What Is Originality?

What is originality? To see something that has no name as yet and hence cannot be mentioned although it stares us in the face. The way men usually are, it takes a name to make something visible for them.

- Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science

Podcast of the Day

Melvyn Bragg and guests explore the creative force of originality. How far is it to do with origins, how far with the combination of the discoveries of others, which were themselves based on the thoughts of others, into an ever-receding and replicating past? Is invention original? Is original important? Is tradition more interesting and the reworking of what is traditional of greater value than the search for idiosyncrasy? And did our notion of the original genius come as much out of a commercial imperative for individual copyright in the eighteenth century, as a romantic view of human nature which came in, perhaps not co-incidentally, at the same time? In 1800, in his preface to Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth wrote "Every great and original writer, in proportion as he is great and original, must himself create the taste by which he is to be relished". But did the notion of originality begin with the Romantics in the 18th century, or has society always valued originality? Should we consider Shakespeare an innovator or a plagiarist?To what extent is originality about perception rather than conception and is originality a concept without meaning today?

Listen to the In Our Time episode on Originality

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

Whether you get mesmerised by Vincent van Gogh’s painting The Starry Night or Albert Einstein’s theories about spacetime, you’ll probably agree that both pieces of work are products of mindblowing creativity. Imagination is what propels us forward as a species – it expands our worlds and brings us new ideas, inventions and discoveries.

But why do we seem to differ so dramatically in our ability to imagine? And can you train yourself to become more imaginative? Science has come up with some answers, based on three different but interlinked types of imagination...

Continue reading Valerie van Mulukom's article: The secret to creativity – according to science

Further Reading

Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea, a scientific theory, a musical composition, or a joke) or a physical object (such as an invention, a literary work, or a painting).

Scholarly interest in creativity involves many definitions and concepts pertaining to a number of disciplines: engineering, psychology, cognitive science, education, philosophy (particularly philosophy of science), technology, theology, sociology, linguistics, business studies, songwriting, and economics, covering the relations between creativity and general intelligence, mental and neurological processes, personality type and creative ability, creativity and mental health; the potential for fostering creativity through education and training, especially as augmented by technology; the maximization of creativity for national economic benefit, and the application of creative resources to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning...

Continue reading the Wikipedia article on Creativity

Related Topics

If you’re interested in originality, check out some of the following related topics for more resources:

 AestheticsCuriosityImagination | Literature | Music | Poetry | Psychology

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