Abstract for “See You in Your Next Life”: Creativity, the Zhuangzi, and Grief":
What is creativity, how can it be assessed, and why is it important? This question is of remarkably broad interest, attracting the attention of researchers across the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences. The principal aim of this discussion is to bring a necessarily small selection of responses to this question into dialogue (given the vastness of the pertinent body of inquiry), to support a refreshing approach to conceptualizing creativity that is both informed by, and might in turn inform, empirical investigations. Drawing from relevant cross-cultural work on creativity within philosophical psychology, as well as contemporary commentaries on the philosophy of the Zhuangzi, part one motivates a conception of creativity that—unlike dominant current approaches—emphasizes spontaneity and adaptivity engendered by embracing you(“wandering”), rather than novelty or originality. Following that, part two explores one exceptionally intriguing way in which this empirically informed approach might in turn inform additional empirical investigations on the topic of creativity. Specifically, it argues that the approach to creativity discussed here can allow us to understand certain forms of religious experiences, concerning grief and bereavement, as creative in a manner that is compatible with both: i) views that emphasize the capacity of religious experiences to connect us with something supernatural, immaterial, or non-physical and, ii) views that emphasize the capacity of religious experiences to connect us with something natural, material, or physical. It therefore stands to help pave the way for further cross-cultural inquiries—empirical and otherwise—into the nature and value of religious experiences, particularly their aesthetic characters and significances, which I will conclude by gesturing toward in part three. This is especially significant given that, within contemporary Anglo-analytic philosophy of religion and theology, questions regarding the aesthetic (as opposed to, for example, the metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical) remain underexplored, as do positive outcomes of grief more generally.
Julianne Chung is presently an assistant professor of philosophy at York University. She was previously an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Louisville and obtained her PhD from Yale University in December of 2015. Her primary areas of research are epistemology, philosophy of language, aesthetics, and philosophy of mind. She is especially intrigued by questions having to do with skepticism, fictionalism, and metaphor, as well as how cross-cultural philosophy can shed new light on them. She is also interested in whether (and how) works of art can have epistemic content and value, and what the philosophical upshots of this might be. She has published articles on related topics in a variety of journals and edited volumes, including Midwest Studies in Philosophy, the Journal of Analytic Theology, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Philosophers' Imprint, and the Journal of Aesthetics and ArtCriticism. In addition, she serves as associate editor of Oxford Studies in Epistemology and as a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Analytic Theology. She is also a member of the organizing committee for the Midwest Conference on Chinese Thought and President of the Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy.