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The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 4, 1999

Philosophies of Religion, Art, and Creativity

George Allan
Pages 231-238

Forms, Transforms, and the Creative Process

A standard account of creativity is that it is a process in which the form of a thing or event is altered—restructured or reinterpreted—in a way that changes fundamentally that thing’s or event’s meaning, its nature or function, its intrinsic or instrumental value. What is created in this manner, however, is only a variation of the initial form. Such processes are creative in a weak sense; the strong sense requires that the old form be replaced by a quite different one, as in reconstructions or metaphors. But creative substitution is not haphazard, not a matter of insight, genius, luck, or divine assistance. It utilizes the generative rules governing a formal structure to make or discover new forms that are transformations, not variations, of the original form. These procedures are teachable and not mysterious, although the possible transforms of the structure are never predictable.

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