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CREATIVITY RESEARCH JOURNAL, 22(4), 347360, 2010 Copyright # Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 1040-0419 print=1532-6934

online DOI: 10.1080/10400419.2010.523390

The Notion of Creativity Revisited: A Philosophical Perspective on Creativity Research

Sren Harnow Klausen
Institute of Philosophy, Education, and the Study of Religions, University of Southern Denmark

This article is a critical, yet constructive, review of some recent attempts to dene and understand creativity, informed by the methods and debates of contemporary philosophy. I argue that the denitional project is not essential to creativity research, but important nevertheless. The standard denition of creativity as the production of something that is both novel and appropriate is on the right track, but needs further qualication and tends to be elaborated in ways that make it either too narrow or too broad. I argue that the product, and not the person or process, should be viewed as the primary bearer of creativity and criticize some inuential theorists for making creativity too strongly dependent on social acceptance, while also recognizing that the realist alternative tends to widen, and thus threatens to trivialize, the central notion of an appropriate product. The notion of response-dependence might be of some help to nd the proper balance between the two extremes, and some comparisons with evolutionary theory also help to shed further light on the problem. Finally, I try to spell out the practical consequences of my investigation for creativity research.

THE NEED FOR CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS People seldom know exactly what they talk about. They do not think about the meaning of the words they use, and if asked to do so, they are usually not able to provide any tenable denition. This is so not only in everyday life, but even within large parts of science. It seems particularly ubiquitous in the social and business sciences, where one can get away with writing a scholarly book on the impact of knowledge on society without the slightest attempt at dening or clarifying what one means by the term knowledge. Although this has been an annoyance, especially to philosophers, who have been complaining about semantic ignorance since the time of Socrates, there may be nothing very problematic about it. It seems that individuals mostly do succeed in communicating their thoughts and coordinating their practical tasks, and this indicates that they
Correspondence should be sent to Sren Harnow Klausen, Institute of Philosophy, Education, and the Study of Religions, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark. E-mail:

have a sufcient implicit grasp of the meaning of their concepts, even if they elude their capacities for reective knowledge and explication. Since conceptual analysis is, at any rate, a notoriously difcult and controversial business, it is understandable that science does not await the resolution of denitional disputes, but simply moves on to inquire deeper into the nature of those things and phenomena to which individuals seemingly refer with their concepts. Amabile (1996) thus remarked, very aptly, that there is scientic precedence for conducting research in the absence of a widely accepted objective denition of the entity under study (p. 19). It is important to keep this in mind when it turns out, as argued in this article, that the standard denition of creativity is problematic and maybe in an even worse state than is generally acknowledged by creativity researchers themselves. This should not be considered fatal or scandalous; it need not shake the foundations of creativity research, even though it is likely to have some practical consequences. In fact, creativity research is considerably better off than most comparable elds of study when it comes to



conceptual clarity and terminological regimentation. There have been many serious denitional efforts, and there is widespread awareness of the problems and limitations of extant denitions (see, e.g., Amabile, 1996; Csikzentmihalyi, 1999; Eysenck, 1994; Sternberg, 1999, 7). Hence, there can be no question of intervening arrogantly into the eld of creativity research, sweeping away established patterns of thought by means of philosophical conceptual analysis. A more appropriate aim is to reveal tensions and difculties within the established framework, argue for further caution, and suggest some minor amendments. But why bother at all with the denition of creativity, if it is not a practical necessity and likely to present intractable difculties? First, even empirically minded creativity researchers generally acknowledge the need for conceptual clarication. Amabile (1996), after urging that we should go on studying creativity before having settled the denitional issue, hastened to add that this is not to say, however, that we can postpone indenitely any concerns about dening creativity (p. 19). A main reason for the widespread interest in the denitional issue is that creativity, whatever else it may be, is obviously not a concrete and immediately identiable phenomenon (Mumford & Gustafson, 1988). It is not like height or acidity, but more like, say, humor or beauty, a quality that peoplealthough they may concur in many of their actual judgmentsare prone to disagree about.Yet it is also something psychologists and educational researchers are keen to detect and measure. This engenders a need for precise and explicit criteria: Researchers must know and be able to state what they are going to look for. Creativity tests have thus been criticized for actually testing other abilities that are either merely components of creativity or factors typically accompanying it (see, e.g., Hocevar, 1981; Ward, 1974). Such criticism, as well as the development of more appropriate methods, presupposes more than just an implicit grasp of what creativity is. The connection between the interest in the denitional issue and the interest in devising reliable methods for measurement and assessment is also the source of one of the basic problems with the extant creativity denitions. In this, as in other areas, there is a tendency to assimilate the denition of the entity under study to those properties that happen to be most conveniently measurable. Although perfectly understandable, this begs the question against those who hold creativity to be an elusive phenomenon or at least something that doesnt have to be manifested in some specic observable behavior. In the technical vocabulary of analytical philosophy, we can say that creativity researchers are pulled toward vericationism (viz. the view that the nature of an entity, or the meaning of a concept, is determined by epistemic factors, like the methods or criteria used

to gain knowledge about the entity in question). The best known example of this tendency is psychological behaviorism, which originated out of a legitimate concern for providing psychology with a scientic basis, but quickly developed into a program of ontological reduction, eventually denying the existence of any mental reality besides behavior or dispositions to behave. Although behaviorism was soon abandoned, and we have since learned to be more wary of vericationist temptations, the tendency persists in more subtle forms. Even those creativity researchers who take pains to distinguish between theoretical and operational denitions of creativity (such as Amabile, 1996) may still be inuenced by their concern for empirical applicability when theorizing about the nature of creativity. In any case, the concern for assessment and measurement of creativity is an important source of interest in the denitional question. Second, there is widespread suspicion that the notion of creativity is ambiguous. It can hardly be taken for granted that we all share a common implicit understanding of creativity. In fact, there is evidence that conceptions of creativity differ among people, societies, and cultures. For example, teachers may have in mind famous cases of artistic genius or specic romantic notions of creativity when assessing students performances, and thus tend to overlook aspects that should, according to a more inclusive denition, nevertheless be considered creative (Diakidoy & Kanari, 1999). It has also been argued that what has been presented as the notion of creativity is actually only oneWestern, perhaps even Anglo-Saxonamong several culturedependent notions that differ, for example, as to whether the product or personal self-growth is most crucial (cf. Lubart, 1999). Lubart (1999) does, however, seem to confound the context-dependence of notions of creativity (and, especially, views about the creative process) with the context-dependence of creativity itself. Only on the implausible assumption that creativity is a thoroughly socially constructed phenomenon can one intfer the former from the latter. Lubart also adopts the highly controversial Sapir-Whorf thesis of linguistic determinism, the view that language shapes thought, without reservation. Third, even though it may be difcult to improve very much on the extant denitions, examining them critically may reveal ner distinctions within the general notion and thus serve to highlight aspects and nuances of creativity that would otherwise go unnoticed. It may provide hints of what to look for, and what to abstract from, in empirical studies. Conceptual analysis can be seen as a way of doing ontology, of inquiring into the nature of an entity, even if it needs to be supplemented and informed by empirical studies. In recent years, this modest yet optimistic view of the conceptual analysis



