ML188: Armand D'Angour on How To Innovate, Lessons from the Ancient Greeks and The Philosophy of Change
Armand D’Angour is a professor of classics and a fellow of Jesus College at the University of Oxford.
He is the author of Socrates in Love and The Greeks and the New, has lectured widely on innovation at business schools and even managed a family manufacturing business before becoming a classics professor.
When it comes to innovation and creative thinking, we are still catching up with the ancient Greeks.
Between 800 and 300 BC, they changed the world with astonishing inventions—democracy, the alphabet, philosophy, logic, rhetoric, mathematical proof, rational medicine, drama, lifelike sculpture, and competitive athletics.
None of this happened by accident.
They recognised the power of creating new things and tried to understand and promote the conditions that made it possible. The Greeks were the first to write extensively about innovation and we can still learn a great deal from them when it comes to innovating.
Armand's latest book, How to Innovate: An Ancient Guide to Creative Thinking captures some of the best ideas about innovation and creative thinking from Ancient Greece, drawing on the work of Aristotle, Diodorus, and Athenaeus. It’s the foundation for this episode and in it we discuss:
- The 3 different types of innovation and how to use them to your advantage
- How the Greeks thought about change and what we can learn from them
- The relationship between innovation and ethics and what it means for technological progress
We also cover the true story behind Archimedes’ famous “Eureka!” moment, Aristotle’s thoughts on political innovation, and how the Theban General’s winning strategy against the Spartans changed military strategy forever. There is a lot of great insight in here, even if you’re not as into the Ancient Greeks as I am.
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