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date: 05 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter proposes that spontaneous variation has a central role in biological evolution, operant conditioning, creative thinking, and personal agency. But to support these advantageous outcomes, this spontaneity must be joined with some selection process or procedure that decides which alleles, behaviors, ideas, or choices are most adaptive or useful. The argument begins with spontaneous variations in evolutionary theory, and then turns to operant conditioning, with emphasis on the origins of spontaneous behaviors. That analysis leads directly to a discussion that introduces a three-parameter definition of both creativity and sightedness, two concepts that provide the foundation for the blind-variation and selective-retention model of creativity. The latter is then linked with the chance-then-choice theory of free will, a linkage that makes spontaneous choice generation the first of two steps leading to personal agency. In all four phenomena, spontaneity is defined as the production of variants in ignorance of their actual utilities.

Keywords: spontaneity, biological evolution, operant conditioning, creative thinking, free will

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