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Monday, March 20, 2017

Agustín Fuentes, Notre Dame anthropologist shares his latest book, "The Creative Spark: How Imagination Made Humans Exceptional."


Listen to my conversation
with Agustín Fuentes
here!

Agustín Fuentes, Notre Dame anthropologist discusses how our capacity for creativity is what has made humans exceptional.


Creativity: it’s the secret of what makes humans special. Agustín Fuentes, professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at University of Notre Dame, brings us this optimistic assertion, that we are defined as a species by our unique capacity for creativity and collaboration, in THE CREATIVE SPARK, a sweeping overview of the history and continued legacy of human creativity. Weaving fascinating stories about our ancestors, Fuentes explores how creativity has propelled the evolutionary development of our bodies, minds, and cultures, for good and for bad, over millions of years, defining and refining what it means to be human.


Agustín Fuentes will discuss:


· The history and trajectory of human creativity, from selective foraging and hunting to the marvels of modern technology.

· The unique relationship between humans and dogs, the only domesticated animal that shaped our evolutionary path even as we shaped theirs.

· What set the stage for modern warfare, and a controversial explanation of large-scale human violence.

· Evidence that men are not inherently more violent and women are not inherently more domestic.

· The dark side of human creativity—how social constructs such as race, gender, and nationality incite conflict at levels not seen in other species.

· Actionable and concrete steps we can take, individually and as a community, to harness our own creative power when it comes to food, sex, art, science, and more.


As Fuentes concludes, to make something lasting and useful today you need to understand the nature of your collaboration with others, what imagination can and can't accomplish, and, finally, just how completely our creativity is responsible for the world we live in.


About the Author:

Agustín Fuentes is a professor and the chair of Notre Dame’s Department of Anthropology and a National Geographic Explorer. He has contributed to Psychology Today, Huffington Post, Salon.com, and Slate.com. He is the author of Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You, and winner of the W.W. Howells Book Award. He lives in Indiana.




About the book:

A bold new synthesis of paleontology, archaeology, genetics, and anthropology that overturns misconceptions about race, war and peace, and human nature itself, answering an age-old question: What made humans so exceptional among all the species on Earth?

Creativity. It is the secret of what makes humans special, hiding in plain sight. Agustín Fuentes argues that your child's finger painting comes essentially from the same place as creativity in hunting and gathering millions of years ago, and throughout history in making war and peace, in intimate relationships, in shaping the planet, in our communities, and in all of art, religion, and even science. It requires imagination and collaboration. Every poet has her muse; every engineer, an architect; every politician, a constituency. The manner of the collaborations varies widely, but successful collaboration is inseparable from imagination, and it brought us everything from knives and hot meals to iPhones and interstellar spacecraft.

Weaving fascinating stories of our ancient ancestors' creativity, Fuentes finds the patterns that match modern behavior in humans and animals. This key quality has propelled the evolutionary development of our bodies, minds, and cultures, both for good and for bad. It's not the drive to reproduce; nor competition for mates, or resources, or power; nor our propensity for caring for one another that have separated us out from all other creatures.

As Fuentes concludes, to make something lasting and useful today you need to understand the nature of your collaboration with others, what imagination can and can't accomplish, and, finally, just how completely our creativity is responsible for the world we live in. Agustín Fuentes's resounding multimillion-year perspective will inspire readers—and spark all kinds of creativity.

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