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Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity as Seen Through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi Paperback – September 24, 1994


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Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity as Seen Through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi + Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (September 24, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465014542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465014545
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #979,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this boldly ambitious study, Gardner ( Frames of Mind ) profiles seven creative giants. Creativity, he argues, is not an all-purpose trait but instead involves distinct intelligences, as exemplified by Picasso's visual-spatial skills or by Gandhi's nonviolent approach to human conflict or Martha Graham's search for a distinctly American form of bodily expression. Each of the seven creative geniuses whom Gardner incisively limns transcended interpretive frames or conventions that became entrenched during the 19th century; each forged a new "system of meaning"; and each, in Gardner's view, struck a "Faustian bargain," sacrificing a rounded personal life for the sake of an all-consuming mission. Gardner also finds a childlike component in each of their creative breakthroughs (e.g., Einstein's "thought experiment" of riding a light-beam). This highly stimulating synthesis illuminates the creation of the modern age. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

It takes chutzpah to come up with a scheme for analyzing creativity--especially in subjects already exhaustively examined. But for psychologist and MacArthur fellow Gardner (Harvard Graduate School of Education), it amounts to a natural progression from his earlier dissections of intelligence: Frames of Mind and Multiple Intelligences argued that, instead of a generalized intelligence, there are at least seven varieties (musical, logical-mathematical, visual, etc.). Here, Gardner chooses prototypes of each variety and provides capsule biographies and analyses along such themes as the child versus the adult creator, and the creator in relation to others and to the work. Gardner finds sufficient commonalities among his seven types of intelligence to provide a synthesis: an ``exemplary creator'' (E.C.). This individual (whom Gardner calls ``she'') is somewhat ``marginal'' in the social milieu, born into a reasonably comfortable family away from the creative center (Picasso and Stravinsky moved to Paris, Freud to Vienna...). There may not be much family love and affection but there may be a devoted nurse or a role model. The child is strong-minded and exhibits ability but isn't necessarily a prodigy. She moves into a decade of mastery of the domain and accomplishes a critical breakthrough that may include the affirmation of a few chosen peers (Picasso and Braque; Stravinsky and Diaghilev). Second and third breakthroughs may develop in successive decades until old age takes its toll. The E.C. retains childlike characteristics, including self- centeredness, even exploitation of others (Stravinsky's litigiousness; Picasso's sadism). E.C.s may make Faustian bargains, often leading to disastrous domestic life and parenthood. One can come up with counterexamples, and argue that there might be Western/20th-century biases at work here. But one has to hand it to Gardner for offering some provocative post-Eriksonian thoughts on creativity that are a lot more stimulating than those that measure creativity according to the ``100 uses of a safety pin'' school of thought. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Howard Gardner is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Customer Reviews

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I found this book to be a very interesting read.
pshea@teton1.k12.wy.us
Gardner's theories are groundbreaking and this book is a great introduction, but also don't miss his seminal work in this area (Multiple Intelligence).
Tom Williams
I also recommend CREATIVITY IN CONTEXT and CORPORATE CREATIVITY, as good books for business people to read on the subject of creativity.
Donald Mitchell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
Many have written about creativity, but few have considered creativity in the context of a cognitive model. Professor Gardner has added greatly to my understanding of what creative people's lives are like, by focusing on people from a variety of fields (from politics, to dance, to music, to physics, to poetry). A key lesson for me was that creativity can cause problems for the creative person. Having seen some of the bad habits outlined in this book, we can each see how we can become more creative and also avoid some of the pitfalls. Clearly, creativity can become an obsession, since it turns out to be so pleasurable to creative people. Creative people would clearly benefit from a series of questions that prompt them into considering the relevance and approriateness of their lives. I especially liked how Professor Gardner suggested what additional research should be done. I hope someone is working on these questions, now. I am a business person, and did not expect to learn much that would help in business. I was happily surprised to find that I did. An important lesson is that creative people need the right kind of emotional and social support in order to be most effective in not only creating more, but also in making their creations more useful for us all. I also recommend CREATIVITY IN CONTEXT and CORPORATE CREATIVITY, as good books for business people to read on the subject of creativity.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Tom Williams on February 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
Howard Gardner is a leading writer and educator who developed the theory of 'Multiple Intelligence'. I have read most of what he has written, and I found this to be one of the more enjoyable and accessible books. What makes this a powerful book is that it takes his theoretical concept (Multiple Intelligence), and explores it from the perspective of renowned individuals who creatively exhibited a specific intelligence style.
Gardner's theories are groundbreaking and this book is a great introduction, but also don't miss his seminal work in this area (Multiple Intelligence). I have had two children that have participated in multiple intelligence programs in school, and the results of those programs have been outstanding. I truly believe that if the concept that his work explored were deployed throughout our educational institutions that we would have many more "learners" as opposed to students.
As the author of Aha! - 10 Ways To Free Your Creative Spirit and Find Your Great Ideas, I was deeply influenced by Gardner's work. I believe that anyone who wants a better understanding of how learning styles and can impact the creativity of an individual will gain much from "Creating Minds."
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "alptekin" on August 27, 1998
Format: Paperback
To me, it is of great interest in itself to read about the lives of these seven remarkable individuals. Gardner gives us an account of their lives looking through the window of his theories on creativity. While not 100% convincing in all that he proposes, sometimes resorting to seeing what he wants to see (rather than reporting what he sees), Creating Minds is a valuable attempt at identifying the nature of creativity. I think the book fails to provide a case for the argument that creativity is characterized by "a special amalgam of the childlike and the adultlike." As long as the following question goes unanswered it's only too tempting to rush to conclusions: Do creative individuals retain childlike qualities more than other people, and how exactly do they benefit from doing so? This question epitomizes my general unease with Gardner's study of creativity. If we only look at creative people, how can we understand in which ways and how they stand apart from 'normal people'? Finally, I am not so sure about the significance of that modern era talk.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most enjoyable as well as one of the most informative books I have read in recent years. I have long admired Gardner's work, especially his research on multiple intelligences which he discusses in other works such as Intelligence Reframed (2000), Frames of Mind (1993), and Multiple Intelligences (also 1993). As Gardner explains in the Preface, this volume" 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 introduces a new approach to the study of human creative endeavors, one that draws on social-scientific as well as humanistic traditions." Specifically, this "new approach" begins with the individual but then focuses both on the particular "domain," or symbol system, in which an individual functions and on the group of individuals, or members of what Gardner calls the "field," who judge the quality of the new work in the domain.
This is the approach he takes when analyzing the lives and achievements of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi. Throughout the book, Gardner makes brilliant use of both exposition (e.g. analysis, comparison and contrast) and narration (especially when examining causal relationships of special significance) to reveal, explain, and evaluate each of the seven geniuses.
Gardner sets for himself several specific objectives:
* "First, I seek to enter into the worlds that each of the seven figures occupied during the period under investigation -- roughly speaking, the half century from 1885 to 1935.
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