Project

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Creativity, Imagination and Tradition

Applicant Langkau Julia
Number 201612
Funding scheme PRIMA
Research institution Département de Philosophie Faculté des Lettres Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.09.2021 - 31.08.2026
Approved amount 1'345'347.00
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Keywords (12)

Literary Writing; Imagination; Aesthetics; Well-being; Aesthetic Value; Artificial Intelligence; Philosophy of Mind; The creative person; Tradition; Creativity; Philosophy of Art; Philosophy of Food

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
In diesem Forschungsprojekt soll einerseits die Natur kreativer Prozesse untersucht und beschrieben werden und andererseits sollen Bedingungen angegeben werden, unter denen ein Produkt kreativ genannt werden kann. Wenn wir kreative Prozesse von kreativen Produkten getrennt betrachten, können wir erklären, warum kreative Prozesse auch dann wertvoll sind, wenn dabei kein Produkt entsteht. Und wir können erklären, inwiefern Computer Kreatives hervorbringen können, ohne dabei bewusst kreativ zu sein.
Lay summary
Kreativität wird oft als die Fähigkeit einer Person definiert, etwas Originelles und Wertvolles hervorzubringen, etwa eine Idee oder ein Produkt. Klassische Beispiele kreativer Ideen oder Produkte sind wissenschaftliche oder technische Errungenschaften und Kunstwerke wie Musikstücke oder Gemälde. Allerdings kann die Zeichnung eines Kindes ebenfalls originell und wertvoll sein, zumindest für das Kind selbst. Um dieser Tatsache gerecht zu werden, unterscheiden Philosoph:innen und Psycholog:innen verschiedene Arten und Ausprägungen von Kreativität.
Nun haben Fortschritte in der Entwicklung von Computerprogrammen zur Folge, dass Maschinen immer besser darin werden, originelle und wertvolle Produkte herzustellen, die sich manchmal nicht mehr von der Art von Produkten unterscheiden lassen, die von Menschen hervorgebracht wurden. Dies wirft die Frage auf, ob auch Maschinen kreativ sein können. Philosoph:innen und Psycholog:innen sind sich aber weitgehend einig, dass Kreativität gewisse mentale Prozesse voraussetzt, die Computer nicht oder zumindest noch nicht aufweisen.

In diesem Forschungsprojekt soll einerseits die Natur kreativer Prozesse untersucht und beschrieben werden, andererseits sollen Bedingungen angegeben werden, unter denen ein Produkt kreativ genannt werden kann. Die Hauptthese des Projektes ist, dass wir zwischen der Kreativität von Produkten und der Kreativität von Prozessen unterscheiden sollten. Mit einer Trennung beider Begriffe können wir einerseits Computern die Fähigkeit zuschreiben, kreative Produkte herzustellen, andererseits können wir aber auch erklären, warum kreative Prozesse wertvoll sein können, selbst wenn sie nicht zu einem originellen und wertvollen Produkt führen.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 08.09.2021

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Abstract

Creativity is often defined as the ability of humans to come up with ideas or products that are original and valuable. However, sometimes we call ideas and products creative even though they are not original in any interesting sense, and some cases suggest that creative ideas are not necessarily valuable. Philosophers have proposed various distinctions to account for different levels and kinds of novelty, but the question whether creativity involves value remains disputed. This project aims to introduce a new way to account for conflicting intuitions by distinguishing two genuinely different notions of creativity: process creativity and product creativity. A special focus lies on creativity in the arts, the role of imagination in creative processes and the role of tradition in product creativity.When it comes to creativity in the arts as well as in everyday life, our main interest is often a conscious and valuable imaginative process, which seemingly can only be ascribed to autonomous agents. This will be investigated as process creativity. However, there is a sense in which non-human animals and artificial intelligence (AI) systems can be creative: when we are concerned with creative ideas or objects, the novelty of the product relative to a tradition is in the center of our interest. This will be investigated as product creativity. The following general questions will guide the research. 1. What constitutes the experience of creative processes? The main theses are that novelty is not part of the experience of creating in the arts and that creative imaginative processes in the arts are driven and constrained by aesthetic value within a tradition. 2. What is the role of imagination in creative processes? The project includes a defence of the idea that creativity in the arts necessarily involves rich forms of imagination, such as phenomenal imagination. 3. How shall we define creativity? The main theses are that creativity in the arts is primarily a feature of a process, and that process creativity can influence how we judge the creativity of a product in a derivative sense. 4. How do we ascribe creativity to an idea or product? The project will explore how the idea that we call a new and surprising product ‘creative’ relies on the product being seen within a certain tradition. 5. What are the implications for the notion of imagination more broadly? Focusing on the case of literary fiction, the main thesis is that our engagement with literary fiction is creative, whether we write or read literary fiction. 6. What are the implications for the notion of creativity more broadly? The project aims to spell out the explanatory advantages and consequences of a distinction between process creativity and product creativity as two genuinely different kinds of creativity.The project is divided into 3 subprojects, to be conducted by 3 researchers. Subproject 1, ‘Creativity and Imagination in Literary Writing’, will address questions 1 to 4 with a special focus on literary writing and will explore general implications for the notions of imagination and creativity, addressing questions 5 and 6. Subproject 2, ‘Culinary Creativity and Tradition’, will put special emphasis on exploring similarities and differences between creativity in the arts and everyday creativity by addressing questions 1 to 4 with respect to elite chef’s cooking and home cooking. Subproject 3, ‘The Creative Person’, will explore the consequences of the distinction between process and product creativity for the creative person, especially in the light of AI creativity. The project will contribute to two main areas in philosophy: aesthetics, in particular the philosophy of creativity, and the philosophy of mind, in particular the philosophy of imagination. In the philosophy of creativity, the project will emphasize the importance of looking at different domains separately and distinguishing the defining conditions for creative processes from the defining conditions for creative outputs. In the philosophy of imagination, it will help to further develop the concept of creative imagination and apply the debate concerning constraints on imagination to creativity in the arts by exploring aesthetic values as constraints. Through collaboration with the Webster Center for Creativity and Innovation and the Swiss Literature Institute Biel (amongst others), the project hopes to have an interdisciplinary impact as well as produce an output valuable to a broader audience.
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