suggests 3 main criteria of comic technique: originality, emphasis and economy (we can expect them to play a significan part in science and artistic creation).

Measure of originiality: surprise effect.

Even if someone emphasises (replaces creative originality) a joke before we see it, osea, even if we anticipate it or see it coming, when it comes we still find it comic because we didn’t know when and how exactly was the joke coming.

Suggestive techniques: they create suspence and facilitate the listeners flow.

  1. Selection: Depends on the choice of relevant stimuli: what things will matter in a joke or story, what others will not matter.
  2. Simplification: nonessencial elements omitted
  3. Increased by exaggeration: place stress on certain things.

The contrary of suggestion is economy: the technique of implication (indirect suggestion):

(este ejemplo va con lo del Picasso diciendo que es una replica)

Implication: hint, oblique allusion

Transformation: see the joke

Chapter IV: From Humor to Discovery

Explosion and catharsis

Intellectual gratification offered by a joke: when we laugh at a joke we often recognize the cleverness of the joke and we often feel pleased because we understood the joke.


Seeing the joke —— solving the problem

The creation of humor: Humorist need to be creative in order to use different ways of thought and in order to think fast in at least more than one plain at a time. Not only do they need to do this, but they also need to display the attention of the person they are talking to into the collision of the matrices, into the joke.

Paradox and synthesis: the person who invents the joke laughs very little at it. This is because the jester is often engaged in an intellectual exercise to plan what he is going to say next and to find incompatible matrices that will make everyone laugh.



Scientific discovery: is it really more on the scientific method or is it more about creativity? It is about the latter and it has nothing to do with chance, because we have this subsidiary awareness made up of the things that we have thought of in the past, of the places where we have been, of what we have seen and the problems that we have worried about. It is this that lead us to discovery, to the focal awareness. It is in that eureka moment that we are able to put together two matrices that previously seemed extremely different from one another. Bisociation of “incompatible” matrices.

Part 2: The Sage

V. Moments of truth

The Chimpanzee and the Stick

Koestler explains the experiments made with a chimpanzee, a stick and a banana. Nueva, the chimpanzee was inside a cage and could only reach a banana using some prop, when the stick was presented to her she played with it but by the third time that it was given to her, she grabbed it and caught the banana using the stick. While reading this with Kata, she mentioned Michael Polanyi and his subsidiary and focal awareness. She knew from her subsidiary awareness that she could use the stick to go further and when she concentrated on the problem of getting the banana from the tree, she indwelled upon both of them when she saw the stick and was able to get her banana.

To discover things for the fun of it can after be useful.

Seeing two matrices at the same time (bisociation) : indwelling

Once two matrices are combined they cannot be torn: once you know what the pieces of the museum mean, you can never see them in the same and previous light. ✯

“and when two matrices have become integrated they cannot again be torn asunder. This is why the discoveries of yesterday are the commonplaces of today, and why we always marvel how stupid we were not to see what post factum appears to be so obvious.”


When we are stressed out about finding the solution to a problem, we are blocked. We are under pressure, we act erratically and repetitive, we try doing random things. Our thought moves around in circles, going and going, again and again into our knowledge, trying to find the solution to our problem. In the figure above, s is us going and going into circles because we can’t find the solution to a problem. T, is the target, the problem we are trying to solve.

Capture4Def: Eureka act/ process: sequel to discovery

“Discovery often means simply the uncovering of something which has always been there but was hidden from the eye by the blinkers of habit.”

*Connection to Polanyi’s first to last of his images, we can’t state our subsidiary awareness until it appears in our knowledge of discovery. Solo que, Koestler attributes more things to habit than what Polanyi does.

Chance and Ripeness:

Ripeness: when the favorable chance-opportunities present themselves or a present.

Statistical probability for a discovery to be made:

+ the more firmly established and exercised each of the still separate skills or matrices.

