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The Emergence of Creatology in a Cultural Perspective

Paul BALAHUR
Iassy, ROMANIA

The Emergence of Creatology in a Cultural Perspective


The Language as a witness of the cultural change
I. Language is a witness of change in the field of the knowledge. In its system of signs, also the traces that show the movement of the signs are conserved, meaning those dynamic signs that indicate problems and solutions of problems, and sometimes even the invention of new problems, which modify the paradigms of knowledge. In the case of the creativity problem, if we take language as the witness, we see the following: 1. In the first half of the 20th century, the term used to denote the innovatory phenomena is that of creation. This notion refers, most often, to the artistic works, but is step by step extended also to denote the great scientific discoveries or technical inventions and, more seldom, other types of activities which bear the mark of novelty or originality, generally with an out of the ordinary character (i.e., extra-ordinary). The word has an obvious value content and exactly by its evaluative significance, it is disseminated in the current cultural vocabulary. It can have more general meanings, due to the fact that it keeps, in its semantic memory, the archaic layers of the myths of creation, but also because it can be resignified metaphysically, as a cosmogony principle or one of the evolution of life (as in Levolution creatrice of H. Bergson). But its established place in the philosophical discourse is found mostly in the area of the philosophy of culture (W. Dilthey, G. Simmel, L. Blaga) or in that of the philosophy of value (M. Scheler, N. Hartmann, L. Lavelle) and especially in the philosophy of art. From here, it is overtaken by the art sciences, as the psychology of art, the history of art or the sociology of art. The term creation means both the works, the products of the creation process, and the processes through which these works are accomplished. In the analysis of the creation process, the significance of the term become more psychological, and the rationalization to which it

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is subjected to seems to furthen it both from its religious origin as well as from the Romantic mythology of the genius. However, if we regard more attentively, we see that terms as inspiration, incubation or invention, from the so called explanations of the creation process, preserve the magic obscurity of the enigma. Generally, the idea of creation, even totally transferred to the human sphere, secularized, rationalized and psychologized, still keeps something from the history of a notion charged with mystery, heroic admiration and a sort of sacred terror, which can be understood by considering the religious origin of the idea of creation; because about creation, in the human sphere, it has been commenced to be talked at first by analogy to the divine creation, in the discourse about art of the Renaissance, and the semantic evolution of the notion has not, for a long time, furthen itself from it spiritual root. Creation even when it denotes the human products- still remains a metaphor- which transports to something difficult to comprehend, rather than facilitates the understanding of what it denotes. 2. After the middle of the 20th century, a new term, creativity, makes its way in the discourse, replacing the word creation. It comes from the vocabulary of the humanistic sciences, firstly from psychology (where it has been introduced by the American researcher G. Allport in 1938) and afterward by the other sciences (Pedagogy, Sociology, Management, etc) which adopted it. It becomes, in a short period, a frequent term of the cultural world and of public communication. The discourse in which this neologism appears has completely changed suppositions: a). Firstly, it is a discourse of scientific nature (the human and social sciences assuming creativity as a study problem); b). Secondly, its notions are descriptive: creativity denotes the capacity to produce innovative works in any domain and is seen as a generally human dimension (like intelligence and the other aptitudes); the creative products are described following criteria such as novelty, originality, relevance, adequacy or utility, attributes that are intelligible but also rationally computable. c). Thirdly, the suppositions of the discourse on creativity contains the idea that the creative phenomena can be understood rationally, described, analyzed, explained and measured, and their knowledge can be applied in the so called techniques to stimulate creativity (like brainstorming, sinectics, inventics, creatics, etc.) or transferred in the methods of learning and education. The notion of creativity indicates thus a discourse

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articulated on a type of representations which we could call positive, to mark this way the change in knowledge on which they are based. 3. In the last decades of the 20th century, in the vocabulary of the sciences on creativity appears a new notion: creatology . According to the significance that results from the terms which compose this linguistic invention, creatology can denote, in a general sense, the study or the theory of creation or creativity, accomplished in a discipline or other from the sciences which assumed it as a research problem. Still, the discussions on creatology have requested more - the constituting of an autonomous discipline of creativity. These three notions creation, creativity and creatology - have an obvious family resemblance, although, as we have seen, the semantic differences are significant. Through these notions we can reconstruct not only the history of a problem which appeared as important to the knowledge of the 20th century, but perhaps even the history of some ideas which have accompanied the understanding of the cultural history or, wider, the history of the mentalities of the 20th century. It is exactly why the emergence of creatology can be researched from the perspective of cultural analysis.

