Can shared mechanisms of cultural evolution illuminate the process of creativity within the arts and the sciences

Allen, Rory and Heaton, Pam F.. 2018. Can shared mechanisms of cultural evolution illuminate the process of creativity within the arts and the sciences. Progress in Brain Research, 237, pp. 61-75. ISSN 0079-6123 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

All creative activity brings about change, since it results in the production of something that did not previously exist. The act of creation is itself influenced by changes that have been previously brought about by others, including previous acts of creation. As with any human behavior, creativity has both biological and cultural aspects and is therefore influenced by biological as well as cultural evolution. However, biological evolution operates slowly and over a much longer timescale than cultural evolution, and change occurring within a human lifetime must be driven by cultural and social, rather than biological processes. In order to examine changes at this timescale, we therefore assume a fixed biological substrate and examine how creativity occurs in a social and cultural context. We argue that a fuller understanding of artistic creativity arises from setting this phenomenon in a wider context that encompasses creativity in both the arts and the sciences. We analyze creativity using the BVSR model developed by Simonton and conclude that creativity is driven by similar mechanisms in both domains. We propose that the arts and the sciences are not qualitatively different intellectual domains but should be conceptualized as activities situated at different regions of a continuum of human endeavor. This suggests that it would be fruitful for both scientists and artists to devote more attention to learning from the achievements of those who generate creative ideas at different points on this continuum.

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Creativity, Blind variation and selective retention, Cultural evolution, Music, Artistic creativity, Scientific creativity, Aesthetics,Chimerical emotions

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17 May 2018Accepted
30 April 2018Published

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Date Deposited:

19 Jun 2018 10:52

Last Modified:

13 Apr 2021 15:23

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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