What does it(line8)refer to in the passage? I think it refers to creativity, but I'm not sure.

A good many scientists and artists have noticed the universality of creativity. At the Sixteenth Nobel Conference, held in 1980, scientists, musicians, and philosophers all agreed, to quote Freeman Dyson, that “the analogies between science and art are very good as long as you are talking about the creation and the performance. The creation is certainly very analogous. The aesthetic pleasure of the craftsmanship of performance is also very strong in science.” A few years later, at another multidisciplinary conference, physicist Murray Gell-Mann found that “everybody agrees on where ideas come from. We had a seminar here, about ten years ago, including several painters, a poet, a couple of writers, and the physicists. Everybody agrees on how it works. All of these people, whether they are doing artistic work or scientific work, are trying to solve a problem.”

Sparks of Genius: The 13 Thinking Tools of the World's Most Creative People By Robert Root-Bernstein, Michèle Root-Bernstein

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    The passage is discussing the universality of creativity. "it" refers to that.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 18:45

1 Answer 1


It’s not absolutely clear. In fact the passage as a whole seems rather poorly written. (Are you sure you’ve transcribed it precisely?)

If I had to pin the “it” to a specific piece of the preceding text, I’d say it was referring to the earlier, “where ideas come from”. In other words, “it” means something like, “the origin or source of ideas”. So I’d agree that your own suggestion of “creativity” is also a reasonable one.

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