In his article, Neurosis as a Failure of Growth, Abraham Maslow asks very pertinent questions regarding how we should live. Firstly, he asks very rudimentary yet pungent questions such as: “ what is normal, what is healthy” (Maslow, 1971)? Later, these questions, which Maslow deems “arbitrary,” culminates in the asking of other questions such as: how should one live and what makes a person thrive? To answer these questions Maslow observes people who he considers “self-actualizing” or people who are constantly growing and thriving and never stop.
This is similar to Nietzsche’s übermensch, albeit Nietzsche has a somewhat different interpretation of how to get there and, indeed, its purpose. While Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is very broad in scope, it does, at least, give one a general roadmap to living a more fulfilling life or a concept, which one should contemplate, deeply, in his/her heart of hearts. Maslow must have read Kierkegaard and Eric Fromm who, most assuredly, impacted his way of thinking....
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...ith our culture and that is, on one level, far less horrific, but is nevertheless, frightening for varying reasons, is the desire to acquire ever more goods and the lifestyle to go with them; this pervades our culture. This, too, is leading to the destruction of the environment and our increasing detachment from nature, our bodies, and from each other, because we do not stop and smell the roses. According to Nietzsche’s own philosophy, ushering in an übermensch would require less conformity and not more of it, which does not work, because the competitive aim to usher in an overman would, paradoxically, brings about more conformity. The same does not ring true for self-actualizing people who, each, have their own paths, goals, and ways of being in the world. If we live in one of the most prosperous times in history, why aren’t more people ‘self-actualizing?’
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