What is Creativity? | Philosophy Tube

What is Creativity? | Philosophy Tube

Creativity is an odd phenomenon. It’s prized
and desired but often elusive, hard to coax out, and even more difficult to define. Is
creativity just coming up with new stuff? Well, no, because nobody has ever said this
before:But that’s not creative. It’s just bollocks. This is entirely new:but again, not very creative. And really, anything is new if you look hard enough: a perfect copy of the Mona Lisa is new in the sense
that it was made today rather than in 1504, but that doesn’t mean it’s creative, in fact it’s the opposite – derivative. So being creative isn’t just coming up with new or original stuff. Quite a few philosophers have said that being creative is coming up with new and valuable stuff. And immediately that raises some interesting questions, because what “value” is, well that depends on who you are. A modern economist might say that value is price; a Marxist would say that value is socially necessary labour
time; we might say that something is valuable insofar as it’s useful for a given goal… And this is why the philosopher Teresa Amabile points out that creativity always occurs in a context. She thinks that something is creative in a given field insofar as people who know that field judge it to be both new and valuable. Which of course opens up a whole bunch of new questions about what it means for a work of art to be good or valuable and who are the relevant experts that we need to consult, and so on – the philosophy of creativity is very closely linked to aesthetics, the philosophy of art. But if you’re very clever, you’ll have
noticed something: we’ve been talking about what it is for a work of art or a product to be creative, but what about a person? When someone is being creative, what exactly are they doing? Artistic creativity is just one kind: you
can have creative scientific or mathematical creativity you can have creative acting performances, creative jokes, creative dances. Sometimes creativity takes a lot of planning and effort, and sometimes it comes so spontaneously and out of nowhere that it surprises the creator – think about improvisation.So the philosopher Peter Carruthers thinks
we need a theory that explains all of that variation. He says that whenever you go to perform
some action, like open a door or pick up a book, your brain sends a signal to command the relevant part of your body, but it also generates “action schema” to anticipate what performing that action will look like, feel like, and so on. Those action schema are then compared against actual sensory input so that you can correct what you’re doing. So for instance, if you go to move a sofa, your brain anticipates how heavy it will be, what the fabric will feel like and so on, so that you know how much force to put behind it and you can correct yourself if you need to. Sometimes
action schema are generated automatically like when you move a sofa, and sometimes you
can generate them yourself when you mentally rehearse an action: when you go, “Ok
I’m going to go on stage, it’s gonna look like this, the lines and the music are gonna sound like this,”
– that’s your brain anticipating sensory input Carruthers thinks that creativity lies in
generating new and valuable action schema. When you’re writing poetry you anticipate
what those words will sound like or what that image would look like; when you’re painting you
anticipate how the paint will look on the canvas; when you dance you anticipate how
your body will feel in those positions. When you improvise, action schema are generated so quickly and automatically that you might even be surprised by what comes out of you! There’s also some evidence that when people
engage in scientific creativity they construct mental models of the thing they’re investigating using action schema. Think about the plum pudding model of atomic structure Vs the central nucleus model; those
are both ways of thinking about the structures of atoms that rely on a visual picture to help you understand it, even though atoms are too small to be seen. Or think about Watson and Crick using actual physical models to try and figure out what the structure of DNA would look like to a human eyes. Thinking of creativity as this kind of automatic
sensory imagination explains a few things. It explains why you can be disappointed when you try and be creative: you anticipate that the painting will look a certain way but you can’t quite get it to look on the canvas how it looks in your head. And have you ever heard people say that hallucinogenic drugs like LSD help them with creativity?
Well it would, because it changes the way your brain processes sensory information. And it explains why just copying somebody else’s work isn’t creative: you didn’t generate those action
schema yourself, you just got some sensory input and now you’re remembering it in order to copy it. And you know how people sometimes look to the natural world for creative inspiration: looking at how a bee flies in order to inspire a piece of music, or an actor looking at the way an animal moves in order to incorporate those movment patterns into a new character they’re creating?
That’s all using sensory information. Action schema! You see? So many people think that creativity is this mysterious, unknowable pehnomenon There’s a whole industry of people making books, and sometimes even YouTube videos, just dedicated to wallowing in that mystery and not explaining it. But that’s because creativity is like a magic trick: it only looks mysterious and supernatural when you don’t know how it works, but there’s actually very ordinary explanation. And you can do it! Because you generate action schema every single day for every thing you do! In order to be creative you just need to generate new and valuable ones, and in Part 2 of this series
I’ll be teaching you ‘How to be Creative!’ Patreon.com/PhilosophyTube
is where the fans of this show chuck me a couple of bucks every month to try and keep me making free education on YouTube, and also just keep me eating and paying the rent. And if you donate $15 or more you can see parts 2 and 3 of this series right now! But if that’s not your bag, so you don’t miss Part 2: don’t forget to subscribe.

