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Tectonic Velocity

Posted on 2011.11.22 at 17:40
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Plato vs. Maslow

Plato taught that the attachments and defining illusions & behaviors that human beings conventionally rely on for security, respect, affection, social identity, and other needs must be questioned and abandoned in their original form, whereas Maslow's view apparently was that the meeting of such needs (by whatever mechanism) was sufficient.1 Interesting to stumble upon while I was trying to determine if there was anything which transcended Maslow's apex of self-actualization. While I'm a huge fan of the concept of self-actualization, when I went about attempting to better define it to determine when I reached it (and I'm still after a good used psyche textbook) I found that I disagreed with a couple of thoughts usually associated with self-actualized people, and wondered if that was a sign of "not quite there yet" or "way surpassed." As it turns out, I simply misunderstood their definition by assuming one of my own until I tracked it down. The other? My emotional ignorance, a term I found I had to coin today to make myself understood. There are simply too many emotional experiences I have not had. But in having previously expired all my known baselines for exactly the reasons Plato states above, I think Maslow would spare me my emotional inexperience.

Emotional Intelligence

However, if emotional intelligence is "the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions"2 then I have a tremendous emotional IQ! Simply put, ever since I had my first irrational emotional reaction to a scenario I had already anticipated, I've added the expectation of such into said scenarios - I almost always expect an irrational emotional reaction. And I've only had once more since. But because I do anticipate them, that makes me its master. In ascending order:

  1. Perceiving Emotions: The first step in understanding emotions is to accurately perceive them. Acknowledge that you're having an emotional reaction and that its going to affect your mood, and more importantly, your judgement.

  2. Reasoning With Emotions: The next step involves using emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity. Emotions help prioritize what we pay attention and react to; we respond emotionally to things that garner our attention.

  3. Understanding Emotions: We must start to dot the lines back to their triggers and our activities and responses. Understand why we reacted and/or felt the way we did and work to change it! This makes for more repeatable positivity!

  4. Managing Emotions: The ability to manage emotions effectively is a key part of emotional intelligence. Regulating emotions, responding appropriately to them and keeping them in check despite wanting to do otherwise are all important aspects of emotional management.

I have magnificent emotional management, which to me, surpasses the fact that there are some emotions I have yet to experience. When I do, I will be aware of them, catalog them, and manage them. Something I'd like to see more people attempt to do! Especially those who drive!

Platonic Intimacy

After reading Plato's Symposium, an introduction behind the motivations and evolution behind all manner of love, and expressly non-sexual love (hence Plato as the root of the word 'platonic'), I walked away with something more than the rote philosophical idea - I walked away with validation of my empiricism, the very same which has seemed so elusive, now made clear. As it turns out, I'm not crazy after all: Which is true not only of the body but also of the soul, whose habits, tempers, opinions, desires, pleasures, pains, fears, never remain the same in any one of us, but are always coming and going; and equally true of knowledge... I am a fluid being. I am not the same as I was last week, last month, last year, or last decade. But that's not to say we all are. Not only do we all grow at different rates, psychologist believe that only 1% of the population ever reach self-actualization. And since I view dialog, transparency, vulnerability and reciprocity as intimacy, would I be, in essence, cheating on those who view it solely sexually? "Platonic love sounds beautiful in theory, but in practice the idealism and blind universality involved in such love often leaves it as empty as it is abstract. Romantic love is even worse, relying on the cheap thrills of mystery and sexual excitement to fuel a consuming relation that is usually codependent in that romantics generally rely on their lover for their primary sense of self-worth and direction in life. [the division of which] pits camaraderie and intimacy against one another as opposite poles in the platonic versus romantic duality."3 Apparently not! Because it is attempting to align too dissimilar ideas and calling it the same thing. I stand before you a faithful man! "[In that duality] the question of intimacy often leads to the problem of one person wanting a different sort or level of intimacy than another...As we spend more time with associates, friends, family, and lovers, we come to know them better than all other people and find ourselves experiencing a stronger, more complex, and more enduring sense of connection. It’s not that we love other people less, and it’s not even necessarily true that we love these people more, but we love them in a different, special way that is unlike our love for anyone else in the world."4

Socratic Love

I only know that I know nothing. Which is why I'm fascinated with everything. I spend my days in wonder of all that I see around me, and muse not only on what is, but what could be. While I'm...you know, working.


  • Acceptance of self, of others, of nature
      Stoic style of calmly accepting even the worst.

  • Emphasis on higher level [meta]values
      Wholeness, perfection, completion, justice, aliveness, richness, simplicity, beauty, goodness, uniqueness, effortlessness, truth & self-sufficiency.

  • Perception of reality
      greater perceptual accuracy of reality. Superior ability to reason and perceive the truth.

  • Discrimination between means and ends, between good and evil
      Clearer and more focused upon ends than most people; though they view their experiences and activities more as ends in themselves than most people.

