Title: Creativity and the insight that literature brings
Publication: S. B. Kaufman and E. S. Paul (eds) The Philosophy of Creativity: New Essays, Oxford University Press. pp. 39-61
Abstract: One outcome of the exercise of creative literary talent is said to be insight into the workings of the mind. Many advocates of this view write as if its truth were self-evident. I suggest that it is not, that indeed there is little evidence in its favor, and I consider how the claim might be tested. Recent experimental studies by Oatley and colleagues look promising in this regard; I suggest that their results so far provide very weak evidence at best. In the absence of better evidence, I turn to the question of whether there are aspects of literary creativity that we should expect, on general grounds, would lead reliably to insight about the mind. I consider two such aspects: the institutions of literary production and the psychology of literary creativity. I suggest that in both cases, there are some grounds for thinking that literary creativity is not reliably connected with the production of insight.