Within a Nutshell (The Mental Roots of Human Insusceptibility to New Ideas)

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Abstract

An attempt is undertaken to reveal the conceptual grounds of the opposition and resistance to innovations. The origins and evolution of the views on the reception of new ideas, during the last half a century, have been traced, and the conclusion drawn that the social and personal dimensions are usually overemphasized while the mental ones kept in the shadow. Meanwhile, just the latter play the key role in the relation to the new by the community as a whole. Human mind passes anything through the prism of the concepts in which experience is accumulated and consolidated. And new ideas spring out of the same concepts combined otherwise. The conceptual background of the epoch presets the framework and tendencies of the common knowledge that, in its turn, being learned by people, determines the horizon of their mental outlook. Just that horizon turns, ultimately, into a frontier between accessible and inaccessible ideas. The closer an idea approaches to the frontier, the farther it moves from the scope of the contemporaries’ understanding. As to the insights having broken through the horizon, they become “invisible” and “inappreciable” to the overwhelming majority of the contemporaries. These persons are incapable of getting out from the gripe of the common knowledge as the force field of the epoch’s mentality. The revolutionary innovations are doomed to denial and nonacceptance. Their inner charge is incompatible with the conceptual background of the epoch. Nevertheless, albeit rejected, they exert not evident—indirect and marginal—but tectonic influence on knowledge and mentality and render, therethrough, great benefits even to those communities that turn them down.