  • Resolution of dichotomies (conflicts).
      Resolved conflicts that plague most people, because of their highly developed, accepting philosophy of life.

Self-actualizing people are people who have learned to look at life from a broader perspective. They are attentive to the deadlines in life, but not carried away by them. They focus their lives on these abstract metavalues. Consequently, they are not so emotionally affected by the ups and downs of daily life. They feel a sense of happiness that comes from seeing progress toward satisfying these stable, inner values that do not depend so much upon external conditions.5

This sums up everything I've been posting about for the last several years, and yet I did not associate it to what it meant. It has taken me months to dig up this realization - and one I couldn't have done alone. I have attained self-actualization, and that's what's fucking everything else up. It would be far easier for me to tell my wife I was gay - at least that is something she would understand.

Because I now know what's going on:

Once people begin to live on a higher level (become more self-actualizing), their relationships tend to change. They view their old relationships in a different light. They increase their understanding and caring for others, yet feel less worried about what others think of them or their choices.

As the new metavalues become more important, people spend less time with persons or groups who don't share their emphasis on these metavalues. They often seek new relationships or groups that do share them. They actively try to bring every relationship more in line with their metavalues.

For those Stargate fans out there who have no idea what I'm talking about - I've ascended.

Sorry sweetheart.

1 - A handbook of wisdom: psychological perspectives By Robert J. Sternberg, Jennifer Jordan, pg. 306
2 - http://psychology.about.com/od/personalitydevelopment/a/emotionalintell.htm
3 - http://treesong.org/Beyond-Platonic-and-Romantic-Love, ¶ 5
4 - Ibid ¶ 13, 17
5 - http://www.csulb.edu/~tstevens/h12maslo.htm
6 - Ibid


pcofwildthings at 2011-11-23 00:41 (UTC) (Link)
"I have attained self-actualization, and that's what fucking everything up."

I don't think you meant to be humorous with that statement, but it tickles my funny bone. I want the bumper sticker.

It's been a long time since I had to study Maslow and I've pretty much forgotten most of it. But I seem to recall it's more of dance of self-actualization than a ladder upon which you rest on the top rung once you've climbed to it. I could be wrong, but that seems to be my recollection. Anyway, kudos for recognizing self mastery. That's pretty huge.

Regarding the emotional stuff, a personal story. The hubs and I had to talk to our daughter's therapist about certain situations and family dynamics, and I unexpectedly fell completely apart in one session. The therapist asked, "Does he (the husband) ever see this?" meaning my emotional meltdown, and I had to answer honestly no. Long story short, he should have. People get used to that stoic, reserved exterior (talking about myself now), and to put a finer point on things, it's okay to come unglued. It means you're human and things affect you, and it is important and effective when words and logic fail. I still have trouble with it, but that has always stuck with me. I can pretty much count on one hand the number of times I've lost it since then, and I hated that it happened each time, but the end result was always been positive in the long run.

ehowton at 2011-11-23 00:54 (UTC) (Link)
Anyway, kudos for recognizing self mastery. That's pretty huge.

Thanks. Only...I didn't. Not really. While these are traits I acknowledge in myself, I assigned no value to them; it was michelle1963 who stated it as such, and I simply attempted to prove her wrong.

"I have attained self-actualization, and that's what fucking everything up."

It did, however, all become CRYSTAL CLEAR as to why I was experiencing certain issues which seemed far beyond the experience of pretty much everyone else. Mind you, I'm fairly certain many of my close friends are already there, if not close.

I still have trouble with it...

As an INTJ I would expect nothing less.

Anyway, kudos for recognizing self mastery. That's pretty huge.

Thanks! Were such a thing important to self-actualized people, I'd be thrilled! My mother used the term, "Red-Letter Day" and I told her the same thing :P Isn't life funny?
pcofwildthings at 2011-11-23 03:31 (UTC) (Link)
I tend to score an ISTJ, though the S is only 1% expressed, as is the T. I find a lot of the questions in those personality tests difficult to answer and wish there were a dot for "in between." I'm not as hard-assed, perfectionist, and conventional (definitely don't see myself as conventional) as an ISTJ, but I definitely relate to the "inspector" categorization. And that is why my two typos in my comment are bugging the shit out of me right now.
michelle1963 at 2011-11-23 01:09 (UTC) (Link)
"I have attained self-actualization, and that's what fucking everything up."

I don't think you meant to be humorous with that statement, but it tickles my funny bone. I want the bumper sticker.

ZOMG! Your sense of humor cracks me up. Bumper sticker! Yeah, I can see that.
michelle1963 at 2011-11-23 05:08 (UTC) (Link)
It would seem that managing emotions is a prerequisite for self-actualization. If one is constantly at their mercy, can't see beyond what s/he feels, it's impossible to consider other viewpoints, reconcile conflict, perceive the facts of a situation.

