Author: Jeffrey Stevenson Murer
Institution: University of St Andrews (United Kingdom)
Year of publication: 2010
Source: Show
Pages: 126-148
DOI Address:
PDF: ppsy/39/ppsy2010007.pdf

Self-actualization is often touted but rarely achieved. The Liberal frame that champions autonomy requires strict conformity: conformity to laws assured by state force, conformity to market transaction assured by privileging private property, conformity to limited collective action assured by the social atomization which comes from the construction of negative rights. This paper explores the many impediments to autonomous self-actualization within the rubric of liberalism, including the superegoistic internalizations of mores and taboos elucidated by Western-oriented psychoanalysis. It further explores the possibility that self-actualization may be more readily achieved through what Gramsci referred to as “heteronomy:” selfconsciously engaged collective social action. By examining the mechanisms of self-limitation through the dynamics of superego development, the paper posits that self-actualization may best be realized through collective articulation of ethics and morality which are constantly situational. In this, the paper takes up the Deleuzian and Guattarian propositions of simultaneous, multiplicitious identities, deterritorialized and evaluated only within the multitude of a given moment in time and space. The dynamic and contextual quality of this discursive engagement is not one of relativity, but characterized by the intersubjectivity of the participants. ! is specifi city – specifi city of interlocutors, specifi city of locality, and specifi city of time – provides for unique self-actualization, which neither reifi es nor objectifi es selves, but suggests that individuals are not essences, but subjective beings which are as dynamic as the social situations they create. Thus self-actualization cannot be achieved alone, but only within a collective discursive context. This context must be characterized as a social forum of praxis, for instrumentality or technical motivations disrupt the contributions not only of the actor guided by techne, but the contributions of the whole for disingenuousness makes intersubjectivity impossible. Collectively articulated ethics and morals cannot be adjudicated by a discursive forum which is tainted by motives of self-gain. Instrumentality of one impedes the ability of all others to self-actualize. Thus, self-actualization only comes within the context of heteronymous action. ! is paper will thus interrogate the consequences of inverting the age-old problem of public action – autonomous self-actualization is threatened by free-loading – and suggests that collective self-actualization is impeded by self-oriented, atomistic, instrumentality.


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