According to Encyclopedia Americana, “An invention is recognised to be any new or useful mechanical contrivance or article, method, discovery, composition of matter or system, not previously known or used, or any improvement in any known machine, art, method or system.” In this way, invention is either to invent or to bring about an improvement in some already existing instrument, article, apparatus, system and organisation.
In both the conditions, invention is always something new and is also useful. It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. It also means that every invention is useful in one form or the other.
Invention and Discovery
To understand the full meaning of invention, it is necessary to understand the difference between invention and discovery. Discovery means searching out some pre-existing article, system, apparatus or organisation.
For example, Newton’s discovery of the law of gravitation was no invention because the law worked even before Newton discovered it. Newton neither made not improved it. On the other hand, James Watt invented steam engine or Marconi invented wireless. These things did not exist before these scientists invented them.
Work and Contribution of Invention in Cultural Growth
The contribution of invention in the evolution and growth of human culture has very important. There is no cultural evolution in the animal world because animals change according to environment. But man, instead of changing, discovers and invents new things according to nature and thus finds out new means of adjustment in environment.
It is on the strength of inventions that man has reached the present cultural evolution. From the culture of prehistoric period to the level of modern culture, passing through stone, bronze and iron ages, man has evolved on the grounds of inventions and discoveries. Inventions have influenced not only the material aspect of human life but its mental and spiritual aspect also.
New inventions have been made, not only in the mode of man’s life but also in the field of his art, literature, religion and recreation etc., and have helped cultural evolution. Only one example of this will suffice. In the beginning, a handle was adjusted to a motor and turned round with a force to start it.
This work was unbecoming and difficult for women. Women therefore did not use cars. Nowadays it is not used to start a car because self-starter has been invented. The habit and custom among women of using cars have been on the increase.
They have therefore begun to roam all alone in cars and cover long distances out side their houses, they have begun to pay more attention towards their dress and there has been increased activity in them. All this has produced great change in their ideas. Their desire for independence has increased.
Their modes of recreation have changed. In this way, this small invention has been the cause of great cultural evolution in human societies.