The Big Question in Creativity Research: The Transcendental Source of Creativity

Open access


In this commentary, I raise an etiological question, which has been virtually excluded from the horizon of contemporary scholarship. In spite of a long history of philosophical, mystical, and religious approaches considering the transcendent and/or spiritual sources of human creativity, mainstream creativity researchers have become gradually reluctant to acknowledge the supernatural influences in this human endeavour. This account is either disregarded altogether or re-interpreted in a way that substitutes supernatural connections with observable and measurable processes. On the one hand, the latter approach appears to fall within the premises of modern science and thereby earns substantial attention the scientific community. On the other, this could be one of the reasons why creativity research has reached its epistemological cul-de-sac. I argue that by retaining the source of creativity within an individual, one annihilates the whole constellation of personality traits and processes, which have transcendent characteristics. It is important to integrate the study of transcendent experience into the study of cognitive, personality, and environmental underpinnings of creative faculties. A possible direction for this change is offered by transpersonal psychology, which makes an attempt to resurrect an investigation of spiritual reality and integrate it in the study of modern psychology. At the end of the commentary, I sketch a transcendental model of creativity developed along the lines of a transpersonal paradigm.

Campbell, D. T. (1960). Blind variation and selective retentions in creative thought as in other knowledge processes. Psychological Review, 67, 380-400.

Csíkszentmihályi, M. (1988). Society, culture, and person: A systems view of creativity. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), The nature of creativity: Contemporary psychological perspectives. (pp. 325-339). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Frankl, V. (1966). Self-transcendence as a human phenomenon. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 6, 97-106.

Garberich, M. D. (2008). The nature of inspiration in artistic creativity. (3348106 Ph.D.), Michigan State University, Ann Arbor. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A&I database.

Glăveanu, V. P. (2014). The Psychology of Creativity: A Critical Reading. Creativity. Theories – Research – Applications, 1, 10-32; DOI: 10.15290/ctra.2014.01.01.02

Gruber, H. E. (1988). The evolving systems approach to creative work. Creativity Research Journal, 1, 27-51.

Guilford, J. P. (1950). Creativity. American Psychologist, 5, 444-454.

Hartelius, G., Caplan, M., & Rardin, M. A. (2007). Transpersonal Psychology: Defining the Past, Divining the Future. Humanistic Psychologist, 35, 135-160, DOI: 10.1080/08873260701274017.

Kaufmann, G. (2003). What to measure? A new look at the concept of creativity. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 47, 235-251.

Kharkhurin, A. V. (2014). Creativity.4in1: Four-criterion construct of creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 26, 338-352; DOI: 10.1080/10400419.2014.929424.

Lajoie, D. H., & Shapiro, S. I. (1992). Definitions of transpersonal psychology: The first twenty-three years. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 24, 79-98.

Maslow, A. H. (1964). Religions, Values and Peak-experiences. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press.

May, R. (1975/1994). The courage to create. New York: Norton.

Miller, M. E., & Cook-Greuter, S. R. (Eds.). (2000). Creativity, spirituality, and transcendence: paths to integrity and wisdom in the mature self. Stamford, CN: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Niu, W., & Sternberg, R. J. (2006). The philosophical roots of Western and Eastern conceptions of creativity. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 26, 18-38.

Rank, O. (1932/1989). Art and artist: creative urge and personality development (C. F. Atkinson, Trans.). New York, NY: Norton.

Runco, M. A. (2014). Creativity: Theories and themes: Research, development, and practice (2 ed.). Boston, MA: Elsevier Academic Press.

Runco, M. A., & Albert, R. S. (2010). Creativity research: A historical view. In J. C. Kaufman & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of creativity (pp. 3-19). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Wallas, G. (1926). The art of thought. London: J. Cape.

Ward, T. B. (2007). Creative cognition as a window on creativity. Methods, 42, 28-37.

Wilber, K. (2000). Integral psychology : consciousness, spirit, psychology, therapy. Boston, MA: Shambhala.

Yalom, I. D. (1980). Existential psychotherapy. New York, NY, US: Basic Books.

Journal Information


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 62 62 33
PDF Downloads 15 15 7