The Meanings of Creatology


II. The language which the members of a scientific community adopt and use in order to understand, describe and explain the facts and the meanings of the cultural world that they study has two important functions: it predetermines conceptually the way to see that world (or what is called the domain of refference) and, at the same time, transforms the speakers of that language into a disciplinary community. That is why it has been told that every concept is a intellectual micro-institution.1 But it is also true that, from a cultural perspective, every social institution could be understood as a macro - concept.2

1 Stephen Toulmin, Human Understanding, vol. 1, Princeton, Prinston University Press, 1972, p.56. 2 This point is explored by Peter Winch in his famous book The Idea of a Social Science. V. Paul Balahur: Fundamente ale tiintelor sociale, n vol. Comunicare social i relaii publice, Ed Universitii Al. I. Cuza, 2006, pp.88-90.

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A scientific community so as the community of scholars in creativity is defines its own identity and preserves its legitimacy through an authorized language, as described above. Acording to Thomas Kuhns theory on the structure and dinamics of science, the scientific community must be understand as a community of concepts users.3 This perspective underlines the importance of the basic concepts in a science and becomes of a paramount interest especially when we reffer just to the concept which gives the name of a discipline, or the concepts which design its main frameworks as paradigms of a professional community. The name of creatology has been recently proposed as a commun title for the study of creation and creativity in different human sciences, social sciences or cultural studies. But this proposal rises a question: How could be seen from the already outlined point of view the situation of the concept of Creatology, and, mainly, which are the consequences ot its promotion and of its eventual acceptance by the scientific community? In spite of the fact that the concept of Creatology is merely a recent and still an unhomologated acquisition, it has already won the right to enter the dictionnairies, getting at least three different meanings: 1. A first meaning points out that Creatology is a complex discipline which is approaching the creativitys techniques, processes and forms.4 2. A second meaning includes the psychological studies of all dimensions involved n the creative behavior.5 3. A third meaning defines Creatology as the autonomous crossdiscilinary science of the creativity.6 However, n spite of the fact that the identity of the linguistic form clearly suggests that the term of Creatology has been invented just to baptise the scientific study of creativity, the three meanings it has already got are quite different, both as area they cover and the scientific knowledge they send to.

Thomas Kuhn, Structura revoluiilor tiinifice, Ed. tiinific, 1976, p. 72-75. P. Popescu-Neveanu: Dicionar de psihologie, Ed Albatros, 1988, p.158. 5 Robert J. Sternberg (ed): The Nature of Creativity, Cambridge University Press, New York, 1989. 6 Istvan Maghiary-Beck, Creatology: A Potential Paradigm for an Emerging Discipline, n Scott Isaksen, M.Murdock, R. Firestein,D. Treffinger (eds): Understanding and Recognizing Creativity: The Emergence of a Discipline, Ablex Publishing Company, New Jersey,1993, p.48 sq.
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Consequently, according to the first meaning, Creatology would be the Science and/or the Art of creative methodologies, aiming to identify, mould, operationalise, and implement the techniques, methods, and procedures of creativity. According to this point of view, the creatologist is the scholar who masters and uses the techniques of creativity. The second meaning identifies Creatology with the Psychological research of all the dimensions involved in the creative behavior. The creatologist is, from this perspective, the expert able to use an integrative, enough flexible and realistic pattern, aiming to offer the comprehension and explanation of the creative acts involved in psyhological dynamics of human behaviors. Finally, the third meaning strongly emphasises the great complexity of the territory the creative behavior covers. This meaning assigns to Creatology the statute of a cross-disciplinary science. Creatologist are, from this perspective, all those researchers who having different professional expertises belong all together to the invisible college of the scholars in creativity as they understand and speak the linqua franca the language for a free communication between them which is necessary in a cross-disciplinary community. But, beyond of these evident differences, the three meaning share something in commun: they move around a new name Creatology opening this way the problem of re-elaboration of the frame of refference required by the comprehension and the explanation of one of the most complex behaviors, that is of creativity. We should also mention that claiming for a new frame of refference, the three mentioned meanings of Creatology are mainly critical or even polemical: every one intends, as a mater of fact, to take distance from the existing state of art in creativity research. Each of them has led, n a specific way, to a new perspective n creativity research and thus in its cultural understandings. In the first meaning of Creatology as science and/or art of the techniques of creativity we can identify the idea of an critical opposition between a direct knowledge of creation experiences, rised on the empirical basis of the Stimulatin Creativity Methods, and the theoretical knowledge which had been found rather blocked n front of creative phenomenion complexity. In this order of ideas, the promotion of a new discipline named creatology - expressed the need to breack throught the outdated patterns of creativitys understanding. The original experience of Stimulating Creativity Techniques, developed somehow outside the strictly scientific field, proved the epistemological limits of traditional

