In the course on Blondel, John [McNeill, S.J.] basically taught us his dissertation. He told us that when he first read L'Action, he thought it the most original philosophical work he had studied. When, however, he completed his analysis of the philosophical sources on which Blondel drew, John wondered if the book contained a single original idea. John's analysis of the sources of L'Action gave me a sound insight into the way the human mind creates, and that insight ultimately shaped my own approach to creative speculation. I did not deem Blondel's dependence on other minds for basic insights unusual or exceptional. I rather suspected that most original thinkers remain significantly beholden to the thoughts of other minds. That fact, however, did not make them any the less original; for human originality derives not so much from the novelty of one's ideas individually and separately considered but from the novel way in which one synthesizes previously unrelated insights. Blondel had written a very creative philosophical work because, even though he derived most of his basic insights from other thinkers, no one else had put those ideas together in the precise manner in which he had. Thereafter, I took Blondel's approach to creativity as my model.This insight into creativity reminded me of another passage where an author articulated the same basic insight:– Donald Gelpi, S.J., in Closer Walk: Confessions of a U.S. Jesuit Yat, p. 108.
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two pence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.– C.S. Lewis, in "The New Men," chapter 11 of Beyond Personality: Or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity in Mere Christianity.