Creativity and Character
Sarah Kahn

21 August 2017
Do you have to be courageous to be creative? Or is it better to give the public what it wants? What are the character traits that make somebody exceptionally creative? Philosophy 24/7 interviews Professor Matthew Kieran of the University of Leeds about the Philosophical Psychology of creativity.
Kieran sees creativity as a kind of excellence that we praise because it allows us to do new things and achieve. However, what exactly are we picking out when we praise an individual for her creativity. Is it eccentricity? novelty? originality? In response, Kieran offers two kinds creativity: historical and psychological. Psychological creativity is where you do something new to you, e.g. this is the first time you painted a still life like that. Historical creativity is a special class of psychological creativity where it transcends you, e.g. Einstein was the first person in the history of the world to propose Theory of General Relativity. When psychological creativity develops to such a sophisticated degree then it becomes historical creativity, which Kieran also calls "originality." 
Governments and policymakers are very interested in this notion of creativity because it generates economic growth and yet, cultivators of creativity tend to ignore economics when it comes to honing their creative capacities. Think of all the people who try to make it in the music business. They would probably be more economically secure if they pursued a different path. Clearly, fiscal incentives or not, cultivating creativity is important to us. 
Character plays a central function in the study of creativity. Having character traits such as curiosity and courage can be a surefire way to refining your creative capacity, which requires that you are intrigued by the unknown, and confident enough not to devolve into groupthink.
Wondering what else Kieran has to say about fostering creativity? Check out the full interview here: