Creation, Genius, Innovation: Towards a Conceptual Genealogy of Western Creativity (research costs) (Creativity)

Main funder

Funder's project number: 319933

Funds granted by main funder (€)

  • 30 870,00

Funding program

Project timetable

Project start date: 01/09/2018

Project end date: 31/08/2023


The study focuses on a historical philosophical genealogy of the concept of creativity, a pervasive and almost universally endorsed ideal in contemporary aesthetic, economic, psychological, and educational discourses. While it is acknowledged that this ideal is particularly central in Western culture and is rooted in the intellectual developments of Western modernity, no extensive study of the history of creativity as a philosophical concept exists. The applicant is particularly qualified to carry out such a study because of his previous work on the history of metaphysics and on the hermeneutic and genealogical methodologies in conceptual history, as well as his wide linguistic skills.

The main objective of the study is to explicate three central conceptual transformations leading to the modern discursive hegemony of creativity: (1) the radicalization of the Judeo-Christian concept of divine creation in late medieval thought, (2) the emergence of the creative human genius in early modernity, and (3) the rise of the evolutionary model of creativity as a basic, nonteleological tendency of biological life since the nineteenth century, philosophically reflected in a late modern "metaphysics of creativity." According to the central hypothesis of the study, these conceptual shifts can be regarded as aspects of the progressive unfolding of the modern metaphysics of an active, autonomous subjectivity, no longer dependent on pregiven teleological models or ideals.

The expected outcome, in the form of 12-15 peer-reviewed research articles and an extensive three-part monograph, has three main aspects: (1) an interpretive genealogy of the contemporary discourse of creativity, both in terms of (a) the internal development of philosophical concepts and of (b) the philosophical impact of theological, artistic, and biological discourses, (2) a constructive evaluation of the presuppositions of the creativity discourse, allowing a new level of philosophical "critique of modernity," and (3) a methodological contribution to conceptual and discursive history. The project has conceptual ramifications for creativity studies within and outside philosophy.

The main methods employed in the study of the relevant textual material are (1) the Foucauldian archaeological and genealogical approach to discourse analysis, (2) the German and Anglo-American traditions of conceptual history, and (3) the productive, futureoriented interpretive model of philosophical hermeneutics.

Principal Investigator

Primary responsible unit

Last updated on 2021-17-03 at 12:05