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3 Ideas on Creativity from a Philosophy Perspective-ish

  1. From time to time there’s a quote, and it’s the usual commonsense perspective, that creativity is just the combination of what we already know. Someti.mes in my mind I call this the Kantian view, because Kant’s philosophy hedged against the unknowable (noumena) by patching together a quilt of the knowable (appearances). But Kant’s project was descriptive insofar as it was a description of what the human experience is, and prescriptive insofar as it works to make arguments in concert with those descriptive views, and vice-versa.

This idea of switching around ingredients is expounded by Nietzsche and Steve Jobs, but probably coolest in Miles Davis’s mid-career, when the musician started to develop acid jazz. Any artist worth her salt is going to tell you garbage in, garbage out, so most of your favorite artists usually have a huge, huge, huge vocabulary of say, music albums they love, paintings they love, and whatever else.

2. Hegelian Negation is the opposite of this, because Hegelian Negation is the opposite of everything. If you read enough Hegel, and maybe Slavoj Zizek YouTube lectures, you get the idea that Negation is a Holy Grail in Hegel. Negation is any sort of objective step in between Hegel’s initial step (spirit) and his final step (absolute). I think my take away here is one does not need any library or vocabulary in order to take a negative step. Negation is a step one can take anywhere, at any time.

3. Faith, and Divinity. There’s two flavors of a barroom philosophy debate about creativity. In the first case, a person wonders if creativity or anything new are actually possible. To which an interlocutor will reply, dude fucking look around. In the second flavor of philosophy barroom debate, a person wonders if any creativity should happen. This one is a bit more slippery. But following James Carse, in Finite and Infinite Games, we know creativity is supererogatory — above and beyond morality. Anyone who must create, cannot create, because Carse wrote, whoever must play, cannot play.

At any given time, creativity is going to take a radical stance against Nihilism (Nihilism Joke: I don’t believe in Nihilism). Just want to point to Joshua Rothman’s article on Aspiration in decision making and I’m out.