The Four Hats of Creativity


These four livelihoods: artist, designer, scientist, and engineer, make a nice fourfold. They are called the “four hats of creativity” by Rich Gold. They are also called the “four winds of making” by computer scientist Richard P. Gabriel.

Some say the artist and scientist are “inward” looking, and the designer and engineer are “outward” looking. Some say the artist and the designer “move minds”, and the scientist and engineer “move matter”. One can observe that the artist sorts the important from the boring, the scientist separates the true from the false, the designer discerns the cool from the uncool, and the engineer divides the good from the bad.


Rich Gold / The Plenitude: creativity, innovation, and making stuff

Images of Artist Scientist Designer Engineer.



4 thoughts on “The Four Hats of Creativity”

  1. This is one of my fourfolds too. That’s twice here in the last month or so. Thanks for posting it and providing references.

    1. So-called ‘ruling’ arts (design, arts of ruling & being ruled).
    2. Productive arts/sciences.
    3. Affective/fine arts.
    4. Theoretically-oriented sciences & maths.

    My cynical-mode joke has been that the latter two are Dracula, the cup that drinks you up, and that the former two are Frankenstein, seeking to make the fictions and theories walk from off the page. Well, the poet Jack Spicer did have something somewhere about art (poems) as what drinks from you. Anyway, thanks again.

    1. And thanks for writing and linking to your analysis on learning! After your first message, I hadn’t understood the overall organization of your presentation until I noticed your color codes on your titles and borders. Along with your “periodic table of aspects” on another page, you have several 4×4 tables reminiscent of the Archic Matrix.

      I see that I’ve made some different assignments from you on both the fourfold of social-cultural-political-economic and that of artist-designer-engineer-scientist. I will have to read your analysis more completely and see if I agree more with your thoughtful assessments than my hasty ones.

      I’ve been trying to consider any other of my fourfolds that might serve for your two remaining rows of learning, those of essentially value and practice. For value, consider the simply stated beauty-truth-goodness-real. For practice, nothing comes immediately to mind, but I will keep thinking!

      1. Thank you, Martin! I’ve been reading your blog for a while. I remember our correspondence from some years ago. I figured that this blog was yours.

        Yikes, though, if a _fellow four-ist_, i.e., somebody already accustomed to inspecting various fourfolds for correlations & resemblances among them, doesn’t quickly get what I’m up to in a particular post, then my exposition problems are worse than I thought. I’ve just now revised the relevant section in “Methods of active learning by basic faculties” but I fear that the more clarification, the more clutter in another sense too.

        All four sectors of the interbehavioral realm of valuation are kinds of community, although they fit the definition of culture too. ‘Cultural’ is a broader term than ‘political’ or ‘economic’, and can be said to cover the whole 3rd row (valuational communities) and the whole 3rd column (consumption, expression, etc.). Meanwhile the valuational communities seem to lend themselves less well to compartmentalization than some of the other things do. Religion seems especially concerned with the 1st sector of community, but not exclusively, and other things seem to belong there too.

        A series involving such basic things as the good, the true, etc., couldn’t be confined to one row or column in that table. It would apply both to all the rows (interbehavioral realms) in succession and to all the columns (sectors) in succession, in various ways. My version of the series is something like 1. the strong, 2. the apt, 3. the good/well, 4. the real/true, glossing over the distinction between real & true, a distinction for which I’d feel the need to find a parallel in each of the other three cases, a distinction that also leads to complexities.

        Thanks for reading it and I look forward to suggestions for filling the structure. In general, keep on posting!

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