Philosophical Foundations of TRIZ

TRIZ has several philosophical roots.

Thinking in contradictions, in categories of processes and development and dialectics point to the heritage of western philosophy in the tradition of Kant, Hegel and Marx.

Due to the roots of the majority of TRIZoviks in the former Soviet union one has to take into account the special circumstances of life and thinking.

The first one was addressed by Slava Gerovich as the impossibility publicly to discuss social contradictions thus strongly restricting the notion of creativity and inventiveness to problems rooted in technology.

The second one is nevertheless a philosophical heritage developing after Stalin’s death particularly in Moscow around the Moscow Methodological Circle that is claimed by several sources a quite influential not only for peple working in TRIZ but also in a wider range of the postsoviet Russian establishment.

Roots in Hegel, Marx and Dialectics

The Moscow Methodological Circle (MMK). A Bird’s Eye.

The ideas of the Russian philosopher Georgy Shchedrovitsky, who founded the “Moscow Methodological Circle” gained traction in the late 1950s and had resonance through Khrushchev’s thaw, Brezhnev’s stagnation, and Gorbachev’s perestroika—right up until his death in 1994.

Shchedrovitsky essentially viewed human beings as machines that must be programed to perform certain functions—essentially, the theory of “social engineering.” The literary scholar Ilya Kukulin has found some similarities between Shchedrovitsky’s philosophy and the works of Soviet-era science fiction writers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky: most of their novels feature a “progressor,” a man who finds himself in the past or on a backward planet and eventually changes the world around him.

In effect, Shchedrovitsky and his followers were themselves progressors. They made no secret of their intent to influence government decisions, and it’s quite possible that Shchedrovitsky’s followers played a role in perestroika in the 1980s, since thousands of people had been exposed to his philosophy by this time.

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The idea “A man who finds himself in the past or on a backward planet and eventually changes the world around him” is one of the core ideas of the TRIZ subtheory TRTL (theory of the development of a creative personality) that builds up a quite special mixture of anarcho-communistic, libertarian and neoliberal ideas, but has also links to the notion of Concrete Utopia by Ernst Bloch.