Saturday, November 20, 2010

"The Dark Side of Creativity", book comment

One of our PhD students (Samantha, thanks!) pointed me the other day to a new book with the intriguing title "The Dark Side of Creativity". The book is edited by Cropley, D, Cropley, A, Kaufman, J, & Runco, M. and contains 20 chapters on the notion of creativity.

I need to point out that this blog post is not a book review since I have only read the first two chapters plus the last one, so, I will restrict my comments and not review the book as such.

It is obvious that the title of the book is intriguing and inviting for anyone who is dealing with studies of any kind of creative human activities, which for me of course is design. The editors make the observation that creativity is in our society seen as a completely positive "thing",  in some quarters almost revered in religious terms. This fact is in itself enough for a book that in serious fashion takes on the potential "dark side" of creativity. This is also the reason for the book according to the editors.

It was interesting to see how the discussion (in the few chapters I have so far read) relates to the notion of "The Evil of Design" that I and Harold Nelson develop in our book "The Design Way". It seems, in the chapters I have read and in our own writings, that an examination of creativity as an activity in itself,  leads to the understanding that creativity is a quite simple cognitive "tool" that can be used for any purpose. To cope with this one has to bring in intention as a central concept in the analysis. This is also the reason why Harold and I did not discuss creativity in our book. Instead we focused on intention and judgment which are the two concepts that do have a direct and concrete impact on the potential good or evil of a human intervention in the world.

Anyway, the book do ask some good questions and I had to reflect on how I define and think about creativity. For anyone who has any kind of interest in creativity this book opens up some unusual perspectives and is also written by people who has a expertise and experience in studying creativity.


Ravikumar Jayaraman said...


The book as well as the way you related the book to Evil of Design is very interesting and compelling.

We all know that Evil of Design in design way deals with things which a practitioner can consider in their daily work. I'm curious and I'll be glad if you could reflect whether the book gives thoughts beneficial for a practitioner, in your opinion

Binaebi said...

I hadn't heard about this book but I'm adding it to my list thanks to your recommendation, even if you are only a couple of chapters into it. Thanks!

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