What Creatives and Scientists have in common.
Einstein suggests that the ‘cosmic religious feeling’ is what has been the motivation behind the many disciplined hours that have lead to revolutionary discoveries.
He describes the cosmic religious feeling in his 1930s article ‘Religion and Science’ for the New York Times Magazine as follows:
“The individual feels the futility of human desires and aims and the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves both in nature and the world of thought. Individual existence impresses him as a sort of prison and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole.”
This, I think, is indeed the case; I can imagine the inspiration that this notion has to offer. I now wish to extend the notion in order to encompass the many disciplined hours in history spent creating. I am convinced that there must be an overlay in the motivators that have allowed the creating of the new and the understanding of the existing. I would also not mind practically capitalizing on the notion by fully understanding it to aid my own discipline.
Remark that Einstein did not include money and renown as the motivator behind revolutionary discoveries. The extreme dedication required for eventual success in Science is not at all comparable to the success reaped there from. The unlikely possible grand success and legacy is too far removed to be an immediate motivator. A much larger and more fulfilling motivator like the comic religious feeling is required.
Neither did Einstein suggest that the enjoyment of the work can be the motivation behind revolutionary discovery. Pure and simple enjoyment without disciplined direction rarely reaps anything revolutionary. It could however be said that the cosmic religious feeling which Einstein describes is the nature of the enjoyment one sometimes feels whilst working.
Creativity is often thought of as a process quicker and lighter than that of science. Any creative will know that this is not the case. The initial idea from which a creative project originates may take a few seconds or hours but this is really only a very small part of the creative process. When something of real quality is created there are usually years of experience and failed creative projects behind it, many hours spent perfecting, re perfecting and re perfecting the concept and finally many many hours spent turning the concept into a reality. Just like work in science, creative work can very rarely be justified by its possible future success and there simply must be a deeper motivator.
The future history of the world and nature is arguably as sublime and part of the marvelous order as that which is revealed in science and it can be thought of as being unravelled in time by creators and others. This thinking seems to have the taste of fate but it is not necessarily so, not more than any thought of the past and future has.
Creating something revolutionary that finds a place in the collective consciousness is the result of an understanding of some aspect of the sublime and marvelous order of the world. The aim of the creative is then, just as is that of the scientist, to understand.
Both Creatives and Scientists know the feeling of elation that enters their body when something is suddenly understood. For creatives this can be in the form of a vision, anticipation, progress or success of possibly having created themselves something remarkable. Just for a few moments the person feels that life makes complete sense; the universe is sublime and can never be understood but for a few gifts acquired through humility and hard work. The universe is a single significant whole of which you are a very small part. The deep desire for these moment is, I think, the cosmic religious feeling and with it great things can be achieved.