Minimally Creative Thought

Metaphilosophy 42 (5):658-681 (2011)
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Creativity has received, and continues to receive, comparatively little analysis in philosophy and the brain and behavioural sciences. This is in spite of the importance of creative thought and action, and the many and varied resources of theories of mind. Here an alternative approach to analyzing creativity is suggested: start from the bottom up with minimally creative thought. Minimally creative thought depends non-accidentally upon agency, is novel relative to the acting agent, and could not have been tokened before the time it is in fact tokened, relative to the agent in question. Thoughts that meet these three conditions—agency, psychological novelty, and modal—are what may be called cognitive breakthroughs. Even if such breakthroughs are not necessary to or definitive of richer creativity, they are indeed central to much of creativity. The minimal analysis provides a more workable explanandum for theories of creativity of varied motivation and method.
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