Artistic creation has proven remarkably resistant to philosophical analysis. Artists have long struggled to explain how they do what they do, and philosophers have struggled along with them. This study does not attempt to offer a comprehensive account of all creativity or all art. Instead it tries to identify an essential feature of an activity that has been cloaked in mystery for as long as history records. Jeff Mitscherling and Paul Fairfield argue that the process by which art is created has a good deal in common with the experience of the audience of a work, and that both experiences may be described phenomenologically in ways that show surprising affinities with what artists themselves often report.
Mitscherling and Fairfield present an innovative and gripping analysis of intentionality, arguing that it is key for creativity and artistic production. Dismissive of the idea that creation comes from nothing or out of nowhere, the philosophers develop a rich notion of noticing and following what is objectively given in the world, culture, and others in order to show how humans imaginatively and artistically bring forward novel, creative works. Drawing from the experience and testimony of artists, poets, musicians and writers, they make a compelling case for the source of creativity lying in the turning of our conscious attention to what is already calling or appealing to us, to what is already at work in us. This engaging book with its inviting writing style is a masterful exploration of one of humanity's richest capabilities.--Antonio Calcagno, King's University College, Western University