• Think creatively, achieve productivity, happiness, joy and success; motivate yourself and others in no time.

    "The true joy of life lies in . . . being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish clod of ailments and grievances." — George Bernard Shaw

  • Become people magnet, create new rewarding relationships.

    Take control of your life, career, and discover new interests.

  • Tinkering and experimenting are joyful and rewarding.

    To live is so startling, it leaves but little room for other occupations......(EMILY DICKINSON).

  • Albert Einstein: What would a light wave look like to someone keeping pace with it?
    Bill Bowerman (inventor of Nike shoes): What happens if I pour rubber into my waffle iron?

    • Start asking the right questions
    • Break from old thinking
    • Choose your own destiny

What or where is the Intrinsic Motivation for creativity?

A spiritual basis for a new way of life, reasoning, thinking, and being intrinsically motivated and also inspired by Alexander K. Katiraie

Creativity traits are in all of us. The creative spirit needs to be nurtured intrinsically. We will show you how.

Practice 1

Please follow the instructions on the image below. This is not a trick, optical illusion, or any other form of fooling your brain. In fact your brain sees the right pattern based on intuition as you will discover below. Optical illusions work on any brain, even the brain of a man in remote part of Africa. But the exercise below will not and I say again will not work on a man in remote part of Africa. We will explain why after you do the exercise.

What creates the right image?

Once your high attention is on the four dots, your peripheral vision and the power of your intuition have already created the right picture. Since this seems like a puzzle, notice you are highly intrinsically motivated to find out what this is all about. Curiosity is intrinsic. This is the nature of every puzzle.

When you blink or close your eyes, you are no longer focusing, yet absorbed, and your mind is relaxed; your intuition is in charge and you will input the correct image to your mind. This is the power of intuition (or the insights from the unconscious mind) that helps with the creative process. I really like this exercise. Even though simple, it really covers all aspects of the creative process. From concentration and focusing, to still being absorbed in the process and yet achieving creativity. This focus, then relax mind and yet absorbed to let intuition to to do its job is the essence of creativity. Even though simple the exercise above engages many aspects of mind including attention, awareness, intuition, intrinsic motivations, curiosity, subconscious mind, and finally the creative mind.

Why this is not an optical illusion? A remote man in Africa who has absolutely no clue who the image is or who Jesus is will not create the right pattern. Optical illusions work on any brain.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” ~ Albert Einstein

But what is intuition? Researchers conclude that intuition is the brain drawing on past experiences and external cues to make a decision – but one that happens so fast the reaction is at a non-conscious level. All we’re aware of is a general feeling that something is right or wrong.

Notice once you realized the picture, you experienced an Aha! moment. This creative process is an example of a mind map where you focused, visualized, Nobilified (finding virtue), achieved creativity, and finally experienced an Aha! moment or an inspiring moment. I have always been fascinated by simple theories or formulas that have profound implications. One of my favorites is Einstein Mass Energy E = mc2 . Can we find one for creativity and getting inspired? I believe maybe we can; let's call our simple equation Creativity and Inspiration Mind Map.

Creativity and Inspiration Mind Map

Intrinsic Motivation + Controllable or uncontrollable Concentration/Focusing or strong form of Infatuation/Intrigued/Spellbind/Lured/Absorbed -----> Imagination (Visualization) + Intuition -----> Noblification or finding Virtue-----> Strong feelings of inspiration, accomplishments or the Aha! moment

More than creativity, this book is about feeling inspired and being intrinsically motivated. It is about creating conditions that you can easily inspire your mind and be intrinsically motivated. Once you are inspired, everything including problem solving, creativity, self learning, intuition gathering, and high level of achievements are possible.

Don't you wish in every difficult situation you could create an Aha moment where the solution comes to you in an inspiring and creative way? Our purpose in this book is to make feeling inspired and creative as easy as the experience above.

We will show that you can achieve creativity in almost any situation if you train your mind the right way and be intrinsically motivated. You might not become the next Steve Jobs or Picasso. That's not our promise. However, we promise that your small creative and inspired situations bring you happiness and success. And, if you are at the right time and right place, who knows, you might become the next Steve Jobs. We promise you will experience a new sense of freedom, autonomy, and make new friends easily. You will earn your colleagues' respect and perhaps advance to your next opportunity. You will appreciate that happiness is basically drawn from respect and admiration of your friends and coworkers. The level of your success, we believe, is in how much you find what-you-do, and why you do what-you-do, noble and virtuous. In other words how deeply you are intrinsically motivated and how much you purify what you do and why you do what you do. The more the better for you.

What is Noblification or finding Virtue? Noblification or finding Virtue is not exactly the same as the "liking" of what you do. Liking is not deep enough for the creative process. Picasso did not just like painting. Picasso found painting virtuous and noble. Steve Jobs did not just like inventing personal computers. Steve Jobs Nobilified (finding virtue) affordable home computers to be virtuous and noble. We like to emphasize the difference. Mandela and Martin Luther King did not just find fighting for freedom and equal rights likable. They believed being free and equal is noble and virtuous. John F. Kennedy believed that public engagement was key to a thriving democracy and that serving in public office was a noble endeavor. Kennedy-era programs like the Peace Corps and VISTA inspired a generation to help repair what was broken both here and abroad. A young Peace Corps volunteer who explained the power of a question: “I’d never done anything political, patriotic, or unselfish, because nobody ever asked me to. Kennedy asked,” he said. This is Noblification or finding Virtue at it best. President Carter is another example.

President Carter has led the international campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease

Jimmy Carter has redefined the role of ex-President, using his status to help broker peace and fight disease worldwide. The near-total eradication of Guinea Worm Disease is his most successful health effort. The economic impact of Guinea worm is huge. The disease coincides with harvest and planting seasons, when the demand for labor is highest and workers need to consume large amounts of water, leading to re-infection. One study in southeastern Nigeria showed that rice farmers lost the equivalent of $20 million per year because they couldn't work. The same study put the school absenteeism rate over 60 percent, either because the children suffered from Guinea worm or had to labor for family members who did. Since 1986, The Carter Center has led the international campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease, working closely with ministries of health and local communities. Guinea worm disease is set to become the second human disease in history, after smallpox, to be eradicated. There were just 22 cases of the devastating Guinea worm disease in 2015, according to a human rights organization. The former president said he wants it eradicated "next year or sooner after". "We hope this year we won't have any new cases, but if we do we'll just have to concentrate on those communities," said Mr Carter. The 39th president of the United States said achieving the eradication of Guinea worm would be his "most gratifying experience". Mr Carter is already setting his sights on the next debilitating disease he wants to wipe out. It's another neglected tropical disease called river blindness, spread by the bites of infected flies that breed in rapidly flowing rivers and can cause people to lose their sight. He says eradication is possible.

