Edited by Kerry Thomas and Janet Chan
Chapter 9: Attributing creativity in science and engineering: the discourses of discovery, invention and breakthrough
In common-sense terms, which suffice for many everyday purposes, the meanings of ‘discovery’ and ‘invention’, and the differences between them are simple and straightforward. To discover is to uncover, as we might reveal what lies on a table by removing the cloth covering it. Such an act of uncovering involves an existing entity being first hidden from us but then being made evident to us by the act of an individual. The entity pre-exists the act of its revelation, and the revelation does nothing to constitute or affect the nature of the entity. The most common view of scientific discovery sees it in this way. Scientists see novel features of the natural world, or they indirectly, but still securely, apprehend them through processes of observation, experiment and reasoning. Discovery is pictured as an individual act of cognition in which an external reality is cognitively grasped.
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