has become widely accepted (see, e.g., Jackson, 1998).1 Hence, even if analytical efforts fail to yield a complete and precise denition, they can make people aware and more knowledgeable about various aspects of creativity. Fourth, we quite generally do like to know what we are dealing with, regardless of whether this knowledge can be of much practical use. This is true not least of creativity, which has been perceived through much of history as both one of the most distinctive features of humanity and a puzzle, if not a mystery. Creativity research may be motivated by recognition of the immense practical importance of creativity and a wish for being able to foster it more systematically, but this should not swamp the element of fundamental curiosity that drives all good science.

for some reason or another, nevertheless fails to produce a result that is accepted as tenable, useful, or satisfying. It is thus preferable to speak instead of a process which has a propensity for resulting in a novel work. Inspiration for such a move can be found in contemporary epistemology, in which one of the dominant theoriesreliabilism takes a belief to be justied if it has been produced by a sufciently reliable process, that is, a process with a signicant propensity for producing true beliefs. This allows that a belief can be justied even if it happens to be false (Goldman, 1986). Similarly, a process with a signicant propensity for leading to creative achievements may be deemed creative even if the actual outcome doesnt exhibit the desired quality. Apart from this technical quibble, three points are particularly worth noting. 1. The denition takes creativity to be a property of a certain process, although the process is specied with reference to the peculiar quality of the work in which it results. This raises the question of what is the bearer of creativity (see section on The Bearer of Creativity). 2. The denition makes creativity dependent on social acceptance, albeit very liberally construed. A work may count as the result of a creative process even if it is not accepted by a contemporary audience; but it must be accepted by some group at some time. This raises the important issue of the extent to which creativity should be seen as an audience- or judgment-relative property, or, to put it in philosophical terms, the issue of realism versus antirealism with regard to creativity. Stein (1953) obviously attempts to steer a middle course, recognizing a certain degree of audience-dependence while allowing that creative achievements may go unnoticed for a longperhaps even indenitely longtime. This is a sensible move; but the issue is complex, and almost any possible answer to it has its problems (see Realism, Antirealism, and ResponseDependence section). 3. The quality of the product is dened very broadly. It just has to be tenable, useful, or satisfying. This is controversial, although perhaps not quite implausible. The invention of a novel word processor that might be deemed tenable and no doubt could be useful, but performed less well than already existing programs, would probably not be considered creative. Or it might be, in some circumstancesthink of the invention of technological devices in the Eastern Bloc or in similar conditions in which the global state of the art is not available or applicable. This highlights two general problems with the extant denitions of

DEPARTING FROM THE STANDARD VIEW According to the received denition, creativity is the production of ideas which are both novel and useful (Sternberg & Lubart, 1999, p. 3). The basic idea behind this denition is clear: Creativity requires novelty; the obvious contrast to creativity is mere repetition and replication. But not every kind of novelty will do; diverging from established practice is not considered creative if it does not lead to a positive result. Hence, creativity is about breaking with norms or practices, doing something unexpected or unpredictable, but still meeting certainalbeit more liberalconstraints. So far, so good; but the devil is in the details, and there is already more than a hint of a dilemma in this initial description. Problems emerge when one takes a closer look at the more elaborated or individually phrased denitions that can be found in contemporary work on creativity. They reveal not only certain tensions within the standard view, but also a not inconsiderable disagreement beneath the apparent consensus. For at start, consider what is often mentioned as the birth of modern theorizing about creativity, Steins (1953) suggestion that a creative process must result ina novel work that is accepted as tenable or useful or satisfying by a group at some point in time (p. 311). A problematic, yet probably unintended and easily correctible, feature of the denition is that it demands of a creative process that it must actually result in a work displaying the crucial quality, that creativity is necessarily successful. This seems overly restrictive. It should be possible to engage in a genuinely creative process which,
1 Devitt (2006) argued that philosophers intuitions about the meaning of concepts draw on their empirically based expertise in the identication of kinds. Lowe (2002) gives a nice account of how reection on adequate concepts can be source of insight into the nature of things.



creativity: Merely being useful or appropriate for solving a task is not sufcient for being a genuinely creative product. The novelty and usefulness requirements cannot be split; what we are after is a qualied usefulness, probably a novel kind of usefulness (see Novelty and Usefulness section). And creativity ascriptions seem to be highly context-dependent: In different circumstances, almost anything might count as a creative product. Most of the problems and issues raised by Steins (1953) denition carry over to the more recent proposals, and attempts to develop it have given rise to further difculties. Most denitions vacillate between vagueness and excessive permissibility on the one hand, and overspecication and excessive restrictiveness on the other; not an extraordinary or crippling defect, but worth noting nevertheless. Consider Amabiles (1996) more elaborate version of the standard view:
A product or response will be judged as creative to the extent that (a) it is both a novel and appropriate, useful, correct or valuable response to the task at hand, and (b) the task is heuristic rather than algorithmic. (p. 35)

Again, this is nothing special or fatal, but it is worth noting nevertheless. The following section addresses the issues raised by the standard view more systematically, spelling out the difculties as well as suggesting some solutions.

