The french philosopher Voltaire, one of the main characters in the Age of Enlightmen, declared that “the true poet is creative”.
Today it may seem strange to think of an author who writes verses that it´s not imaginative and ingenious, but to better understand the previously cited quote we must take into consideration the evolution of the way we understand creativity. From a historical point of view the manners in which societies have perceived the concept of creativity have changed throughout history. The ancient Greek term of “techne” (the root of “technique” and “technology”) is often translated as “craftmanship” or “art” and involved not freedom of action but subjection to rules (with the exception of poetry). Nevertheless in Rome visual artists were viewed as sharing, with poets, imagination and inspiration.
Under medieval Christianity, the Latin “creatio” came to designate God’s act of “creatio ex nihilo“ (“creation from nothing”); thus “creatio” ceased to apply to human activities. During the Renaissance the concepts of freedom and creativity gained momentum until the 19th century when art took its revenge because it started to be considered an act of creativity by the mere fact of being. Later on -at the turn of the 20th century- a transference of the qualities of creativity started towards to the sciences and to nature, concepts which previously were only related to art.
Back in 1967 the psychologist J.P. Guilford, a pioneer in the study of creativity, invented the terms convergent thinking and divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is the process of generating multiple related ideas for a given topic or solutions to a problem and occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing, ‘non-linear’ manner. Convergent thinking, on the other hand, is the ability to apply rules to arrive at a single ‘correct’ solution to a problem such as the answer to an IQ test problem. Divergent thinking is also loosely called ‘lateral thinking’, a term coined by the thinking guru Edward De Bono – author of ‘Six Thinking Hats’.
As Guilford wrote in his influential paper “Creativity: Yesterday, Today, and Tomnorrow” 19th century science neglected creativity and until 1950 the aprovach was anecdotal. The social consequences of releasing creative abilities are potentially enormous. Some observers, like the UNESCO, take the view that creativity is the defining characteristic of developed 21st century economies, just as manufacturing typified 19th and early 20th centuries.The creative economy is one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the world economy and a highly transformative one in terms of income generation, job creation and export earnings.
The Creative Economy occurs when individual inventiveness and originality is the main source of value and cause of an economic transaction whether the result has a cultural element or not. Therefore using Divergent Thinking techniques (as shown in the infographic below) like thinking outside the box, experimenting, brainstorming, and thinking outside the box can help us combine ideas to build up something new and useful. And probably this way we will be as creative as the romantic true poets…
*(Picture: owbaz.com & fishtankcreative.com.au).