The Understanding of Metaphor and CreativityJohn Barnden (University of Birmingham), John Barnden
Royal Institute of Philosophy Public Lecture Series 2013-14
“No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would
cease to be an artist.”
Oscar Wilde, The Decay of Lying (1889)
Creativity is a term used to characterise a wide variety of acts and
outcomes, across a spectrum of disciplines and areas. It is often
described it as an ability, and one that is identified in the production
of work or artefacts that are novel or original and appropriate or useful
(within particular constraints). Yet to understand concepts
like ‘original’, ‘novel’ and ‘useful’ requires further consideration.
While some see creative action as akin to some kind of imitation (or
mimesis), others see creativity as the need to express something within,
involving inner conflict, or the reconciliation of the outer with the
The third Royal Institute of Philosophy Public Lecture Series at St Mary’s
University College will explore the topic of creativity by inviting
speakers from a range of disciplines to reflect on the concept of
creativity, including (but not limited to):
•What is creativity?
•Is creativity only about creating or building, or do discovery,
destruction and clearing away also have a role?
•Is creativity found in the combination of existing things in new forms,
or the making of new forms, or in simply seeing something anew?
•Where do non-representational art, poetry, or literature fit with more
traditional notions of creativity. What about scientific or political
theories? In politics, for instance, are the transitions from traditional,
to industrial, to information societies, themselves acts of creation? Does
a move from Newtonian to Quantum physics represent an act of creativity?
The first lecture of the season, held on Wednesday 23rd October
entitled 'The Understanding of Metaphor and Creativity', will explore how
metaphors can be used in describing creativity, the subtleties of
metaphorical language and how other, non-linguistic, forms of metaphorical
expression arise and can be understood. Both sides of the argument will
contribute something to the task of settling on what creativity and
related things such as originality are, or at least temporarily perching
on an ever-shifting mass of ideas about them.
The lecture will be delivered by Professor John Barnden, Professor of
Artificial Intelligence at the University of Birmingham, who will draw on
his own accounts of metaphorical language and expression.
All lectures are free and open to the public with no registration
required. The lecture runs from 5.15pm – 6.15pm with a 40 minute Q&A
session and a wine reception afterwards. For further information please
contact Dr Stephen Rainey at [email protected]
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