THE BEARER OF CREATIVITY There are three obvious candidates for the role as bearer of creativity: persons (including collective subjects such as groups, organizations, and nations), processes, and products. In ordinary language, the term creativity is regularly applied to all threepeople say things such as, Shes very creative, but also, He was engaged in a creative process, and That is one of the most creative ads I have ever seen. Hence, if the aim of the denitional task is simply to capture common usage, one has to be very inclusive in this respect. One may, however, aim instead to provide a notion that is slightly revisionary in that it captures large parts of ordinary usage and preserves most intuitions while being more perspicuous, coherent, and better suited for purposes of theory development empirical researchjust like, say, the scientic notion of mass could be said to improve on the folk notion of weight. In any case, it is quite plausible that one of the three usages is the basis of the other two. Not surprisingly, recent creativity research has tended to highlight the creative product (cf. Amabile, 1996). The main motivation for this choice seems to be methodological considerationsit is easier to examine products than processes or personality traitsbut there are strong conceptual reasons for it as well. As Amabile (1996) rightly noted, it is just difcult to judge the quality of a process except as by its fruits. There is widespread consensus in philosophy that value judgments all relate to the efcacy of achieving goals or ends (see, e.g., Foley, 1987). The orientation toward the product has, nevertheless, received a fair amount of criticism. As already noted, it has been claimed to reect a particular Western conception; the Eastern conception is said to be focused more on the process (Lubart, 1999). And I have myself argued that creative behavior need not actually bring about a creative product. In fact, it should be possiblepace Bailin (1984)for a person to be considered creative even if she has never created anything. The move from an actual-production view to a propensity-for-producing view severs, to some extent, the link between process and product, retaining the denitional priority of the product. Maslow (1963) warned that by focusing on the product, one might come to overlook the essence of creativity; because one knows the product already from its original sources, in its most perfect form, the person fails to recognize the genuine creativity displayed by, say, a child who rediscovers a piece of scientic knowledge.

At rst, this seems overly restrictive. Creativity is viewed as a matter of adapting to given conditions; a creative product must be a response to the task at hand, and this seems to rule out the possibility of posing a new task instead, which is often seen as one of the most creative ways of acting (Sternberg, 2006, for example, included redenition, redirection, and reinitiation of a eld in his taxonomy of creative contributions, p. 96; earlier, Getzels and Csikszentmihalyi, 1976, pointed to problem nding as a typical manifestation of creativity). The restriction, however, is mitigated by the addition that the task must be heuristic. A heuristic task is dened by Amabile (1996) as a task that does not have a clear and readily identiable path to solution, and that might or might not have a clearly identiable goal (p. 35). This is ne for widening the denition, but makes the requirement of being a response to the task at hand very vaguewhat is the task at hand, if it neither has a clear, identiable path to a solution nor a clearly identiable goal? It might be just anything. This is not to say that the denition is wrong or to deny that it is a noticeable accomplishment. I think it is highly intuitive and obviously on the right track; I am seriously impressed by the care taken by contemporary creativity researchers in stating precisely what they mean. But one should be aware that it merely passes the buck, dening creativity in terms of other concepts that are also vague and, at best, implicitly understood.



I do not, however, think that the criticism and corrections sufce to rebut the product-oriented view; I side with Amabile (1996) in nding the alternativea pure process viewalmost unintelligible. Yet, it should be noted that in areas that appear relevantly similar, views that focus exclusively on the process continue to enjoy considerable popularity. Deontologists in ethics hold that actions may be right or wrong, regardless of their consequences (Kagan, 1998); according to some versions of the view, they can be right or wrong merely in a virtue of their form. Parallel views can be found within epistemology; quite a few philosophers claim that being rational or having a justied belief is only a matter of fullling certain obligations, acting on the available evidence, or following certain canonical rules of inference (for a sample of such views, see Alston, 2005). I think, however, that these views have been convincingly rebutted (see, e.g., Alston, 2005; Kagan,1989), although, especially in ethics, there seems to be a fundamental deadlock between conicting intuitions. More important, the analogy with creativity may not hold. Creativity seems more intimately related with the product than both moral conduct and rational thinking. As the word says, its about creation, and to create plainly means to bring something about. In fact, the evidence cited in favor of a more processoriented conception can be handily accommodated by the product view. Much of the criticism is not really directed against the product view per se, but against certain overly narrow versions of it. The critics object to making creativity depend on the achievement of short-term tangible effects, pointing instead to long-term or intangible effects such as self-development, enlightenment, or seeing the world with fresh eyes. Rightly so; creativity is not innovation, which is more appropriately conceived as achieving a concrete and immediately useful outcome. But self-development or enlightenment can also be considered products in the appropriate sense of the word; they are outcomes or results of a process. Moreover, many of the allegedly alternative conceptions differ from the standard Western view, not in their understanding of the concept of creativity itself, but merely of the best means for bringing about a creative product, e.g., preferring meditation and identication with the subject matter to analysis and consciously goaloriented work (Lubart, 1999). There may be qualities such as, say, open-mindedness or playfulness, which often go together with creativity and do not need to have any propensity for producing a desirable outcome. But they are not creativity; they are possible or likely, but not absolutely necessary elements in a creative process. Csikszentmihalyi (1999) contended, rightly in my view, that there can be creative accomplishment without any distinctive traits or abilities being displayed (p. 314), that is, without creativity being based on any

one particular process. The denitional issue should be divorced from the issue of nding the best typical means for furthering creativity (which is, understandably, the most central concern to many creativity researchers); when this is done, the apparent counter examples lose their signicance. Sometimes the best way to bring about a creative product may be to forget altogether about production; this is implied by romantic views of creativity, as well as many selfdescriptions of artists and scientists, and in no real tension with the product view. Another source of resistance to the product view is a sound, yet misguided, skepticism regarding vericationism about creativity. This seems to have been Maslows (1963) primary concern: Creative achievements need not be recognized as such. Truebut a creative product may very well exist unrecognized. Vericationism about creativity may entail the product viewfor creativity to be veriable, it probably has to be manifested in an observable product. But the converse does not hold: Although creativity may necessarily involve a product, or at least a propensity for producing something, it need not be veriable, since the product could be of an immaterial, unobservable kind. The realism versus antirealism issue (see the next section) should not be confused with the process versus product issue. If a process can be unveriable as such, so can a creative product. As to the alleged evidence for cross-cultural differences in the notion of creativity, one should allow for the possibility that alternative (e.g., Eastern or African) conceptions of creativity are actually conceptions of something else. Non-Western cultures may value qualities other than creativity higher. Some of the evidence provided by Lubart (1999) seems to support such a conclusion, e.g., the fact that Indian painters view their task as one of recreation or reactivation, or that Omaha Indians maintain that there is but one way to sing a song (p. 343).This is not arrogant ethnocentrism. On the contrary, it seems to me that to insist that very different views about what makes an artistic performance valuable are nevertheless conceptions of creativity is to impose on other cultures a Western idea of creativity as the most fundamental artistic or cultural value (If a cultural practice is at all good, it must embody a strong notion of creativity). Some of the cases discussed by Lubart actually suggest that it would be unfair to judge other cultural practices according to the norm of creativity, as members of other cultures seem to have deep reasons for downplaying creativity or even valuing imitation and repetition (for example, the circular view of time characteristic of Hindu cosmology). Note that I am not claiming that non-Western cultures do not have a concept of creativity comparable to our own. As a matter of fact, I believe that most cultures share roughly the same conception of creativity,



although they value it differently or differ as to which degree of creativity they consider most desirable. I am merely arguing that if I should be wrong, if it turns out that, contrary to what I assume, Western and nonWestern views differ more radically, then one should be prepared to conclude that non-Western cultures employ an altogether different notion, rather than overstretching the notion of creativity in order to accommodate cases of extreme cross-cultural diversity. Hence, at least with respect to the bearer of creativity, it seems that one is able to achieve a fairly clear and denite result: The product has a certain priority; talk about creative persons and processes are derivative, although the link can be merely indirect (allowing for creative persons and processes which happen to be unsuccessful).