100 thoughts on “What is Creativity? | Philosophy Tube

  1. Liked the saxophone playing 🙂 The Theory seems to be very explanatory, at least the way you put it. Are there any problems with the theory though? You are very uncritical in this video, but maybe that's just a trick to push your viewers to be creative about possible criticism 😉
    BTW, are going to mention you own definition of creativity you proposed at University?

  2. Can you do a video on consciousness? You have neglected that field quite a bit.

  3. you were happy to have an excuse to jam weren't you? :p

  4. Shirt and tie combo NOT working, bud.

  5. Good video

  6. What's your favorite idea? Mine is being creative.

  7. The value thing was always in my mind ! It all started when I saw the Apple Watch (ok , don't hate on me here !) , but I believe that just because you create something and say "hey it's useful and you should buy it" does not make it valuable, there is no need for an Apple Watch and no one would be out there saying "damn I wish I could have a small screen on my hand all the time which would only work with an expensive phone and not an autonomous device"Same way I thought with modern art , I believe creativity is at one side , and shoving the value of your creativity down someone's throat is another ! .. nice video !

  8. i am thinking of using my first paycheque's money on your patreon (if I earn , which is highly unlikely)

  9. a e s t h e t i c

  10. Creativity stirs in the bowls and is enjoyed through the bladder.

  11. But do we need to be creativ?

  12. Olly I think there is a necessary correlation between the youTuber, his material and his face. Yours fits perfectly

  13. Isn't the whole "expert" thing just kicking the can down the road? What are the criteria that the experts are using and what justifies those criteria? It would be circular to say that "because the experts use these criteria, they are justified" and "the criteria are justified because the experts use them". I think they're also leaving "expert" undefined in this context.

  14. Sometimes I don't know if I'm fostering creativity or just procrastinating…

  15. I was JUST thinking about this question today. Actually I think about this a lot. The post-modern adage that "Everything has been done before" always seemed a bit off, and I think the concept of action schema sheds some light on why it seems off to me.

  16. Congratulations on achieving your goal on patreon!

  17. Olly, could you make some videos on the philosophy of language? There are few YouTube videos on this topic.

  18. I don't like the 'new' part of the definition of creativity. I don't think a creation has to be new for it to be creative, it just has to be unknown to the creator.

  19. I have in my adult life have described my creativity simply as 'problem solving'. This video was brilliant as it more explicitly describes exactly what that process is and accomplishes what I hoped to do by referring to creativity as 'problem solving'. It demystifies it and makes it accessible to anyone. It's not this unobtainable thing that you're just born with. It's something you can learn and something that you probably do anyway, just don't know that you do.

  20. #PhilosophyTube

  21. Any body else have the problem where they can't see there comments when they comment from their iPhone or Android on the YouTube app? I'm not sure if my comments are going through or not so a reply if you can see this would be helpful, thank you.

  22. Who made the captions?

  23. Is there such a thing as an original idea?

  24. its procrastination.

  25. Don Draper is my favourite creativeman

  26. I find that marijuana often puts me in a state where my brain is rapid-fire generating concepts and ideas in an almost absurd, nonsensical way. It's like it strips the process of the inertia I normally associate with it, where I have to plot out each step in a train of thought, and instead becomes this constantly-unfolding non sequitur in my head. Definitely helps with the 'new' part, not so much the 'valuable'. Hell of a way to entertain myself though. And a great way to purge my head of all the detritus of half-formed thoughts and ideas not yet realized, gives me a kind of clarity after the fact. But my brain is probably just defective in that particular way. 😛

  27. woohoo!

