Tuesday 6 August 2013

Creative is not what you *do*, but who you *are*: the phenomenology of creativity


Creative people are made that way: it is personality.

But why? What do creatives get out of being creative?

What, on other words, is the phenomenology of creativity

(Phenomenology = first-person, inner, subjective experience).


People could only be creative by disposition if creativity were supported with positive/ rewarding emotions and/or provided relief from negative/ aversive emotions.

I think this works in about three stages:

Discontent -> Delight -> Satisfaction

Corresponding to:

Perceiving a Problem -> Having an Insight -> Generating a Solution 


Therefore, creativity is driven by a negative or Dysphoric feeling - that some state of affairs produces an emotion of dissatisfaction.

The creative then turns their attention to this 'problem' - and may come up with an Insight which leads to a Euphoric feeling of delight. So the creative is rewarded up-front for generating insights - whether or not these turn-out to be answers.

Therefore, the creative will tend to generate insights for the sheer fun of it - and even if they turn out to be useless, or harmful.


Finally, with luck, the creative comes up with a Solution to the Problem, a Solution which makes him feel Satisfied.

So a state of Discontent has been replaced by a state of Satisfaction - and this can be termed a Euthymic state - that is a state of 'normal' good mood - not Euphoria (which is short term and unsustainable) but a long term gratification.

So, in terms of phenomenology, it goes:

Dysphoria ->  Euphoria - > Euthymia


Therefore, for the creative person, being creative is rewarding; and such a person will be creative; spontaneously, whether asked or not, whether useful or not; whether they are sufficiently knowledgeable and competent, or not...

Therefore, if creativity is wanted or needed, then the job requires a creative person.

And if you have a creative person in place, and they are sufficiently interested in what you want them to do, then they will be creative.

Whether this creativity is actually useful in the real world will depend on the degree of correspondence between the creative's internal subjectivity state, and external objectivity.