(but we need something more than this in order to make a discovery)

Learning is based on insight

Chance just triggers the fusion between two matrices by hitting on one of the many possible links in which it could have happened. Time can be more or less ripe (), but it is lastly the personal factor, the creativity of an individual in synthesizing what he has got in the time when he has got it. Ideas make history, not history ideas.


The components of a discovery are lying around and waiting for a trigger-action

*Does Polanyi agree with this, is Koestler meaning subsidiary awareness (in Polanyis terms) in “the various components which will go into the new synthesis are all lying around and only waiting fro the trigger-action of chance, or the catalyzing action of an exceptional brain, to be assembled and welded together. If one opportunity is missed, another will occur.” Or is Koestler talking more about chance, that a certain discovery is going to take place regardless of the individual’s subsidiary awareness?

Two celebrated discoveries: a conscious logical one aided by chance and an unconscious one.

“fortune favors the prepared mind”

Difference frames of reference: knowing about at least two things that seem to be complete unconnected. When chance sometimes hits us, or something randomly happens, we can connect this two frames of reference that seemed disconnected but that are really a new discovery.

Pincaré on his discoveries, after he got multiple ideas all of a sudden, randomly when he was not really thinking about the problems that he wanted to solve:



3 examples of the sudden bisociation of two previously unrelated matrices:

  1. Gutters invention of printing: Guttenberg was looking for a replacement of the carving letters in wood. He combined the old printing seal with the wine press machine one day, all of a sudden after thinking in this problem.
  2. Kepler in astronomy and physics: Kepler reconciled astronomy with physics, before him it was only examined with geometry. Here is the question that drove him to his great three laws on planetary motion: “Why do the planets closer to the sun move faster than those which are far away? What is the mathematical relation between a planet’s distance from the sun and the length of its year?” Before Kepler, nobody had asked the physical causes of the motion of the heavenly bodies. After Kepler, scientists started to ask the right questions, substituting the why (telos, like the old Greeks) for a how. This because Kepler view the cosmos with his physics spectacles, something that no one had done before him.
  3. Darwin’s natural selection: Darwin didn’t originate the idea nor the controversy of evolution.The 3 matrices that Darwin united, he confined the theories of people before him, arranged them and made them make sense together:
  1. Lamarck’s and other theories of evolutions before him.
  2. We adapt to our environments and our predecessors inherit our new traits.
  3. Malthus (understood wrong by him): the survival of the fittest.


VII. Thinking Aside

Limits of Logic

Discovery favors the mind of people who are seeking to solve a problem, it often acts when people are not specifically looking for that answer. The idea of beauty is an important aspect of discovery and is very influential to the people that make them.

The paradox: No thought can slip through subjectivity and irrationality and nothing can be proved until after the event. Even if our mind mostly work with abstract symbols whose credo is objectivity and logic. GEB. There are many things that we are unaware of, but that still are part of who we are and how we discover.

The unconscious before Freud:

Cartesian catastrophe (Descartes): separation of matter and mind. And according to Descartes, awareness was the main characteristic of the mind (leaving no room for the unconscious). They thought that the mind was aware of everything and that it is impossible for something not to be in our awareness.

The ideas that we generate in our consciousness very often come from our subconscious (E. Platner)

*(dialogue) in the past people used to think that the unconscious state was something totally different from the conscious, later they found that it was a matter of degrees.


The Mechanization of Habits

Awareness is a matter of degrees. Koestler’s definition of awareness: “experience which decreases and fades away with our increasing mastery of a skill exercised under monotonous conditions.” Neither is awareness linear, we are conscious and unconscious of many things at the same time.

Formation of a habit: mastery of the code and stability of environment

Virtuoso: highest elaboration of a fixed routine: automatized rules of the game and a malleable strategy

Exploring the Shadows:

*(dialogue) conscious thoughts bring unconscious thoughts for us to discover* *Focal awareness and preconscious (subsidiary in Polanyi’s terms).

“Every definite image in the mind is steeped and dyed in the free water that flows around it.”

The hooked atoms of thought:

Poincaré mentions that discoveries, specially the most interesting ones are made by the unconscious from the ideas that seem far and away. The unconscious does what the conscious does not.

