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Thread: Self-actualisation vs. self-transcendence

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array Lark's Avatar
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    Jun 2009

    Default Self-actualisation vs. self-transcendence

    Maslow is known for the whole self-actualisation thing, the top of the hierarchy of needs, I'd say in part because managerial text books and marketing men seized upon those ideas.

    However, he was supposed to have substituted self-transcendence in actualisation's place, this is a stage at which people are characterised by generosity and giving, in fact, giving without counting the cost. This is not necessarily something to do with wealth, it could be being a listening ear to someone who needs it and non-monetary/immaterial.

    So what is the top of the hierarchy of needs? Which sounds the better pinnacle?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Array UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
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    Well yes lark, but it is love to allow others to fulfill your needs as well. That way you are not in the position of magnanimity, but of sharing.
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  3. #3
    Earth Exalted Array Thursday's Avatar
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    To an experienced ear, the ability to transcend the "what can I get out of it" and the cost effectiveness of your charity means that a deeper sense of wealth has been tapped. To strike gold spiritually means a new world and a new way that makes you both outcast and saint. It costs much, but reaps more than the alternative.
    I N V I C T U S

  4. #4


    I'm not a fan of self-transcendence. Victor Frankl tacked it onto the top of Maslow's hierarchy. As it's currently used, self-transcendence is considered to be "a predisposition to spirituality"; it's about having religious feelings, a sense of merging with the universe. A researcher named Cloninger even devised a psychological test for it. But medical testing has indicated that such feelings can be induced by stimulating the parietal lobe in the brain. So it seems kind of fake as a personal quality or a development goal; you're just basically spacing out.

    If you're interested, here is some reading on the subject:

    First this:

    Viktor Frankl later added Self-transcendence [12] to create his own version of Maslow's Hierarchy.
    then this

    According to Cloninger's model, self-transcendence can manifest as an intuitive understanding of elevated aspects of humanity, like compassion, ethics, art, and culture. Others who experience it may also describe an awareness of a divine presence. People scoring high in TCI Self-Transcendence report frequent experiences of boundlessness and inseparability.[14][51][52] They lose awareness of their separateness when absorbed in what they love to do or when appreciating the wonders and mysteries of life. Cloninger observes that such experiences of self-forgetfulness and transpersonal identification correspond to what Freud called "oceanic feelings,"[53] which is different from intellectual adherence to particular religious dogmas or rituals. The TCI Self-Transcendence scale is often used as a measure of spirituality.[41][51][52]
    The elements of self-transcendence in the TCI (Temperament and Character Inventory) are:

    Self-transcendence (ST)
    --Self-forgetful (ST1)
    --Transpersonal identification (ST2)
    --Spiritual acceptance (ST3)
    Then this:

    The parietal lobe integrates sensory information from different modalities, particularly determining spatial sense and navigation. [...] This enables regions of the parietal cortex to map objects perceived visually into body coordinate positions.
    Both the left and right parietal systems play a determining role in self transcendence, the personality trait measuring predisposition to spirituality.
    Then this:

    [...] In the experiments, Newberg and D'Aquili used a technology called SPECT scanning to map the brains of several Tibetan Buddhists as they immersed themselves in meditative states. Later they did the same with Franciscan nuns who were engaged in deep, contemplative prayer. The scans photographed levels of neural activity in each subject's brain at the moment that person had reached an intense spiritual peak. The Buddhists typically described this moment as a blending into a larger oneness, and a sense of losing the self. The Franciscans described it as a sensation of a deeper, truer self being drawn into unity with God.

    When they studied the scans, Newberg and D'Aquili's attention was drawn to a chunk of the brain's parietal lobe they called the orientation association area. The area is responsible for defining the limits of the physical self, and for generating the perceptions of space in which that self can be oriented. In simpler terms, it draws the line between the self and the rest of existence. This is a task of staggering complexity, which requires a constant stream of neural information flowing in from the senses. What the scans revealed, however, was that at peak moments of prayer and meditation, the flow of neural impulses to the parietal lobe was dramatically reduced. [...]
    Then this:

    The Spiritual Brain: Selective Cortical Lesions Modulate Human Self-Transcendence

    Self-transcendence is a stable personality trait measuring predisposition to spirituality
    Brain damage induces specific and fast modulations of self-transcendence
    Self-transcendence increases after damage to lt and rt inferior parietal cortex

    The predisposition of human beings toward spiritual feeling, thinking, and behaviors is measured by a supposedly stable personality trait called self-transcendence. [...] we found that selective damage to left and right inferior posterior parietal regions induced a specific increase of self-transcendence. Therefore, modifications of neural activity in temporoparietal areas may induce unusually fast modulations of a stable personality trait related to transcendental self-referential awareness. These results hint at the active, crucial role of left and right parietal systems in determining self-transcendence and cast new light on the neurobiological bases of altered spiritual and religious attitudes and behaviors in neurological and mental disorders.
    If you take something that’s a localized physiological phenomenon and call it a “personality trait,” then you could just as easily say that people who have a weak stomach and a strong gag reflex are blessed with “a predisposition to weight loss” and award them their own personality trait as well.

    OTOH, I have no complaints about Maslow's self-actualization as a development goal.

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