Possessing 12 degrees, Stephen Hawking is one of the most influential physicists, mathematicians, and cosmologists of today. Because of Hawking, the world knows more about the Big Bang Theory, Quantum Mechanics, and black holes. Occupationally, Hawking has taught at several prestigious universities, including the Institute of Astronomy in 1973. From there, Hawking conducted cosmology research at Cambridge, Gonville, and Caius colleges. Hawking also served as a Lucian Professor of Mathematics (Stephen Hawking- brief biography).
Hawking attempted to solve problems related to basic laws of the universe, more specifically black holes. Hawking took Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and expanded upon it. According to Hawking, Einstein’s theory suggested that space and time would have to start in the Big Bang, but end in the black hole. Because of this, Hawking concluded three important things: General Relativity and Quantum Theory must be combined, the universe’s birth is governed by scientific laws, and black homes are not completely black, but must emit radiation (Stephen Hawking- brief biography). Today, Hawking has different black hole ideas. He feels that black holes are capable of containing, breaking down, and transforming matter before they eventually destroy it. However, Hawking has not been able to prove his black hole theories. To prove them, Hawking needs a theory uniting gravity with other forces of nature (Schultz, 2004). Hawking has written four laws related to black holes and applied gravity and space knowledge to establish the NASA spacecraft’s trajectory pattern (Sullivmi, 2009).
What is the key to Hawking’s creativity? “The recipe is simple,” said Hawking. “Put willing people together in an inspiring and creative intellectual environment where they are
encouraged to pursue ambitions and timely research” (Lloyd, 2014, paragraph 2). Hawking’s political and social environment seemed to be conducive to pursuing a scientific career. Thinking creatively seemed to be in his blood. Hawking’s mother Isobel was a liberal, part of the group St. Albans Liberal Association during the 1950’s (The religion and political views of Stephen Hawking). Adhering to a more atheist ideology, Hawking feels that science always trumps religion, stating, “There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works” (The religion and political views of Stephen Hawking, paragraph 3). I feel that Hawking’s religious beliefs freed his mind, the scientist not pressured to please God or churches. His creativity was given room to breathe. Hawking’s liberal mother probably did not judge him or cite his theories as anti-God. I feel that this helped his creative thought process to flourish.
Diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease at age 21, Hawking faced obstacles. Hawking is now confined to a wheel chair. Upon being diagnosed with this debilitating condition, doctors discovered that Hawking had pneumonia, requiring the scientist to get a tracheotomy that damaged his voice. Today, Hawking uses a special device that gives him a synthesized voice. (Sullivmi, 2009). Despite his disease, Hawking accomplished great advances in quantum physics I think that Hawking did all that he could. Black holes theories are hard to prove, given the difficulty of traveling to space.
Jerry Fodor is a great creative thinker, who has contributed much to the field of philosophy and cognitive science. Currently a professor of philosophy at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Fodor has also taught at Princeton University and The City University of New York City. Unlike Hawking, who uses past theories to expand upon information, Fodor seems more critical about other people’s theories. Fodor believes that neuroscience and psychology should be separated, adhering to the viewpoint that the brain’s neurological properties are not dependent on the brain’s cognitive properties (Norfleet, 2007). This argument has influenced the creation of Fodor’s theories, including Non-Reductive Physicalism that states that mental properties cannot be reduced to physical brain properties (Rives, 2014).
One of Fodor’s famous theories is the Representational Theory of Mind (RTM), which explains that “mental processes are computational processes, and that intentional states are relations to mental representations that serve as the domain of such processes. On Fodor’s version of RTM, these mental representations have both syntactic structure and a compositional semantics. Thinking thus takes place in an internal language of thought” (Rives, 2014, paragraph 25). Fodor has also been a big proponent of Nativism, Informational Atomism, and Mental Architecture. Fodor has tried to solve the “problem” of why neuroscience cannot explain consciousness, his theories various versions that support that statement. Fodor’s creative process involves picking apart other theories, using one main idea to spawn new theories. In contrast, Hawking seemed to bring various pieces of information into his black hole puzzle, Hawking more willing to deviate from his own past ideas.
Fodor is opposed to several elements of Charles Darwin’s Behaviorism, Fodor feeling that Darwin not proposing any connection between mental and physical parts was a mistake. Fodor adopted a more middle ground viewpoint between the concepts of behaviorism and dualism, which helped Fodor create the cognitive sciences field (Rives, 2014). However, Fodor’s antagonist view of behaviorism has been criticized by other individuals, making them skeptical of Fodor’s strong opinions, creating more obstacles against Fodor’s credibility. Brian Switek states “Charles Darwin did not propose natural selection to explain the existence of individual traits but to provide a comprehensible mechanism by which organisms can change over the course of generations. The way traits affected survival and reproduction were a part of his idea, but even Darwin himself was not as strict a “Darwinist” as Fodor proposes” (Switek, 2010, paragraph 11).
I feel that unlike Hawking, Fodor’s more conservative viewpoints have gotten in the way of him developing more original theories. I think he could have changed things by spending less time arguing against people such as Darwin and worked more to develop his own theories. If he had done this, I feel that he would experinced less obstacles, in regard to other people evaluating his credibility. However, when compared tro Hawking, Fodor did introduce psychology into the mix, Hawking’s theories mainly of pure science.
Stephen Hawking and Jerry Fodor have contributed much knowledge to the fields of quantum physics, cogntive science, and cosmology. While their creative processes are different, they are both respected creative thinkers that continue to add relevant concepts to their fields. Through books, lecture, courses, and interviews, these men contine to inspire society.