Making and the Transpersonal Future
This dissertation explores the underlying psychological forces behind the reductionist terms of economic demand, consumption, and production. It argues that many ecological and social crises are the result of economic activity motivated by the needs of an egoic consciousness conjoined with the ignoring of all reality beyond the immediate ego associated with Freud’s Pleasure-principle.
Production is then re-examined to discover the pervasive collective delusions about it that are the result of Humanity’s immature consciousness. The dissertation then explores what making actually is in the context of psychological processes.
Humanity’s wide spread collective psychological immaturity is placed in the context of Maslow’s transpersonal and humanistic theory’s of developmental psychology. Re-contextualizing Maslow in the terms of Marx’s Historical materialism offers the idea that our collective economic situation has a direct causal relationship to our collective level of psychological development.
With this idea at its foundation, this dissertation goes on to explore new psychological causal relationships in material products, the home, and the city. This exploration concludes with the classification of transpersonal products, spaces, and communities.
Based on the process of individual psychological development, a prediction is made that Humanity will collectively mature into a transpersonal consciousness. The economic consequences of this movement into transpersonal consciousness is also briefly explored.
Finally, and in conclusion, evidence of an emerging awareness of the ecological consequences of production and consumption among producers and consumers, as well as transpersonal economic activity is offered to suggest that psychological maturity is already underway. And that maker culture, especially virtual and technological maker communities, offers evidence that suggests this collective movement into transpersonal consciousness is already present.
Making and the Transpersonal Future
What is making? In the consciousness of the average “passive” consumer this question seems at first sight trivial because “lacking the skills for making, communication, or survival” (Charny, 2011, pp. 51) humanity has become totally dependent on industry, and making has become an almost alien activity. However it is precisely in the context of consumption-based civilization and the “crises of de-skilling” (Charny, 2011, pp. 49) that the question becomes most relevant. It is in this context that de-skilling can be understood as a Capitalist agenda for “the geo-political exploitation of technologies for profit over social or environmental sustainability.” (Charny, 2011, pp. 51)
In fact all real economics resolve to a simple equation of what an individual can and cannot make for themselves. If you cannot make, you must buy. In Freudian psychology buying and making can be argued to represent two distinct stages of psychological maturity; where buying is an incarnation of the pleasure principle and the making an incarnation of the reality principle. “In early life, Freud said, the state of “psychical rest” or contentment is first disturbed by the demands of internal needs for food, comfort, warmth and so on. Whatever was needed was originally provided (by the mother) magically, “in a hallucinatory manner” giving the child a feeling of omnipotence or magical control” (Epstein, 1996, pp. 29-38)
Buying, as the near effortless fulfilment of needs, represents this “pleasure principle”, where products are “magically” provided by credit cards and delivered directly. The “hallucinatory manner” in which the average consumer consumes refers to the ignoring of all reality beyond the immediate ego and its immediate gratification: and describes how their consumption is removed from all real contexts of the product’s production and how the reality of the long-term consequences, of ecological sustainability and social justice, are ignored.
Making, on the other hand, represents the “abandonment of this attempt at satisfaction through hallucination. Instead of it, the psychical apparatus had to decide to form a conception of the real circumstances in the external world and to endeavour to make a real alteration in them” (Epstein, 1996, pp. 29-38)
“Unwillingness to delay gratification, defensiveness, and unconsciousness are marks of psychological immaturity. They point to the fact that global crises reflect not only the gross pathology of a Hitler or a Stalin but even more so the myriad forms of “normal” psychological immaturity, inauthenticity, and failed actualization. In daily life, such individual immaturities are usually regarded as unexceptional. According to Abraham Maslow: “What we call ‘normal’ in psychology is really a psychopathology of the average, so undramatic and widely spread that we don’t even recognize it ordinarily,” (Walsh, 1996, pp. 396-405)
My thesis is that Humanity is still developing psychologically. That Human consciousness itself is still collectively struggling to emerge from the original infantile hallucinations “of omnipotence or magical control” (Epstein, 1996, pp. 29-38. All human crises arise from human activity motivated without reference to the consequences of that activity: without reference to reality.
“Our usual state of mind, according to Eastern psychologies, is neither clear, optimal, nor wholly rational. Our addictions, aversion, and faulty beliefs filter and distort our perception, motivation, and sense of identity in such powerful yet unrecognized ways as to constitute a form of delusion or psychosis, a form rarely appreciated because it is culturally shared.” (Walsh, 1996, pp. 396-405)
It is only by understanding this fact, that we can understand the trends and revolutions in the man-made world as the effects of the progressive stages of psychological development of human consciousness towards total contact with reality, and the conjoined changes in “the demands of internal needs” (Epstein, 1996, pp. 29-38) of that consciousness as it does so.
