Anna Abraham

Redefining Creativity: Acknowledging the Creator’s Perspective

While definitions of creativity abound in the academic literature, they are usually criticized for falling short in some essential way – for not fully representing the complexity of the phenomenon.

Empiricists in the social sciences have tackled this state of affairs by adopting a quasi-essentialist approach and zoning in on the bare minimum prerequisites of a creative idea. In doing so, they commonly draw on what is now often referred to as the ‘standard definition’ in their examinations of creativity, in which creativity is defined by the presence of two essential features: novelty and relevance. Therefore, an idea is creative to the extent that it is both novel and relevant to the context at hand. 

This paper examines the shortcomings of this and other influential approaches to defining creativity. At the heart of the definitional weakness lies a glaring blind spot, one where the estimations of creativity fall to the judgement of the often-naïve recipients, while the experience of the creating person is all but ignored. This raises the critical question of how much we can truly understand about the creative mind when we pay little heed to the mental life of the creator.