It’s easy to dismiss creativity as an outcome of chance, or to off-load it by crediting external sources – inspiration or imitation. But creativity, understood as fruitful originality, not mere novelty, is omnipresent in human experience, from the brilliant artistic works, inventions and discoveries that change the course of one life or many to the everyday efforts of problem solving seen in verbal or mechanical wit – or social tact. Creativity, then, is not well explained by the mystique of genius, whether painted in awestruck or more lurid tones. Creative efforts are typically synthetic, finding relevance in seemingly unrelated spheres. Hence the role of chance and play. But, as Pasteur said, “Chance favors only the prepared mind.” Efforts like brainstorming, aiming to socialize creativity seem to slight its inboard side. Creative work does have a social dimension. It builds on past foundations, and it can be interactive. But creativity is not a social game. Its fruits belong to thought, whether minds work in tandem or apart. The reality of creativity, like that of consciousness or agency, bespeaks the reality of subjects who learn from their surroundings, natural and social, but are not mere froth on the waves of their milieu.
Keywords: Invention, discovery, Inspiration, associative psychology, Max Wertheimer, Sharon Bailin, Robert Weisberg