Creativity, Linguistics, and the Skinner–Chomsky Controversy

  • Feifei Zhou


In Keywords, Raymond Williams makes a distinction between an older and a modern definition of the word ‘create’. Before the onset of Humanism in the Renaissance period, this word was related to ‘the sense of something having been made, and thus to a past event’ and mainly used ‘in the precise context of the original divine creation of the world: creation itself, and creature, have the same root stem’ (Williams, 1976/1983, p. 82). He points out that it was not until the sixteenth century that human creation in the form of poetic imagination became part of the meaning, as exemplified by the sixteenth-century Italian poet Torquato Tasso’s statement: ‘There are two creators, God and the poet’. In fact the word ‘creative’ was coined in the eighteenth century and denotes ‘a faculty’ which is associated with art and thought (Williams, 1976/1983, p. 83). This shift from certain divine influences to the human faculty has also much to do with the general movement of Romanticism in that same century which gives rise to ideas such as self-expression, group-belonging (romantic nationalism), the aesthetics of mundane ordinary life, indeterminacy and unpredictability of human existence.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Feifei Zhou
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishLingnan UniversityHong KongChina

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