In a recent article on The Creativity Post site, Milena Z. Fisher gives some thoughtful and stimulating responses to the acclaimed Jonah Lehrer book “Imagine,” and comments about the state of creativity research.
[Fisher is a philosopher (Nietzsche scholar), entrepreneur, and co-founder of The Creativity Post.]
She notes there is no absolute definition, that nobody knows exactly what “creativity” really is, and that while Lehrer “elegantly and effortlessly skims through different aspects of creativity” and though his book is “charming and engaging,” it is also “disappointing that along with this beautiful literature some of his claims aren’t very well supported.
“Lehrer worked in a neuroscience lab, so he should know better that we are far, far away from the real ‘science of creativity’ and even more importantly we are probably not on the right track yet.”
Fisher thinks “creativity research” is “very incongruent and severely fragmented… creativity in business is often described as a goal oriented perseverance of a visionary entrepreneur, or depicted and associated with a set of tools that every ‘creative professional’ can use in their daily practice.”
She points out that while producing ideas may be easy, “Execution of those ideas is what we should worry about. Creativity research in psychology seems to be focused on ‘artistic’, free-association thinking; nobody tests the creativity of entrepreneurs or software designers.
“Researchers are ferociously debating self-made concepts (like convergent/divergent thinking), which were originally defined to establish the ‘science of creativity’ but ironically turned out to be not very ‘scientific’ at all.”
And, she adds, “Nowadays the public psyche is infatuated with ‘brain talk’, but those who understand science know that researchers are just testing the waters there, that our knowledge about complex brain operations is still full of the unknown.
“Creativity is a complex issue, but we shouldn’t be spooked by its intricacy; we successfully research and study complicated, layered problems, although it is very possible that in the process of studying creativity we will have to drop a few of our old, one-dimensional methodological habits.”
Read more of her article: Hold Your Horses Jonah Lehrer! – Steps Towards the Science of Creativity, By Milena Z. Fisher, Ph.D.
Over the course of a couple of years of posts for The Creative Mind, I have reported on a number of studies in psychology and neuroscience related to creativity – and will continue to do so – but it is helpful to remember there is no definitive “cookbook,” although books such as Lehrer’s can stimulate our thinking and suggest actions to encourage the Muse to show up.
Also see my earlier post Jonah Lehrer on the Science of Creativity & Innovation, which includes a video: Jonah Lehrer on the Surprising Benefits of Daydreaming.
His book (Amazon Best Books of the Month, March 2012) is Imagine: How Creativity Works.