To understand why the earth is in a mess …
Coal-Fired Electrical Plant: Originally Creative, Now a Technical Model
… an understanding of creativity is necessary. Similarly, to get us out of this mess, we must understand creativity. I’ll be looking at it for a few days. Here’s a French take on the notion:
Le mot est un calque de l’américain « creativity », néologisme des années quarante, sans aucune connotation artistique. Le mot est apparu en français dans les années cinquante chez les psychologues humanistes (à la suite de la découverte par ceux-ci des publications des travaux d’Abraham Maslow et de Carl Rogers) puis les psychanalystes, puis les psychologues.
Creativity at the Hanford, Washington Military Plutonium Factory
Here’s a rough translation…
The word is an adoption of the American term “creativity,” a neologism from the 1940s, and has no artistic connotations. The word appeared in French in the 1950s among humanist psychologists (accompanying their discovery of the work of Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers) as well as psychoanalysis’s and psychologists.
French Actress Bridgit Bardot Being Creative Back in the Day
In this American context, creativity has NO connection with the arts …
Rembrandt, Self Portrait with White Turban: NOT creative
… but is the faculty of imagination which enables humans to create useful things that previously did not exist.
You Need This ®
Note: Very Creative
Got that? Creativity differs from the skill required to make things which are copies of things that already exist, whether they are hydroelectric dams…
Building Grand Coulee Dam, One Dive at a Time
… built upon successful models, or anything built out of a spiritual world view, which views creation as the property of the divine, which manifests itself in human activity.
The creative faculty denies the divine. Here’s how creativity is defined in popular culture:
In a summary of scientific research into creativity, Michael Mumford suggested: “Over the course of the last decade, however, we seem to have reached a general agreement that creativity involves the production of novel, useful products” (Mumford, 2003, p. 110), or, in Robert Sternberg‘s words, the production of “something original and worthwhile”.
Or as the French put it…
Elle peut être plus précisément définie comme « un processuspsychologique ou psycho-sociologique par lequel un individu ou un groupe d’individus témoigne [d’imagination et] d’originalité dans la manière d’associer des choses, des idées, des situations et, par la publication du résultat concret de ce processus, change, modifie ou transforme la perception, l’usage ou la matérialité auprès d’un public donné. »
French Resistance Fighter, WWII
Rough translation …
It can be more accurately defined as “a psychological or psycho-sociological process by which an individual or a group of individuals testifies the presence of [imagination and] originality in the combination of things, ideas and situations and by publishing the concrete result of this process, change, modify or transform its perception, use or material manifestation to a specific audience.”
In other words, as the French understand the American point of view, creativity is a social perception, based upon the manipulation of shared assumptions within a society; in no way is it a universal human characteristic, and in no way does it supplant the power of the spiritual world.
Choir, Chartres Cathedral
To the humanistic French, creativity is a part of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a form of American psychological understanding which posits that human needs span a range from basic needs to extraordinary and refined one, in such a way that no needs can be met until more basic ones have been fulfilled. Below is a graphic that shows how it works. You’ll note that creativity is one of the apex needs, only realizable within the concept of self-actualization, and only after esteem, love/belonging, safety and physiological needs have been met.
We can assume that in Maslow’s conception, and in the term creativity that comes from it, no creative action is possible without first more primary needs being met. To put that another way, creativity and self-actualization are identical in this schema. Practically, that means (for example) that a mother’s love of her children, or a farmer’s love of her land and the ability to create food from it, are creative acts only if the mother or farmer acts out of self interest; if the act is out of interest for the child or the land, it is not creative, except in that caring for a child is caring for one’s genes, so that’s good.
This is Not Love. This is Self-Interested Gene Protective Creativity Source
What’s more, the activity of the land, its ability to bring forth food, is not considered creative. In the world of creativity, land and soil look like this.
Intriguingly, Maslow’s graphic can be viewed differently, as a hierarchy that doesn’t climax at the actualized self, but at full embeddedness, like this:
In other words, following the French line of reasoning, those items to the left (self-actualization, esteem, love/belonging, safety, and physiological needs) are culturally specific. After all, they can be replaced with ones that are their direct opposites (Self as world, self as others, interpersonal self, embedded physical self, and physical self.), without disturbing the hierarchy in any way. If they’re culturally specific, however, they aren’t humanly universal. The French are aware of that. They reserve creativity for spirit. This is a bit of a difficult fix, though, because the word, in all its American strength, does not mean that. It means this:
Tomorrow: German creativity. Note: it also differs from the American definition, and also in culturally specific ways.