You cannot achieve big goals unless you find what-you-do and why you do what-you-do Noble and Virtuous.

Introduction to our method

Our creative motivation system consists of:

1) Mindfulness to cut through and step out of negativity and mental obstacles, and to find Noblification or finding Virtue

2) Finding new intrinsic motivations through autonomy, relatedness and observation skills

3) Finding creativity from Noblification or finding Virtue

4) Even achieve innovations

In the first chapter we discuss the relevancy of Mind Map and how to achieve it. In the second chapter we examine a practice based on this method.

Creativity and innovation bring about a sense of Connection, Inspiration, or Unification (also known as connection; the Aha moments; Flow). I believe without creativity (originality), the experience of the Aha moment is difficult. Perhaps it is the feeling of having been able to create something new and original that brings out the Aha moment. Flow is originally introduced by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Broad definition of the mind map:

Noblification or finding Virtue (finding virtue and nobility with inner truth and passion)-----> Concentration + Focusing or strong form of Infatuation/Intrigued (Intrinsic Motivations) ------> Imagination (Visualization) + Insights + Learning + Intuition -----------> Goal Setting + Hard Work + Determination + Team Work + Creativity -------> Strong feelings of accomplishments, inspiration and originality (Flow)

In the creative process your goal is to create a circular vortex where each activity must help to strengthen the other. The more you focus, the more virtuous and noble (Noblification or finding Virtue), and the more you learn the more you focus. Being able to create such vortex is essential in the creative process or to get inspired.

Concentration also covers infatuation and strong form of intrigue, bedazzled, fascinated, enamored, lured, hypnotized, enraptured, spellbind,.

Also place an arrow from Noblification or finding Virtue to visualization, from concentration to creativity (missing arrows)..and then you realize the vortex, the spiral. Image Designed by Alexander Katiraie


Power of Intrinsic Motivations and Intuition in the creative process

In the exercise above intuition came to us easy. The purpose of this book is to facilitate gathering pattern of intuition naturally and easily. Or even build new pattern of intuition. Intuition is what you add to the less than complete information. Once you realize you cannot collect the total information, you will then rely on your intuition. You will add your feelings and your gut reaction to the creative process. Intuition means relinquishing control of the linear-over-thinking and trusting the vision of the unconscious. Intuition has depth since it allows to organize information into unanticipated new ideas. You will see that in an intuitive or mindful state new information, like new melodies, flow easily into awareness. This new information can be full of surprises and might not always make sense. Intuition unifies all the activities of the Mind Map.

We are more open to insights from the unconscious mind in moments when we are not thinking of anything in particular. That is why daydreams are so useful in the quest for motivation. Have you ever heard when for some people the answer will eventually come to them somehow during the early morning or even taking a shower. This is the time you allow your intuition to create the answer.

More on Intuition

Let's examine the exercise above again. The ability to intuit is acquired through experience and learning and relies upon a mental pattern recognition processes. In experiments conducted by Chase and Simon (1973) chess grand masters and novices were each shown the layout of pieces from an actual chess game and asked to reproduce it; the chess experts did so with 95% accuracy, the novices with only 25% accuracy. The same task when repeated with the chess pieces arranged randomly resulted in both experts and novices scoring around 25% in terms of accuracy of recall. Simon interpreted this as evidence that chess grand masters (and by extrapolation other experts) hold in their memory not only a set of patterns, but also information about the significance of the pattern (including information concerning its emotional salience, such as the danger or satisfaction from previous episodes associated with it). The intuitive ability of an expert is derived in large part from the large numbers of patterns held in long-term memory. Simon estimated, for example, that chess grand masters hold 50 000 patterns in long-term storage. Chase and Simon's results indicated that the superior memory of experts is not photographic, but requires arrangements of chess pieces that can be encoded using associations with the experts' extensive knowledge of chess (see Ericsson & Delaney, 1999), typically acquired over 10 years or more of experience and practice (Ericsson & Charness, 1994).

Expert's intuitive ability is also derived from their capacity to recognize salient environmental cues and rapidly match those cues to commonly occurring patterns, responding in ways that lead to effective problem solving and decision making. Intuitive decision making entails the use of experience to recognize key patterns that indicate the likely dynamics of a given situation in order to conduct the ‘mental simulations’ required to rapidly evaluate the alternatives and select a singular course of action. By imagining people and objects ‘consciously and transforming those objects through several transitions’, experienced decision makers are able to project how the present will move into the future and hence are able to make useful predictions.

Our intention in this book is to create mental conditions to facilitate the process of gathering new pattern of intuition for creativity in every situation. Do we use our intuition enough? Unfortunately the answer is no. It all starts with schooling. Schools unfortunately don't teach how to trust intuition. Instead we learn a sort of absolute knowledge. We learn to look for complete information or the one-right-answer. But in real life, even after you gather all the relevant information there might still be a gap. And that's where you have to add your intuition. Most people faced with the gap give up. But not you! After you read this book you learn to love the gaps. They become little Nobilified (finding virtue) challenges.

It is by logic that we prove. It is by intuition that we discover,” Henri Poincare

Bach also spoke of the effortless flow of musical ideas. Asked how he found his melodies, he said, "The problem is not finding them, it's—when getting up in the morning and getting out of bed—not stepping on them."

In this online book we will show that creative people learn to be or naturally are:

1) Intrinsically motivated; Mindful; Purify the task; Find the task Noble and Virtuous; Amazing Concentration Skills, Visualization Skills, and Easy Self Learners

2) Have unusual, unorthodox, attention and observation skills

3) Challenge seeking; always searching for nobility and virtuosity in the task (it must be a noble task). If not it is not virtuous or noble it is not worth doing

4) Do not take No for answer

5) Risk Takers; intuitive

6) Kind of Eccentric in an intelligent way and use their eccentricity in the right and healthy way

7) Confront obstacles rather than avoiding them

8) Authentic; free; curious

9) Not worried about failure, feeling shame and/or embrace their vulnerable side; if failed, they call it their eccentric side

10) Child Like; easily connect with the like minded

11) Easily reprogram their mind

12) In complete control of what should input to their mind (observation again) and how to make sense of it correctly for creativity

13) Easily incubate creativity through visualization and imagination

14) They don't mind starting with copying and trying to make it better (Picasso, and Steve JobsGood artists copy great artists steal)

Picasso truly embodies this quote, as he did in fact "steal" ideas from his colleague, Braque. Though Picasso is probably best known for establishing Cubism, Braque was always a step ahead of Picasso. However, Picasso was much more of a prolific painter than Braque, so Picasso would work through a concept that Braque had come up with much faster than Braque himself. For example, Braque was the first one to begin using faux-bois (fake wood pattern) that was so crucial in the development of synthetic cubism, but it was Picasso who used it to attribute a different meaning to the pattern and further the idea of synthetic cubism. So it is undeniable that Picasso was a savvy artist, to say the least. source http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100226121955AA5dgbh


We will show consciousness acts more or less like an effective information processing system. To get the most out of your consciousness you have to improve your observation and listening skills (all the inputs). And, also reprogram the machinery of consciousness to output the right creative process. We will show you how.


