“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”
– Albert Einstein
Generally intelligence is widely discussed but weakly understood; similarly creativity is broadly debated and basically misunderstood. Creativity and intelligence as words gets interchangeably exchanged in our common usage. But there exist a finer distinction and differing definition of intelligence and creativity which is insightfully interesting. Intelligence makes the boundary around thoughts and creativity breaks the boundary surrounding thoughts. Convergent thinking captures intelligence and divergent thinking nurtures creativity.
Intelligence is the art of using available knowledge. Knowledge is available around us and within us. It is how we see, how we feel, how we observe and how we absorb makes the difference in terms of how we use the knowledge. Some of us process the knowledge faster and better than the others. This process of processing the knowledge is intelligence. The degree of intelligence of an individual varies with the mental composition and meaningful engagement with the environment. One part comes with us and the other part gets built with time. Intelligence has a limitation; it only uses the available knowledge. Those with higher intelligence uses it more smartly and swiftly compared to those with lesser intelligence.
Knowledge is not confined and defined. It constantly gets built and redefined. This process of building new knowledge is all about creativity. It explores unchartered territory, unrelated field, and unexplored areas then connects, correlates between these seemingly different aspects and concepts. It builds newer concepts, brings newer dimensions and presents insightful perspective. These are then become a part of the available knowledge to be acquired by intelligence. Creativity creates knowledge using imagination, intuition and inspiration. The heightened power of using our senses develops our creativity. We get our mused by reading a story or we get moved and journey into a different world just by seeing a movie.
There are 1.6 m species in this world and we are blessed with highest order of intelligence and creativity. The intelligence and creativity in us has grown and grown fast with passage of time and today it has reached a magical form. It is magical because with intelligence and creativity, we can invent and innovate anything that we can imagine. Einstein has rightly said so that “imagination is more important than knowledge”. Knowledge can take so far but imagination can take farther and farther. Imagining that we can speak to each other at distant places led to the land phone and furthering our imagination that we can speak to each on move and from anywhere led to the invention of mobile phone. Stretching our imagination that we can communicate to each other through computers led to the invention of internet.
If we just reflect back for the last half of this century, the pace and power of innovation has been mind boggling and has brought breakthrough results breaking away from conventions. There is a valid rationale behind this happening. We think better and we imagine brighter things when we are satisfied and at peace with ourselves. Physical strain and mental stress drains us from thinking and imagining. Human beings in complete peace with themselves can break the boundaries of imagination and creative magic.
Creativity deals with abstraction. It deals with things that are not in existence. It builds from nowhere to somewhere which then enables us to think in a critical and logical manner to apply it into different applications. Higher order of intelligence builds with creativity. Creativity is the vital source for intelligence breakthrough. Before the intelligence in mind synthesizes the thoughts and pattern, the mind has to visualize and conceptualize the thought that was not in the realm of thinking. Thinking expands and expands exponentially with engineering of creativity and its extensive exercise. Intelligence and creativity feeds on each other. The more we put of intelligence into use, the more it opens up avenues towards creative outburst. Similarly the more we put our creative faculty into use, the more it opens up the space for intelligence to innovate breakthrough results.
Intelligence is not one dimensional. Intelligence gets defined and manifested in multiple ways. The capacity to use our logic, the ability to understand, the ability to correlate abstract, the ability to solve problem, the capacity to memorize and the ability to learn and communicate. Howard Gardner articulated eight abilities to be considered intelligence…musical, visual, verbal, logical, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic.
Creativity is essentially defined as the ability to create new knowledge. It transcends the existing ideas, rules, relationships, patterns, concepts and to correlate between new ideas, new concepts and build new patterns and new rules. Intelligence is classically defined as the ability to acquire and utilize existing ideas, rules and concepts. Creativity is the instinct feeder and intelligence becomes the critical reader of the knowledge.
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
― Albert Einstein