Essay on the Creative Imagination


Essay on the Creative Imagination


Th. Ribot



Ribot, Th. Essay on the creative imagination. Chicago: The Open Court Publishing Company, 1906

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The present work is offered to the reader as an essay or first attempt only. It is not our intention here to undertake a complete monograph that would require a thick volume, but only to seek the underlying conditions of the creative imagination, showing that it has its beginning and principal source in the natural tendency of images to become objectified (or, more simply, in the motor elements inherent in the image), and then following it in its development under its manifold forms, whatever they may be. For I cannot but maintain that, at present, the psychology of the imagination is concerned almost wholly with its part in esthetic creation and in the sciences. We scarcely get beyond that; its other manifestations have been occasionally mentioned--never investigated. Yet invention in the fine arts and in the sciences is only a special case, and possibly not the principal one. We hope to show that in practical life, in mechanical, military, industrial, and commercial inventions, and in religious, social, and political institutions, the human mind has expanded and made permanent as much imagination as in all other fields. The constructive imagination is a faculty that in the course of ages has undergone a reduction--or at least, some profound changes. So, for reasons indicated, later on, the mythic activity has been taken in this work as the central point of our topic, as the primitive and typical form out of which the greater number of the others have arisen. The creative power is there shown entirely unconfined, freed from all hindrance, careless of the possible and the impossible; in a pure state, unadulterated by the opposing influence of imitation, of ratiocination, of the knowledge of natural laws and their uniformity. In the first or analytical part, we shall try to resolve the constructive imagination into its constitutive factors, and study each of them singly. The second or genetic part will follow the imagination in its development as a whole from the dimmest to the most complex forms. Finally, the third or concrete part will be no longer devoted to the imagination, but to imaginative beings, to the principal types of imagination that observation shows us. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

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The Open Court Publishing Company,





Essay on the Creative Imagination