i’m sure you have heard, many times, of the classic proposition that somehow all books and stories already exist. according to that view, writing a book is the art of choosing the right combination of word, and creativity the skill of navigating that space of all possible stories stories successfully in order to find the interesting or relevant stories.
you probably have also stumbled across the debate of whether mathematics is actually discovered rather than invented, or in other words, whether mathematics is observational rather than experimental/inspirational.
in my opinion, the proposition that all books are written and the illusion that mathematics are discovered, are both wrong and fall victim to a common underlying phenomenon. i’d venture to assert that we humans are extremely good at taking knowledge, concepts and content, and feel equally comfortable working with it as with old one. also, it seems to me that as soon as we invent something new we immediately incorporate it to our repertoire of knowledge easily, effortlessly. and because of that ease, the line between the new and the old blur, and the action of creation passes almost unnoticed. if not forgotten. as if things had been there forever.
of course, the illusion of pre-existence is not only an easy one to fall for, but also an intellectually appealing one, or perhaps, a convenient one. a reality that we don’t create or invent, but we simply discover/find, is a static and finite reality. easier to understand, easier to digest. and depending on your psychological wiring, more satisfying.
but no matter how comforting it is to thing of pre-creation, or how naturally and harmoniously new ideas, stories, theorems or values sit with the rest of the pre-known, those things were not there until we created them. we are just incredibly plastic at absorbing, but not because of that should we forget how incredibly remarkable we are at creating as well.