Foundations of Meaning in Human Life

Posted: December 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

This essay has reviewed, clarified, and extended the list of universal human needs that Maslow first proposed. The next step would be to find first valid, then reliable ways of testing the hypothesis that each of these needs is indeed universal and invariant in different cultures and historical eras.

If such tests supported, even partially, the universality of these needs, the next step would be to investigate the extent to which societies allow their fulfillment If my definitions of solidarity, esteem, creativity, and emotional experience are valid, it would seem that most of these needs are not fulfilled for most people, even the most affluent.

It appears, for example, that connectedness and a sense of belonging are problematic in Western societies. That is, by my definitions, both collective and interpersonal solidarity are rare. The requirement of balance in identifying with, and awareness of self and other, us and them, suggests that most bonds are alienated in either the isolated or engulfed form. At the level both of families and large groups, what I have called bimodal alienation (engulfment within the group, isolation from other groups) seems to be the norm, rather than the exception. Since the degree and type of relationships may be crucial for not only for individuals but also for groups, these issues call out for considerably more discussion and research.

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