Gardner on Self-Renewal

I got to Self Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society after seeing it on Jim Collins’ reading list. I liked the book and would recommend it to anyone interested in the social sciences and who are stimulated by issues around the staying power of people and societies and what makes some organizations “self-renew” to remain vibrant over the long term. Gardner touches on a wide variety of truisms. But the book mostly focuses on “growth, decay, and renewal” of societies. He discusses the relationship between the individual and society, generalization and specialization, happiness, and the like. Chapter 10 on “Commitment and Meaning” explains the “juvenile interpretation of the ‘pursuit of happiness'” saying: “Storybook happiness involves a bland idleness; the truer conception involves seeking and purposeful effort. Storybook happiness involves every form of pleasant thumb-twiddling; true happiness involves the full use of one’s powers and talents. Both conceptions of happiness involve love, but the storybook version puts greater emphasis on being loved, the truer version more emphasis on the capacity to give love.”

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