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A polymath is an individual with unusual ability in more than one discipline. A classic example is Leonardo da Vinci—engineer, inventor, artist, gymnast, and entertainer. The existence of such Renaissance people in modern times has become a contentious issue of great significance to creativity studies.

The debate centers on whether creativity springs from intensive training and effort in a single domain or whether it results from combining talents and experience from several. Differing definitions of creativity complicate the matter. Some psychologists differentiate between personal or “little c” creativity and discipline-based on socially recognized “Big C” creativity. If creativity requires combining talents and experiences from several domains, “little c” creativity in one set of domains may foster “Big C” creativity in another. An associated issue is whether ...

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