Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi

Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi

Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi

Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi

Synopsis

Howard Gardner changed the way we think about intelligence. In his classic work Frames of Mind, he undermined the common notion that intelligence is a single capacity that every human being possesses to a greater or lesser extent. Now building on the framework he developed for understanding intelligence, Gardner gives us a path breaking view of creativity, along with riveting portraits of seven figures who each reinvented an area of human endeavor. Using as a point of departure his concept of seven "intelligences," ranging from musical intelligence to the intelligence involved in understanding oneself, Gardner examines seven extraordinary individuals- Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, T. S. Eliot, Martha Graham, and Mahatma Gandhi- each an outstanding exemplar of one kind of intelligence. Understanding the nature of their disparate creative breakthroughs not only sheds light on their achievements but also helps to elucidate the "modern era"- the times that formed these creators and which they in turn helped to define. While focusing on the moment of each creator's most significant breakthrough, Gardner discovers patterns crucial to our understanding of the creative process. Not surprisingly, Gardner believes that a single variety of creativity is a myth. But he supplies evidence that certain personality configurations and needs characterize creative individuals in our time, and that numerous commonalities color the ways in which ideas are conceived, articulated, and disseminated to the public. Henotes, for example, that it almost invariably takes ten years to make the initial creative breakthrough and another ten years for subsequent breakthroughs. Creative people feature unusual combinations of intelligence and personality, and Gardner delineates the indispensable role of the circumstances in which an individual works and the crucial reactions of the surrounding group of informed peers. He finds that an essential element of the creative process is the support of caring individuals whobelieve in the revolutionary ideas of the creators. And he documents the fact that extraordinary creativity almost always carries with it extraordinary costs in human terms.

Excerpt

This book represents both a culmination and a beginning: a culmination in that it brings together my lifelong interests in the phenomena of creativity and the particulars of history; a beginning in that it introduces a new approach to the study of human creative endeavors, one that draws on social-scientific as well as humanistic traditions. It is a book I hungered for as a student, but one that I was only able to write after a detour of a quarter of a century. In this preface, I look back on that journey.

As a studious youngster growing up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in the 1950s, I loved to read. What captured my interest most were biographies and histories, drawn from many lands, but focused particularly on Western Europe, from which my family came, and the United States, our new home. I had scarcely heard of psychology when I entered college, and so it was natural for me to declare myself a history major. But only when I encountered the psychohistorical and psychobiographical writings of Erik Erikson did I find an intellectual home. And so, I shifted my studies to social relations (roughly, the social or behavioral sciences) and found myself increasingly drawn to the psychology of human development.

A conflict between an interest in the emotional side of human experience and curiosity about its more cognitive dimensions was resolved--at least temporarily--in favor of cognition when I began to read the works of the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget at the close of my college career. I read Piaget intensively during a postgraduate year in England. During that time of leisure, I also became far better acquainted with the ideas and art forms of the modern era: the music of Igor Stravinsky, the paintings of the cubists, the writings of T. S. Eliot, and the astonishing outpouring of scientific, artistic, and political creativity that had taken place in the principal European countries in the first decades of the twentieth century. While I decided to pursue graduate studies in developmental psychology, I had already become keenly fascinated with the society that had produced such sparkling works while at the same time plunging into two devastating world wars and a dogged cold war.

My interests in history and biography took a back seat for a while, as I

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