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Lecture for Year 2 Semester 2 PPSD session on Wednesday 28th March 2007

Creativity is the ability to make or otherwise bring into existence something new, whether a new solution to a problem, a new method or device, or a new artistic object or form.

2.1 Tension: Psychological experiments in the fields of motivation and learning have disclosed the power of novelty as an inducement to action. There appears to be an essential and continuing tension in higher organisms between the establishment and maintenance of environmental constancies and the interruption of achieved equilibria in the interest of new possibilities of experience.

Psychological studies of highly creative people have observed this tension in terms of such dualities as intellect and intuition, the conscious and the unconscious, mental health and mental disorder, the conventional and the unconventional, and complexity and simplicity.

2.2 Intelligence: A creative person is usually very intelligent in the ordinary sense of the term and can meet the problems of life as rationally as anyone can, but often he refuses to let intellect rule; he relies strongly on intuition, and he respects the irrational in himself and others. Above a certain level, intelligence seems to have little correlation with creativity—i.e., a highly intelligent person may not be as highly creative. A distinction is sometimes made between convergent thinking, the analytic reasoning measured by intelligence tests, and divergent thinking, a richness of ideas and originality of thinking. Both seem necessary to creative performance, although in different degrees according to the task or occupation (a mathematician may exhibit more convergent than divergent thinking and an artist the reverse).

2.3 Personality: Many creative people show a strong interest in apparent disorder, contradiction, and imbalance; they often seem to consider asymmetry and disorder a challenge. At times creative persons give an impression of psychological imbalance, but immature personality traits may be an extension of a generalized receptivity to a wider-than-normal range of experience and behavior patterns. Such individuals may possess an exceptionally deep, broad, and flexible awareness of themselves. Studies indicate that the creative person is nonetheless an intellectual leader with a great sensitivity to problems. He exhibits a high degree of self-assurance and autonomy. He is dominant and is relatively free of internal restraints and inhibitions. He has a considerable range of intellectual interests and shows a strong preference for complexity and challenge. The unconventionality of thought that is sometimes found in creative persons may be in part a resistance to acculturation, which is seen as demanding surrender of one's personal, unique, fundamental nature. This may result in a rejection of conventional morality, though certainly not in any abatement of the moral attitude.

2.4 Originality / uniqueness: Studies of known living creative people and research gleaned from biographies of recognized past creative geniuses have yielded some ideas about the characteristics of the creative process. The single most important element in the creative process, however, is believed to be originality, or uniqueness. A great deal of research has been carried out on the nature, incidence, and cultivation of creativity, particularly among American psychologists since World War II, when scientific inventiveness became of wide concern.

Ibda’u is creativity encouraged by religion in scientific and other fields of human endeavor. Bid’ah is creativity on central dogmas of the faith that is discouraged by religion. Taqlid is blind uncritical following that is also discouraged by religion.

A great lesson of history is that creative and innovative societies became dominant. As soon as they lost their creativity they declined.

[1] Encyclopedia Britannica 2004
[2] Direct quotes from Encyclopedia Britannica 2004


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