1 minute read

Creativity in the Arts and Sciences

Core Controversies Concerning Creativity

Despite the abundance of scientific research on the subject of creativity, several central issues continue to escape successful resolution. Of these, the following three are probably most critical:

  1. Nature versus Nurture—Is creative genius born or made? Or, to phrase the question in less dichotomous terms, what are the relative contributions of genetic endowment and environmental influences, such as family background, education, and training? One special manifestation of this question regards how gender, race, and ethnicity determine individual creativity.
  2. Madness versus Mental Health—How much truth is there to the traditional concept of the "mad genius"? Although both psychiatrists and psychologists continue to find provocative connections between creativity and psychopathology, it is also clear that the two phenomena are far from equivalent. Furthermore, humanistic psychologists argue that creativity can actually be considered a sign of supreme mental health.
  3. Individual versus Society—To what extent is creativity embodied in the individual and to what extent is creativity a representation of larger sociocultural phenomena? This is often expressed as the debate between genius and zeitgeist theories of creativity. Because psychologists, psychoanalysts, and psychiatrists favor the individual as the unit of analysis, they tend to support some form of the genius theory. In contrast, anthropologists, sociologists, and Marxist philosophers, who prefer cultures and societies as analytical units, are more prone to advocate some version of the zeitgeist theory.

Probably any resolution will be inclusive rather than exclusive. That is, creativity will eventually emerge as a function of nature and nurture, madness and mental health, the individual and society.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Cosine to Cyano groupCreativity in the Arts and Sciences - Historical Conceptions, Core Controversies Concerning Creativity, Contemporary Research, Bibliography