Thanks for that James.
Another interesting take on the value of mental models is Douglas Hofstadter’s essay Variations on a Theme as the Crux of Creativity.
The essay argues that each new theme — or creative breakthrough — is a unique combination of the many themes that preceded it. “There is nothing new under the sun,” says Ecclesiastes. Or, if your tastes are less canonical, perhaps you prefer Newton: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Every idea is built upon a thousand related ideas. Each new theme is itself some sort of variation of previous themes. The more we read, the greater the opportunity for theme intermingling and creative breakthrough. Per your essay, mental models are a practical way of categorizing ideas and maximizing our chances of novel problem solving. I find this idea fascinating and wrote about it in this essay: Cached Thoughts and Variations on a Theme.