We want to train your mind to learn to move from left side to the right side of the illustration above to feel inspired, to get absorbed easily in new tasks, to learn to create new pattern of intuition easily, to innovate and to create. Image Designed by Alexander Katiraie

Once you are able to move from left side of the image above to the right side in every situation you encounter in life, you feel inspired and can achieve amazing goals. When your mind has completed its transfer from the left side to the right side, you are now ready to create new pattern of intuition and to trust your intuition in every situation and tinker with your creative side. We will show how this transformation is possible. I like to emphasize that our left and right side in the illustration above is not the same as left hemisphere of the brain or the right hemisphere of the brain. Our illustration above is just a way to show how our consciousness usually functions in two modes. Based on past life situations and our past observations sometimes we process information from the left side. We will show we can put stop to this for good.

An inspired and perfect conditioned consciousness creates Nobilified (finding virtue) challenges to perhaps make life better (inventions) or just to create for the aesthetic pleasure (arts) or love of the passion (dance, photography, woodcarving, rock climbing,....). Once these challenges are created, we attack them with no mercy to achieve unification or the Aha moment. The output or the results of these small conflicts are usually hard work, timelessness, and foresights.

Once on the right side, a curious mind that is in such a heightened condition needs challenge, a good and virtuous challenge, a tension, and perhaps a need to be satisfied. In a way we will show that you are challenging your own newly created pattern of intuition to excel itself or to complete itself. It more like: let's see if I am right. Image Designed by Alexander Katiraie


Child Like (not childish) Thinking Pays
Be Authentic, Vulnerable, Let Mindfulness Solve
Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action
Secret To Creativity: Be Authentic

Appendix I

Trusting your instincts really does work, say scientists. You'll be right 90pc of the time

By Mark Prigg

PUBLISHED: 12:07 EST, 12 November 2012 | UPDATED: 12:56 EST, 12 November 2012

For centuries scientists have studied how both instinct and intellect figure into the decision-making process. 

A new study has shown that forced to choose between two options based on instinct alone, participants made the right call up to 90 percent of the time.

Professor Marius Usher of Tel Aviv University's School of Psychological Sciences and his fellow researchers say their findings show that intuition was a surprisingly powerful and accurate tool. 

The team say that following your gut and doing what you want is usually the best option

Even at the intuitive level, an important part of the decision-making process is the integration of value - that is, taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of each option to come up with an overall picture, explained Prof Usher.

He said: 'The study demonstrates that humans have a remarkable ability to integrate value when they do so intuitively, pointing to the possibility that the brain has a system that specializes in averaging value.

'This could be the operational system on which common decision-making processes are built.

'In order to get to the core of this system, Prof Usher designed an experiment to put participants through a controlled decision-making process. 

On a computer screen, participants were shown sequences of pairs of numbers in quick succession. All numbers that appeared on the right of the screen and all on the left were considered a group; each group represented returns on the stock market.

Participants were asked to choose which of the two groups of numbers had the highest average.

Because the numbers changed so quickly - two to four pairs every second - the participants were unable to memorize the numbers or do proper mathematical calculations.

To determine the highest average of either group, they had to rely on intuitive arithmetic.
Their accuracy increased when more date was presented. 

When shown six pairs of numbers the participants chose accurately 65 percent of the time. 

But when they were shown 24 pairs, the accuracy rate grew to about 90 percent.

'Intuitively, the human brain has the capacity to take in many pieces of information and decide on an overall value,' said Prof Usher. 

'Gut reactions can be trusted to make a quality decision.'

The results of their study were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Thomas Paine, A True Social Entrepreneur and Inventor



On July 17, 1980, Ronald Reagan stood before the Republican National Convention and the American people to accept his party's nomination for president of the United States. That night Reagan startled many by calling forth the revolutionary Thomas Paine and quoting Paine's words of 1776, from the pamphlet Common Sense: "We have it in our power to begin the world over again."!

American politicians have always drawn upon the words and deeds of the Founders to bolster their own positions. Paine was not like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, or John Adams. Endowing American experience with democratic impulses and aspirations, Paine had turned Americans into radicals-and we have remained radicals at heart ever since.

Contributing fundamentally to the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the struggles of British workers in the Industrial Revolution, Thomas Paine was one of the most remarkable political writers of the modern world and the greatest radical of a radical age. Yet this son of an English artisan did not become a radical until his arrival in America in late 1774 at the age of thirty-seven. Even then he had never expected such things to happen. But struck by America's startling contradictions, magnificent possibilities, and wonderful energies, and moved by the spirit and determination of its people to resist British authority, he dedicated himself to the American cause, and through his pamphlet Common Sense and the American Crisis papers, he emboldened Americans to turn their colonial rebellion into a revolutionary war, defined the new nation in a democratically expansive and progressive fashion, and articulated an American identity charged with exceptional purpose and promise. Five feet ten inches tall, with a full head of dark hair and striking blue eyes, Paine was inquisitive, gregarious, and compassionate, yet strong-willed, combative, and ever ready to argue about and fight for the good and the right.

At war's end Paine was a popular hero, known by all as "Common Sense." Joel Barlow, American diplomat and poet, who had served as a chaplain to the Continental Army, wrote: "without the pen of Paine, the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain." And yet Paine was not finished. To him, America possessed extraordinary political, economic, and cultural potential. But he did not see that potential as belonging to Americans alone.

Reared an Englishman, adopted by America, and honored as a Frenchman, Paine often called himself a "citizen of the world." But the United States always remained paramount in his thoughts and evident in his labors, and his later writings continued to shape the young nation's events and developments. And yet as great as his contributions were, they were not always appreciated, and his affections were not always reciprocated. Paine's democratic arguments, style, and appeal-as well as his social background, confidence, and single-mindedness-antagonized many among the powerful, propertied, prestigious, and pious and made him enemies even within the ranks of his fellow patriots. (Adapted from Harvey J. Kaye, Thomas Paine and the Promise of the America)


Edward G. Gray
Tom Paine’s Bridge
Or, building a better world with iron

Several years ago, while teaching one of those history surveys that gallops across great events as if they were pebbles at Belmont, I asked my students to name a revolutionary. I had in mind Tom Paine—whose Common Sense we had just read—or perhaps Marx. I should not have been surprised by the answer I got: Bill Gates.