REALISM, ANTIREALISM, AND RESPONSE-DEPENDENCE Realism about an entity is the view that it exists independently of the way it is experienced, conceived, or coped with by conscious beings (Klausen, 2004); antirealism is the denial of this, i.e., the view, which comes in many different versions and strengths, that an entity depends somehow on the way it is experienced, conceived, or coped with by someone. As I have already shown, there is generally a strong antirealist current within creativity research, as vericationism is a prominent species of antirealism. Most denitions of creativity link it with social acceptance, thus making it dependent on the way the product is experienced by an audience. Here are some further clear statements of antirealism:
According to my denition, a creative individual . . . fashions products . . . in a way that is . . . eventually accepted within at least one cultural group . . . . No person, act or product is creative or noncreative in itself; judgments of creativity are inherently communal. (Gardner, 1994, p. 145) Creativity denotes a persons capacity to produce new or original ideas . . . which are accepted by experts as being of scientic, aesthetic, social, or technical value. (Vernon, 1989, quoted in Eysenck, 1994, p. 200) Hence one must conclude that creativity is not an attribute of individuals but of social systems making judgments about individuals . . . . The point is that without the comparative evaluation of art historians, Rembrandts creativity would not exist. (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990, p. 198f, emphasis added)

Several motives for this pull toward antirealism can be discerned. As mentioned earlier, the concern for devising reliable methods for measurement and obtaining results

that are intersubjectively valid naturally leads researchers to conceive of creativity in terms of responses to products, as these happen to be conveniently measurable (Amabile, 1996). Moreover, reection on pretheoretical notions of creativityand the general type of concept we are dealing withstrongly suggests that it is somehow a construct. It is not something one might bump into or nd by peering into the brain; it seems, rather, to reect a certain habit to judge and classify human behavior in a certain way. This intuition is further supported by noting that creativity ascriptions are a species of value judgment, and values are often considered more subjective or otherwise relative than, e.g., physical properties, and thus something people are, prima facie, less prone to be realists about. Yet, there are strong reasons for resisting this pull and opting for some, albeit qualied, form of realism about creativity. The main reason is that people cannot just imagine, but actually happen to know about cases of genuine creative achievement that went unnoticed, of creative people who were unable to persuade their peers. Famous cases include Mendels founding of genetics, the poetic work of Emily Dickinson, the paintings of Van Gogh, and Barbara McClintocks discovery of genetic transposition. A likely objection is that these achievements did not, of course, remain unnoticed; otherwise, one would not now be able to recognize them as creative, and I could not use them to support my argument. McClintock was eventually awarded a Nobel prize, long entries in encyclopedias are now devoted to Mendel, and Van Goghs paintings are sold for exorbitant sums. True but this, by no means, dismantles my argument. By reecting on such cases, one comes to see that the recognition was contingent, that the works might just as well have been completely lost to posterity, but that they would, in that case, still have been worthy of recognition, and thus no less creative. People can employ a familiar kind of extrapolation argument for realism: Everybody agrees that neither immediate recognition nor recognition by all groups is necessary for creativity. Most would agree that creativity may go unnoticed for a very long time, or be recognized by only a small group of experts. One might then press this point, and pull the antirealist down the slippery slope toward realism, by insisting that creativity could surely remain unnoticed for a very long time, and only be recognized by a very small group, or even a single person, perhaps just in a temporary ash of insight. Having come this far, it should be easy to convince the antirealist of taking that last small step and concede that social acceptance is not necessary for creativity. (Boden, 1994b, for one, has been admirably clear on this point, distinguishing between conditions of creativity and the culture-relative valuation of creative ideas.)



In fact, the most liberal formulations of the social acceptance requirement involve a tacit concession of this point and, therefore, hardly ought to be labeled antirealist. Recall, for example, that Steins (1953) version of the standard view merely required acceptance by some group at some time. Since it is always imaginable that even the most blatantly useless ideas or devices will nd some appreciative audience in some far-out circumstances (bear in mind that ripped jeans, hopelessly amateurish B-movies, bungee-jumping, and body piercing have already found their enthusiastic audiences in the real world), this hardly imposes any genuine constraints on the product. If people are just told that a creative product must be acceptable, without any amendment specifying a certain audience or point of view, then it amounts to a concession that something may be creative ansich. The same holds for the structurally similar view that what is real or true is what an idealized scientic community will agree on in the (indenitely) long run (a view championed by Peirce, 1931ff, and, more recently, Putnam, 1981). In spite of its antirealist avor and motivation, it imposes no substantial constraints on what might count as reality, since it can be assumed that a sufciently idealized scientic community with unlimited time and resources would be able to nd out about absolutely everything. Just as social acceptance is not necessary for creativity, it is obviously not sufcient, either. A product may be recognized as creative without actually being so. Audiences and even experts can be fooled. Of course, as the saying goes, you cannot fool all the people all the time, but this is, at best, something that is likely (assuming, rather optimistically, that audiences tend to be competent rather not, and that frauds and impostors are not perfect) or that one might hope for, not something for which there is any conceptual guarantee. Lets take a closer look at a particular defense of antirealism about creativity. Csikszentmihalyi (1999) argued that it is impossible to separate creativity from persuasion: For if you cannot persuade the world that you had a creative idea, how do we know that you actually had it? And if you do persuade others, then of course you will be recognized as creative (p. 314). Csikszentmihalyi contended that the connection between creativity and persuasion is not only methodological, but epistemological as well, and probably ontological (p. 314). This is revealing, as it displays a familiar, understandable, but problematic tendency to slide from methodological to epistemological and, eventually, ontological conclusions characteristic of vericationism (see Devitt, 1991, for an apt description and convincing criticism of this tendency). As Csikszentmihalyi was obviously aware of, the most contentious step is from epistemology to ontology: Why couldnt a creative idea simply remain inaccessible to the rest of the

