Friendship produces between us a partnership in all our interests. There is no such thing as good or bad fortune for the individual; we live in common. And no one can live happily who has regard to himself alone and transforms everything into a question of his own utility; you must live for your neighbour, if you would live for yourself. This fellowship, maintained with scrupulous care, which makes us mingle as men with our fellow-men and holds that the human race have certain rights in common, is also of great help in cherishing the more intimate fellowship which is based on friendship… For he that has much in common with a fellow-man will have all things in common with a friend.
Category Archives: article of note
Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, published in 1943 is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. I’ve encountered it in my work with numerous health and social care charities in the UK.
Abraham Maslow stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others. Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behaviour. Once that level is fulfilled the next level up is what motivates us, and so on.(1)
However, I recently found out from this Big Think article something which I think is highly significant. Maslow later modified the hierarchy and added 3 more tiers with self-transcendence added at the top.
“Transcendence refers to the very highest and most inclusive or holistic levels of human consciousness, behaving and relating, as ends rather than means, to oneself, to significant others, to human beings in general, to other species, to nature, and to the cosmos” (Farther Reaches of Human Nature, New York 1971, p. 269)
I’m not surprised that the modified version does not get referred but I am disappointed and frustrated that it isn’t because it makes perfect sense to me.
From the Big Think article:
This is what the final stage of Maslow’s pyramid is about: Having met our basic needs at the bottom of the pyramid, having worked on our emotional needs in its middle and worked at achieving our potential, Maslow felt we needed to transcend thoughts of ourselves as islands. We had to see ourselves as part of the broader universe to develop the common priorities that can allow humankind to survive as a species.
Maslow saw techniques many of us are familiar with today — mindfulness, flow — as the means by which individuals can achieve the broader perspective that comes with self-transcendence. Given the importance of coming together as a global community, his work suggests that these methods and others like them aren’t just tweaks available for optimizing our minds, but vitally important tools if we hope to continue as a living species.
It is important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is or will be fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and destruction. The hope I am interested in is about broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act. It is also not a sunny everything-is-getting-better narrative, though it may be a counter to the everything-is-getting-worse one. You could call it an account of complexities and uncertainties, with openings. “Critical thinking without hope is cynicism, but hope without critical thinking is naivety,” the Bulgarian writer Maria Popova recently remarked. And Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, early on described the movement’s mission as to “Provide hope and inspiration for collective action to build collective power to achieve collective transformation, rooted in grief and rage but pointed towards vision and dreams”. It is a statement that acknowledges that grief and hope can coexist.
I’ve only just realised that the essay ‘Hope is an embrace of the unknown’: Rebecca Solnit on living in dark times was published in the Guardian newspaper on my birthday this year. What a wonderful birthday present it was and it’s a very timely read.
I want better metaphors. I want better stories. I want more openness. I want better questions. All these things feel like they give us tools that are a little more commensurate with the amazing possibilities and the terrible realities that we face.
The essay is about hope as different from optimism, the importance of collective memory, embracing complexity and collective action. It’s an enriching read and a great reminder at the moment. Read Rebecca Solnit’s essay ‘Hope is an embrace of the unknown’
Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognise uncertainty, you recognise that you may be able to influence the outcomes – you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists adopt the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It is the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterwards either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.
Stop Saying ‘I feel Like’ from the New York Times
This is what is most disturbing about “I feel like”: The phrase cripples our range of expression and flattens the complex role that emotions do play in our reasoning. It turns emotion into a cudgel that smashes the distinction — and even in our relativistic age, there remains a distinction — between evidence out in the world and internal sentiments known only to each of us.
“This is speculative, but ‘I feel like’ fits with this general relativism run rampant,” Sally McConnell-Ginet, a linguist at Cornell, suggested. “There are different perspectives, but that doesn’t mean there are not some facts on the ground and things anchoring us.”
A good piece from the New York Times on the confusion of emotion with facts and how ‘I feel like’ closes down argument and conversation. It links to something I’ve blogged about before about opinions.
by Moira Weigel
This is thought-provoking article asks us to consider activity trackers, specifically the Fitbit and what they mean for how we relate to ourselves, other people and our environment. It covers many of the areas you would expect.
Individualism and Productivity – Activity trackers take our focus on the project of the self and individualism and manages to turn a healthy attention on fitness and health into one focused narrowly on industrial capitalist style productivity and potentially unhealthy self consciousness.
Reductionist – Like Facebook and online dating have done for interpersonal relationships, Fitbit reduces fitness to data points without any context whatsoever. The point isn’t improving your quality of life, its increasing your productivity and winning.
Competition – Of course where there’s productivity there is often competition, in this case with ourselves and with others. If you haven’t moved in a while it will even remind you of that fact and encourage you to do so. It also embraces what I think of as misguided attempt at gamification which is widely used, where you can compare yourself to your friends of others with online connectivity and with your past self. It gives you badges when you have achieved certain milestones. This adversarial way of relating to others and yourself has even been extended to meditation. The Headspace mindfulness app has run streak targets and badges for when you achieve 3, 10, 15. 30 etc days meditating in a row.
I think it is interesting that at the same time as we are slowly beginning to realise that it is by co-operation, collaboration and openness that we will overcome a variety of challenges we face on a number of levels from individual communities to the global, that a hyper-individualism, adversarial culture is being advanced. All framed within a positive health and fitness focused, self-improvement guise.
What this means for how we see ourselves is where this piece is most interesting. It brings in the concept of confession and whether it will affect men more than women.
Incidently, the site I found this article on is called thenewinquiry.com. I have yet to fully explore it but it seems ridiculously readable.
This article eloquently describes, via the philosophy of Lao Tzu, one of the reasons I like to spend as much time as possible in and around nature.
Complement with a Bjork song on a similar theme