Home - Genius and Creativity

My Definition - Julia Cristofano

    My opinions on creativity are largely based on artistic genius because that is the area with which I am most familiar. I have struggled with the idea of scientific genius because I think of creativity as something produced by someone's hands, like a painting or a piece of written work, not a discovery of, for example, a new cellular process. In the beginning, I believed that scientific genius was more coincidence then a deliberate act of creativity. However, as I read more, I became more open to different types of creative genius in a variety of fields. 
I have come to believe that creative genius can be divided into two distinct categories: artistic genius and scientific genius. This is not to say that these are the only types of creative genius but the majority of geniuses can either be grouped as artistic geniuses (i.g. painters, writers, actors, etc.) or more analytical scientific geniuses (e.g. researchers, psychologists, doctors, etc.). The conception of creative genius in both of these areas comes about in relatively the same way, but the motivations behind these creative inventions and the recognition of the resulting product or discovery come about in very different ways. Because of this it is very difficult to encompass them all under one overarching definition.

     Creative genius in terms of scientific discovery is more easily defined and recognized simply because of the level of rigidity of the scientific process. After one has learned in depth about their field of science an individual can begin to ask questions and explore frontiers in science that have gone undiscovered. The questions that prompt these creations of scientific genius may not necessarily be creative themselves rather the solutions to these questions is where the true creative genius takes place. It is in interpreting the data of experiments and advancing the field of science where the genius and originality of a person is most recognizable. Additionally, this recognition is more easily attained in science because many other scientists may have tried and failed to find solutions to the same question that prompted a creative discovery. It is also easier to support the merit of these scientific breakthroughs by retesting theories and examining them in more detail to confirm their accuracy. Once a scientific discovery has been tested and confirmed the field can generally accept it and the person who made the discovery is recognized as a genius in that particular area.

Artistic Genius
    Artistic feats of creativity are harder to be recognized, and therefore accepted, because the questions and problems artists are trying to overcome when they create works of genius may not be immediately obvious to anyone but the individual artist. An artist may have an issue with the artistic world or struggle to create something unique that they feel is a new way to represent the idea they are trying to convey, but that does not mean that others will feel the same way. These questions themselves, those that prompt the creative work, may be just as creative as the final product. Art is a more subjective area then science because it often takes explanation from the artist him/herself for other people to appreciate the value of the work and understand what visual or conceptual problem he or she was trying to overcome. This accounts for the common delay in recognition of artists of certain movements, such as Van Gogh, because it took longer for others to recognize and appreciate his perspective and his unique vision. This is where the idea of society comes into play in regards to labeling someone as a creative genius. Artists often create their work for themselves and it may be a work of creative genius but recognition of that art is very important. Art is about the viewer and in the case of profound works that change the field of art, the viewer is society as a whole. Society is responsible for prompting a large artistic movement as a result of an individuals’ creativity whereas movements in science come about specifically because of an individuals’ discovery and society then accepts it after the fact.
     Despite these differences, the process in which an artistic or scientific act of creative genius occurs is very similar. Both scientists and artists experienced similar moments of clear and seemingly unmitigated creative thought, what one might call a “stroke of genius”. They describe how an image just comes to them and it is this sudden thought that leads them to the breakthrough they have been looking to achieve. 
    Additionally, people can be highly intelligent in many areas and not be very creative because creative genius comes in fleeting bursts. A creative person is not a genius or necessarily “creative” in every aspect of their lives. Even in their given field, they may only be very well versed in one highly specialized area. However, it is in this small and specific area of interest and intelligence that a person can be considered a genius if he or she comes up with a theory or solution that is profoundly unique and original. 
     Moments of genius, the foundation for creative discovery, are what tie together the fields of art and science from the standpoint of creativity. Individuals in these fields who are considered geniuses may not necessarily be more creative then their peers, but perhaps they are more in tune with themselves and better able to recognize particularly abstract and seemingly random ideas as potential breakthroughs in there field. The true definition of genius, in this sense, is the act of understanding ones own thoughts and being curious enough to question the surrounding world. Being labeled a creative genius does not denote extreme intelligence rather, it implies a curiosity about the one’s environment and persistence in trying to question the unknown.