The greatest challenge is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Abraham Maslow

  I read a book by Colin Wilson who had some interesting things to say about Maslow whom he'd written a biography of.  Wison was writing about peak experiences he calls "Super Consciousness The Quest for the Peak Experience "  He seems to see his ideas as an extension of Maslow who was an American psychologist, who developed the theory of "hierarchy of human needs,” and is considered one of the founders of humanistic psychology.

In his later work, Maslow explored his theory that transcendent experiences in all humans occur universally, and could be characterized as being of a theistic, supernatural, or non-theistic content.

At the core of Maslow’s theory was the inspiration that these experiences are as unique as the person experiencing it. Regardless of content, or how the experience may be interpreted or understood, Maslow pointed out that there were definite characteristics which were constant to what he termed “peak-experiences,” a term which encompassed the spectrum of mystical states of consciousness.

Maslow uses the term “peak-experience” to secularize the experience, feeling it was necessary to define the experience as one that is natural and available outside of any organized religious context.

He realized that a structure of metaphors with which to interpret and understand the experience was dependent upon the individuals history and education.

Furthermore, Maslow believed that peak-experiences could also be triggered in non-religious settings and activities; consequently, the framework by which an individual may interpret his or her personal experience could encompass events within their everyday life so the definition could also be outside of the realm of “religious tranformation.”

Maslow stated in his book, Religious Aspects and Peak-Experiences, “Religion becomes...a state of mind achievable in almost any activity of life, if this activity is raised to a suitable level of perfection.” (p.170)

Maslow wished to discover a structure that could be utilized that was both personal and scientific that would explore peak-experiences. Through a common language of new terminology these peak-experiences could be considered and the variation of the experiences could be measured and examined.

Later Psychologist’s could use Maslow’s terms to relate their subjective experience and compare it to the subjective experiences of others. In this manner, Maslow felt that mystical experiences would become incorporated into everyday language, and become part of modern culture.

Maslow listed the characteristics – initially defined within religious experience – to include all varieties of peak-experiences, whatever the context. He also described how the experiences tended to become unifying, noumenal, and transcendent; this resulted in a sense of openness for the individual, as well as a sense of integration.

He theorized that peak-experiences could be therapeutic, as they tend to increase the individuals free will, self-determination, creativity, and empathy. Maslow felt that studying and cultivating peak-experiences could be taught to others in our culture; providing a methodology to achieve personal growth, integration, and fulfillment.

His Pyramid of need is easier to picture and understand.

The Pyramid of Needs is the Abraham Maslow contribution to the literature of Motivation studied in business school; where students are being taught the ways to make work engaging and satisfying for thier company's employees.