*(Poincaré was saying that the subconscious does what the conscious mind cannot do.)

Exploring the Deeps:

Pictorial thought: thinking in or with pictures. Is our primitive thought, babies think this way: with specific images of what each word means. Using this thought is regressing to a lower level of mental hierarchy.

*(distinction: just making regression in the unconscious and actually using it in the conscious state)

The Word and the Vision:

Einstein mentioned that his mind work with visual elements and even with kinetic ones (movement of his muscles), not with a “vague” language. It is until he get the idea with pictures that he tries to rationalize it and put it into words.

This makes me wonder if using language and words to express what we think disrupts or gets in the way of us understanding things and making discoveries? I really like the idea of keeping in my mind imagery and trying to think in those terms.

Visual pictures are more vague, and so, making connections (creative act) among them might be easier for this reason.

The snares of language

Sometimes it might be difficult to put complex ideas into words and on other occasions we find words whose meaning is complex and whose ideas it carries deal with history and context. It is a problem to take words and their meaning for granted, some examples of this are “space” and “time” whose meaning varies depending on context but whose significance has change ever since Newton wrote his Principia. We should constantly be reviewing the words that we use to make sure that we can define them in right terms (which is indeed very difficult). Still, creativity might sometimes not be as compatible with words as it would be with pictures, sounds or feelings.

VIII.  Underground games

The Importance of dreaming

Concretization and Symbolization

Punning for Profit

The benefits of impersonation:

While we dream our minds play “games on us” that go beyond the limits of our individuality, empathy is another way to call this phenomenon. In a dream, we can be or become whoever our subconscious wants us to be.


Originality: forgetting what we know at the proper moment

“Without the art of forgetting, the mind remains cluttered up with ready-made answers, and never finds occasion to ask the proper questions.”

When Edison was a kid his head was so big that people thought that he had a disease, but he was a big forgetter. Once, when he was paying his taxes someone asked what his name was and he didn’t remember it, so he lost his place in the line.

*(dialogue): “familiar thing or idea appear under a new angle in an unexpected light.”

Standing on One’s Head:

“A drastic form of displacement is the sudden shift of emphasis from one aspect of a situation to its opposite, accompanied by a kind of “reversal of logic”

Gestalt psycologie shows how things can be and not be at the same time one thing and another very different thing.

*(dialogue): mental head-stand: turning mistakes into an area of study, e.g. X-rays and photography.


Aha Moment: People that consume drugs get out of the habit, and focus on things that they have never seen before, they see things on a different level. Maybe that is why some modern people have used it and have created things under its influence.

Downward stream of mental conscious: when we learn something and it becomes a habit. Something that functions automatically.

IX. The Spark and the Flame

False Inspirations

What comes after the Eureka act?

Many times, scientist have their eureka moment only to find out afterwards that their idea did not pass the verifiability test, this taking into account that verifiability doesn’t hope to achieve absolute certainty.

When the facts can’t support the intuition.

*(dialogue): our intuitions can be wrong, even after we bisociated them.

Premature Linkages:

When the environment  is not too ripe for a certain discovery.

These may lead to another linkage by another scientist after some time or it may dazzle us into a lie.


When our habits function as antibiotics to reject a new idea when it arrises. This is applicable for the discoverers as well as for the entire community when it is informed of a new paradigm.

Gradual Integrations:

Sometimes for us to see the integration of two matrices, we need repetition of the appearance of the links of the matrices. I may add that after a lot of repetitions we should not be able to escape from the connection using logic, but still we do sometimes.

The Dawn of Language:

When kids learn words, and more importantly, when they learn that this words are connected to the real world, that they name things. The bisociative act in this is the “synthesis of the universe of signs and the universe of things.” When one matrix gives another matrix meaning, the words begin to “live” and “give birth to new thoughts”. It is something almost magical.

X. The Evolution of Ideas:

Separations and Reintegrations

Connection between the process of discovering something and scientific progress. It may even take centuries for interpretations to seize and for a theory to sink in in science and society.

