Abraham Maslow’s Notion of Self-Actualising Human Nature and the Synergistic Society

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Daniel Christian Wahl:

"Robert Frager (1987) reports how in Maslow’s work, “human functioning is different for people who operate in a state of positive health rather than a state of deficiency.” Maslow’s “Being-psychology” suggests self-actualising people are motivated by “Being Values,” and describes these as “values that are naturally developed by healthy human beings and are not imposed by religion or culture.” The values appreciated by self-actualizers include: “truth, creativity, beauty, goodness, wholeness, aliveness, uniqueness, justice, simplicity, and self- sufficiency” (in Maslow, 1987, p.xxxv). The list below summarizes some of Maslow’s basic conclusions about self-actualising human nature.

* Abraham Maslow’s Notion of Self-actualising Human Nature and the Synergistic Society

(Reproduced and adapted from Maslow, 1987, p.xxxv)

+ Human beings have an innate tendency to move toward higher levels of health, creativity, and self-fulfillment.

+ Neurosis may be regarded as a blockage of the tendency towards self-actualisation.

+ The evolution of a synergistic society is a natural and essential process. This is a society in which all individuals may reach a high level of self-development, without restricting each others’ freedom.

+ Business efficiency and personal growth are not incompatible. In fact the process of self-actualisation leads each individual to highest levels of efficiency."

According to Maslow, for effective self-actualisation to be able to take place, basic human needs have to be met. Once they are met, higher needs emerge. Maslow believed that “higher needs and lower needs have different properties, but they are the same in that both higher needs as well as lower needs must be included in the repertory of basic and given human nature.” He emphasized: “They are not different or opposed to human nature; they are part if human nature” (Maslow, 1987, p.56).

Our perceived needs and the value systems we spontaneously employ can change significantly dependent on our immediate situation. More conscious decision-making and responsible design results from first becoming clear about our fundamental intentions before we act in response to that situation. We can choose to adjust our worldview and corresponding value system, thereby transforming the situation and the perceived needs.

Maslow believed that “man has a higher nature and that this is part of his essence — or more simply, that human beings can be wonderful out of their own human and biological nature” (in Maslow, 1987, p.246). Maslow suggested that education could play an important role in supporting people’s effective self-actualisation of their higher human nature. “For Maslow, learning was in some way relevant to all human needs. Learning involves not merely the acquisition of data and facts, but the holistic reintegration of the individual, continually producing changes in self-image, feeling, behaviour, and relationship to the environment. He viewed education as occurring during the entire span of life” (Ruth Cox in Maslow, 1987, p.252).

Education can help people to question and transcend the dominant value system of their society. It can help them to self-actualise and meet their basic and higher needs in new ways, contributing to the emergence of what Maslow called a synergistic and healthy society (Maslow, 1987). The self-actualisation of our higher human nature is an important part of the transition towards a sustainable civilization and a necessary step towards a more conscious and health promoting approach to design."