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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
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
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. 6
For those Stargate fans out there who have no idea what I'm talking about - I've ascended.
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