Create to Live: Evolutionary and Existentialist-Humanistic Themes in Psychology


Views of what creativity is and how it operates are diverse.  Human creativity, including the powers of the imagination, may be seen as “adaptive” in terms of human evolution; as simply by-products of the large, complex brains of homo sapiens; or as some combination of the two (Pinker 2002, 404-405; Dutton 2009, 105ff.).  As Sternberg and Lubart describe (1999), views of what creativity is and how it operates include mystical, pragmatic, psychodynamic, psychometric, cognitive, social-personality, and “confluence” or integrative approaches to creativity (4-12).  In addition, creativity may be viewed as a synthesizing, “reductionistic” activity – as appears in scientific creativity – or, rather, as an activity that puts forth a flood of “signs” or a “surplus” of meaning, as in art.  

Some think everyone is creative, while others think that only masters or geniuses are truly creative.  Some think to be creative is to produce something useful or “appropriate” while others would declare usefulness and propriety anathema to their creative work.  And there is much, much more to be said about creativity.  But I suggest that, getting right to the point, the term “creativity” be understood as producing new configurations.  

In this project, I highlight how Darwinian / evolutionary themes cooperate and conflict with existentialist-humanistic themes related to creativity in psychology.  Explorations like this are crucial for people who experience creative work as synonymous with life itself.