Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a Hungarian psychology professor, who emigrated to the United States at the age of 22. Now at Claremont Graduate University, he is the former head of the department of psychology at the University of Chicago and of the department of sociology and anthropology at Lake Forest College.
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The meaning of things is a study of the significance of material possessions in contemporary urban life, and of the ways people carve meaning out of their domestic environment. Drawing on a survey of eighty families in Chicago who were interviewed on the subject of their feelings about common household objects, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Eugene Rochberg-Halton provide a unique perspective on materialism, American culture, and the self. They begin by reviewing what social scientists and philosophers have said about the transactions between people and things. In the model of 'personhood' that the authors develop, goal-directed action and the cultivation of meaning through signs assume central importance. They then relate theoretical issues to the results of their survey. An important finding is the distinction between objects valued for action and those valued for contemplation. The authors compare families who have warm emotional attachments to their homes with those in which a common set of positive meanings is lacking, and interpret the different patterns of involvement. They then trace the cultivation of meaning in case studies of four families. Finally, the authors address what they describe as the current crisis of environmental and material exploitation, and suggest that human capacities for the creation and redirection of meaning offer the only hope for survival. A wide range of scholars - urban and family sociologists, clinical, developmental and environmental psychologists, cultural anthropologists and philosophers, and many general readers - will find this book stimulating and compelling.
What is creativity, and where does it come from? Creativity and Development explores the fascinating connections and tensions between creativity research and developmental psychology, two fields that have largely progressed independently of each other-until now. In this book, scholars influential in both fields explore the emergence of new ideas, and the development of the people and situations that bring them to fruition. The uniquely collaborative nature of Oxford's Counterpoints series allows them to engage in a dialogue, addressing the key issues and potential benefits of exploring the connections between creativity and development. Creativity and Development is based on the observation that both creativity and development are processes that occur in complex systems, in which later stages or changes emerge from the prior state of the system. In the 1970s and 1980s, creativity researchers shifted their focus from personality traits to cognitive and social processes, and the co-authors of this volume are some of the most influential figures in this shift. The central focus on system processes results in three related volume themes: how the outcomes of creativity and development emerge from dynamical processes, the interrelation between individual processes and social processes, and the role of mediating artifacts and domains in developmental and creative processes. The chapters touch on a wide range of important topics, with the authors drawing on their decades of research into creativity and development. Readers will learn about the creativity of children's play, the creative aspects of children's thinking, the creative processes of scientists, the role of education and teaching in creative development, and the role of multiple intelligences in both creativity and development. The final chapter is an important dialogue between the authors, who engage in a roundtable discussion and explore key questions facing contemporary researchers, such as: Does society suppress children's creativity? Are creativity and development specific to an intelligence or a domain? What role do social and cultural contexts play in creativity and development? Creativity and Development presents a powerful argument that both creativity scholars and developmental psychologists will benefit by becoming more familiar with each other's work.
The third volume of the collected works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi covers his work on the application of flow in areas that go beyond the field of leisure where the concept was first applied. Based on his personal experience with schooling and learning, as well as that of many others and contrary to what Cicero claimed, Csikszentmihalyi arrived at the conclusion that instead of taking pride in making the roots of knowledge as bitter as possible, we should try to make them sweeter. Just as flow became a popular and useful concept in voluntary activities, it could likewise be applied in education with the end result of young people being more likely to continue learning not just because they have to but because they want to.

This volume brings together a number of articles in which Csikszentmihalyi develops ideas about how to make education and more generally the process of learning to live a good life, more enjoyable. Since theory is the mother of good practice, the first eleven chapters are devoted to theoretical reflections. Some are general and explore what it means to be a human being, what it means to be a person, when we look at life from the perspective of flow. Others are more narrowly focused on such topics as consumption, education, teaching and learning. They help laypeople reflect how they can arrange their lives in such a way as to leave a small ecological footprint while getting the most enjoyment. The second section of the volume contains a dozen empirical articles on similar topics. They deal with the development of identity and self-worth; with the formation of goals and motivation; with loneliness and family life.

A Life Worth Living brings together the latest thought on Positive Psychology from an international cast of scholars. It includes historical, philosophical, and empirical reviews of what psychologists have found to matter for personal happiness and well-being. The contributions to this volume agree on priciples of optimal development that start from purely material and selfish concerns, but then lead to ever broader circles of responsibility embracing the goals of others and the well-being of the environment; on the importance of spirituality; on the development of strengths specific to the individual. Rather than material success, popularity, or power, the investigations reported in this volume suggest that personally constructed goals, intrinsic motivation, and a sense of autonomy are much more important. The chapters indicate that hardship and suffering do not necessarily make us unhappy, and they suggest therapeutical implications for improving the quality of life. Specific topics covered include the formation of optimal childhood values and habits as well as a new perspective on aging. This volume provides a powerful counterpoint to a mistakenly reductionist psychology. They show that subjective experience can be studied scientifically and measured accurately. They highlight the potentiality for autonomy and freedom that is among the most precious elements of the human condition. MOreover, they make a convincing case for the importance of subjective phenomena, which often affect happiness more than external, material conditions. After long decades during which psychologists seemed to have forgotten that misery is not the only option, the blossoming of Positive Psychology promises a better understanding of what a vigorous, meaningful life may consist of.
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