  28. How much experience do you have on sax because clearly you know how to make sounds which means you have some expiwriebce.

  29. lul

  30. Maybe "valuable" isn't the best word – that implies that there is a set goal, but it's perfectly possible to have a creative hobby without a real goal, or isn't valuable to anyone but yourself.
    Also, as you mentioned, it has the problem of how you define "value" – in a Capitalist system, is something that doesn't generate profit not creative?

    I think a better word might be "Relevant" – If I create a tv show that is unique and entertaining (that is, relevant to the act of show-making), then it would be creative.

  31. Copying is creation.

  32. what if your first string of "new" is intended to be original and nonsensical? In other words, is somebody doing Dada (for fun, not to transmit meaning) a creative act?

  33. I'm sure there are some "algorithms" for creativity. Taking a concept and reversing it's meaning. Understanding its connections to other ideas and reconfiguring those ideas and their connections into novel forms. To think outside the box you must be aware that you are inside it in the first place.

  34. Suggestion: Something is 'creative' if a problem is solved in an unexpected way.

  35. Cool! Thanks Olly! 🙂

  36. Why is it new and valuable specifically? I would have guessed it would be new and meaningful.

  37. I think the biggest argument against the action schema model is the existence of Aphantasia. A fairly large number of people just don't have mental images or other simulations of sensory experiences so that complicates things since I doubt they are totally incapable of creativity.

  38. I've noticed that I get more creative when I'm depressed.
    For instance, a few days ago I got into a fight with my parents and I started to write card after card expressing my feelings in an artistic way.

  39. Oh Olly, you've once again reeled in my intrigue only to pull a part two. "Clever girl."

  40. hearing about the action schema idea reminded me of one of my favourite things Vihart said: "really, creative people are just skilled at navigating an exponential tree of possibilities" (in her Twelve Tones video)

  41. damn you cliffhanger! 😛

  42. It also helps to have the necessary skills in the discipline, which is why dancers spend so much time at the barre, or actors play theatre games. When I design lights for a play, I create action schema (thanks for that useful term, Oly) in my mind. Sometimes I can see the mental image as a whole, while other times I need to build it based on the existing conditions. I have to know the space, the types and numbers of instruments, where I can hang lights, etc. Sometimes not thinking strictly about theatrical capabilities aids me to create truly innovative practices. For example, I had to rig a spotlight to hit an actor making an entrance from the house, and stay on her while she performed on stage. This meant all the existing options could not work. I suddenly remembered reading about "chain guns". These were machine guns used in Vietnam-era helicopters that were suspended by chains from the top of the door frames. They could point in almost any direction, but still move smoothly. I rigged an elipsoidal instrument on a chain in the catwalk above the audience and presto, had the perfect spotlight. Actually, in the hands of a good operator, it moved far more smoothly and organically than the standard followspot on a stand. Lighting is a great example of the active schema at work, because you must see the image in your head–a costumer can draw figures, and the scenic designer can work with floor plots and renderings. Lighting designers generally have to understand what they can do before they even turn on a light. That is why I call them the "mad monks" of the theatre.

  43. What about sports then?

  44. ayy shout out to matt ley

  45. Of course we have dhmis references.

  46. New and valuable stuff…

  47. looking forward to part 2

  48. what about mathematical creativity? some math concepts cannot be visualised (i.e. n-dimensional spheres, etc.) and the creativity is not based on sensory input in that case!

  49. Does a mojo have anything to do with creativity? – It's seems the most creative people are men… maybe that isn't true, I don't know? – I mean, Lady Gaga wearing a dress made out of meat is pretty creative? Like most women, I was born without a mojo – this just means I learn better when I am relaxed rather than taking risks (people with mojos learn better in a riskier environment – maybe controversial but it's a scientific fact… look up the BNST in the brain). Of course not everyone is the same, which is why we shouldn't have sex discrimination – there is an overlapping mojo-ness between the sexes, with men who have less of a mojo and women who have more of a mojo. Hell, some people born as one sex may feel that their mojo status means they feel like they should be living as the opposite sex that they were assigned at birth. Does a mojo effect gender equality though and should there be any shame if you don't have a mojo? What are we saying – if a mojo is indeed related to creativity – if we are rewarding creativity…. Maybe a less creative tune just means someone is too upset to play a decent one?