world? Moreover, shouldnt one allow for the possibility that someone might succeed in faking creativity? Csikszentmihalyis account bestows on audiences an infallibility and power to enforce creativity that they hardly posses. Audiences may learn about their former mistakesWe thought it was creative, but now we see that it wasntand, again by the familiar way of extrapolation, they might generalize and conclude that they could also be wrong in their current judgment, indeed that they (and everybody else) might, in principle, be wrong permanently, about all cases of apparent creativity. Another relevant possibility is an audience being overruled by another audience with a higher authority, notably a group of experts. I might succeed in persuading my neighbors that I am an extremely creative philosopher or musician, but this judgment is of dubious value if my neighbors are largely ignorant about philosophy and music. Csikszentmihalyi (1999) might, indeed, have had in mind a certain authoritative audience, and not just any social group whatsoever. But what he needs in order to substantiate his claim that persuasion is constitutive of creativity is an audience that is simply infallible; and there probably are no such audiences. There is always a possibility that current judgments, even those of experts, are based on false perceptions or assumptions. Csikszentmihalyis (1999) epistemological worries were not, however, completely unfounded. Realism is often accused of generating inscrutable epistemological problems, divorcing, as it does, reality from the appearances that individuals actually have to go by in their dealings with the world. And it does not make life easier. The worries can, however, be dismantled by noticing that the possibility that creativity might be inaccessible to people is no hindrance to its actually being manifested and veriable in a whole lot of cases. Independence does not entail inaccessibility. Moreover, one can take comfort from a moderately empiricist theory of concept acquisition: people acquire the notion of creativity from encounters with certain paradigm cases in which creativity is revealed in a particularly striking and obvious manner; on this basis, they then go on to form a notion of creativity as something that might also exist without actually being recognized as such. This gives the notion a sufcient empirical foundation to fend off accusations of mysticism and vacuity, without tying creativity implausibly close to specic manifestations and conditions. The antirealist pull should be resisted, yet it remains in force. Realism also has its problems. Creativity is hardly a natural kind, something that one might stumble upon or that might exist without any link whatsoever to the interests and judgments of human or other intelligent beings. In one sense, it is obviously a human construct. Hence, researchers must look for a way to reconcile the



realist and antirealist intuitions; to maintain at the same time that creativity is recognition-independent and that it nevertheless reects our peculiar way of engaging with and the world. The notion of response-dependence, which has gained much attention in philosophy recently (see, e.g., Casati & Tappolet, 1998; the term was introduced by Johnston, 1989), offers a possible way out. Although the expression is relatively new, the basic idea is at least as old as the theory of secondary qualities espoused by the British empiricist philosopher Locke (1698=1965). Secondary qualities such as color are not independent features of reality in the same sense as primary qualities such as length and mass. Still, they do not seem to be mere projections; they have a certain, albeit lesser or more qualied, kind of objectivity. People assume that their visual experiences are registering them, rather than bringing them into being. The red picture in the hall remains red when nobody is looking at it, even in the dark. According to the standard dispositional theory of colors, being red is a disposition to produce in an observer an experience with a certain quality, i.e., a certain response. This seems to be what we are after: Creativity appears to be a response-dependent property in much the same way a color is. A creative product is something that would appear creative to an appropriate audience under suitable conditions. This holds even for my imagined cases of completely unrecognized creativity. Maybe Lindas creative achievement, say, her very personal style of painting, will never nd an appropriate audience in the actual world. But if her paintings can nevertheless count as creative, then it must be the case that they would, under suitable conditions, be recognized as such by an appropriate audience. We might put it like this:
x is creative x is such as to elicit, under suitable conditions, in anappropriate audience an impression ofcreativity.

Creativity may thus be more objective and less directly audience-dependent than most creativity researchers tend to assume, but not completely independent of human responses. Notice that this makes the view I am envisaging into a doubly dispositional, or double-propensity, view: Being creative is having a propensity for bringing about products that have a propensity for being recognized as creative! That may sound frighteningly complex, but I think it is right nevertheless, and much more intuitive and straightforward than it sounds. In fact, it seems to capture the same sort of complexity that Csikszentmihalyis (1990) system theory and other conuence approaches (which are based on the idea that multiple components must converge for creativity to

occur, cf. Sternberg & Lubart, 1999, p. 10) were designed to account for. But although I do think this is a helpful suggestion, as it brings together and expresses more precisely some of the otherwise potentially conicting and vague intuitions about creativity, it is not without problems. There is a legitimate worry that creativity is not sufciently analogous with the paradigm examples of responsedependent properties such as redness or sweetness. The latter are closely related to very specic mental processes (viz. visual and gustatory sensation) and physical structures (e.g., triples of integrated reectances), whereas recognition of creativity is not connected to any particular mental process or property of the environment. We have faculty of color vision, but hardly any comparable faculty for perceiving creativity. The latter is not, however, the most serious aspect of the problem. For although there is probably no unique set of psychological traits or practical competences necessarily involved in displaying creativity (as argued forcefully by, inter alia, Csikszentmihalyi & Weisberg, 1986), it still seems plausible to assume that different acts of recognizing or experiencing creativity must have something distinctive in common, either with regard to their experiential quality or the recognitional capacities involved, if there is to be any point at all in describing them as acts of recognizing the same phenomenon, or manifestations of the same concept. More seriously, the proposed account is threatened with circularity. The deniendum still contains the term creativity, which is left unexplained. And although circularity is also thought to be a real problem for a dispositional account of colors (see, especially, Stroud, 2000), it is more pertinent to the dispositional account of creativity. For one might succeed in escaping the charge in the case of red by dening impression of redness ostensively, as referring to the content of a particular experience (say, the experience I have while gazing at a eld of poppies). But in the creativity case, this move is hampered by the disanalogy mentioned earlier. Although different acts of recognizing creativity must have something in common, they can be qualitatively very diverse, making it much less clear which property is referred to in the act of denition. Creativity is a less basic, less immediately experience-related, and more complex concept than red, and therefore an ostensive denition cannot get one out of the circle. The lack of a distinctive corresponding environmental factor in the creativity case also threatens to undermine the analogy. Colors have their dispositional properties partly in virtue of the surface structures of the objects they are colors of, partly in virtue of the human sensory system. This allows for a suitable compromise between realism and antirealism, objectivity and subjectivity: Colors are linked to subjective responses, but these are not



