Between Aesthetics and Anthropology. A Brief Historical Consideration of the Concept of Creativity
CREATIVITY has become an important concept in the arts at least since its 19th century romantic exaltation. To determine however today’s aesthetic value and semantic scope of creativity, a historical consideration of the term is needed, along with its critical understanding from the vintage point of anthropology, the humanistic discipline which can guarantee its objective assessment, as it is the least Eurocentric. The ancient view of creativity as secret or divine inspiration has survived both in classicism and romanticism and associates with several concomitant terms like originality, genius, style, tradition and others. In the course of twentieth century, creativity as a term, has acquired its greatest semantic resonance but has also been widely criticized. Some anthropologists have demonstrated that in several, non western societies, creativity plays no important role and sparked an interest to show that in the western societies as well, creativity is more of an evaluative, collective judgment rather than an individual achievement. Others have proved that personal views are often needed even to secure the reproduction of tradition and social organization. Objective and subjective studies of creativity continue to take place today in anthropology, philosophy and the rest of social sciences, placing the emphasis either on society or on the individual in order to explain creativity. In the late twentieth century, however, creativity along with a great number of aesthetic notions became the object of systematic, postmodern critique in the context of feminism, sociology, psychoanalysis and post structuralism. Deconstruction of the concept of origin, of the transcendental signified and the subject, along with the increasing awareness of the social construction of human values, has led to limiting the scope of creative, gifted individuals, personally determining artistic norms.
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