We do not often think of Paine as a revolutionary inventor. But in a very real sense, that is what he believed himself to be.

A revolutionary? Yes, my students told me. After all, Gates had changed everything. And he did not do this by accident. He even wrote a book, The Road Ahead (New York, 1996), whose first chapter bears the very Trotskyite title "A Revolution Begins." In that chapter, Gates reflected upon his achievements, the revolutionary looking back on the revolution. What did they know, he and Paul Allen, a couple of school kids tinkering with some funky machine at little old Lakeside School? Well, "We caused a kind of revolution—peaceful, mainly—and now the computer has taken up residence in our offices and in our homes."

My students agreed. The PC had changed the world. For them, it was clear: things made history. It was a curious, if partly semantic, problem. Would this make Eli Whitney and James Watt more radical than Thomas Jefferson or John Brown?

I had not given the problem much thought until I recently started doing some research on Tom Paine. What drew me to Paine was his peripatetic life. I had finished a project about a traveler who was a contemporary of Paine’s and who led a similarly transatlantic existence. This phenomenon was something I wanted to explore further and Paine seemed the ultimate exemplar of the mobile eighteenth century.

As I started reading Paine, I found myself drawn in an unexpected direction, albeit one that in a weird way validated what those undergrads were telling me some years ago. Paine spent most of the final twenty years of his life pursuing answers to an extraordinary technological problem. The problem was simply this: how do you create a reliable, sturdy, weather-resistant bridge that can span rivers without impeding water traffic? What a mundane problem to occupy the author of The Rights of Man.

And yet the problem was anything but mundane. Paine’s world was a water world. Everything traveled more quickly and more cheaply by water. Where there were no rivers or seas there was little of anything else. What farmers and trappers and miners and other producers could bring to market depended on ready access to water transport. We do not generally think of the Connecticut River or the Schuylkill River or the James River as hugely important commercial arteries. But in the eighteenth century they were. If you stood on their banks in the right season, you would see logs bound together as huge rafts, fifty and sixty foot dugout canoes loaded with deerskins or dried fish, and small sailing craft carrying grain, livestock, or tobacco.

If you lived, say, in the far northwestern corner of Connecticut—hardly a remote place—you may as well have lived in Siberia. (Actually, you might have been better off in Siberia. The Russians had developed an enormous and well-traveled network of post roads—maintained by state-owned serfs—stretching from Lake Baikal in Siberia to St. Petersburg. Interestingly, these were more efficient arteries during the long winters when horse pulled sledges could glide across what would otherwise be wet, boggy terrain.). Getting anything to market—you would probably head to the river town of Hartford—would have involved a treacherous journey across barely maintained trails, usually unable to accommodate any kind of cart or carriage and all but impassible in the winter months. If, heaven forbid, you should stumble upon the swollen Housatonic or Farmington Rivers, you would hope to find a ferryman nearby and you would hope he knew and liked you and was happy to take a few pounds of grain or a few deer skins for his services. You would also hope the weather cooperated. Storms and spring ice made river crossings a deadly business.

Imagine a world without these problems. Imagine simply being able to carry your goods across a bridge. Sure, you might have to pay a toll, but you could travel when you wished, unimpeded by the comings and goings of ferrymen and foul weather. And you could expect, with a nice bridge across the Housatonic for instance, that others would be following you to market, perhaps now carrying large loads of corn and rye. And with those others now happily farming in northwest Connecticut, more people would be more dependent on roads and thus more inclined to band together to maintain them. Above all, if you could make rivers easy to cross you could open once remote tracts to European-style farming and if you could do that you could, in theory anyway, make more land available to more people. You could, to put it simply, help the cause of liberty.

This would all have been very agreeable to Tom Paine. He believed in property and he believed in the "projecting spirit," that spirit of invention that seemed to inhere in the breasts of all men (this was, as far as I know, understood to be a distinctly masculine quality). He thus advocated the creation of a national system of copyright so that authors could, in effect, claim proprietary interests in their work. Not only would this afford fair remuneration, it would also—so Paine believed—spur creativity. Why create if you cannot serve yourself in the process?

Fig. 1. Applying principles advocated by Paine, the designers of the first iron arch bridge in the United States created a structure that is still in service. Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service, delineated by Christopher H. Marston, 1992. Library of Congress.

Bridge technology was obviously not a new thing in Tom Paine’s America. The Romans had created great stone ones and Europeans continued to build stone bridges using what was basically a modified Roman design. In the new United States, small wooden bridges were most common. They required little specialized knowledge and far less labor than stone bridges. But above all, wood was far more abundant in North America than in Europe.

Wooden bridges had a number of problems though. One was simply that they decayed. Moisture softens all but the rarest hardwoods, exposing load-bearing timbers to wood-boring organisms that can, in a matter of months, turn them into sawdust. The problem is especially acute on the flat road surface where pounding wagon wheels and horse hooves combine with accumulated rainwater, snow, or ice to speed decay. By the early nineteenth century, American bridge builders had devised a solution to this problem in the form of the covered bridge, but other problems with wood remained.

One was that building a wooden bridge long enough to span more than ten or fifteen feet was extremely difficult. With a growing scarcity of long, hard timbers, bridge builders had to rely on supporting piers. Aside from inhibiting river traffic, these were extremely difficult to build. They usually required temporary parapets, built midriver, within which stone foundations could be constructed. But even the most robust piers were vulnerable to forceful flood waters and spring ice.

Paine was among a small group of tinkerers who recognized that the solution to these problems lay in an old material put to a new use. That material was, of course, iron. In the short term, iron lost no strength when wet, and it could be easily fashioned into light, readily transported arches, western architecture’s strongest element. The strength of the arch allowed bridge builders to span waterways without costly piers that inhibited river traffic. But above all, Paine and his fellow inventors saw few limits to the potential span of iron bridges. As long as the basic design was sound, the scale was limited only by the ironworkers’ capacity to fashion the arches.

The material’s first real trial came in 1779 when an ironmaster named Abraham Darby III completed the world’s first iron bridge over the Severn River Gorge near the town of Coalbrookdale in England. It was a spectacular achievement. The one hundred-foot arch eased the movement of labor, manufactured goods, and raw materials fueling the region’s booming industrial economy.

Great though the Coalbrookdale Bridge was, Paine recognized several drawbacks. The first was that it was made from a vast, semicircular arch, whose height made the design feasible only for rivers running through deep gorges—or for bridges with costly embankment towers. And second, it remained largely the work of a single, creative mind. There were no plans or instructions on how similar structures might be erected elsewhere. If more such bridges were to be built, they would have to be built by Darby. This is one reason it took a decade and a half for Britain’s next full-scale iron bridge to appear.