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paradigm of sciences of creation especially the psychology of creativity clung in the outdated patterns of explanation. The polemical meaning Creatology gets in this context is thus an emancipational one. The second meaning of Creatology the Psychological study of the whole dimensions involved in creative behaviours is also a polemical one. It expresses the critical dissatisfaction, often mentioned last decades by several authors, regarding the tendencies in Psychology toward analytical, statical and fragmentary strategies of explanation. According to these strategies, psychological research of creativity has been divided n four areas of interest: person (the traits of creative individual), product (the calities of a creative result), process (the mechanisms of creatives operations) and press (or the influzences of socio-cultural context of creation).7 But, firstly, this analytical approach has brought about fragmentation of the personality; secondly, the sequential research has determined disproportions, enhancing a static representation of creativity which, by its very deep nature, is quite a dinamic phenomenon; and finally, the pattern of explanation resulted from these knowledge strategies, oscillating between different theories intellectualist, afectivist, behaviorist or culturalist perspectives have been proved limited n their trial to understand the nature, the structure and the dynamics of creativity. n this respect, some authors make a pertinent observation that it is quite surprinsingly to see haw uncreativelly has been approached the problem of creativity by different scholars n the creativity domain.8 In this context, defining Creatology as a new frame of refference expresses the need to draw up a new theoretical and methoddological pattern, able to cover the entire, dynamic system of the aspects involved in creativity. Thus, the project of Creatology as a new stage n creativity knowledge represents the necessity to re-build the Psychology of Creativity. Finally, the third meaning creatology as a cross-disciplinary science could also be seen as a critical reaction to the mono-disciplinary approaches of the creative behaviour. Once with the development of the creativity research and studies it became evident that such a complex phenomenon could not be monopolised by only one discipline, whatever it be. Even
M. Rhodes, An Analysis of Creativity, 1961; republished in: S.Isaksen (ed): Frontiers of Creative Research: Beyond the Basics, Bearly Limited, Buffalo, New York, 1987 8 Donald Treffinger, Research on Creative Assessement, n S.Isaksen (ed.), op. cit., 1987, p.107.
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Psychology, which has pretended to have special rights on the territory of creativity research, is now admitting that the challenges of creativity are not only of a psychological matter. The psychologists also recognize that as long as they follow the logic of their subject they have no other choice but to get out of their field and to look for support in metapsychology, that is a philosophy of science, if they really want to understand and to explain what is creativity. Analogically, no other science of creativity Sociology, Pedagogy, Methodology, Logics of Science etc. can pretend to be the singular authorised voices n creativity research and in its understanding. The counsciosness the scientific research of creativity has arrived at today recognizes that, due to the complexity and the multiple facets this phenomenon has, the cooperation among different disciplinary perspetives is the only one way toward its scientific comprehension and explanation. n this context, Creatology has to be seen as a new interdisciplinary science able to synthesize the multiple, different approaches on creativity, artificially isolated until now. As an integrative perspective, Creatology become a new frame of refference guiding further reserchers or what some authors assert as the adequate reflection on the ontological reality of creativity in the epistemological mirror of science.9 Considering Creatology as a new discipline would not make anything else but to recognise, pointed out the author cited above, the existing situation in the practice of the research, namely, that the phenomena of creativity are approached by several scholars, not only by the psychologists. Recognising Creatology as a cross-disciplinar science would legitimise, at the same time, all the scholars in the field of creativity, without any discrimination. The name of creatology argues the same author provides a kind of declaration of indepedence for the creativity scholars. Since the discipline of creativity has been most of the time associated primarly with Psychology, a new name will allow it not to be subordinated to Psychology, or any other older well-established discipline.10 The scientific research of the creativity has thus the opportunity to enter a new stage, a post-psychological one.

