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An Introduction to Critical Thinking and Creativity: Think More, Think Better by Joe Y. F. Lau

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CHAPTER 23

WHAT IS CREATIVITY?

When it comes to creativity, we often think about great scientific discoveries or famous works of art. But creativity is not just for artists and scientists. We need creativity to solve the countless problems we encounter in our workplace and in our daily life. Whether you are a student writing a term paper or a company CEO expanding your business, a creative mind brings better results. Psychologists also tell us that people are happier when they can exercise creativity in their work. The good news is that there are concrete steps you can take to make yourself more creative, and this is what this and the next chapter is all about.

Where do new ideas come from? The simple answer is that new ideas are just old ones combined in new ways. A mobile phone is an old landline phone without the wire. A smart phone is a mobile phone with powerful computer functions. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata is a creative masterpiece, but what makes it unique is the arrangement of the musical notes, not the individual notes that all composers know. Einstein had the creative insight to put together the famous equation E = mc2, but the concepts of energy, mass, and the speed of light were familiar to all physicists. In some sense then, it is true that there is nothing new under the sun.

The observation that new ideas come from old ones is of practical importance, because it tells us that creativity requires knowledge. Creativity does not happen in a vacuum. Our imagination ...

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