“What is making?” Is much more than just an economic or political question, it is a philosophical and psychological question. It is an anthropological enquiry, a personal, and ultimately, a spiritual and existential enquiry. To answer it we need to understand “the state of the world and the psychological forces within us that create it.” (Walsh, 1996, pp. 396-405)
“Beliefs tend to modify what we look for, what we recognize, how we interpret, and how we respond to these interpretations. What is absolutely crucial is that the largely unconscious processes tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies. For this reason it is crucial to identify the beliefs shaping our contemporary crises” (Walsh, 1996, pp. 396-405)
To understand making we must first disambiguate the word from creating. Humanity cannot create. Our making is the re-ordering of pre-existing matter. Even Humanity’s most advanced technological forms of production are still in reality only new methods of refining and combining matter: we still just “smoosh material around” (Charny, 2011, pp. 57). Humanity is still bound by the laws of thermodynamics, and cannot bring anything new into existence.
This is an important point because in the consciousness of a person who attempts to create, their hidden assumption and unconscious belief is that they are manifesting a ‘thing’ from the absolute abstract into reality, but in actuality, they are simply re-ordering matter to make a symbol of an abstract idea.
In this context we can see that Humanity still indulges in a collective hallucination “of omnipotence or magical control”: that industrial mass production is our ability to produce a “thing” from the abstract; magically manifesting multiples of a single ‘thing’ without prior cause or consequence, and that when these “things” are no longer needed, they are simply dematerialized out of existence. However, “thing” is an impossible construction. Our very idea of an apart whole: a self-existing entity, is completely false. There are not, and never have been, and never will be apart “things”.
When we displace and re-order pre-existing matter we are interacting and tampering with interdependent systems of ecological existence. Ignoring this reality humanity’s attempts to create in abstraction leads to imbalance within these interdependent systems, which is evident in the massive ecological damage being done to the planet:
“Nuclear weapons, population explosion, resource and food supply depletion, and environmental deterioration pose increasing threats to human survival. Moreover, all these major global threats are human-caused and therefore can be traced in large part to psychological origins” (Walsh, 1996, pp. 396-405)
This material synthesis: our ‘making’, is the creation of a new whole only in an epistemological sense. The idea of an isolated whole or ‘thing’ is a product of how we know. Regardless of whether knowledge is innate prior to experience or abstracted indirectly from experience, knowledge itself is abstract and constructed of dislocated ‘wholes’, which we then project onto experience so that we may construct experience into a contexture of wholes so as to inhabit a reality we understand. Our hidden assumption in making, and our hallucination “of omnipotence”: that we are manifesting a ‘thing’ from the abstract, is due to our knowing the ‘thing’ in abstract.
The hidden assumption and our consequent hallucination about our abilities to multiply, and implicitly, our abilities to delete a “thing” is built into our economic models. In this context the issue of sustainability gains another colour. It is our unreasonable “demand” for an abstracted “thing” that is fundamentally unrealistic: and so sustainability can never be addressed through changes in production and post-production strategies. Rather our “demands” must adjust to reality, and the consciousness that produces those “demands” for abstract things must change, mature, learn, evolve, and become sober.
What making actually is
Matter is everywhere, and exists prior to the epistemological boundaries that delineate one whole as apart from another: boundaries that exist exclusively as our own abstract mental projection. Matter remains matter, when we re-order it the only thing that changes is that it now means something to us.
“To speak of order and to speak of meaning is to speak of the same thing; and if we look at all the intellectual undertakings of mankind, as far as they have been recorded all over the world, the common denominator is always to introduce some kind of order.” (Levi-Strauss, 1979, pp. 12)
In this context, ordering matter is literally making meaning. Making is a semiotic re-ordering of matter: the externalization of an anthropogenic order upon matter so that we may live in a world of meaningful symbols we can understand, navigate, and control.
“Room and house are psychological diagrams.” (Bachelard, 1969, pp. 38) The rooms in a home express the same anthropogenic order as urban spaces in the city. In fact there is no better example than this one to explore the unbroken continuum of the anthropogenic order throughout all scales of the made.
