The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms

The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms

The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms

The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms


How is it possible to think new thoughts? What is creativity and can science explain it? And just how did Coleridge dream up the creatures of The Ancient Mariner ?When The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms was first published, Margaret A. Boden's bold and provocative exploration of creativity broke new ground. Boden uses examples such as jazz improvisation, chess, story writing, physics, and the music of Mozart, together with computing models from the field of artificial intelligence to uncover the nature of human creativity in the arts.The second edition of The Creative Mind has been updated to include recent developments in artificial intelligence, with a new preface, introduction and conclusion by the author. It is an essential work for anyone interested in the creativity of the human mind.


This book is about human creativity, and how computers (discussed in Chapters 5-8) can help us to understand it. Since I first wrote it my views on what creativity is have remained basically the same. So, apart from minor clarificatory changes, I haven't altered the main text of the book - except to add one example-program: Douglas Hofstadter's copycat.

I had originally planned to highlight copycat in my discussion of analogy, but after much soul-searching decided not to include it at all. I felt that the details of how copycat works were too technical for a general audience, but didn't want to skate over them for fear of appearing to recommend magic; moreover, they were not yet officially published so would not have been easy for readers to find. I soon regretted that decision, so I added a foreword to the 1991 paperback indicating what is interesting about the program while ignoring the details. in this second edition I have taken the opportunity to integrate that brief account of copycat within Chapter 7.

I have, however, added two new pieces: one best read before the main text and one after it. the first gives an introductory overview of my account of creativity. It distinguishes the three main types of creativity - combinational, exploratory, and transformational - and outlines how far we can expect computers to match them.

The second new piece, an 'epilogue' placed as Chapter 12, mentions some computer models of creativity developed in recent years. in writing that I have assumed that readers will already be familiar with the main text. So, for example, I describe Harold Cohen's recent painting-program there without re-describing its predecessors (the aaron programs featured in Chapter 7).

Because The Creative Mind was written for a general audience, I haven't detailed the many comments I've received since it first appeared. Anyone who is interested can find a wide range of commentary, and my own replies, in two 'multiple reviews' in the professional literature. One is in

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