Genius Alone Doesn’t Advance Big Ideas

World-Changing Thought Depends on the Social Context, Too

Where do big new ideas come from—the kind that break the mold and change how we see the world? As a sociologist, this has long been an interest of mine. So I was excited to read Michael Lewis’ new book The Undoing Project, which tells the story of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, the Israeli psychologists whose work on decision-making helped convince economists—and everyone else—that people aren’t nearly as rational as economic theory would predict. Kahneman and Tversky’s research on the cognitive errors to which we’re all prone was so …

Mapping Big Thinkers and Their Ideas

Viewing Clusters Over Time Provides Insights into Networks of Influence

To understand where ideas come from and how they evolve over time, sociologist Randall Collins mapped the networks of 3,000 philosophers and mathematicians, a yeoman project that took him on …

How Intimacy Fuels Intellectual Breakthroughs

Canadian Philosopher Charles Taylor's Friendship With Indian Scholars Has Inspired Bold Ideas for Over 40 Years

It was, fittingly, through Hegel that I first met Charles Taylor in Oxford. In 1977, I began a post-graduate thesis on Hegel. In love with Western Marxism at that time, …