Monday 6 August 2012

Creativity and intuition

Tuesday, 28 December 2010


In academic psychology, there are two concepts of creativity:

1. an older one which sees creativity in terms of dreamlike cognition, psychoticism, 'primary process' thinking, and thoughts linked-by emotional-associations; and

2. a newer one which sees creativity in terms of 'openness to experience' - that is neophilia, novelty-generation, random permutations and combination of memorized information.

I believe that the earlier concept is much closer to the truth, or to validity - and that indeed the idea of creativity as Openness is a modern, bureaucratic and politically-correct corruption and hijacking of creativity: creativity redefined such that the shallow childishness of modernist art and the committee-defined-consensus of Big Science counts asif creative in the same way as the great art and natural philosophy of the past.


But there is, I suspect, something intrinsically corrupt in the concept of creativity; which emerged into public discourse at about the time of the Romantic movement in the late 17th and early 18th centuries; as a contrast with scholastic logic, and an explanation for the difference between philosophy/ science and the arts.

Properly speaking, rather than the twin poles of creativity and logic as the basis of human knowledge, I think the proper (or closer) conceptualization is intuition and reason.


Intuition is inborn, spontaneous, it comes first, and everything is based upon it and it varies between people.

Intuition is related to 'common sense' and also to understanding other people and to instant apprehension of situations. It is related to the emotions; and seems to proceed by emotional association.


Reason is also mostly innate, although partial forms can be learned (e.g. mathematics, geometry, formal logic), and it also varies between individuals.


However there is not a close correlation between intuitive ability and reason; and people can be unusually high in one and unusually low in the other.

Indeed, there is probably an inverse correlation between intuitive ability and reason among healthy people; although the correlation is not very close and there are exceptions (which get rarer as they get more extreme).

These exceptions are the very rare 'creative geniuses' who are both intelligent and intuitive...

...and the more numerous and more obviously dysfunctional people who lack both intuition and intelligence - the number of these vary between societies, because intelligence and intuition can both simultaneously be damaged by brain pathology (due to degenerative disease, trauma, infection, malnutrition etc.) and the causes of brain pathology vary widely in frequency between societies.

Intelligent people who are lacking in intuition are much commoner. These are the 'clever sillies', more-or-less - the i.e. bulk of the modern ruling elite.

And also common are highly intuitive people of moderate or lower-than-average intelligence. This group includes, but is not confined-to, people with irrational ideas and illogical thought processes who may be psychotic - or regarded as mentally ill by the high intelligence-low intuition types.


My point is that while these processes of knowing I have called intuition and reason can be statistically separated and contrasted, ultimately they are meant to work together.

It is only reliable for knowledge to proceed such that both intuition and intelligence are satisfied by each step and conclusion.

Otherwise we get the strange distortions which are usually conceptualized as of logic unsupported by emotion; or emotionality unchecked by logic - more correctly this is reasoning in contradiction to intuition and intuition apart from the context of reason.


I am sure that humans cannot function unless intuition and reason go together; otherwise we mistrust ourselves and become detached (alienated), proud, despondent, exploitative - oscillating between domination by logic and then by emotions in unrelated sequence.

In other words we get the normal mainstream fragmentary, sound-bite-sized, conduct of modern public discourse.

We get the counter-cultural advocates of impulse and instinct alternating with the absurdly restricted and legalistic procedures of bureaucracy.


At root, I think we need to recognize that neither creativity nor intelligence are good in themselves: which recognition is easy to say, but hard to do. 

We must recognize that creativity can be, has been, highly destructive, proud and evil. Many of the worst tyrants and sinners of history have been highly intuitive creative individuals: Napoleon, Hitler, Mao.

And that reason/ intelligence is also, more often than not, highly destructive - as evidenced by communism and its descendant political correctness.


When it comes to Christianity we cannot allow either reason or intuition to go ahead alone; the one must always be able to catch up with the other, in each of us.

This sets a limit to how far we can go in understanding.

Rational understanding (following a line of logic) cannot go further than intuition allows; and intuition cannot go further than is check-able by reason.

So we should not follow systematic theology further than our intuition can follow; and we should not follow what seem to be personal insights and revelations further than we can personally support with reason.


In this refusal we must each of us be stubborn - especially in a secular and corrupt world where valid spiritual advice may be impossible to find.

Better not to know than to know wrongly.

To do otherwise - and to allow logic or emotion to run-away independently - is to pull-apart human understanding and to split our souls when they should be unified.