Elaboration and consolidation on a discovery is the process that takes the longest time.

Comparison between science and biology: not linear.

Twenty-six Centuries of Science:

Koestler points out that the history of science has been more like a roller coaster instead of fluidity in a straight line. He talks about science from Pythagoras to the last century: we think that we are very close to achieve the truth, many societies have thought this, haha.

Creative Anarchy

Scientific progress is neither gradual nor continuous.

With the bisociation of previously unconnected matrices I get the feeling that consilience is being made, I get the feeling that it is more real and attainable.

Knowledge is constantly changing; new theories arise while others are proved wrong or at least less true.

*(Dialogue): Entrepreneurship is an art:  Expression of what is going on in our minds, our focal and subsidiary awareness. This is why discovery favors the prepared mind.

The Thinking Cap

Theory and experiment.

The essence of science is not finding new facts, but in finding new ways to think about the ones that have already been found.  It is mostly about the context that you give to these facts (theory) and the different ways in which you think about them and arrange them.

Koestler uses the term “thinking cap” as Kitty Ferguson uses “spectacles”.

The pathology of thought

Mental blocks in science and the individuals.

Limits of Confirmation:

Scientific evidence can’t tell us that something is true, it can only tell us that it is more true that other thing. Koestler says this in order for us to not make divisions between science and art, based on a false assumption that science is in a position to obtain “objective truth” while art isn’t. Truth is that in both cases there is a lot of interpretation.

Fashions in Science:

A lot of the polemic in science has been made out of a lack of understanding and coming to terms from their protagonists. Sometimes it is not about wearing a different thinking cap, but about wearing a fashionable thinking hat. It seems that people are wearing certain colors of spectacles based on the fashion of the time, on what is popular at the time, etc.

Boundaries of Science:

Scientific progress goes more in zigzags and curves than in a straight line going up, as many people naively think. Neither is progress cumulative in this “straight line” way.

Difference between exactitude in observations and measurents and the explanatory power of theories. E.g. Brahe’s almost perfect data of measurement and observation, very precise… and his theory putting these facts together.

Many people of different times attain or think that they are at the doorstep of reality. From Pythagoras to even politicians like Stalin.

IX. Science and Emotion

Three Character Types

Types of sage that combined the artist and the jester.

  1. Benevolent Magician: does very high tasks, just like the artist. Homo universal. Pythagoras, Archimedes, Pasteur.
  2. Mad Professor: Does what he does because he wants aggrandizement and power, just like a satirist. They are evil.
  3. Scholarly bookworm and lab worker: dull, uninspired, orthodoxy, divorce from reality.

Self-assertive element: 157

Self-transcending element: 158

Motivations of the scientist:

Curiosity, wonder, humility: 1

Competitiveness, jealousy, assertiveness, determination: 2

Magic and Sublimation

It is not only 1 or 2, it is both of them combined, passionately. Believing that we are part of something bigger than us, with a sense of participation in the infinite or with a god living within ourselves.

The Boredom of Science

*check out Koestler’s commentary on education in the final paragraph of this section, starting from the last page, where the summary starts.

Newton + Mises + Education

Many things happened today, but since time is a limited resource… I shall check my notebook if I want to remember something specific about Marce’s presentation in Newton and our dialogue of Biology (Harvey) and Human Action. I will just tell you about Chacho’s great connection today after Mises:

First came Newton with his laws and determinism. People wanted to apply this to everything and so traditional education was born, kids were left out of the choosing equation, people had no choice in their own learning. This goes against our human nature. We want to learn, discover, have a purpose, a motivation of our own; we want to believe that we have free will. In order to act we need three things: 1) Feel uneasy, 2) Imagine, 3) Decide. The traditional educational system eliminates the last two of these premises for action in the realm of learning. Instead of number 2: imagine, we find: follow the laws of the system. And, instead of number 3: decide, we find: we decide for you.

Well said, L.F.M.A.