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Emulation

(from Latin æmulationem, from æmulari 'to rival, strive to excel'), the effort or desire to equal or surpass another or others.

Kroeber (1944: 18) quotes a Roman historian Valletius Paterculus who noted that clusters of geniuses appeared within relatively short periods and explained this by emulation, the desire to equal or surpass one's contemporaries.

Genius is fostered by emulation, and it is now envy, now admiration, which enkindles imitation, and in the nature of things, that which is cultivated with the highest zeal advances to the highest perfection; but it is difficult to continue to the point of perfection, and naturally that which cannot advance must recede. And as in the beginning we are fired with the ambition to overtake those whom we regard as leaders, so when we have despaired of being able either to surpass or even to equal them, our zeal wanes with our hope; it ceases to follow what it cannot overtake, and abandoning the old field as though pre-empted, it seeks a new one.

Emulation, rivalry, the desire to surpass one's contemporaries is a powerful motivation for creativity responding to the appearance of "cultural configurations" (Kroeber, 1944) - constellations of creative people during a specific period.

Emulation. Dictionary of Creativity: Terms, Concepts, Theories & Findings in Creativity Research / Compiled and edited by Eugene Gorny. Netslova.ru, 2007.
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