merely subjective whims, they are genuine responses that have to answer to a certain determinate part of reality. But since no such objective counterpart can be found in the creativity case, the account slides toward the antirealist side, putting the weight on ones own contribution. This tendency is further emphasized by noting that that the dispositional account actually confers a kind of infallible authority on the audience. If the conditions are suitable and the audience appropriate, then a creative product cannot go unnoticed. This might seem to vindicate Csikszentmihalyis (1990) view and clash with the realist intuitions I have been pressing. Yet whether it really is so depends on how narrow the scope of the terms suitable and appropriate are taken to be. Now where do these considerations lead? Once again, I think researchers should take a balanced view and avoid exaggerating the negative results. One can rule out both extreme antirealist and extreme realist accounts. Creativity is neither dependent on actual social acceptance nor is it a completely objective property of actions or products.2 The notion of responsedependence helps in cashing out this intuition and further delineating the notion of creativity. It does not put an end to the search for a more illuminating version of the standard denition, since it still leaves some of the fundamental tensions unresolvedmost signicantly, the scope of the term appropriate is left open and a subject of controversy.

Part of the problem is connected with the realism issue: if appropriateness is dened as acceptability, and this in turn is analyzed, in an antirealist fashion, as being either actually accepted by an audience at some time, or acceptable to a particular specied audience, then the requirement does take on a sufciently precise meaning. Such a specication does, however, make creativity a matter ofmeeting xed constraints, and thus tips the balance toward the overly conformist side. At least more radical kinds of creativity often contain an element of genuine surprise; the products are appropriate in ways we could not have foreseen, so there is no guarantee that they will be recognized as such by a particular audience. Considerations of this sort have led Smith (2005) to urge that individuals should give up the usefulness or appropriateness requirement altogether:
For creativity research to remain part of the greater domain of psychology it should divest itself of the utility aspect. Creativity should be dened by the novelty of its products, not by their usefulness, value, protability, beauty, and so on. What is not useful now may become useful in a distant future. Even if it is never applied for the benet of mankind it may, in principle, be called creative in so far as it has developed in dialogue with the conception of reality it is intended to replace. (p. 294)

NOVELTY AND USEFULNESS The most problematic element in the standard view turns out to be the specication of what makes a product creativethe requirement that it be both novel and useful or otherwise appropriate. I noted at the outset that the standard denition harbors a dilemma: Creativity is both about breaking with norms and complying with norms. This doesnt have to be a paradox, as long as one is talking about different sets of normsbreaking with the narrow or local ones while still meeting some general requirements. The standard denition hints at a balance point between conformity and divergence, but it has proven notoriously difcult to say something more illuminating about where this balance point might be.
The historiometric approach of Simonton (e.g., 1980) to originality is sometimes described as providing a completely objective measure of creativity. Yet I think this is precisely what it does not do. It measures originality in terms of deviance from the mean (differential eminence, or, in the case of musical originality, thematic rarity). Apart from not being able to distinguish the creative from the merely bizarre (because it dispenses with the appropriateness requirement; cf. Amabile, 1996), such an approach makes judgments of creativity relative to the (presumably arbitrary) level of achievement in the chosen population (remember the saying: In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king).

I think, however, that this should be read more like a note of warning and provocation than a serious proposal. As Smith himself noted, people want to be able to distinguish creativity from sheer craziness. He is quite right to warn against narrowing the denition of the concept by making it more appealing, more romantic, more adapted to commercial interests (Smith, 2005, p. 294). But we should avoid this pitfall by widening the appropriateness requirement, not by abandoning it completely. It is true that such a widening threatens to trivialize it, but this is a problem people have to cope with. The problem resembles some familiar quibbles with evolutionary theory, which has often been accused of being, at least when formulated in very general terms, trivial, vacuous, vague, or at least less substantial or informative, than is otherwise assumed. A version of this criticism has been recently been advanced by Fodor (2008), who noted that
Whether a trait is conducive to tness appears to just as arbitrarily dependent on which sort of creature its a trait of and what sort of ecology the creature inhabits (2008, 20) . . . which traits are adaptive for which phenotypes depend very much on the context . . . . There are many, many traits that are tness enhancing in some circumstances or other but not across the board . . . . The worry is that . . . ecological niches wouldnt seem to be natural kinds . . . . All they have in common is that some kind of creature or other, does or would, ourish in each. (p. 23)



Fodor makes a provocative analogy to the case of getting rich: the extreme context sensitivity of the ways of getting richGenghis Kahn and the heirs of Andrew Carnegie became rich in very different waysmakes it unlikely that there could be a theory of getting rich per se; all those how-to-get-rich books . . . notwithstanding (Fodor, 2008, p. 24). Like evolutionary explanations, studies of creative processes are historical, backwardlooking, post hocthey manage to explain, case by case, what it was about a person, a process, or a product in virtue of which it became recognized as creative in the particular circumstances, but they do not support wideranging generalizations, counterfactual claims, and predictions, because they do not manage to single out any specic traits or factors which are conducive to creativity independently of the context. In a somewhat similar vein, Lewontin (1983) mounted a convincing criticism of adaptionism, pointing out that evolution is not just a matter of adapting to the environment, since organisms are able to alter their surroundings, reconstructing rather than just accommodating to their environment. The analogy to this is the case in which creativity is displayed not by solving the task at hand, but by formulating a whole new task. Chance and luck also play their part. Sometimes the key to creative achievement may not consist in adapting to or reconstructing the environment or task at hand, but simply in happening to be there when the environment favors ones particular abilities. Gardner (1983) has provided a nice example of this by pointing out that Einsteins mind had strength and weakness superbly matching the challenges faced by the physics of the early part of the 20th century (e.g., eld theory), whereas they turned out to be less well matched to the physics of the mid-20th century, when quantum theory came to the fore. Noting the parallel to evolutionary theory should, however, also been seen as a source of comfort to creativity researchers: Even though the status, exact formulation, and explicatory potential of evolutionary theory turns out to be less obvious, or at least more controversial, than might have been hoped for, there is no denial that the species (and their heritable, genetically determined traits) have evolved, that they have been shaped by environmental pressures and competition for survival, etc. There is nothing wrong in talking about an organisms adaptive response; it is just that this doesnt say a lot, especially when the response need not be an accommodation to circumstances. If a wellestablished and obviously thriving discipline such as biology can proceed on the basis of a theory displaying this kind of conceptual unclarity or open-endedness, so can the merely aspiring discipline of creativity research. I noted at the outset that it is a certain qualied kind of usefulness or appropriateness we are after. This may be seen as an instance of the general problem that

