Sunday, 8 July 2012

Creativity and truth

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An intrinsic problem with all scientific theories of human creativity is that they neglect to consider whether that which is created is true.

Because there are an unbounded (infinite?) number of potential creations which are wrong, false or ugly - yet we are only really interested only by creativity which leads to truth, beauty and virtue.

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At least this ought to be a major concern - although this aspect has been neglected and distorted for a couple of hundred years.

Nowadays, the creation of falsehood, ugliness and vice is actively approved - as being radical, challenging, subversive...

In other words an evil genius is given more credit - especially among the intellectual elite, especially in the arts (Picasso, Dadaism, James Joyce, DH Lawrence, Ezra Pound, Stravinsky, Schoenberg) - than a good genius.

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The HJ Eysenck model of intelligence is that creativity supplies variation, and intelligence evaluates the products of creativity. The sifting of intellect is on the basis of things such as internal coherence, previous knowledge, and experience.  

So, if we had a super-intelligent and super-creative person - with all the requisites of hard work, perseverance, autonomy etc - then unless some other factor is applied to our scientific model we would expect almost all his possible creations to be untrue (and ugly and sinful

...and this would be the case even if creative products had been pre-filtered (by his intelligence, memory etc)  for consistency with existing knowledge.

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Because the type of filtering performed by comparing novel creations with existing knowledge, presupposes the validity of existing knowledge - and opens-up the circular question of how we know that 'existing knowledge' is valid...

Thus the topic of creativity leads onto a consideration of metaphysics: and how we know anything.

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If we are to avoid circularity, we can only know anything insofar as it is a revelation from some source that has intrinsic validity - in other words divine revelation.

And if creativity depends on divine revelation for its validation - why not for its content?

That was certainly the view of many or most people in history: that geniuine creativity was a gift from God or the gods - the truth of creativity derives from its origin beyond humans, in the transcendental realm.

Just common sense, really. 

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6 comments:

Nathan said...

"Because the type of filtering performed by comparing novel creations with existing knowledge, presupposes the validity of existing knowledge - and opens-up the circular question of how we know that 'existing knowledge' is valid...

Thus the topic of creativity leads onto a consideration of metaphysics: and how we know anything."
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I don't think that this is the case. I can't imagine Einstein, for example, racking his brain trying to figure out whether chairs really exist or if mathematics is true or anything of the sort prior to formulating his brilliant theories.

I might, for example, come up with a new joke that I want to tell to a friend of mine, but before I tell him I might first go through and determine whether or not he could understand it - I might also try to figure out whether or not he'll think it's funny, but doubting if he really exists would be absurd.

I don't think that the problem that one must consider is how we know anything (as you mentioned), but how we come to doubt something.
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"If we are to avoid circularity, we can only know anything insofar as it is a revelation from some source that has intrinsic validity - in other words divine revelation."
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I'm not sure what you mean here by 'intrinsic validity' (some examples would help, perhaps), but I can't help but cringe at the idea. Again, I feel as if you are using the word 'know' in an incredibly strange and dangerous way.
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All that being said, I do think that creativity is, as it has been described in the past, a sort of divine spark (Götterfunken). It'd just be odd to describe it seriously in any other way.

bgc said...

@Nathan - the thing about writing short blog entries that are simple enough that people might actually read them; is that I have to assume the reader will fill in the gaps and also be on the same wavelength with respect to the topic in hand.

I have covered the Einstein example in a previous posting (I think - it is in my forthcoming book at any rate) - the key is that Einstein was raised as a Jew hence 'instinctively' regarding transcendental realities as real.

The problem only comes when people (as now) are raised as nihilists, relativists etc.

"'intrinsic validity'" means that - like logic, it is coherent with itself.

dearieme said...

Larkin used Pound, Picasso and Parker to represent the horrors of modernism.

I'll say a kind word for D H Lawrence: it was partly because I discovered that that chump Leavis sang Lawrence's praises that I was spared the gruesome fate of doing a degree in Eng Lit.

SFG said...

Evil? I don't like Stravinsky and Schoenberg was awful, but would you call them evil because they made lousy-sounding music?

bgc said...

SFG - the transcendental Good is truth, beauty and virtue - subversion or destruction of any of these is evil.

Therefore to make ugly music is evil, and to theorize and propagandize this and use it to attack beautiful music is much worse.

Not as evil as some things, perhaps, but evil it is.

dearieme said...

I've just come across this quotation, which might just about be relevant.

“Even if I could be Shakespeare, I think I should still choose to be Faraday.” — Aldous Huxley

H/T Futility Closet.