UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Why the creative process is not Darwinian Gabora, Liane


Simonton (2006) makes the unwarranted assumption that nonmonotonicity supports a Darwinian view of creativity. Darwin’s theory of natural selection was motivated by a paradox that has no equivalent in creative thought: the paradox of how change accumulates when acquired traits are not inherited. To describe a process of cumulative change in which acquired traits are retained is outside of the scope of the theory of natural selection. Even the early evolution of life itself (prior to genetically mediated template replication) cannot be described by natural selection. Specifically, natural selection cannot describe change of state that involves horizontal (Lamarckian) exchange, or occurs through interaction with an incompletely specified context. It cannot describe change wherein variants are evaluated sequentially, and wherein this evaluation can itself change the state space and/or fitness function, because no two variants are ever evaluated according to the same selection criterion. Concerns are also raised as to the methodology used in Simonton’s study.

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