What is driving us to be creative?

It could be the view of a landscape, the look in one’s eyes or a phrase in a song, which triggers something in the soul to get active and to bring something new under the sun. What is driving us to create artworks? New evidence and theories in different disciplines like genetics and archaeology were found and provide a new platform for further examinations on this subject.

Venus Of Tan Tan created 400,000 Years Ago by Homo erectus

Researches with technologies like Uran-Thorbium as well as Radiocarbon dating of artifacts and cave paintings in Europe and North Africa leaves no doubt that Neanderthals shared symbolic thinking with early modern humans and that, as far as it can infer from material culture, Neanderthals and early modern humans were cognitively indistinguishable. Scientists suggest that the origins of language and the advanced cognition characteristic of extant humans may precede the period before the divergence of the Neanderthal lineage, more than half-a-million years ago. What does that mean? Products of creativity seem to be much older than we thought. These products were not exclusive to the significant sign of the modern homo sapiens any longer.

What is creativity standing for? It seems that the notion of “creativity” originated in Western culture through Christianity. God creates the universe, the earth, and all living creatures. In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, creativity was the sole province of God; humans were not considered to have the ability to create something new except as an expression of God’s work. However, this is not creativity in the modern sense, which did not arise until the Renaissance when creativity was first seen, not as a conduit for the divine, but from the abilities of great men.

Michelangelo, the Creation of Adam (detail), Sistine Chapel 

Alfred North Whitehead was the first who coined the term “creativity” as part of his metaphysical categories while he was lecturing at the University of Edinburgh in 1927. Since these days, the term is receiving sustainable attention and got the subject of various research approaches. Essentially, most studies are about the essence of creativity, there are different forms of categorization, and there is an intense pedagogical interest in stabilizing creative impulses, as well as the sustainable promotion of creativity. The widely quoted Four C model of creativity distinguishes four areas of Mini-C, transformative learning, Little-C the area of everyday problem-solving and creative expression, Pro-C, which is about professional creativity, and finally the Big -C outstanding creativity in a given field. If the model also describes a sphere of creativity, it does not present any information about the necessary conditions for the emergence and possibly structuring of such processes.

Creativity as the ability to develop new and useful ideas is understood as the key driving force behind scientific, technological and cultural innovation. Therefore creativity and intelligence are closely related in recent research, and some tests have been developed for creativity based on intelligence tests. Now, the archaeological findings question this connection, for the Neanderthals have hitherto been considered less intelligent.

Research in the field of genetics has shown initial results in terms of convergent or, on the contrary, divergent thinking. Thus, there are genetic causes for both forms of thinking, which, however, may be influenced by other individual characteristics such as memory, openness to life, and external circumstances, even food. In the meantime, it must be regarded as proven that creativity is gender-independent. Overall, creativity seems to be the genetic engine of life, because even the simplest life forms develop amazing adaptability to solve even the most complex questions of their circumstances and environment.

City of Dusk No. 7 Architectural study about megacities in 2050

Could it be that artistic creation has emerged in a way yet to be clarified, as a by-product of evolution? It would not be surprising, because the growing up of living things to the witnessing and preservation of offspring depending on environment and predators always required mental flexibility and openness, as well as the fast and sustainable processing and memory of information. While optimally adapted life forms in the short- and medium-term had the best chance of survival of their species, less optimally adapted, more flexibly designed forms also succeeded in achieving long-term success. They were certainly ahead of their time in a sense. To be inventive and creative, to develop things that have not yet been done or thought of by others, is necessary for humanity to advance. Is that not what artists are doing?

By Dieter Hanf

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