Liane Gabora

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Liane Gabora is a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia - Okanagan. She is best known for her theory of the "Origin of the modern mind through conceptual closure," which built on her earlier work on "Autocatalytic closure in a cognitive system: A tentative scenario for the origin of culture." Her recent writing on Honing Theory is adding new direction to the considerable work published on theories of creativity.


Gabora has contributed to the study of cultural evolution and evolution of societies, focusing strongly on the role of personal creativity, as opposed to memetic imitation or instruction, in differentiating modern human from prior hominid or modern ape culture. In particular, she seems to follow feminist economists and green economists in making a very strong, indeed pivotal, distinction between creative "enterprise", invention, art or "individual capital" and imitative "meme", rule, social category or "instructional capital".

Gabora's views contrasts with that of memetics and of the strongest social capital theorists (e.g. Karl Marx or Paul Adler) in that she seems to see, as do theorists of intellectual capital, social signals or labels as markers of trust already invested in individual and instructional complexes - rather than as first class actors in themselves. She puts special emphasis on quantifiable archaeological data, such as the number of different arrow points styles, than on contemporary observations to minimize cultural bias and notational bias.[citation needed]

Some of her more recent work raises extremely controversial themes in philosophy of science and strongly challenges the particle physics foundation ontology (e.g. studying the "violation of Bell inequalities in the macroworld"). She is also known for her contributions to the subtle technology field.

"Honing Theory: A Complex Systems Framework for Creativity" is her latest publication, which suggests that culture evolves through social interaction and exchange between minds that self-organise and modify based on their environment. Creativity arises due to the possibility of uncertainty and disorder, resulting in arousal and a process of novelty and originality until the arousal dissipates. This in turn feeds the cultural norm which in turn feeds further creativity resulting in part the evolution of culture.


  • Gabora, L. (1997) The origin and evolution of culture and creativity. Journal of Memetics: Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission, 1(1).
  • Gabora, L. (1995) Meme and variations: A computer model of cultural evolution. In (L. Nadel & D. Stein, Eds.) 1993 Lectures in Complex Systems. Addison-Wesley.
  • Gabora, L. & Aerts, D. (2002) Contextualizing concepts. Proceedings of the 15th International FLAIRS Conference (Special Track 'Categorization and Concept Representation: Models and Implications'), Pensacola Beach FL, May 14-17, American Association for Artificial Intelligence.
  • Gabora, L. (2002) The beer can theory of creativity. In (P. Bentley & D. Corne, Eds.) Creative Evolutionary Systems. Morgan Kaufmann.
  • Aerts, D., Aerts, S., Broekaert, J., & Gabora, L. (2000) The violation of Bell inequalities in the macroworld. Foundations of Physics, 30 (9). [quant-ph/0007041]
  • Gabora, L. (2010). Revenge of the 'neurds': Characterizing creative thought in terms of the structure and dynamics of human memory. Creativity Research Journal, 22(1), 1-13.
  • Gabora, L. (2017). Honing theory: A complex systems framework for creativity. Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, 21(1), 35-88. [1]

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