Creativity, Machines and Posthumanism

  • Feifei Zhou


As made clear in previous chapters, language and ‘creativity’—these two strongholds of humanity, are conceptualized differently in Chomsky, Skinner, Harris and Carter’s theories. Commonly held as demarcating features of humans from machines, these two terms are crucial in our understanding of the human. Despite their different models of ‘creativity’, all authors, as discussed earlier, endorse that linguistic creativity is a basic human condition. They can be read contextually as a reaction to the modern crisis surrounding the definition of human being, namely: what makes men different from machines? How is creativity crucial to being human? In this chapter, I will look into the enquiries centred on machines, language and creativity by moving beyond linguistics to investigate other relevant fields of research in information science, cognitive science and artificial intelligence. In particular, I draw on posthumanist thoughts and reconsider the implications of its questioning the centrality of the human actor for discussions of creativity. By exploring these lines of research, I expect to shed light on the differences between the human and machines in terms of creativity, and provide some practical considerations on how to better work with machines in language and communication contexts.


  1. Austin, J. L. (1956–1957). A plea for excuses: The presidential address. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, New Series, 57, 1–30.Google Scholar
  2. Bade, D. (2012). Signs unsigned and meanings not meant: Linguistic theory and hypothetical, simulated, imitation and meaningless language. Language Sciences, 34(3), 361–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bedlock, B. (2017, March 14). The body is the missing link for truly intelligent machines. Retrieved April 2, 2017, from
  4. Brooks, R. A. (1991). Intelligence without reason. In IJCAI’91 Proceedings of the 12th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (Vol. 1, pp. 569–595).Google Scholar
  5. Clark, A. (1997). Being there. Putting brain, body, and world together again. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  6. Clark, A. (2003). Natural-born cyborgs: Minds, technologies, and the future of human intelligence. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Clarke, E. F., & Doffman, M. (Eds.). (2017). Distributed creativity: Collaboration and improvisation in contemporary music. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Cowley, S. J. (Ed.). (2011). Distributed language (Vol. 34). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.Google Scholar
  9. Deacon, T. W. (1997). The symbolic species: The co-evolution of language and the brain. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  10. Dreyfus, H. (1978). What computers can’t do: The limits of artificial intelligence. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  11. Duncker, D. (2017). The notion of an integrated system. In A. Pablé (Ed.), Critical humanist perspectives: The integrational turn in philosophy of language and communication (pp. 135–153). London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fraser, N., Gilbert, N., McGlashan, S., & Wooffitt, R. (1997). Humans, computers and wizards: Human (simulated) computer interaction. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Gabriel, T. (2017). I tried being BFFs with an AI. Motherboard. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from
  14. Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.Google Scholar
  15. Glăveanu, V. P. (2014). Distributed creativity: Thinking outside the box of the creative individual. Springer.Google Scholar
  16. Glăveanu, V. P., & Lubart, T. (2014). Decentring the creative self: How others make creativity possible in creative professional fields. Creativity and Innovation Management, 23(1), 29–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Harris, R. (1987). The language machine. London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  18. Harris, R. (1988). Language, Saussure and Wittgenstein: How to play games with words. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Harris, R. (2004). Integrationism, language, mind and world. Language Sciences, 26(6), 727–739.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hayles, N. K. (1999). How we became posthuman. Virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature, and informatics. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hutchins, E. (1995a). Cognition in the wild. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  22. Hutchins, E. (1995b). How a cockpit remembers its speeds. Cognitive Science, 19(3), 265–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hutton, C. (2009). Language, meaning and the law. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hutton, C. (2017). The self and the ‘monkey selfie’: Law, integrationism and the nature of the first order/second order distinction. Language Sciences, 61, 93–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hutton, C. (2019). Integrationism and the self: Reflections on the legal personhood of animals. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Klemmensen, C. (2018). Integrating the participants’ perspectives in the study of language and communication disorders. Cham: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Maes, P. (2000). Modelling adaptive autonomous agents. In G. L. Christopher (Ed.), Artificial life: An overview (pp. 137–138). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  28. Marocco, D., Cangelosi, A., Fischer, K., & Belpaeme, T. (2010). Grounding action words in the sensorimotor interaction with the world: Experiments with a simulated iCub humanoid robot. Frontiers in Neurorobotics, 4, 7.Google Scholar
  29. Noë, A. (2009). Out of our heads: Why you are not your brain, and other lessons from the biology of consciousness. New York: Hill and Wang.Google Scholar
  30. Orman, J. (2016). Distributing mind, cognition and language: Exploring the (un) common ground with integrational linguistics. Language and Cognition, 8(1), 142–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pablé, A. (2017). Introduction. In A. Pablé (Ed.), Critical humanist perspectives: The integrational turn in philosophy of language and communication (pp. 3–9). London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pennycook, A. (2018). Posthumanist applied linguistics. Applied Linguistics, 39(4), 445–461.Google Scholar
  33. Powers, R. (1995). Galatea 2.2. New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  34. Rosenstock-Huessy, E. (1970). Speech and reality. Essex, VT: Argo Books.Google Scholar
  35. Sawyer, R. K., & DeZutter, S. (2009). Distributed creativity: How collective creations emerge from collaboration. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 3(2), 81–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Searle, J. (1980). Minds, brains and programs. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 3(3), 417–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Spurrett, D. (Ed.). (2004). Distributed cognition and integrational linguistics. Language Sciences, 6(26), 497–742.Google Scholar
  38. Steels, L. (2003). Evolving grounded communication for robots. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7(7), 308–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Steffensen, S. V. (2009). Language, languaging, and the extended mind hypothesis. Pragmatics & Cognition, 17(3), 677–697.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Steffensen, S. V. (2011). Beyond mind: An extended ecology of languaging. In S. J. Cowley (Ed.), Distributed language (pp. 185–210). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sugita, Y., & Tani, J. (2005). Learning semantic combinatoriality from the interaction between linguistic and behavioral processes. Adaptive Behavior, 13(1), 33–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sutton, J. (2004). Representation, levels, and context in integrational linguistics and distributed cognition. Language Sciences, 26(6), 503–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Thibault, P. J. (2011a). First-order languaging dynamics and second-order language: The distributed language view. Ecological Psychology, 23(3), 210–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Thibault, P. J. (2011b). Languaging behaviour as catalytic process: Steps towards a theory of living language (Part I). Public Journal of Semiotics, 3(2), 2–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Thibault, P. J. (2017). The reflexivity of human languaging and Nigel Love’s two orders of language. Language Sciences, 61, 74–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tikhanoff, V., Cangelosi, A., & Metta, G. (2011). Integration of speech and action in humanoid robots: iCub simulation experiments. IEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development, 3(1), 17–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Varela, F. J., Rosch, E., & Thompson, E. (1992). The embodied mind: Cognitive science and human experience. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  48. Weizenbaum, J. (1966). ELIZA—A computer program for the study of natural language communication between man and machine. Communications of the ACM, 9(1), 36–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wittgenstein, L. (2001). Philosophical investigations (G. E. M. Anscombe, Trans.). Oxford: Basil Blackwell. (Original work published 1953).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations