Alison Hills (Oxford University) and Alexander Bird (King's College London) - Against Romanticism. On the value and disvalue of creative imagination in the arts and in the sciences
In this essay we examine the following claims, which we dub ‘Romanticism’: (I) The process of artistic or scientific creation is an exercise of the imagination. In a creative process more imagination is always better, both as regards quantity—producing a greater number of new ideas; and as regards degree—producing ideas of greater imaginativeness. (II) The process of evaluation of artistic or scientific works is not a creative process and does not require the imagination at all. We reject both claims. Creative work in the sciences and in the arts is not always improved by greater use of the imagination, either in terms of quantity or degree. Nor is evaluation utterly uncreative as it too can require use of the imagination. So we will see that when the imagination is valuable, its value is not always where the romantics held it to be. Our arguments for these claims also lead to the conclusion that unconstrained imagination is not better than imagination directed by appropriate models or traditions.