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Human Development/Consciousness Evolution
Record Type: Review   ID: 153

The Evolving Self: A Psychology for the Third Millennium

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly

 There is considerable overlap between Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow and our concept of exceptional human experience. Both rest on the theory that when humans are living at their growing edges is when flow and/or EHEs come into play. We have emphasized the important role a personal encounter with an anomaly, broadly conceived as an experience/event/activity that is beyond previous limits set by self or society, which initiates the EHE process. Csikszentmihalyi proposes that it is being involved in difficult enterprises that are mind- and body-stretching that engenders the sense of flow. The experience of flow is very like the transformation that occurs when an exceptional energy becomes focused and also is perceived as issuing from within and without (i.e., flow or EHE process) and the person no longer feels separate from tools, self, others, or the world. Csikszentmihalyi proposes that for human consciousness to continue evolving we must deliberately develop many skills and engage in many activities in order to induce flow, which itself will lead us to transcendence, even as the EHE process does. Part I, "The Lure of the Past," consists of 5 chapters in which Csikszentmihalyi analyzes how humans have reached the perilous place where we now are and which we have created. He shows how memes ("any permanent pattern of matter or information produced by an act of human intentionality" (p. 120) takes on a life of its own and can have detrimental effects as well as the constructive one originally intended. Nationality and plastic have both served human beings and destroyed them. "Flow" and "exceptional human experience" are also memes, but each one is open-ended. They have to do with the continuous production of meaning rather than with a static isolated moment of experience. Part 2, "The Power of the Future," has 5 chapters on "Directing Evolution," "Evolution and Flow," "The Transcendent Self," "The Flow of History," and "A Fellowship of the Future." The latter would consist of small groups called "evolutionary cells," whose aim would be to cooperate to make a difference in their community by seeking and processing information conducive to evolution. He presents a "faith of the future" based on four tenets which are also key forms of knowledge instinctively comprehended once one has had an exceptional human experience, and thereby entering the Experiential Paradigm. Although this is a highly intellectual book, it is aimed not only at scholars but is especially directed at individuals. Its aim is to provide a working framework of who we are, why we are here, and how we can forward human evolution. Or perhaps one could say "flow human evolution forward."
Publisher Information:New York: HarperCollins, 1993. 358p. Bibl: 335-350; Chap. notes: 299-334; Index: 351-358
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