Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Amy Kind

Rights Information

© 2016 Han Jia


This paper examines a computational account about higher-level creativity proposed by Margaret A. Boden, a female psychologist and philosopher. She uses an interesting computational concept the “conceptual space” – known as “the box” in our everyday language – to measure levels of creativeness and to explain how higher-level creativity is achieved.

In this paper, I mainly seek to look into detail and analyze her answers to the following two questions: “What does Boden mean by the ‘conceptual space?” and “How is it possible to think outside of the ‘conceptual space?”

To that end, I have researched papers that commented on Boden’s computational account, and have come up with hypothetical cases to flesh out my arguments and to appeal to the readers’ intuitions.

The conclusion of this paper is that the knowledge of yourself being inside particular boxes and the knowledge of what limits and potential a given conceptual space has are neither sufficient nor necessary for producing the kind of rule-breaking “outside-the-box” ideas, but the idea of a “conceptual space” remains useful in evaluating the quality of ideas after their generation.

The philosophy of creativity is such an intriguing topic to me – we all value creativity as a society and have put “outside-the-box” type of thinking on the pedestal since the age of Plato. Yet when we think more about the idea of “outside-the-box” thinking, much ambiguity arises. This topic greatly sparks my interest in the philosophy of mind, and through research and self-introspection, I have not only learned more about the concept of creativity, but also discovered more about my own thinking style.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.