Introduction: Creativity and Critical Thinking

Logic-oriented critical thinking textbooks have very little to say about creativity. The topic is just not on the radar for most authors. Yet in non-academic books on improving one's thinking and decision-making, it's very common for authors to talk about creativity.

This is because the audience and the context for these non-academic books is usually the professional classes and the workplace. One of the goals of improving one's thinking in a business context is to become better at generating creative solutions to problems. Businesses place a priority on problem-solving and innovation, and both of these have a fundamental creative component.

I believe that critical thinking about everyday issues often has a creative component that goes unnoticed or unappreciated, and that critical thinking can be improved by developing one's creativity. I now included Creativity as one of my "Six Pillars of Creativity" (joining Logic, Argumentation, Rhetoric, Background Knowledge and Character).

There are several reasons why creativity is fundamental to critical thinking, but I'll just offer one here. "Debiasing" refers to any strategy that minimizes or neutralizes the negative effects of cognitive biases on the quality of our thinking. Many debiasing strategies work by expanding the range of ideas or perspectives or interpretations that we are forced to consider when entertaining a judgment or a decision. But creativity is all about expanding the range of possibilities that are brought to our attention. It's no surprise, then, that many debiasing exercises are similar to creativity exercises (e.g. "consider the opposite' -- see my course "Upgrade Your Mindware" for more examples of debiasing strategies).