Paine’s ambition was to solve both of these problems. He believed the same basic design principles could be applied to a much shallower arch, fashioned from a "small segment of a large circle." Such a shallow arch could span more than a hundred feet and required no more than five feet of vertical clearance. An arch was an arch. The same principles that applied to large segments of smaller circles applied to smaller segments of giant circles.

But perhaps even more innovative was Paine’s approach to the design and construction process. Instead of crafting a bridge in the way a joiner might a house or a wheelwright a wagon wheel—relying on experience and individual knowledge passed from one craftsperson to the next—he would begin with a design. And that design would be carefully tested, codified, and disseminated. Though he was a great advocate of individual patents, he would not seek one for his iron bridge. It was to become part of the public domain, accessible to all much like the uncannily crisp prose of his most famous pamphlet, Common Sense.

It was all very democratic and very much contrary to the closed and carefully guarded practices of the artisans and trade guilds in which Paine had once found his most loyal political constituency.

Fig. 2. Thomas Paine, engraved by William Sharp from a George Romney Portrait. From the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

This story, like much else in Paine’s life, ends in failure. Paine’s design never made it beyond a prototype exhibited near London. Paine eventually tried to persuade the American Congress to invest in an ambitious version, but to no avail. Nobody in the new American polity—an increasingly Christian polity—wanted to pay the price of associating with such an unapologetic skeptic. It would not be for another thirty years, long after Paine’s passing, that an actual iron bridge would be built in the United States.

Paine blamed the initial collapse of the project on the French Revolution. It was that event that prompted his former friend, Edmund Burke, to publish a popular defense of hereditary rule. The greatest political pamphleteer of the time could not sit idly by. He abandoned the iron bridge project to compose The Rights of Man, a searing rejoinder to Burke. "The publication of this work of Mr. Burke," he later wrote, "drew me from my bridge operations, and my time became employed in defending a system [of representative government] then established and operating in America and which I wished to see peaceably adopted in Europe."

We do not often think of Paine as a revolutionary inventor. But in a very real sense, that is what he believed himself to be. Paine saw in bridge design a handmaiden of social and political change. In encouraging freedom of movement, bridges could free individuals to better themselves. They could free farmers and merchants and craftspeople to move freely through the countryside, and in doing this, they could free them to prosper and become true citizens with a vested interest in the political nation.

Further Reading:

Paine discussed his iron bridge activities in several letters but he said most about the project in his 1803 petition to Congress, reprinted in Eric Foner, ed., Paine: Collected Writings (New York, 1995). Paine’s remarks on copyright appear in a 1782 letter to the Abbé Raynal, reprinted in volume 2 of Philip S. Foner, ed. The Complete Writings of Thomas Paine (New York, 1945). The most recent and most complete treatment of Paine and his iron bridge appears in chapter 9 of John Keane’s Tom Paine: A Political Life (New York, 1995).


Creative Work Has Health Advantages

Newswise — Employees who have more control over their daily activities and can do challenging work that they enjoy are likely to be in better health, new research suggests.

“The most important finding is that creative activity helps people stay healthy,” said lead author John Mirowsky, a sociology professor with the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. “Creative activity is non-routine, enjoyable and provides opportunity for learning and for solving problems. People who do that kind of work, whether paid or not, feel healthier and have fewer physical problems.”

Moreover, although people who work give up some independence, the study found that having a job does lead to better health.

“One thing that surprised us was that the daily activities of employed persons are more creative than those of non-employed persons of the same sex, age and level of education,” Mirowsky said.

The study, which appears in the December issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, comprised 2,592 adults who responded to a 1995 national telephone survey; researchers followed up respondents in 1998. The survey addressed general health, physical functioning, how people spent their time on a daily basis and whether their work, even if unpaid, gave them a chance to learn new things or do things they enjoy.

“The health advantage of being somewhat above average in creative work [in the 60th percentile] versus being somewhat below average [in the 40th percentile] is equal to being 6.7 years younger,” Mirowsky said. It is also equal to having two more years of education or 15 times greater household income, he added.

Although the authors did not examine specific job positions that could confer this health advantage, professions considered not to involve a “creative” environment were those such as assembly lines.

Rather, jobs that are high-status, with managerial authority, or that require complex work with data generally provide more access to creative work, Mirowsky said. However, he added, “People with a wide variety of jobs manage to find ways to make them creative.”

The Journal of Health and Social Behavior is the quarterly journal of the American Sociological Association. Contact Sujata Sinha, Media Relations Officer at (202) 247-9871 or ssinha@asanet.org

Mirowsky J, Ross CE. Creative work and health. J Health Soc Behav 48(4), 2007.


Creative and noncreative problem solvers exhibit different patterns of brain activity, study reveals

Why do some people solve problems more creatively than others? Are people who think creatively somehow different from those who tend to think in a more methodical fashion?

These questions are part of a long-standing debate, with some researchers arguing that what we call “creative thought” and “noncreative thought” are not basically different. If this is the case, then people who are thought of as creative do not really think in a fundamentally different way from those who are thought of as noncreative. On the other side of this debate, some researchers have argued that creative thought is fundamentally different from other forms of thought. If this is true, then those who tend to think creatively really are somehow different.

A new study led by John Kounios, professor of psychology at Drexel University and Mark Jung-Beeman of Northwestern University addresses these questions by comparing the brain activity of creative and noncreative problem solvers. The study published in the journal Neuropsychologia, reveals a distinct pattern of brain activity, even at rest, in people who tend to solve problems with a sudden creative insight -- an “Aha! Moment” – compared to people who tend to solve problems more methodically.

At the beginning of the study, participants relaxed quietly for seven minutes while their electroencephalograms (EEGs) were recorded to show their brain activity. The participants were not given any task to perform and told they could think about whatever they wanted. Later, they were asked to solve a series of anagrams – scrambled letters that can be rearranged to form words [MPXAELE = EXAMPLE]. These can be solved by deliberately and methodically trying out different letter combinations, or they can be solved with a sudden insight or “Aha!” in which the solution pops into awareness. After each successful solution, participants indicated in which way the solution had come to them.

The participants were then divided into two groups – those who reported solving the problems mostly by sudden insight, and those who reported solving the problems more methodically – and resting-state brain activity for these groups was compared. As predicted, the two groups displayed strikingly different patterns of brain activity during the resting period at the beginning of the experiment – before they knew they would have to solve problems or even knew what the study was about.

One difference was that the creative solvers exhibited greater activity in several regions of the right hemisphere. Previous research has suggested that the right hemisphere of the brain plays a special role in solving problems with creative insight, likely due to right-hemisphere involvement in the processing of loose or “remote” associations between the elements of a problem, which is understood to be an important component of creative thought. The current study shows that greater right-hemisphere activity occurs even during a “resting” state in those with a tendency to solve problems by creative insight. This finding suggests that even the spontaneous thought of creative individuals, such as in their daydreams, contains more remote associations.

