Is Creativity the Driving Force of Human Progress? Anthropologist Agustín Fuentes argues it is

Author: Laura Donnelly

Agustín Fuentes

What made humans so exceptional among all the species on Earth? Agustín Fuentes, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame and Co-Principal Investigator on the Evolution of Wisdom Project at Center for Theology, Science and Human Flourishing, explores this question in his new book, The Creative Spark: How Imagination Made Humans Exceptional. Fuentes argues that qualities like creativity, imagination, and collaboration are, in fact, the driving force behind human progress and our evolutionary development. In a recent interview with National Geographic’s Simon Worrall, Fuentes says:

“The whole idea that there are these single things, like aggression or sex differences, which explain the complex evolution of what it means to be human, is just too simple. This is why I’m proposing this idea of collaboration and creativity. It’s a much more complex, and exciting, way to think about who we are and why we do what we do.”

The Creative Spark

In his new book, The Creative Spark, Fuentes weaves together the latest research in biology, archeology, and anthropology to build the case that our evolutionary progress is indebted to our ability and capacity to be creative and innovative. This narrative stands in the face of many commonly held misconceptions about what makes us unique in terms of the evolutionary process (e.g., war, race, sex, gender differences, male aggression etc.). These key qualities of creativity, imagination, and cooperation, Fuentes argues, have “propelled the evolutionary development of our bodies, minds, and cultures, both for good and for bad.”

Originally published by Laura Donnelly at on April 24, 2017.