Saturday, October 27, 2007

creativity versus originality

At the risk of drawing a false dichotomy, I wonder if we can draw a useful distinction between creativity and originality. For example, Einstein came up with three major ideas-the theory of special relativity, the theory behind photo-voltaic cells, and a theory supporting Brownian motion. Which ideas originated with him, and which ideas did he develop?

If a thinker or artist comes up with one good new idea, could we term that thinker original, but not necessarily creative? On the other hand, one who has new interpretations of another's work
could be termed creative without being particularly original. For example, consider the roles of the composer and the conductor in serious western music.

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"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."
-E.M. Forster