Second, creative and methodical solvers exhibited different activity in areas of the brain that process visual information. The pattern of “alpha” and “beta” brainwaves in creative solvers was consistent with diffuse rather than focused visual attention. This may allow creative individuals to broadly sample the environment for experiences that can trigger remote associations to produce an Aha! Moment. For example, a glimpse of an advertisement on a billboard or a word spoken in an overheard conversation could spark an association that leads to a solution. In contrast, the more focused attention of methodical solvers reduces their distractibility, allowing them to effectively solve problems for which the solution strategy is already known, as would be the case for balancing a checkbook or baking a cake using a known recipe.

Thus, the new study shows that basic differences in brain activity between creative and methodical problem solvers exist and are evident even when these individuals are not working on a problem. According to Kounios, “Problem solving, whether creative or methodical, doesn’t begin from scratch when a person starts to work on a problem. His or her pre-existing brain-state biases a person to use a creative or a methodical strategy.”

In addition to contributing to current knowledge about the neural basis of creativity, this study suggests the possible development of new brain imaging techniques for assessing potential for creative thought, and for assessing the effectiveness of methods for training individuals to think creatively.


Kounios, J., Fleck, J.I., Green, D.L., Payne, L., Stevenson, J.L., Bowden, M., & Jung- Beeman, M. (2008). The origins of insight in resting-state brain activity. Neuropsychologia, 46, 281-291.

See also:

Jung-Beeman, M., Bowden, E.M., Haberman, J., Frymiare, J.L., Arambel-Liu, S., Greenblatt, R., Reber, P.J., & Kounios, J. (2004). Neural activity when people solve verbal problems with insight. PLoS Biology, 2, 500-510.

Kounios, J., Frymiare, J.L., Bowden, E.M., Fleck, J.I., Subramaniam, K., Parrish, T.B., & Jung-Beeman, M.J. (2006). The prepared mind: Neural activity prior to problem presentation predicts subsequent solution by sudden insight. Psychological Science, 17, 882-890.



Reputation and money: New insights into how the brain processes social, economic reward

Researchers have mapped the brain regions that process social standing and money rewards, yielding new insights that they said will aid understanding of the basis of social behaviors.

They published their findings in two papers in the April 24, 2008, issue of the journal Neuron, published by Cell Press.

In one paper, Norihiro Sadato and colleagues found that making money and making a reputation engage much of the same reward circuitry in the brain—a finding that they say yields insight into what drives complex social behaviors.

In the other paper, Caroline Zink and colleagues mapped brain regions that are active when a person is processing information on social status. The researchers said their findings could yield insight into why social status can so profoundly affect behavior and health.

Also, the papers’ findings could offer an understanding of why drug treatments for such neurological disorders as Parkinson’s disease can trigger abnormal money-related behaviors such as compulsive gambling, commented Rebecca Saxe and Johannes Haushofer in a preview of the two papers in the same issue of Neuron.

In the first paper, Sadato and colleagues compared the activation of specific areas of volunteers’ brains as they took part in two experiments in which they received either money or social rewards. During the experiments, the researchers scanned the subjects’ brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), in which harmless magnetic fields and radio waves are used to measure blood flow in brain regions, which reflects activity.

In the monetary reward experiments, the subjects were told they were playing a gambling game, in which they chose one of three cards to receive a payoff. However, the researchers manipulated the game so that they could determine the brain activity triggered by high rewards.

In the social reward experiment, the subjects were told that strangers would be evaluating them based on information from a personality questionnaire and a video they made introducing themselves. The subjects were shown a picture of themselves, along with the word or phrase indicating how the strangers had evaluated them. However, the strangers did not really exist, and the researchers showed the subjects predetermined evaluations that allowed the researchers to manipulate the level of social reward experienced by the subjects.

Sadato and colleagues found that both the monetary and social rewards activated a reward-related area of the brain called the striatum.

“By directly contrasting the brain activities of the same subjects in relation to the delivery of social and monetary rewards, our results clearly show that social approval shares the same neural basis as monetary rewards, thus providing strong support for the idea of a ‘common neural currency’ of reward,” concluded the researchers.

They wrote that their findings “indicate that the social reward of a good reputation should be incorporated into the neural model of human decision making in a similar manner to monetary rewards.” Thus, they wrote, experiments on decision making that use money-related games need to take into account that the subjects are exchanging more than money; they are also dealing in approval and reputation.

“Our findings indicate that the social reward of a good reputation in the eyes of others is processed in an anatomically and functionally similar manner to monetary rewards, and these results represent an essential step toward a complete neural understanding of human social behaviors,” concluded Sadato and colleagues.

In the second Neuron paper, Zink and colleagues explored the neural regions activated when people process information on their social status. Such insights, they said, are significant because social hierarchies are important factors in social behavior, and “in humans, social status strongly predicts well-being, morbidity, and even survival.”

In their experiments, the researchers set up artificial social hierarchies by asking volunteers to play simple interactive games for a money reward. Each of the volunteers was told that they were playing the games along with two other players, one of whom was a superior player and one an inferior player. However, in reality, the other players did not exist, and the game outcomes were manipulated so that the researchers could control the social status of the player. To give the illusion that the other players existed, the subjects saw the other players’ images on the screen during play. Importantly, the games were noncompetitive, so that the researchers could measure only social status and its change.

During the games, the subjects’ brains were scanned using fMRI, so the researchers could map the brain regions active during different conditions of social hierarchy.

In the first experiment, the researchers kept the social hierarchy stable. The subjects were asked to respond as quickly as possible when a blue circle on a computer screen changed to green. Throughout the game, the players’ status did not change relative to the other “players.”

In the second experiment, the researchers made the social hierarchy unstable, manipulating the outcome so that the player might do better or worse than the other “players.” In that game, the player was asked to respond as quickly as possible to indicate which of two boxes on the computer screen contained the most black dots. Periodically during the game, the player would be told whether his/her status was rising or falling compared to the other “players.”

In the third experiment, the researchers told the players they were playing against a computer, allowing the researchers to pinpoint the brain regions specifically activated by social behavior.

The researchers found they could distinguish brain regions that were more active when the subjects thought they were viewing a superior person compared with an inferior person, implicating these brain regions in the neural encoding of hierarchical rank.

Also, the researchers could distinguish brain areas that were particularly active when social hierarchy was changing. These areas included those involved in social emotional processing and social cognition.

