Menu Close


TOC Next Previous

The Fountains Of Knowledge

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” — Albert Einstein

John Locke was perhaps even more skeptical than Einstein when he said, “All ideas come from sensation or reflection. — Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas; how comes it to be furnished? Whence comes it by that vast store, which the busy and boundless fancy of man has painted on it with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this I answer, in one word, from Experience; in that all our knowledge is founded, and from that it ultimately derives itself. Our observation, employed either about external sensible objects, or about the internal operations of our minds, perceived and reflected on by ourselves, is that which supplies our understandings with all the materials of thinking. These two are the fountains of knowledge, from whence all the ideas we have, or can naturally have, do spring.”

If the perspectives of Einstein and Locke are merged, creativity is a product of “your sources” that are themselves not apparent to others. They are hidden from view but precede any creative product. What are those sources? They are either sensations about external objects or reflections about the internal operations of one’s mind.

This leads to an interesting hypothesis. Few would disagree that the “internal operation” of the minds of people like Einstein and Locke is hidden from most everyone else. They hide their mental sources very well. It’s also true that few would question that they fall in the “genius” category. By that, the notion is that they have mental sources that most people don’t have.

It would be equally reasonable to conclude that they also have sensations about external objects that most people don’t have. It’s not simply that they have higher sensory acuity. They see and hear things that others don’t see or hear. They experience a fuller and richer reality. That reality includes “objects” and “experiences” that are not accessible by most people. What is usually understood as creativity may merely be reports by otherwise unexceptional people about the hidden reality that is only known to a very few.

TOC Next Previous