Sunday, 25 January 2015

What is the creative bit of creativity in high Psychoticism-trait individuals (such as creative geniuses)?

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It is worth noting at the outset that here I am doing science, and science rules out using supernatural explanations - so if creativity really has something to do with divine or diabolical or any other kind of spiritual inspiration (as was generally considered to be the case from the ancient Greeks and Hebrews  onward) - then this is not going to be a part of a scientific explanation. So if inspiration is real, then a scientific explanation of creativity can only be partial.

It is also - and for similar reasons - worth noting that science has, and can have, no explanation for real novelty, qualitative novelty, something absolutely new - but can only explain the present in terms of what is known of the past - so novelty will always be explained in terms such as new patterns of old facts, now shapings and combinations of previous forms and so on.

But, taking into account these limitations - how can we describe that actual, cutting edge, 'moment' of creativity - in which the creativity in itself happens?

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The thing that needs to be explained with human creativity is not just novelty - newness - but useful novelty. There are an 'infinite' number of ways of being new and worse - and not many ways of being new and better - the problem is how the mind gets from the vast 'search space' of new and false ideas or new and useless discoveries to home in on true useful breakthroughs.

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The mainstream idea in creativity research is associated with Dean Keith Simonton and endorsed by Hans J Eysenck in his 1995 book Genius is a variant of the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection: that useful creativity works by randomly generating large numbers of variations on old ideas, and then using memory and intelligence to test and sort through these ideas to find those few that are plausible in the light of previous knowledge and current observation.

The genius is explained at being better at making useful newness by having a Personality type which is better at generating multiple random variants of previous ideas due to having looser, wider, more far-ranging associations of ideas (which Eysenck explained in terms of the personality trait Psychoticism) - and then having high intelligence which leads to a well-stocked memory and the ability rapidly and efficiently to sort between these multiple random variants to check them for internal consistency and against previous knowledge.

This theory of creativity is coherent, but I think it is not true. The two reasons against it which seem to me decisive are 1. the open ended 'infinite' number of wrong and false ways that any random generator can produce variants, as contrasted with the finite capacity of any selection system for dealing with this endless abundance; and 2. that this description does not fit the phenomenology (inner experience) of genius at its most genius-like.

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The characteristic of genius is not that of mass producing a near infinite number of failures and falsehoods; but instead an amazing swiftness and sureness of touch at creating or discovering new things that are useful and true.

The Natural Selection view of genius is that it is mostly errors and failure; and that the mental process of a genius is essentially a struggle for existence on the part of true, useful, beautiful and virtuous things against being overwhelmed by false, harmful, ugly and wicked things

But this is simply not how the greatest geniuses operate, when they are at their most genius-like! It is, indeed, almost the opposite to the subjective experience (or objective observation) of creativity.

Of course genius is not effortless - because the genius requires finding his destiny, and then embarking on a discovery 'quest' during which he fills his mind with relevant 'data; but the actual cutting-edge of creativity is an act of insight - of In-Sight - that is to say the genius usually 'sees' the answer all at once and whole, and knows by intuition that he has the right answer.

That is to say, from the mass of inner knowledge accumulated, the genius looks-within and perceives the 'one and only' answer (it may be modified in detail later - but the shape is seen as one).

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What is astonishing about a genius like Mozart is how the work came to him complete; it is the facility with which they work which amazes us about so much creativity. Even when we see an artist 'struggling' - such as Beethoven - this is usually mostly a matter of an already-genius struggling to continue his work, and to be ever-original, when the pure and fertile imagination of youth has departed.

The youngest geniuses are perhaps the lyric poets - who are almost-always young men in the late teens or twenties, who fluently pour forth their songs and verses without strain or effort. Or the young mathematicians who just 'see' and 'know' things - which they may not be able to explain or prove.

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So, I suggest that the creative bit of creativity does not resemble a process of trial-and-error; but is a moment of (near) instant insight; and the place it comes from is within; and the method it comes by is intuition; and intuition is a multi-faceted process including illumination, validation, conviction and drive or motivation.

The genius looks within for his answers - and when he finds the answer it is seen or felt as an over-powering insight; which floods him with a conviction of its right-ness and a desire to accept it, make it, live by it.

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3 comments:

Ngoc Nguyen said...

"So, I suggest that the creative bit of creativity does not resemble a process of trial-and-error; but is a moment of (near) instant insight; and the place it comes from is within; and the method it comes by is intuition; and intuition is a multi-faceted process including illumination, validation, conviction and drive or motivation.

The genius looks within for his answers - and when he finds the answer it is seen or felt as an over-powering insight; which floods him with a conviction of its right-ness and a desire to accept it, make it, live by it."


In my opinion, to me these concluding paragraphs most accurately describe the experience of what it is like to have a "Eureka!" moment, a sudden flash of insight into the essence of something such as a question (in the form of a problem), puzzle, dilemma, or conundrum. I would concur that when one experiences one of these, they do come with the suddenness of a blow to the psyche-- which, by the way, are always surprising and exciting (like, for some, the experience of an orgasm is always as good as the first time).

Syahidah and Valentine said...

Yes, indeed. All creative thought that I have ever experienced myself or witnessed in others is of the "instantly insightful" kind: that is, it just appears, within, complete, whole and unerring. This is not Simonton's model at all. It is clear that anyone who endorses the natural selection model is not, themselves, a creative person along the lines of a genius - for they have never had the chance to observe their own thinking and found it denied that model.

santoculto said...

''http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24273503''

Natural selection appear as PART of process that produced and maintain creativity in human beings. For example, i thought ''schizophrenia enlarged spectrum'' as advantageous to survive in early human era because partial (as well, full blown) schizophrenics can be good to perceveid more patterns, include remote associations in real world, during period of stress of little groups of earlier humans. Paranoia can be very good and usefull in places with higher levels of threats and dangers.

Natural AND fixed (limited, very similar and constant) mutation or hypozigosis, appear as important piece of this puzzle where there is a universal pattern in humanity where some people will born with genetic expression (phenotypical) of schizo-suscetibility. Of course, this people will be more chances to produce a schizo-boy or girl, but ALL humans have at least 1% of suscetibility to have a schizo-boy, then all humans or most of humans will be hypozigotic ones to psychopathologies.