“We conclude that activity in these regions represents an emotional arousal response to the superior player that only arises when the hierarchy is dynamic, i.e., when relative performance, although irrelevant for the game outcome, can have social hierarchical consequences,” wrote the researchers.

Zink and colleagues wrote that “our findings demonstrate that brain responses to superiority and inferiority are dissociable, even in the absence of explicit competition, both when encountering an individual of a particular status and when faced with an outcome that can affect one’s current position in the hierarchy. We hope that this research leads to identification of neural mechanisms mediating the enormous impact of social status on decision-making, health, and survival in humans.”

“One immediate implication of these results is for patients with dysfunction of these brain regions,” wrote Saxe and Haushofer in their preview. “The striatum is among the targets of some neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease (PD). Overtreatment of PD with dopamine agonists is known to induce abnormal economic decision-making, including compulsive gambling. If the same brain structures are responsible for the reward-value of love and reputation, pharmacological manipulation of the striatum may also have social consequences.”


Article 1:

The researchers include Keise Izuma, National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS), Aichi, Japan, The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Kanagawa, Japan; Daisuke N. Saito, National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS), Aichi, Japan, Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)/Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX), Tokyo, Japan; and Norihiro Sadato, National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS), Aichi, Japan, The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Kanagawa, Japan, Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)/Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX), Tokyo, Japan, Biomedical Imaging Research Center (BIRC), University of Fukui, Fukui, Japan.

Article 2:

The researchers include Caroline F. Zink, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD; Yunxia Tong, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD; Qiang Chen, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD; Danielle S. Bassett, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD; Jason L. Stein, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD; and Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany.



Go With Your Gut -- Intuition Is More Than Just A Hunch, Says New Research

Most of us experience ‘gut feelings’ we can’t explain, such as instantly loving – or hating – a new property when we’re househunting or the snap judgements we make on meeting new people. Now researchers at Leeds say these feelings – or intuitions – are real and we should take our hunches seriously.

According to a team led by Professor Gerard Hodgkinson of the Centre for Organisational Strategy, Learning and Change at Leeds University Business School, intuition is the result of the way our brains store, process and retrieve information on a subconscious level and so is a real psychological phenomenon which needs further study to help us harness its potential.

There are many recorded incidences where intuition prevented catastrophes and cases of remarkable recoveries when doctors followed their gut feelings. Yet science has historically ridiculed the concept of intuition, putting it in the same box as parapsychology, phrenology and other ‘pseudoscientific’ practices.

Through analysis of a wide range of research papers examining the phenomenon, the researchers conclude that intuition is the brain drawing on past experiences and external cues to make a decision – but one that happens so fast the reaction is at a non-conscious level. All we’re aware of is a general feeling that something is right or wrong.

“People usually experience true intuition when they are under severe time pressure or in a situation of information overload or acute danger, where conscious analysis of the situation may be difficult or impossible,” says Prof Hodgkinson.

He cites the recorded case of a Formula One driver who braked sharply when nearing a hairpin bend without knowing why – and as a result avoided hitting a pile-up of cars on the track ahead, undoubtedly saving his life.

“The driver couldn’t explain why he felt he should stop, but the urge was much stronger than his desire to win the race,” explains Professor Hodgkinson. “The driver underwent forensic analysis by psychologists afterwards, where he was shown a video to mentally relive the event. In hindsight he realised that the crowd, which would have normally been cheering him on, wasn’t looking at him coming up to the bend but was looking the other way in a static, frozen way. That was the cue. He didn’t consciously process this, but he knew something was wrong and stopped in time.”

Prof Hodgkinson believes that all intuitive experiences are based on the instantaneous evaluation of such internal and external cues – but does not speculate on whether intuitive decisions are necessarily the right ones.

“Humans clearly need both conscious and non-conscious thought processes, but it’s likely that neither is intrinsically ‘better’ than the other,” he says.

As a Chartered occupational psychologist, Prof Hodgkinson is particularly interested in the impact of intuition within business, where many executives and managers claim to use intuition over deliberate analysis when a swift decision is required. “We’d like to identify when business people choose to switch from one mode to the other and why – and also analyse when their decision is the correct one. By understanding this phenomenon, we could then help organisations to harness and hone intuitive skills in their executives and managers.”

The research is published in the current issue of the British Journal of Psychology.  The article comprises a critical review of previously published theory and research within psychology and the wider behavioural sciences.

Journal reference:Hodgkinson, G.P., Langan-Fox, J. and Sadler-Smith, E. (2008). Intuition: A fundamental bridging construct in the behavioural sciences. British Journal of Psychology, 99, 1-27.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided byUniversity of Leeds.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Most creative people believe in Hope

“Hope” is the thing with feathers


“Hope” is the thing with feathers -

That perches in the soul -

And sings the tune without the words -

And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -

And sore must be the storm -

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -

And on the strangest Sea -

Yet - never - in Extremity,

It asked a crumb - of me.



     First proposed seal of the United States, 1776
  First proposed seal of the United States, 1776

Founding fathers

First proposed seal of the United States, 1776

On July 4, 1776, immediately after the Declaration of Independence was officially passed, the Continental Congress asked John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin to design a seal that would clearly represent a symbol for the new United States. They chose the symbol of Moses leading the Israelites to freedom. The founding fathers inscribed the words of Moses on the Liberty Bell: "Proclaim Liberty thro' all the Land to all the Inhabitants thereof." (Levit. 25)

Upon the death of George Washington in 1799, two thirds of his eulogies referred to him as "America's Moses," with one orator saying that "Washington has been the same to us as Moses was to the Children of Israel."

Benjamin Franklin, in 1788, saw the difficulties that some of the newly independent American states were having in forming a government, and proposed that until a new code of laws could be agreed to, they should be governed by "the laws of Moses," as contained in the Old Testament. He justified his proposal by explaining that the laws had worked in biblical times: "The Supreme Being… having rescued them from bondage by many miracles, performed by his servant Moses, he personally delivered to that chosen servant, in the presence of the whole nation, a constitution and code of laws for their observance.

John Adams, America's 2nd president, stated why he relied on the laws of Moses over Greek philosophy for establishing the Constitution: "As much as I love, esteem, and admire the Greeks, I believe the Hebrews have done more to enlighten and civilize the world. Moses did more than all their legislators and philosophers. Swedish historian Hugo Valentin credited Moses as the "first to proclaim the rights of man."

Moses is depicted in several U.S. government buildings because of his legacy as a lawgiver. In the Library of Congress stands a large statue of Moses alongside a statue of the Apostle Paul. Moses is one of the 23 lawgivers depicted in marble bas-reliefs in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives in the United States Capitol. The plaque's overview states: "Moses (c. 1350–1250 B.C.) Hebrew prophet and lawgiver; transformed a wandering people into a nation; received the Ten Commandments."

