(This is the first in a series of in-depth discussions about Collective Self-Actualization, and the theories and thoughts behind it.)
In the middle of the 20th Century, an American psychologist named Abraham Maslow took a risk when he decided to take a different direction than that of the majority of his colleagues. The generally accepted purpose of psychology was to figure out what was wrong with people – why they acted out, why they felt angry or depressed, what causes negative emotions or behaviors. Maslow decided to take a path less travelled, and instead focused his study on what was right with people.
He saw that some people could reach heights of personal fulfillment that many more people wouldn’t, either by personal choices or as victims of circumstance. He wanted to understand how some people could become the pinnacle of achievement, while others could slave away for hours and hours each day, and yet never see any improvement in their condition.
Maslow eventually developed what he called “A Theory of Human Motivation“. In this theory, Maslow described what he believed to be an Hierarchy of Needs.
This concept is visualized as a stratified pyramid with multiple levels, moving from the bottom levels (generally speaking, physiological needs) to the higher levels (what most would consider “wants”, as they aren’t actually required for immediate survival). The Hierarchy culminates in “Self-Actualization” – the pinnacle of personal fulfillment and achievement that is only possible when all other conditions of the Hierarchy have been met.
Though it was developed over 60 years ago, Maslow’s Theory is still taught in high school and college classrooms all around the world today. Until now, it was simply one way to view the development of a human being into everything they were capable of becoming (i.e., actualizing all the potential contained in one’s self; thus, “Self-Actualization”). In its earliest form, this theory was an analysis of only individual potential, and was concerned with the needs, wants, and abilities of just one subject.
Now, this concept of an Hierarchy of Needs has been extended into a sociological framework, which can result in individual and Collective Self-Actualization. So, ask yourself – do you want our species to not only survive and overcome the self-destructive path we are accelerating towards, but also to thrive to the point that we can literally reach the stars?
If so, read on…