  50. Can you define creativity as creating something that doesn't follow the action schema generated by a certain group of people?

  51. Creativity, in my opinion, is just playing.

  52. Action Schema sounds like a fancy way of saying imagination. How would you differentiate the two?

  53. Did somebody say… a e s t h e t i c s

  54. U r good👍🏻subscribed

  55. Perhaps creativity is valuable visual coherence awaiting a context…

  56. What's your favorite idea? Mine is being CREATIVE!

  57. Please make a video about whether nationalism is logical

  58. So, when will you be performing your autobiographical solo show as Justin Trudeau?

  59. Ah-mah-bee-lay! Not Ah-mo-bile.

  60. Hey Oli, I enjoyed these theories (and I know you don't have time to explore every theory in a short video) but they conflict with certain notable artistic movements such as dadaism. Found objects never involved action schema. Also would like to explore more about postmodernism and how the audience's interpretation forms part of the performance.
    Thanks for the great video as always! Going to watch part 2 now. Didn't know you could play sax. What a jazzcat you are.

  61. What's his MBTI type? INFP? INTP?

  62. So creativity isn't so much about making new things, but about taking putting forth old things in a new way.

  63. you're fucking brilliant !!

  64. This guys reminds of the dude in the Dorian Gray (2009) movie.

  65. Then why should Pollock and such be considered as creative? His 'creativity' resides in a concept, not a technique, and that concept alone.
    Most people erroneously mistake different for creative. When something is different, that doesn't mean it's valuable.

  66. sexy saxophone

  67. Creativity could be the very essence of subliminal piracy…

  68. If being creative equals the act of creating new and valuable action schema, many of the things we call "creative" wouldn't actually be. I believe that creativity is more than creating valuable action schema. For instance, when one can solve a riddle, we would usually call them creative. It could be a riddle such as "I live in a house with no doors or windows, and when I need to get out, I'll have to break the walls. What am I?" (answer: a chicken). The creative person would not have to create any action schema to solve this riddle, but I would still call them creative, because of the way they thought about it. If they could think of a different animal than a chicken, I would probably call them even more creative, because they thought of the answer in a original way – even though they did not create action schema at all.

    But now, after writing this long and random comment, I just saw that creativity was defined as "original and valuable thinking" in the description box, which I think fits much better. Perhaps I just misunderstood the video haha.

  69. This channel is awesome.

  70. Bullocks @ Dadaism

  71. So that's why post-modernist art sucks.

  72. Here from ContraPoints! Great job!

  73. This is the first video of yours I watched and I'm leaving this comment straight after. I've got to say… thank you. I came here looking for inspiration for my personal statement (I want to study PPE at university) and this video in particular appealed to me because of my interest in the creative arts and acting. I'm also doing my EPQ on method acting and this video has inspired me to be creative in my approach to my topic in linking it to philosophy and action schema is brilliant. Thank you so much Olly, have subscribed and will definitely keep on watching!

  74. 42

  75. Isn't creativity also about manifestation of the self?( Hegel…) ..About an individual's will seeking actuality (wirklichkeit) ? You can sort of relate to Maslow's hierarchy as well, I guess…

  76. well he just expose me

  77. Got a sudden flashback of Jeffrey Rush in "Shine", there.

  78. Your Anglo-Saxoning will never be as good as Jared Taylor's

  79. I wonder if art.. the creation of art and the observation or experience of it.. is a conduit of what makes humans human.. IE.. it transmits some human quality from one human to another via some medium… Regardless of what that medium is..

    The medium could be music, sculpture, painting, etc… All of this harnesses and retains some aspect of what it is to be human.. and it retains and continues to portray these qualities over time.

    As in philosophy.. we often think or feel that we are contributing to a conversation that is much older than ourselves.. we are able to comment, support, disprove etc.. parts of the conversation of philosophy that has been going on for hundreds of years…

    Perhaps art is similar… But we connect less at an intellectual level, but more at an emotional.. or at least non-intelllectual (whatever that means) level..