The other twenty-two figures have their profiles turned to Moses, which is the only forward-facing bas-relief.

Statue by Michelangelo Buonarotti — in Basilica San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome

     Sculpture in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  Sculpture in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Moses appears eight times in carvings that ring the Supreme Court Great Hall ceiling. His face is presented along with other ancient figures such as Solomon, the Greek god Zeus and the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva. The Supreme Court building's east pediment depicts Moses holding two tablets. Tablets representing the Ten Commandments can be found carved in the oak courtroom doors, on the support frame of the courtroom's bronze gates and in the library woodwork. A controversial image is one that sits directly above the chief justice's head. In the center of the 40-foot-long Spanish marble carving is a tablet displaying Roman numerals I through X, with some numbers partially hidden.

In a metaphorical sense in the Christian tradition, a "Moses" has been referred to as the leader who delivers the people from a terrible situation. Among the presidents known to have used the symbolism of Moses were Harry S. Truman, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who referred to his supporters as "the Moses generation."

Winston Churchill, in his essay called "Moses—the Leader of a People", published in 1931, used the story of Moses to convince the British population of its need for strong leadership, and that "human success depends on the favor of God." He saw Moses as more than a metaphor, however, rejecting as "myth" the assertions that Moses was only a legendary figure.

He described him as "the supreme law-giver, who received from God that remarkable code upon which the religious, moral, and social life of the nation was so securely founded… [and] one of the greatest human beings with the most decisive leap forward ever discernable in the human story." Churchill also noted the relevance of the story of Moses to modern Britain: "We may believe that they happened to a people not so very different from ourselves..."

In his essay, Churchill implied that the Ten Commandments were a primary set of laws, "Here [Mount Sinai] Moses received from [God] the tables of those fundamental laws which were henceforth to be followed, with occasional lapses, by the highest forms of human society."

In subsequent years, theologians linked the Ten Commandments with the formation of early democracy. Scottish theologian William Barclay described them as "the universal foundation of all things… the law without which nationhood is impossible. …Our society is founded upon it. Pope Francis addressed the U.S. Congress in 2015 stating that all people need to "keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation... [and] the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Source: Wikipedia


The Name Alexander

Alexander, born in 356 BCE, was the son of Phillip II (382-336 BCE), the King of Macedonia in northern Greece (and considered a barbarian by the southern Greek city states). Phillip created a powerful, professional army which forcibly united the fractious Greek city-states into one empire.

From an early age, Alexander displayed tremendous military talent and was appointed as a commander in his father's army at the age of 18. Having conquered all of Greece, Phillip was about to embark on a campaign to invade Greece's arch-enemy, the Persian Empire. Before he could invade Persia, Phillip was assassinated, possibly by Alexander, who then became king in 336BCE. Two years later in 334 BCE, he crossed the Hellspont (in modern-day Turkey) with 45,000 men and invaded the Persian Empire.

In three colossal battles – Granicus, Issus and Gaugamela – that took place between 334 and 331, Alexander brilliantly (and often recklessly) led his army to victory against Persian armies that may have outnumbered his own as much as ten to one. By 331 BCE, the Persian Empire was defeated, the Persian Emperor Darius was dead, and Alexander was the undisputed ruler of the Mediterranean. His military campaign lasted 12 years and took him and his army 10,000 miles to the Indus River in India.

Only the weariness of his men and Alexander's untimely death in 323BCE at the age of 32 ended the Greek conquest of the known world. It is said that when Alexander looked at his empire, he wept for there was nothing more to conquer. His vast empire did not survive his death, but fragmented into three large chunks centered in Greece, Egypt, and Syria and controlled by his former generals.

At its largest, Alexander's empire stretched from Egypt to India. He built six Greek cities, all named Alexandria. (Only Alexandria in Egypt still survives) These cities, and the Greeks who settled in them, brought Greek culture to the center of the oldest civilizations of Mesopotamia.

The Greeks were not only military imperialists but also cultural imperialists. Greek soldiers and settlers brought their way of life – their language, art, architecture, literature, and philosophy – to Middle East. When Greek culture merged with the culture of the Middle East, it created a new cultural hybrid – Hellenism (Hellas is the Greek word for Greece) – whose impact would be far greater and last far longer than the brief period of Alexander's empire. Whether through the idea of the pitched battle, art, architecture or philosophy, Hellenism's influence on the Roman Empire, Christianity, and the West was monumental. But it is the interaction between the Jews and the Greeks and the impact of Hellenism on Judaism that we want to take a closer look at.

Detour To Israel

During his military campaign against Persia, Alexander took a detour to the south, conquering Tyre and then Egypt via what is today Israel. There is a fascinating story about Alexander's first encounter with the Jews of Israel, who were subjects of the Persian Empire.

As tribute to his conquest, the Sages decreed that Jewish boys be named Alexander.

The narrative concerning Alexander's first interaction with the Jews is recorded in both the Talmud (Yoma 69a) and in the Jewish historian Josephus's Book of Antiquities (XI, 321-47). In both accounts the High Priest of the Temple in Jerusalem, fearing that Alexander would destroy the city, went out to meet him before he arrived at the city. The narrative describes how Alexander, upon seeing the High Priest, dismounted and bowed to him. (Alexander rarely, if ever, bowed to anyone). In Josephus's account, when asked by his general, Parmerio, to explain his actions, Alexander answered, "I did not bow before him, but before that God who has honored him with the high Priesthood; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very apparel."

Alexander interpreted the vision of the High Priest as a good omen and thus spared Jerusalem, peacefully absorbing the Land of Israel into his growing empire. As tribute to his benign conquest, the Sages decreed that the Jewish firstborn of that time be named Alexander – which remains a Jewish name to this very day. And the date of their encounter, the 25th of Tevet, was declared a minor holiday.

Jews and Greeks

Thus began one the most interesting and complex cultural relationships in the ancient world. The Greeks had never met anyone like the Jews, and the Jews had never met anyone like the Greeks. The initial interaction seemed to be very positive. To the Jews, the Greeks were a new and exotic culture from the West. They had a profound intellectual tradition that produced philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle (who was Alexander's tutor for two years). Their love of wisdom, science, art, and architecture set them apart from other cultures the Jews had interacted with. The Greek language was considered so beautiful that the Talmud called it in some ways the most beautiful of all languages and the Rabbis decreed that a Torah scroll could even be written in Greek.

Please Continue to Section 2

What is Motivation; Creative Process, Optimism, Happiness, Self-Esteem, Creativity, Competency, Intrinsic Motivation, Meditation, Inspiration, Coaching, Life Coach, Motivational, Mindfulness .

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Alexander K. Katiraie BS, BA, MS, MBA

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