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Erich Fromm Glossary

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creativity

In talking about creativity, let us consider its two possible meanings: creativity in the sense of creating something new, something which can be seen or heard by others, such as a painting, a sculpture, a symphony, a poem, a novel, etc., or creativity as an attitude, which is the condition of any creation in the former sense but which can exist even though nothing new is created in the world of things. (…) I shall deal with the creative attitude – or, as we might also say, with creativity as a character trait. By creativity I mean the ability to see (or to be aware) and to respond. ― (1959c: The Creative Attitude, in: H. A. Anderson (Ed.): Creativity and Its Cultivation, New York (Harper and Row) 1959, p. 44.)

Man is always torn between the wish to regress to the womb and the wish to be fully born. Every act of birth requires the courage to let go of something, to let go of the womb, to let go of the breast, to let go of the lap, to let go of the hand, to let go eventually of all certainties, and to rely only upon one thing: one's own powers to be aware and to respond; that is, one's own creativity. To be creative means to consider the whole process of life as a process of birth, and not to take any stage of life as a final stage. Most people die before they are fully born. Creativeness means to be born before one dies. ― (1959c: The Creative Attitude, in: H. A. Anderson (Ed.): Creativity and Its Cultivation, New York (Harper and Row) 1959, p. 53.)

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