Modes of Creativity

Modes of Creativity: Philosophical Perspectives

Irving Singer
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    Modes of Creativity
    Book Description:

    In this philosophical exploration of creativity, Irving Singer describes the many different types of creativity and their varied manifestations within and across all the arts and sciences. Singer's approach is pluralistic rather than abstract or dogmatic. His reflections amplify recent discoveries in cognitive science and neurobiology by aligning them with the aesthetic, affective, and phenomenological framework of experience and behavior that characterizes the human quest for meaning. Creativity has long fascinated Singer, and in Modes of Creativity he carries forward investigations begun in earlier works. Marshaling a wealth of examples and anecdotes ranging from antiquity to the present, about persons as diverse as Albert Einstein and Sherlock Holmes, Singer describes the interactions of the creative and the imaginative, the inventive, the novel, and the original. He maintains that our preoccupation with creativity devolves from biological, psychological, and social bases of our material being; that creativity is not limited to any single aspect of human existence but rather inheres not only in art and the aesthetic but also in science, technology, moral practice, as well as ordinary daily experience.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-29576-5
    Subjects: Philosophy
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface (pp. ix-xvi)
    I. S.
  4. 1 Prologue: Reversing Mistakes about Creativity (pp. 1-26)

    This preliminary chapter will seek to present a framework and a foundation for the progressively more constructive thoughts in the remaining chapters. Trying to sweep away the detritus of several past and recent perspectives in philosophical theories of creativity, I limit my polemical attack to the minimum that most readers require to see where I am coming from and will proceed hereafter. In the development of this chapter, I also sketch some ideas about the quest for creativity as a means of coping with the sense of dread and often desperation that resides generically in the human condition, and that...

  5. 2 The Creative Experience (pp. 27-54)

    With respect to the nature of creative experience, as in many areas of philosophical investigation, one does well to start with common occurrences that exemplify the subject being studied. Though creativity involves doing or making something valuable, many of those who write about it put the greatest emphasis on describing the experience itself. Unfortunate as this may be, it is surely understandable. Creativity results from collecting items in one’s own experience and then transforming them in a practical manner that is personal to oneself.

    In that vein, we can begin by discussing two kinds of lecturers. One reads from a...

  6. 3 The Creative Process (pp. 55-76)

    Thus far I have been focusing on very dramatic, even melodramatic, events that sometimes occur in creative experience. This characteristic is evident in Archimedes’ exclamatory utterance, and in the fact that he ran naked through the streets in his impassioned haste to proclaim his success. Though not irrelevant to the nature of creativity, that kind of explosive outburst need not accompany other authentic instances of creativity. The Eureka effect is just the tip of a creative iceberg. Or better yet, it is a mountain peak on which some intrepid climber puts up his nation’s flag as explicit proof of what...

  7. 4 Three Myths of Artistic Creativity (pp. 77-102)

    Several unwarranted assumptions about the creative process in general, and artistic creativity in particular, have permeated our common descriptive language. I discuss them here as mythic artifacts because the views they purvey are shibboleths that many people take for granted and even consider obviously true. In the theories of the major thinkers I will be discussing, these views have wide ramifications that seem to me untenable. Using convenient labels that I introduce as a way of studying the principal ideas, I call them myths of regression, communication, and revealed individuality, respectively.

    As the terminology for the first type suggests, it...

  8. 5 Aesthetic Creativity (pp. 103-134)

    As a continuation of my discussion of creative experience in previous chapters, I now address the general nature of aesthetic creativity that will lead into more specific aspects of creativity in the rest of the book. In this chapter I largely resort to historical analysis that eventuates in coordinate speculations of my own. The main problem here is whether, as I believe, we can properly consider the aesthetic to be paradigmatic of all creativity. If so, since creativity must be approached in relation to some relevant process, we would then need to determine how it may occur not only in...

  9. 6 Creativity in Expression, Metaphor, Myth (pp. 135-158)

    I begin this chapter with an account that leads into a gamut of creative modalities. After the devastation Vienna had suffered during World War II, Beethoven’sFideliowas chosen to celebrate the reopening of its opera house.Fideliois a work about the triumph of marital love and female heroism over the cruelty of official tyranny. When the singers came out for their curtain calls at the end, a middle-aged woman forced her way onto the stage and wildly pummeled the man who enacted the role of Pizarro, the odious villain in the piece. It was obvious that this character...

  10. 7 The Prosaic and the Absurd in Their Creative Context (pp. 159-186)

    As I have remarked, Nietzsche thought that life itself can possibly be made into a creative work of art. But does this mean that mechanical and even boring parts of it will somehow become creative like the more aesthetic moments we may aspire toward? A suggestion of this kind seems to me wildly fanciful, and a latter-day reflection of nineteenth-century romanticism at its worst. For one thing, it misconstrues the repetitious necessities of daily life and the less than ideal intervals that exist in even the most successful works of art. It precludes a true acceptance of what these prosaic...

  11. 8 Creativity in Practice (pp. 187-212)

    As sequels to studying the arts of comedy, humor, and tragedy, this chapter and the next one address practical (and theoretical) arts of a different kind. In many areas of life, human pursuits are said to contain an aesthetic element that is not especially visual or auditory. Those two modalities of sense experience are especially evident in arts like painting or music. But in ordinary parlance we readily speak of carpentry or cooking, and sports like boxing or racing or gymnastics, as potentially containing dexterity and grace that qualify them too for inclusion in the illustrious category of creative art....

  12. 9 Creativity in Science, Technology, and Mathematics (pp. 213-240)

    We normally think of science as an explicit quest for knowledge. Technology is thought to be the application of scientific theories that may be helpful to us as human beings who live in nature. By and in themselves, these conceptions may well appear correct and obvious. On inspection, however, we find they harbor ambiguities that need to be clarified. What is implied in the reference to “knowledge”? And in its reliance upon scientific theories, what does technology contribute? According to received opinion that we all have inherited, and for the most part repeat automatically, knowledge is a body of beliefs...

  13. 10 Creativity and Reality (pp. 241-264)

    In my previous chapters I suggested that much of our thinking about the nature of reality is confused or erroneous. At the same time, I suggested that there are types of creativity that accompany virtually all our statements or beliefs about reality. In this chapter I want to establish at least three things: first, that what in our familiar language is called reality is a compendium produced by vague but commonfeelingsabout reality; second, that there are different kinds of comparable and interrelated feelings of this sort; and finally, that the inherent modes of creativity in this area exist...

  14. Concluding Remarks (pp. 265-270)

    In view of the approach I have been sketching, we may be able to clarify, and now extend, the notion of transformation that has entered into my recent ideas. The “reality” that theologians, scientists, artists, and laymen curious about the meaning of life have sought turns out to be a synoptic term for referring to the endless ways in which everything is what it is because of its being a transformation of whatever has preceded it. Far from duplicating any earlier reality that caused it, or somehow brought it into being, the new entity transforms its forebears. This partial or...

  15. Appendix: On Creativity (pp. 271-288)
    Moreland Perkins
  16. Notes (pp. 289-300)
  17. Index (pp. 301-309)


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