ascriptions of creativity are extremely context-sensitive. Yet one should not give up specifying more closely the kind of property in question. For one thing, it should be remembered that by talking of usefulness or appropriateness, even in the widest sense, people already impose some signicant constraints on the creative product. They make it clear that the product must, at any rate, be able to appear satisfying to human beings. And it is possible to be more precise about the relevant kind of usefulness. My suggestion is that novelty and usefulness should be seen not as independent requirements, but as internally related: A creative product must be useful in a particularly novel way, and novel in a useful or appropriate way. It does not sufce for a product to be creative that it is new if it is useful to a degree below the state of the art (remember the earlier example of the new but insufciently useful word processor). There seems, moreover, to be a tradeoff between novelty and usefulness. A lesser degree of usefulness is compensated for by a larger degree of novelty, and vice versa. A high degree of novelty is not considered especially creative if the gain in usefulness or appropriateness is relatively small. This can be illustrated by some well-known cases of musical creativity. Mozart is normally considered a more creative composer than Schonberg, although he invented no new musical genres or forms, whereas Schonberg broke completely with the whole tonal system and devised a new musical system all on his own. Mozarts subtle exploitation of existing musical forms is held by most to have resulted in an aesthetically much more satisfying product than Schonbergs revolutionary efforts. Similarly, Miles Davis is generally perceived as a more exceptionally creative artist than, say, radical free jazz musicians such as Alvin Ayler or Cecil Taylor. On the other hand, artists who stick rigidly to traditional forms, such as the neoconservative jazz musicians of the 1980s and 1990s (e.g., the Marsalis brothers) are, for all their virtuosity and impeccable performances, considered less creative than both. In the rare cases in which people have a radically new, signicantly norm-breaking achievement that, at the same time, is of a superiorly and uncontroversially useful or appropriate kind, they judge it almost unanimously to exhibit the highest level of creativity. Some of the major scientic revolutionsthe work of Galileo, Newton, and Einsteinmay belong to this category. Artistic achievements are more controversial, as the standards of appropriateness are more varied and disputed. Goethe comes to mind as a candidate, inasmuch as he developed a new, more subjective kind of literature while attaining wide, almost instant and lasting recognition. Yet it is interesting to note that, although originality is usually treated as one of the most fundamental parameters in aesthetic evaluation, many of those considered most



creative turn out to be artists working within and perfecting existing forms and genres (apart from Mozart, Shakespeare and Bach immediately come to mind as paradigm creative geniuses who are not known to have revolutionized their genres or art forms).

INTENTIONALITY TO THE RESCUE The standard denition omits an import element that might help alleviate some of the problems mentioned earlier. A creative product must, apart from being novel and appropriate, have been produced with a specic intention.3 If something is produced by chance and just happens to be highly useful, people will not deem it creative. (This shows that although the product should be considered the primary bearer of creativity, its relation to the creator and the process are still essential.) But how, exactly, is this requirement to be understood? One should be careful not to formulate it too restrictively. What is required is merely that the creative person intends to make something that is, in some sense, appropriate (and turns out to be appropriate in roughly the intended sense). She does not have to be able to foresee in complete detail how her invention will be useful; it is possible that she can, herself, be surprised at learning what it is good for. It may not even be necessary that she intends to create something novel. I do, however, think that a minimal intention of novelty requirement should be upheld. A person who had not the slightest intention of deviating from established norms or habits, but only wanted to reproduce them strictly, would not be considered creative. If she nevertheless managed to produce something novel and useful, one would take this to be merely a matter of chance. The requirement should not, on the other hand, be taken to imply that a creative person must understand herself as such or even have the concept of creativity. It sufces that she intends to produce something new and appropriate; it is then for us to classify this as an instance of creativity. A consequence of adding the intentionality requirement is that serendipity is not creativity (although the ability to recognize and exploit the possibilities afforded by serendipity may well be). Yet this is quite in keeping with normal understanding. Some might object that it clashes with a popular romantic notion of creativity, according to which a creative genius is acting spontaneously and unconsciously, without plan or purpose Do not seek and you will nd. I think, however, that
Gruber and Wallace (1999) and Nickerson (1999) are among the few positive exceptions, as they have recognized an intentional component, although without really trying to integrate it into the standard denition.

all realistic cases of even such romantic creativity can be accommodated by thevery weak and liberal intentionality requirement. Even the typical romantic genius will have an intention to create something noveland a very clear intention not to stick to the conventions or imitateas well as assume that the product, no matter how it is brought about and how its exact constitution turns out to be, will, in some sense, be satisfying and valuable. If someone came up with new and useful ideas without having any intention or awareness of doing so, I think people should not call her creative, but consider her merely a sort of idea-generating machine. If people are willing to pay thisvery reasonable price for adding an intentionality requirement, considerable advantage can be gained. It improves the standing of the notion of creativity as compared to some of the basic concepts of evolutionary theory. For the problem with the latter can be said to stem from both wanting to dispense with all kinds of teleology, seeing biological nature as devoid of purpose, and, at same time, keep talking about how organisms have evolved mechanisms for solving specic tasks, how traits are adaptations to particular environmental features, etc. The purely causal view on nature makes it difcult to say, when the chips are down, anything more than que sera sera. With the addition of an intentionality requirement, creativity theory eschews this difculty, since it can allow itself an element of teleology. For example, it does not sufce to make something a creative achievement that it actually ends up being appreciated by an audience, if the quality for which it is appreciated by the audience is altogether different from the quality that its creator intended the product to have. (This is why people dont consider directors of B-movies very creative just because the movies end up being appreciated for their hopeless amateurism.) The intentionality requirement thus helps narrowing down the relevant featuresand the relevant kind of appropriatenessof the creative product. There is an instructive parallel to the philosophy of art. Due to the revolutionary nature of modern art, it has become widely recognized that almost everything can come to count as an artwork (the most famous example being Duchamps ready-made Fountain, a urinal). But the popular attempt to dene artworks institutionally requiring merely that they occupy a certain place in a certain social institution (the art world) and are treated as candidates for appreciation (Dickie, 1974, p. 34) falters, as it states neither a necessary (as there can be private, isolated art) nor a sufcient (as the notion of having had conferred upon it the status of candidate for appreciation remains too unspecic) condition for being art. Here, too, one has to bring into the denition an intention of the individual to produce an object of a certain sort (as argued forcefully by Levinson, 1979).



