The University of Sussex

Creativity: Inspiration, intuition, or illusion?

Margaret A. Boden

Creative artefacts are associated with ideas of magic and the superhuman in various cultures, from the Pacific islands to the West. Often, creativity has been explained in terms of divine inspiration, or of "special-human" (if not superhuman) intuition. Many people fear that scientific explanation would show creativity to be an illusion. These beliefs are mistaken. Creativity involves either novel combinations of familiar ideas or the exploration and transformation of conceptual spaces. Both types of creativity can be modelled in computational terms. Examples from architecture, music, and graphic art illustrate these themes.

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