Origins of ideas: The concept of the creative genius

The idea of creativity and the creative process being driven by the individual took a very long time to develop and gain acceptance.

Jeremy Rifkin notes, for example, that the concept of the creative genius as we think of it today, was born relatively recently in historical terms.

It evolved during the Romantic Movement (Romanticism) which heavily influenced European thought from the late 1700s to the mid-1800s. This thought movement had a strong emphasis on emotion and individualism.

During the period, Rifkin points out that the manner in which people chose to use their imagination became an important consideration. “It became popular at the time to talk about a new phenomenon, ‘the creative genius,’” Rifkin says.

“The new Romantic conception of self was nothing if not audacious…While there were creative geniuses throughout history, previous generations had believed that inspiration ‘came to people’ rather than emanated from them,” Rifkin observes.

“Imagination allowed each person to tap into the creative force of nature and become a co-creator of the world and by doing so, share in the divine process,” Rifkin says. (1)

(1) Jeremy Rifkin, The Empathic Civilization: The race to global consciousness in a world in crisis, Jeremy P. Tarcher / Penguin, published by the Penguin Group, New York, 2009, 674 pages

— Dennis Mellersh

About Dennis Mellersh

Dennis Mellersh is an independent writer, journalist, editor, and editorial consultant.
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