Honing theory and Creativity
Honing theory holds that creativity arises due to the self-organizing, self-mending nature of a worldview (perception), and that it is by way of the creative process the individual hones (and re-hones) an integrated worldview.
Honing theory places equal emphasis on the externally visible creative outcome and the internal cognitive restructuring brought about by the creative process.
However, internal re-honing always precedes any external outcome.
When one actively removes a sufficient number of internal habitual automatic Schema, that have been naturally wired based upon our emotional experiences (some since our childhood), we can consciously replace them with our own personally empowered beliefs, and open up our natural creativity and intuition.
Indeed, one factor that distinguishes honing theory from other theories of creativity is that it focuses on not just restructuring as it pertains to the conception of the task of creativity, but as it pertains to the worldview as a whole.
Many philosophers and psychologies believe that one must assess all of their fundamental beliefs, and continually tune them as new insights and awareness are developed.
By merely assimilating new experience into ones static belief system, an ever expanding understanding and more accurate view of reality cannot be developed, and new information must be contorted to fit existing beliefs or ignored all together. Holding dear to ones static perception, or overall worldview, arrests ones overall development as cognitive, perceptual and emotional development are inextricably linked.
When faced with a creatively demanding task, there is an interaction between the conception of the task and the worldview. The conception of the task changes through interaction with the worldview, and the worldview changes through interaction with the task.
This is the metacognitive task of “Reality Testing”. The creative individual, Intuits an accommodated worldview (expanded contextual perceptions, per Jean Piaget), and tests it out in their daily lives. In this way, like the natural processes of childhood learning, we grow in our abilities and continue the learning process actively.
This interaction is reiterated until the task is complete, at which point not only is the task conceived of differently, but the worldview is subtly or drastically transformed. A Schema is acommadated to incorporate new insights into the context of a sharpened belief, we grow.
Thus another distinguishing feature of honing theory is that the creative process reflects the natural tendency of a worldview to attempt to resolve dissonance and seek internal consistency amongst its components, whether they be ideas, attitudes, or bits of knowledge; it mends itself as does a body when it has been injured. As an adult this practice is a rare one, though as a child it is our natural way of learning.
Yet another central, distinguishing feature of honing theory is the notion of a potentiality state.
Honing theory posits that creative thought procedes not by searching through and randomly ‘mutating’ predefined possibilities, but by drawing upon associations that exist due to overlap in the distributed neural cell assemblies that participate in the encoding of experiences in memory.
The more clearly we view the world, and the more consistent and stringent we are when we accept new information as valid, the more integrated our memories are encoded and retrieved. In this way we have adequate brain processing speed to easily recall from the necessary knowledg-base we have actively accumulated.
Midway through the creative process one may have made associations between the current task and previous experiences, but not yet determined which aspects of those previous experiences are relevant to the current task. Thus the creative idea may feel ‘half-baked’.
It is at that point that it can be said to be in a potentiality state, because how it will actualize depends on the different internally or externally generated contexts it interacts with.
Honing theory can account for many phenomena that are not readily explained by other theories of creativity. For example, creativity was commonly thought to be fostered by a supportive, nurturing, trustworthy environment conducive to self-actualization.
However, research shows that creativity is actually associated with childhood adversity, which would stimulate honing. If one were to review the childhoods of some of the most creative and ingenius men and women of all time, more often than naught, they experienced severe childhood tragedy.
Honing theory also makes several predictions that differ from what would be predicted by other theories. For example, empirical support has been obtained using analogy problem solving experiments for the proposal that midway through the creative process one’s mind is in a potentiality state.
Other experiments show that different works by the same creator exhibit a recognizable style or ‘voice’, and that this same recognizable quality even comes through in different creative outlets.
When on has found their voice, they have found the center of their creativity, until this occurs they must search for their voice heuristically and through Reality Testing assimilating and then accommodating their beliefs in order to develop and grow into their creativity.