CONSEQUENCES FOR CREATIVITY RESEARCH What lessons can be drawn from my examination of the attempts to dene the notions of creativity? First and not surprisingly, I have shown that creativity researchers tend to conate that which is really constitutive of creativity per se with factors that are merely typical causes of creativity, or otherwise closely associated with it. This is understandable and seldom does much harm, but it sometimes leads to exaggerated claims, as when the very notion of creativity is taken to differ across cultures, although the evidence shows, rather, that roughly the same phenomenon is valued differently or pursued by different means. Second, even the most careful analysis is not able to remove the tension between an exclusive and a more inclusive understanding. This indicates that the tension is inherent in the very notion of creativitypeople simply think of creativity as a property of objects which are appropriate in some signicant sense, but not necessarily appropriate in any specic sense. The reason why individuals are nevertheless able to use the notion successfully and believe to know very well what is meant by it is, I suppose, that they have various more specic criteria guiding its application in different contexts and domains. We have a pretty good idea of what it means to be a creative chess player (one is not such a player if one breaks the rules or very often loses or, for that sake, if one always follows minutely the moves described in the chess manual). One may still be a creative person if one breaks the rules (and maybe, thereby, invents some new and exciting game), but people have much less precise criteria for such roleand rule-transgressing achievements, even though they may tend to think of them as particularly creative. This has implications for creativity research. Researchers should be careful not to hypostatize certain context- or domain-specic criteria of novelty and appropriateness, treating them as constitutive of creativity in general, like it has arguably been done in some cases of assessing musical creativity. And they should avoid making too sweeping generalizations. Even if relatively stable and signicant correlations can be found between certain personal, environmental, or process characteristics and creative achievements, this does not permit researchers to conjecture that these characteristics are generally conducive to creativity. This is not just a methodological platitude. The scope of legitimate generalizations depends on the uniformity and robustnessi.e., context independenceof the subject matter, and the present investigation has shown that creativity is highly context-dependent, even more so than is commonly recognized. This is no objection to using experts judgments as a basis for creativity assessment (as recommended by

Amabile, 1996). It is just that one should be clear about what one can get from such an approach. Researchers are likely to get reliable assessments of specic kinds of creativity relative to context-dependent standards of appropriateness. They should not, on the other hand, expect to get any reliable measure of the general creativity of a product, since it might turn out that a product that is not recognized as being particularly creative by the experts will, nevertheless, meet some other standards of appropriateness. A group of judges selected according to their familiarity with the eld may be very reliable at detecting creative chess playing but less reliable at detecting innovative game development; in the latter case, it is not even clear how the judges should be selected, since it is hard to say which eld they are required to be familiar with. Of course, there may be ways to gain empirical knowledge of the conditions of creativity of even the more radical and unpredictable sortfor example, by means of large-scale historiometric studies that enable people to take advantage of the of the wisdom of hindsight: Which constellations of factors have been correlated with the occurrence of unforeseen breakthroughs? Researchers should, however, be open to the possibility that different cases of radical breakthrough may not form any natural kind or even have very much in common. More generally, my investigation has shown that one cannot dismiss an issue such as realism about creativity as being too metaphysical (Csikzentmihalyi, 1999, p. 321). Such a dismissal, or the adoption of an antirealist stance, might well have practical consequences. Sticking too closely to contemporary social standards may blind researchers to important kinds of creativity. Of all research elds, creativity is the one in which it seems the least appropriate to narrow ones outlook to the prevailing norms. Second, and more positively, the connection and tradeoff between novelty and appropriateness deserves more attention. Researchers cannot simply assess creative products according to their degree of novelty and appropriateness, respectively, but have to assess these qualities in their specic combination. The most unproblematic cases may be the ones that actually allow researchers to assess the two dimensions independentlywhere the relevant kind of appropriateness is very well dened, and thus can be treated as a xed variableif, for example, one would like to study more or less creative ways to win a game of chess. Yet such cases are, although by no means irrelevant, less interesting than those that consist in changing the very task at hand or otherwise demand that the product is not just novel and appropriate, but appropriate in a particularly novel way. More attention should also be paid to the intentional component of creativity, which tends to get overlooked



due to the current strong focus on the social dimension.4 This would actually be in keeping with the otherwise growing interest in the link between creativity, motivation, and self-regulated learning (see Schunk & Zimmermann, 2008). I am not claiming that creativity may be fostered by inducing people to form an explicit intention to become more creative. There is probably something to the romantic idea that it is often better to get lost an activity, focusing on the task itself, rather than straining, trying to be creative. The importance of intrinsic motivation (Amabile, 1996, p. 259) and ow for creativity points in that direction. Still, there may be some relevant insights to be salvaged from the older, more individualist psychological creativity theory. Although by no means sufcient for creativity, a certain open and exible state of mind and an ability to use the force of imagination may be a relatively robust (i.e., contextinsensitive) ingredient in quite many forms of creativity, and, in contrast to those ingredients in creativity that have rather to do with the social acceptability conditions, something that is capable of educational improvement.

scientic studies of creativity. It may be the most essential thing people know about it, not just from a philosophical point of view, when it comes to satisfying fundamental curiosity, but also with regard to its application to matters of education and empirical research.

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CONCLUSION It has been said time and again that creativity is a mystery. Revisiting some prominent attempts at dening the notion has not conrmed this view. We do know a lot about what creativity is, and we can see how we might come to know it even better. And it is surely true, as Weisberg (1986) urged, that it is not mysterious in the sense that it denotes some special gift or faculty to be found only in extraordinary geniuses. There is, however, something to the mystery view. It is not the concrete creative processes that are mysterious or elusive; it is the very notion of creativity that remains inherently paradoxical. There is something irremediably strange about the idea of simultaneously transgressing the norms while still acting appropriately. It is akin to some of the deep philosophical paradoxes such as, for example, the paradox of freedom, a notion that seems to require of an action that it should neither be a product of necessity nor simply of chance, or the learning paradox raised in Platos Meno: Human beings cannot search either for what they know (for, in that case, they would have it already) or what they do not know (for, in that case, they would not even know what to search for). That the notion of creativity is thus inherently paradoxical should not, however, be seen as a barrier to
4 There is actually no real tension here, as intentions can be social in various respects (they can, for example, be joint or group intentions; see, e.g., Gilbert, 2000; or even socially constituted). It is just that the emphasis on the social dimension has led creativity researchers to focus on more distal factors.


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