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I. Maghiary Beck, op. cit, p.50. ibid. See Paul Balahur: Creaie, creativitate, creatologie. Genealogia unei probleme, n Problematologie i comunicare, Ed. Performantica, 2006, pp. 117-184.

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The advantages of this project are quite evident. Unfortunately, one can easily observe, that claim for the interdisciplinary can mean only to identify a problem, without solving it. Can a new discipline be homologated as long as it is conceived only as a mechanical association of different other approaches? As a matter of fact, specialised approaches, one can say, reflects nothing else but the particular strategy throughout which a discipline builds its own knowledge-object, revealing according a particular methodology a facet or another of a process, phenomenon etc. Consecvently, one can hardly imagine that the psychological aspects of creativity could be analysed by another discipline than Psychology, as well as the social and cultural ones by Sociology and Culturology respectivelly, etc. That is why, by our opinion, the true problem of Creatology is not that of stating its cross-disciplinary statute because now nobody doubts about it - but the one of its epistemological grounds, or, to be more specific, the problem of how can we integrate into an unitar, synthetic view the particular approaches of creativity. In other words, if the phenomenon to be studied have multiple determinations (biological, psychological, social, cultural etc), approached by different sciences of creativity, how can we integrate them into a meta-science similar to the way creatology is the cross-disciplinary science of creativity? Without solving the problem of conceptual re-building of a new paradigm of creatological research, the cross-disciplinary perspective remains still declarative. Considering Creatology only as a confortable umbrella, destined to join the mono-disciplinary aprroaches which are supposed to cooperate in order to put together their particular pieces and thus to draft the unique picture of creativity, is far from being enough to legitimize its emergence as a new discipline. As Thomas Kuhn appreciated, the scientists joined into a professional community will never abandon a scientific paradigm as long as there is no other comprehensive pattern able to solve the critical problems the disciplinary matrix is confrunted with. Such a situation could explain the reserve some scholars in creativity have in escaping from the autocratic psychological perspective, despite the evident advantages of a pluridisciplinary view. We have to observe that the exigencies to draw up a new theoretical and methodological frame of refference for the creativity studies has been developed under the form of the criticism adressed to the theories,

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hypothesis, methodes or strategies involved in creativity studies or under the form of we can call the epistemological consciousness. This concept ilustrates the idea that Creatology emerges as a cross-disciplinary approach at a turning point, specified by the critical examination of the posibilities to understand, explain and predict the creative behaviour. Emerging at the critical level of the knowledge about the knowledge of creativity, Creatology can be defined in our terms as the epistemological condition of the creativity study, that is a critical examination of its hypothesis, suppositions and research strategies. In other words, we can name Creatology THE CRITICS OF HEURISTIC REASON.11 We consider now that this epistemological perspective must be completed with a cultural one: above all, the problem of creativity can not be understood without considering such basic questions: 1. the semnifications of creation as a specific activity of human beings; 2. the general and specific characteritics of all the forms of creation, inovation and invention; 3.the unity and the diversity of the modes, techniques and methods for producing the new, original and valuable results n all the domains; 4. the implications of understanding creativity n the different spheres of values, those of science, technology and arts, but also in morals, politics, education etc.12 The analysis of these questions involves the horizon of a theory of culture and also a genealogical perspective on the evolution of the socio-cultural practices and cultural mentalities from the point of view of undersanding the meanings of creativity. So, finally, creatology can be defined as a cultural discipline or, more precisely, as a new, emergent cultural discipline.

11 12

Paul Balahur, op. cit, 166 sq. idem, Personalitate i creaie n etica modern, Ed Universitii Al .I.Cuza, Iai, 2004.