The Act of Creation. Arthur Koestler. Macmillan Company.

The Act of Creation Book Cover The Act of Creation
Arthur Koestler
Macmillan Company

This major and long-awaited study is the product of a lifetime’s thought by one of the great thinkers and artists of our century. In The Act of Creation, Arthur Koestler advances the theory that all creative activities – the conscious and unconscious processes of scientific discovery, artistic originality, and cosmic inspiration – have a basic pattern in common that he attempts to define, using examples drawn from an extraordinary range of modern disciplines: biology, experimental psychology, neurology, philosophy, logic, Eastern mysticism, dramatic theory, and literature.

The dominant trend in the last fifty years of academic psychology has been to take a view of man that reduces him to the status of a conditioned automaton. “I believe,” Koestler writes, “that view to be depressingly true – but only up to a point. The argument of this book starts at the point where it ceases to be true.” In his lucid and economical style, Mr. Koestler demonstrates the verbal and visual similarities of the genuinely original scientific mind and that of the creative artist. He shows the inadequacy of mechanistic behaviorist theories in dealing with the irrational element of genius, and offers in their stead a brilliantly conceived psychological formulation that relates functionally the mind and the personality. And as he examines the whole spectrum of life processes, he suggests that phenomena analogous to creativity are manifested in various ways on all levels of the animal kingdom, from the flatworm to the chimpanzee – if one knows how to look for them.

For over fifteen years, Mr. Koestler has directed the force of his own creative powers and wide learning to this work. Written with the evocative precision a generation of readers has come to recognize as his hallmark, Arthur Koestler’s The Act of Creation is a major contribution to the century’s assessment of man’s condition.