8 My hierarchy is a simplification of Maslow's hierarchy in which needs are clumped into three broad categories - biological, sociological, and psychological. His highest need - self-actualization - is considered here as the realization of the full human potential, which involves satisfaction of all three sets of needs. Once again, I anticipate some static from readers who justly question the hierarchy of needs concept. I think, however, that some of the dissatisfaction with the concept may be due to the behavioristic emphasis on biological needs, with the phenomena accounted for here under organically-based sociological and psychological needs viewed as mere cultural habits which can be ignored until the 'basic' biological needs are satisfied.
9 A fine conversation I was having at a party was interrupted by a third person. The quality of the conversation shifted suddenly in some strange way which I did not understand at the time. I now realize that we had shifted down the hierarchy of needs from the psychological to the sociological level. We had been playing with ideas but had been shifted to working on interpersonal problems. We all know students who are so preoccupied with satisfying their sociological needs that they have little computer time left for the satisfaction of psychological needs - the luxury of knowing and understanding the world.
10 It is this free-will option which explains why I did not cast my inside-out outside-in debate within the framework of the nature-nurture controversy. That debate is concerned with the extent to which we are determined by genetic or environmental factors. Time after pompous time, psychologists (including one of my former selves) intone that 'this behavior is determined by some complex interaction between environmental and genetic factors'. However, consider the Siamese twins, Chang and Eng. Leslie Fiedler reports that they had very different personalities - Chang was a drunk and a womanizer and Eng was a teetotaler and almost a celibate. Since genetic factors were identical and environmental factors were as close as possible for any two people, their profoundly different personalities must be attributable to some third factor. Could it be that Chang decided to lead a short happy life whereas Eng decided to try for a long modest one? Poor Eng had to die when Chang died. However, most of us are free to act on such decisions. The interactionism of Jean Piaget, which describes the optimal orchestration of inside-out genetic processes and outside-in environmental processes, suggests that human development is a process of gradual emancipation of a person from the tyranny of the environment.
11 This was pointed out to me by a wise old man I once met in Los Angeles. He had just emerged from a mental hospital, he was physically sick, his wife had left him, and his children were alienated from him. After a five-hour discussion, during which we disagreed on every topic that arose, l suddenly saw an underlying pattern to our debate. 'I see now, old man, why we disagree. We consider each topic at such depth that we get right down to our basic philosophical assumptions, and I am a free-willist whereas you are a determinist.' 'Of course, young man, you are a free-willist - your life is going well and you want to take the credit. And, of course, l am a determinist - my life is going badly and I don't want to take the blame.'
12 These two basic attitudes toward other people are nicely represented by two gestures I encountered while traveling in Nepal. The traditional gesture is to hold your hands as if in prayer, bow, and say 'Namaste', which means 'I honor the divinity in you'. The modern gesture - alas, in urban areas pervaded by the influence of Western industrialized nations - is to hold out one hand palm up and say 'rupee'. The shift from 'Namaste' to 'rupee' is symptomatic of the shift from intimate to contractual relationships, from relationships in a traditional society to those in an industrialized society.
13 I feel almost embarrassed to talk of the good person - it is so unfashionable. I once heard of a man who lived with a beautiful and talented actress and wondered why he was worthy of such a fine woman. He was pointed out to me in the street. He had a kind face but, no, he was not magnificently handsome. He was later introduced to me. His conversation was lively but, no, he was not brilliant. Even later he took me to his home. It was comfortable but, no, he did not appear to be fabulously wealthy. As I got to know him, I slowly realized that he was simply good. It is an interesting comment on me and my times that it took so long for me to consider that possibility.
|1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16|