Combinatorics and creativity

Root-Bernstein described the connection between art and the sciences in the view towards creativity in his abstract:

Many people view arts and sciences as being different because sciences yield objective answers to problems whereas arts produce subjective experiences I argue that art and science are on a continuum in which artists work with possible worlds whereas scientists are constrained to working in this world. But sometimes perceiving this world differently is the key to making discoveries. Thus, arts and sciences are on a continuum in which artistic thinking produces possibilities that scientists can evaluate for efficacy here and now. Not surprisingly, then, many of the most innovative scientists have had avocations in the arts, and some of the most innovative artists have had avocations in the sciences. These polymaths have often written or spoken about how their arts involvments have benefitted their scientific creativity and may provide a model for fostering a more innovative education.

Robert Root-Bernstein: The art of innovation: polymthas and universality of the creative process, in: Larisa V. Shavinia (Ed.): The International Handbook of Innovation. Oxford: Elsevier, 2003. PP. 267-278.

He argues that “artistic scientists and engineers have more image-ination, musically talented
ones duet (do it) better, and the verbally inclined have the skills to become pundits. Seriously.” (p. 270), and cited (on p. 268) Ostwald who “produced a large body of work on scientific genius that validated the polymath hypothesis”.

This supported by J. Rogers Hollingsworth who argued that:

the wider the range of experience and knowledge of the scientist, the more fields of science his/her work are likely to influence and the greater the importance with which it will be perceived. (p. 140)

J. Rogers Hollingsworth, “High Cognitive Complexity and the Making of Major Scientific Discoveries,” in Arnaud Sales and Marcel Fournier, eds., Knowledge, Communication and Creativity. (London and Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, 2007). pp. 129-155.

Ostwald is mentioned here in a table of “Twentieth-century scientists who made major discoveries and were also quite active in music, art, writing, crafts and politics” (pp. 142-144)