on 2 February 2013
Creativity may well be the most important phenomenon in human history and the most interesting process of the mind. Therefore, one could expect a comprehensive handbook on creativity to provide insights into the nature of social and individual creativity, or explain why such insights are missing. This is not done in the 489 dense pages of the book. Instead, well covered are creativity and education, with emphasis on research methods and empiric findings based mainly of study of pupils and students. Also marginally included are some discussions on creativity at the work place and on individuals with peak creativity.
But main issues are not taken up. Nothing on periods of peak social creativity, such as the golden age of Athens, the scientific and industrial revolution, and avant-garde art. Nothing on value changes, such as on slavery and human rights. And, while phases of creativity are discussed, such as incubation and ideation, nothing in the book provides a clue to the core processes of the mind producing in some persons radically new ideas.
All these non-findings are not really surprising. Understanding deep processes of the mind may require a higher-order mind. And the study of history and the social sciences have provided only partial conjecture on macro-changes related to leaps in creativity. But, if unable to provide insights into such crucial issues of creativity, the handbook should have explicitly discussed what is unknown and perhaps unknowable and be much more humble on what it covers.
To be added are lacunae on what is taken up in the book. Thus, nearly no convincing findings are provided on correlation between efforts to stimulate creativity of pupils and later life achievements. And, quite amazingly, the potentials of cyber-sphere for providing space, stimulation and scope for creativity do not receive due attention, despite their obvious importance for the young.
All this critique does not reduce the utility of the handbook and its high-quality chapters as a convenient summing up of what little is known on creativity. And the concluding chapter 24 does open up wider vistas. Still, taking into account that radical socio-political mega-creativity is urgently needed for coping with novel challenges facing the human species, the book demonstrates that the study of creativity itself urgently needs itself a quantum-leap in creativity.
Professor Yehezkel Dror
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem