26 February 2013

Self-Actualization

Lion of the Blogosphere | The importance of self-actualizing careers, and the sad plight of women

1943 was a very important year. And no, the reason for its importance had nothing to do with the Allied invasion of Italy.

1943 was the year when Abraham Maslow published his famous paper A Theory of Human Motivation in which he wrote about self-actualization.
The need for self-actualization — Even if all these needs are satisfied, we may still often (if not always) expect that a new discontent and restlessness will soon develop, unless the individual is doing what he is fitted for. A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization. [...]

The specific form that these needs will take will of course vary greatly from person to person. In one individual it may take the form of the desire to be an ideal mother, in another it may be expressed athletically, and in still another it may be expressed in painting pictures or in inventions.
The idea behind [self-actualization] has become the very essence of the beliefs of the modern-day elites. But they’ve ignored or forgotten the part about self-actualization maybe taking “the form of the desire to be an ideal mother.” If anyone reads that today, it’s just assumed to be an example of archaic and obsolete attitudes towards women that even a genius like Maslow was unable to rise above. Today, the elites understand that the whole purpose of life is to achieve self-actualization through one’s career.
LotB goes on to describe Bobos seeking self-actualization only though their careers and not through family.

I think there's a parallel but separate phenomenon going on. Not only do people increasingly look only to their work to gain self-actualization, they implicitly assume that anything which might give them self-actualization therefor must be their career.

Many believe not only that your career must be self-actualizing. There's also a belief in the converse: if a thing is self-actualizing that thing must be your career.

Hence all of the out of work puppetry MAs, and artists, and film-makers, and failing micro-brewers, and coffee shops, and restauranteurs, and the hordes of doctorates chasing dozens of faculty jobs.

You're fascinated by pre-Industrial Revolution textiles? Great! That doesn't mean you can't appraise real estate for a living and seek self-actualization in textiles during the other 128 hours every week.

There's a reason hobbies exist as a thing, after all.


PS Complete digression:
There was a reason why it was called “work” and not “fun.” (Today, the better classes of people don’t call it work, they call it a “career,” and you don’t say “I’m going to work,” you say “I’m going to the office.”)
For whatever reason, I can't stand it when people use "work" as a spatial noun. "I'm going to work" is perfectly fine. "I left that at my work" or "I'm meeting him at his work" makes me grind my molars hard enough to chew through boot leather. There's a reason we have the word "workplace."

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