UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Minimal creativity : a cognitive model Stokes, Dustin R.


Creativity is remarkable in at least two ways. It is remarkably important to all manner of human practice, culture, and theory. It is, however, remarkably neglected by philosophers and psychologists. This neglect is symptomatic of the complexity of the phenomenon, of a number of conceptual confusions, and of a tradition of unconstrained theoretical analyses. But it can be avoided: an informative model of creativity that accommodates its importance and complexity is possible. After diagnosing the confusion and misanalysis, we endorse an alternative explanatory strategy: begin at the fundamental level of creativity and model creativity as a psychological phenomenon. This encourages a descriptive analysis: all evaluative concerns are to be initially set aside. Moreover, concerns specific to this domain or that--say to physics or painting--are to be set aside. The explanandum is thus narrowed to the psychology of minimal creativity. The explanans is cognitivist and naturalistic: all features of the target phenomenon are explained in terms of cognitive processes and from within the bounds of natural science. Chapter 1 offers a conceptual analysis of minimal creativity: the minimum conditions independently necessary and conjointly sufficient for attributions of ’creativity.’ The definition that results is adopted for the remainder of the thesis. Chapter 2 identifies a number of extreme cognitivist treatments of creativity. There is much to be learned from these views, but a balance between them is both preferable and possible. Chapter 3 provides a functional analysis of problem solving and then identifies the functional similarities between problem solving and creative thought: both comprise context, problem, solution, and heuristic roles. Chapter 4 is an analysis of the different modes of imagination; it concludes with an inference that imagination uniquely enjoys cognitive freedom. Chapter 5 identifies the role of imagination in creative cognition. Imagination, as a cognitive state that is both workful and playful, is ideally suited to service creative thought. Chapter 6 provides a naturalistic model of incubated cognition and its role in creative cognition, focusing on neural plasticity and the effects of attention on the functional networking of the brain.

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