    Just a thought

  80. thank you very much for this vid, subbed and liked

  81. Of fucking COURSE you also play the sax. Stop it please, my poor heart can only take so much…

  82. I attend University Of The Arts London for Photography and for a while I thought that I would constantly have to be churning out work that is always entirely original and profound which is very anxiety proking and counterproductive for creativity. In my contextual studies lectures here we were introduced to 'appropriation' in art theory which has completely flipped my views on what is or isn't creative. Its a really interesting concept, it is essentially taking work that already exists but altering the context or meaning and it brings up a lot of questions about authorship and the ethics of the commodification of art. For example Sherrie Levine re-photographed reproductions of photographs by canonical male modernist photographers like Edward Weston, Walker Evans, and Alexander Rodchenko and exibited them as her own which became a landmark of postmodernism, both praised and attacked as a rebellious feminist intervention in the rigid construction of the photography canon and a critique on the commodification of art.

  83. I think he was selling himself short on his improvisational skill: http://picosong.com/wPwP5/

  84. Hi,
    I do not agree with your definition of creativity. Creativity is a social construct where others may find you as being creative, if you are presenting a meaningful idea, which they would never had come up with. This meaningful idea makes perfectly sense in your mind, because you were the one who made the connection for the idea to bubble up.The more radical and valuable the idea is, the more likely it is that other people would find you to be creative.
    Your creative ability lies in your ability to combine knowledge from different knowledge domains into an new (and even novel) ideas which are meaningful.

    I believe that creativity is a basic survival mechanism of the human organism. You need to use your creativity to reach satisfaction with your basic needs, such as hunger, social interaction, sleep, ect.. In the process of finding a way to a reach the satisfaction of your needs you need to try different stuff out (prototyping), and once you find a way which works, you stop being creative. Say, you landed on in a different world and you don't know how to find food. First you see some rocks and try to eat them, that doesn't go so well, then you try climbing a tree and pull off some (poisons) fruits and also that doesn't goes to well. Then you try even more weird stuff, like digging in the ground and then you find some roots and eat them. The roots fulfill your basic needs for hunger and then you stop being creative because you found a way. Only if you have a true interest in eating other stuff, you will try and challenge your assumption that the only food there is in this new world, is roots. Then you have to be creative to find other things to eat.

    Creativity is subtle, noisy, enormous and small. Creativity is in every action we do – from the adjustment of action scheme to reality to creating new forms of art. And meaning related to creative work is only derived from a framework of your choice. Without a framework, there is no meaning.

  85. Or think about Watson and Crick as two dumbasses ripping off the pivotal insight into the double-helix from Rosalind Franklin

  86. 0:34 is JASS AF

  87. Action Schema might be the tool we use to create things but you can’t just pretend that’s all you need to know about creativity. That’s such a small part of the picture

  88. Mental-visual models can, and are applied to non-scientific creativity all of the time. Just like in science. Is music scientific? Musical composers think in terms of such models regularly, for the purpose of arrangement, balancing frequencies or sound textures, etc. I know that I do.

  89. o how your bookshelf has evolved

  90. 0:50 just thinking about how some say there’s no such thing as an original idea

  91. 1:31 I take so many screenshots of your videos just for those reading recommendations lol

  92. Watson & Crick*
    *Rosalind Franklin

  93. I fancy you

  94. I like how you describe the anticipation of an action. I've sometimes tried to describe the origin of creativity by looking at a cat or a dog – the cat chasing a mouse that runs through a tube, and the cat then uses a rudimentary creativity to imagine the mouse, despite not actually seeing it. The cat is able to predict that the mouse will appear from somewhere tube-related. Or throwing a stick with a dog: Do the fake-throw, swing the stick, and watch the dog race off after an imaginary stick doing an imaginary high curve across the sky. The dog begins to look around, confused, convinced by its own prediction and imagination, its creative thinking, about where the stick were to fly and should have landed

  95. So…….was the free-form jazz that was pioneered by……………………………Ornette Coleman, not creative? Was early Adorno right?

  96. I really want to teach you how to tongue and play in tune Ollie (sorry, I know this detracts from my point).

  97. Your newer videos don't have nearly enough saxophone, lol. You're great.

  98. That's my favorite idea.

  99. Yoooooo fellow saxophone

  100. I will not rest until we see Olly play the LICC and/or Giant Steps

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