Summary-Response


Question:

Read “Why We Need Things” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. (Website:https://llk.media.mit.edu/courses/mas714/fall02/csik-things.pdf)
Summarize Cskszentmihalyi’s final paragraph and write a reflective response to it based on your own ideas about things and our apparent need for them.


Answer:

Summary-Response Paper on “Why We Need Things”

Summary:

In his article, “Why We Need Things,” the author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, argues that the best way to cure addition to things is by learning how to discipline consciousness. This entails developing control over mental processes to keep feelings and thoughts under control. Csikszentmihalyi argues that many cultures have endeavored to promote this principle by using crafts, songs, poetry, rituals, and prayers to develop a rich symbolic culture (28). He gives the example of Brahmins, who can comfortably live in empty houses simply because they have disciplined their thoughts and feelings to the point where they do not need objects to stay on course (Csikszentmihalyi 28). The example of the partial use of symbols by mathematicians and musicians has also been pointed out as one of the reason why these professionals to a certain extent do not rely on the objectification of the conscious mind. Csikszentmihalyi concludes that people should strive to achieve inner control in order to succeed in using things as instruments as opposed to projections of their inner selves (28).

Response:      

I support the author’s view that people should learn to discipline their consciousness to avoid overestimating the importance of things in bringing about happiness in life. Individuals who rely too much on the symbolic association between things and their inner selves are highly likely to lead dejected lives despite possessing immense wealth. In my view, therefore, things should be used as a means of achieving an end and not as projections of one’s status in society, and this can only be achieved by disciplining one’s consciousness. Using my own experience as an example, I have realized that I am oftentimes tempted, mainly through peer pressure, to purchase an item to project a symbolic association of social status as opposed to the fulfillment of a certain need. Over time, I end up possessing too many things that are not being used to achieve the purpose for which they were produced.

 

Works Cited

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Why We Need Things. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1993. Print.


 

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