After having studied the creative imagination in its constitutive
elements and in its development we purpose, in this last part,
describing its principal forms. This will be neither analytic nor
genetic but concrete. The reader need not fear wearisome repetition; our
subject is sufficiently complex to permit a third treatment without
The expression "creative imagination," like all general terms, is an
abbreviation and an abstraction. There is no "imagination in general,"
but only men who imagine, and who do so in different ways; the reality
is in them. The diversities in creation, however numerous, should be
reducible to types that are varieties of imagination, and the
determination of these varieties is analogous to that of character as
related to will. Indeed, when we have settled upon the physiological and
psychological conditions of voluntary activity we have only done a work
in general psychology. Men being variously constituted, their modes of
action bear the stamp of their individuality; in each one there is a
personal factor that, whatever its ultimate nature, puts its mark on the
will and makes it energetic or weak, rapid or slow, stable or unstable,
continuous or intermittent. The same is true of the creative
imagination. We cannot know it completely without a study of its
varieties, without a special psychology, toward which the following
chapters are an attempt.
How are we to determine these varieties? Many will be inclined to think
that the method is indicated in advance. Have not psychologists
distinguished, according as one or another of image-groups
preponderates, visual, auditory, motor and mixed types? Is not the way
clear and is it not well enough to go in this direction? However natural
this solution may appear, it is illusory and can lead to naught. It
rests on the equivocal use of the word "imagination," which at one time
means mere reproduction of images, and at another time creative
activity, and which, consequently, keeps up the erroneous notion that in
the creative imagination images, the raw materials, are the essential
part. The materials, no doubt, are not a negligible element, but by
themselves they cannot reveal to us the species and varieties that have
their origin in an anterior and superior tendency of mind. We shall see
in the sequel that the very nature of constructive imagination may
express itself indifferently in sounds, words, colors, lines, and even
numbers. The method that should allege to settle the various
orientations of creative activity according to the nature of images
would no more go to the bottom of the matter than would a classification
of architecture according to the materials employed (as rock, brick,
iron, wood, etc.) with no regard for differences of style.
This method aside, since the determination must be made according to the
individuality of the architect, what method shall we follow? The matter
is even more perplexing than the study of character. Although various
authors have treated the latter subject (we have attempted it
elsewhere), no one of the proposed classifications has been universally
accepted. Nevertheless, despite their differences, they coincide in
several points, because these have the advantage of resting on a common
basis--the large manifestations of human nature, feeling, doing,
thinking. In our subject I find nothing like this and I seek in vain for
a point of support. Classifications are made according to the essential
dominating attributes; but, as regards the varieties of the creative
imagination, what are they?
We may, indeed, as was said above, distinguish two great classes--the
intuitive and the combining. From another point of view we may
distinguish invention of free range (esthetic, religious, mystic) from
invention more or less restricted (mechanical, scientific, commercial,
military, political, social). But these two divisions are too general,
leading to nothing. A true classification should be in touch with facts,
and this one soars too high.
Leaving, then, to others, more skilled or more fortunate, the task of a
rational and systematic determination, if it be possible, we shall try
merely to distinguish and describe the principal forms, such as
experience gives them to us, emphasizing those that have been neglected
or misinterpreted. What follows is thus neither a classification nor
even a complete enumeration.
We shall study at first two general forms of the creative
imagination--the plastic and the diffluent--and later, special forms,
determined by their content and subject.
* * * * *
Wundt, in a little-noticed passage of his Physiological Psychology,
has undertaken to determine the composition of the "principal forms of
talent," which he reduces to four:
The first element is imagination. It may be intuitive, "that is,
conferring on representations a clearness of sense-perception," or
combining; "then it operates on multiple combinations of images." A very
marked development in both directions at the same time is uncommon; the
author assigns reasons for this.
The second element is understanding (Verstand). It may be
inductive--i.e., inclining toward the collection of facts in order to
draw generalizations from them--or deductive, taking general concepts
and laws to trace their consequences.
If the intuitive imagination is joined to the inductive spirit we have
the talent for observation of the naturalist, the psychologist, the
pedagogue, the man of affairs.
If the intuitive imagination is combined with the deductive spirit we
have the analytical talent of the systematic naturalist, of the
geometrician. In Linnaeus and Cuvier the intuitive element predominates;
in Gauss, the analytical element.
The combining imagination joined to the inductive spirit constitutes
"the talent for invention strictly so-called," in industry, in the
technique of science; it gives the artist and the poet the power of
composing their works.
The combining imagination plus the deductive spirit gives the
speculative talent of the mathematician and philosopher; deduction
predominates in the former, imagination in the latter.
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