Tag Archives: humanity

Maslow on humanity and the environment

Self-actualizing people resist enculturation and are independent of their environments.

Taking Maslow’s theory further requires acknowledging the inherent limits of independence. Generally, we are born dependent on caretakers. As we grow older, we become more dependent on society for things like money (to fulfill children’s security needs), respect, and prestige. This comes with independence from our caretakers but dependence on a broader network.

Perhaps curiously, love is prior to self-esteem in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This suggests that while our need for love is more fundamental, it is also less fulfilling than the need or want for self-esteem.

Love is the bedrock of interdependence. Interdependence follows from independence–independence stems from dependence. Dependence is the root of our needs!

Being independent of the environment does involve transcending it. However–once we have done so–how do we treat the environment? Do we honor it as the substrate for all animals’, including our, existence? Or do we soil the soil we arose from?

The interdependent person accepts their place in our broader ecology. He and she trade strength with the environment equitably.

Self-actualizing collectives form from such individuals. Only these collectives can save Earth…so that they themselves can become worthy of salvation.



In yesterday’s post, I laid out positive psychology’s six virtues. Each virtue (wisdom; courage; humanity; justice; temperance; and transcendence) consists of three to five character strengths.

Each of these character strengths can technically be considered a “sub-virtue”. Let’s assume that maximizing at least half of each virtue’s sub-components–or achieving medium competence in each sub-virtue–leads to attainment of the higher virtue(s).

Wisdom’s character strengths are: creativity; curiosity; open-mindedness; love of learning; and perspective.

Courage’s sub-virtues are bravery; persistence; integrity; and vitality.

Humanity’s are love, kindness, and social intelligence.

Justice’s are citizenry, fairness, and leadership.

Temperance’s sub-virtues are forgiveness/mercy; humility/modesty; prudence; and self-regulation.

Finally, transcendence’s character strengths are: appreciation; gratitude; hope; humor and playfulness; and spirituality.

Building on each of these 24 aspects of one’s character leads to its ultimate strengthening! How does one build on them–all the way from creativity to spirituality? And: Is it better to focus on a few sub-virtues…or to balance them all equally?