That said, part of management is determining what the emotion is trying to tell you. Emotions are a tool, not an end point, not merely a form of self-expression, but a reaction to something ~ whether it's a strong reaction to an immediate event or a nagging feeling. I find them most useful when they don't correlate with my logic. In that case, it either means that I have some underlying problem that needs to be addressed or perhaps, just perhaps, my emotional mind has read the data and perceived something my logic has not. When a decision is at hand under these circumstances, I often go with my emotions. Most of the time they have been proven right.

But again, I use them; they are a means to further understanding.
ehowton at 2011-11-23 09:06 (UTC) (Link)
And I always go with my logic. I must. It is a perquisite as head-of-household. If I fall, so does that which I support.
michelle1963 at 2011-11-23 14:57 (UTC) (Link)
The times of which I speak, where I have learned to listen to my what my emotion is telling me occurs in very specific circumstances ~ there really isn't enough data for my logic to make a sound choice (although the minimal data available still point me in one direction, because logic doesn't rest even in a dearth of information), but I must make a decision right then and there, and emotion and logic are at odds.

This has happened only a handful of times in my life.

When I am faced with this situation, I try to wait until I do have more data with which to make an informed logical choice. The emotional information comes into play when I am forced to make a choice without much data.

I learned some hard lessons by not listening to my emotions in these very specific types of circumstances (not enough data, but had to make a decision) early in my life.

When I have enough data, then I don't have the emotional-logical conflict of which I spoke.

codekitten at 2011-11-26 00:56 (UTC) (Link)
Emotions are a tool, not an end point

this is a great point. most of my girlfriends are lead around by their emotions. they think if they feel a certain way then that must be the direction they should go in. i love those girls but i don't know how they get around in life sometimes!

I find them most useful when they don't correlate with my logic

i completely agree. most of the time my feelings line up with my logic. but in the times they don't, my gut has proven me right time and again.
codekitten at 2011-11-25 03:00 (UTC) (Link)
jesus christ, can you stop making posts that i have to think about for days on end before i respond.

ehowton at 2011-11-25 05:03 (UTC) (Link)
I'll get right on that.
michelle1963 at 2011-11-25 22:25 (UTC) (Link)
That's like asking him to give himself a lobotomy. :D
codekitten at 2011-12-09 14:48 (UTC) (Link)
As it turns out, I simply misunderstood their definition by assuming one of my own until I tracked it down.

did you say what this was? i'm not sure if i missed it...
ehowton at 2011-12-10 00:28 (UTC) (Link)
I did not. I remember thinking at the time if I should outline what it was or not, and didn't for the sake of flowing more easily without the sidetrack - yet was aware a situation like this might arise.

In short, I don't remember. I *think* it was the fact that I didn't require 'beauty' or 'order' in my life in order to feel happy or successful, then thought perhaps I do, i just see it in different things or in different ways than everyone else. I must've found something along the lines which either defined it in a different way - one that I understood, or backed up my own supposition.

One of the other epiphanies I had concerned Mr. Maslow himself, and how he defined self-actualization. He based it on himself! So he said, "Wow, I'm all these wonderful things, this must be it!" Which is great. But some things which may have been very important to him may not be important to me. So I could have different traits of self-actualization that his defined ones, and still be self-actualized.

Of course I also know how that sounds. I read a post on livejournal earlier which said something to the effect of, "Dude, I was so stoned last entry and I haven't posted because I hate people and I hate myself. Oh! I found out about this guy named Maslow, and he's got this like, pyramid or something. Anyway, yeah so I think I've reached self-actualization!"

I have this running theory that if you asked 100 people if they thought they were self-actualized, all of them would think they were. Its something I would never have said of myself - I had to be told. Yes, despite my enormous ego!
codekitten at 2011-12-09 17:43 (UTC) (Link)
It’s not that we love other people less, and it’s not even necessarily true that we love these people more, but we love them in a different, special way that is unlike our love for anyone else in the world

My husband and I adamantly support each other to have our own independent relationships (he goes to Atlantic City with the boys, I go on annual or semi-annual adventures with my girlfriends, etc)...enough wiggle room so that we can develop our own space with others...while at the same time still retaining our relationship together. I think both people have to be on the same page with this idea for it to work. You have to be very confident with yourself as well as with each other.

As the new metavalues become more important, people spend less time with persons or groups who don't share their emphasis on these metavalues. They often seek new relationships or groups that do share them. They actively try to bring every relationship more in line with their metavalues.

Same thing. You both have to be on loosely the same page in order for this delicate dance to work. People stretch and grow at different rates. You are moving on a new path...maybe when you put your hand out she'll decide to grab on. Or not.
ehowton at 2011-12-10 02:13 (UTC) (Link)
Tomorrow I'm putting up a post about my assumptions that we all eventually learn pretty much the same things in life, about life.

But now...I'm not so sure.

I think some people learn vastly different things from life.
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