For every bedroom, kitchen, living room, bathroom, and office, etc. of the private home urban space respectively has hotels and residential areas, restaurants and markets, parks and squares, hospitals and spas, and businesses and institutions, etc. It is in this almost fractal like self-similarity between the microcosmic and macrocosmic scale of the man-made that we can approach to the recognition of the presence of the anthropogenic order as an abstract principle within both the individual and the collective human consciousness.
This omnipresent anthropogenic order, “which does not derive from personal experience, and is not a personal acquisition but is inborn” (Jung, 1991, pp. 6) reflects the latent contents of the “collective unconscious”.
“In contrast to the personal psyche, it has contents and modes of behaviour that are more or less the same everywhere and in all individuals. It is in other words, identical in all men and thus constitutes a common psychic substrate of a suprapersonal nature which is present in every one of us.” (Jung, 1991, pp. 6)
In this light, along with Levi-Strauss’s thesis that order and meaning are one in the same, we can understand material products to be the articulation of the collective unconscious’s prerogatives or, as Freud would phrase, “the demands of internal needs”.
The presence of the anthropogenic order: the contents of the collective unconscious, is clearly evidenced throughout all scales of the “undertakings of mankind” (Levi-Strauss, 1979, pp. 12) because the man-made is a product, and so a reflection, of the prerogatives of the collective unconscious. “Production, labour, value, everything through which an objective world emerges and through which man recognises himself objectively” (Baudrillard, 1975 pp. 19) is the externalization of a universally human consciousness.
“given the vast multiplicity of human experience and of the avenues to its study and understanding, the appropriate stance toward this work – clinical, theoretical, and research – must include a significant component of awe, curiosity and openness to the mystery of the human psyche. We need to continue to acknowledge that all our theories and spiritual traditions are only attempts to articulate complex phenomena that can never be fully captured in concrete form.” (Scotton et al, 1996, pp. 409-415)
Many great thinkers have described the nature and contents of the anthropogenic order in many different ways. There is no single definitive answer, these anthropological theories, at best, point out the presence of a universal anthropological truth, without ever being able to fully and objectively define it.
For the purposes of my dissertation I believe Jung’s theory of Individuation and Archetypes, as the contents of the collective unconscious, best establishes the parallels and causal relationships between individual and collective psychological development. However Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is easier to context economically, as economic demand ultimately describes needs, which is better for my subject matter.
In the context of economics the mechanism for the externalization of human consciousness is expressed in the reductionist terms of supply and demand; for every inner prerogative, or “demand”, something equivalent is produced. So in terms of Capitalism, man-made objects and spaces, as projections and materializations of the prerogatives of the human consciousness that produces them, are mirrors by which we can come to know it.
In this way, collectively, and on a macrocosmic scale, material culture can be described as a semiotic map of the anthropogenic order within the collective unconscious defined by the reference points of its own material expression. This map has no self-conscious architect; rather it is, literally, the materialized consciousness of all humanity: every individual, by simply expressing the prerogatives of their individual consciousness, contribute another reference point into the collective map that charts the breadth and scope of the collective human unconscious.
Prerogatives of a Developing Human Consciousness:
So we can only truly understand the man-made: what we make, as the external product of the prerogatives, or demand, or “needs”, of a human consciousness: why we make. Without this framework: the human reality of a product; why it was made, who will use it, etc. we can only make abstract comments about a product’s aesthetic, and without this full framework, the product’s intrinsic human meaning: its value in relation to human needs is reduced to units of economic value.
I do not want to explore the specific dynamics of use value, exchange value, and subjective value. It suffices for the subject of my dissertation to note the distinction between generic abstract value, and specific existential value. The concept of generic abstract value, as much as the concept of a generic abstract “thing” of which there can be multiple units of, is a type of thinking that is, once again a product of a hallucinating and immature human consciousness that knows in the abstract, rather than actually “form a conception of the real circumstances in the external world”. (Epstein, 1996, pp. 29-37)
Within the framework of the actual: of real human experience, everything is specific, we can not experience the abstract, we can only experience the specific present. This means that in actuality every object is specific and can not have multiple units; every object is a unique combination of atoms, that have had previous unique individual journeys apart, and now travel together momentarily in this specific constellation.
Indeed there can be said to be generic products for generic needs, and specific custom products for individually specific needs. The generic nature and value of mass produced products reflects the generic nature of the prerogatives the collective unconscious: they are not made for an individual’s specific demands, but rather to satisfy the generic demands of the collective unconscious as they manifest through each individual. For example toilet paper, bus routes, fast food, and hotel rooms. All of these products fulfil non individual specific needs.
Whereas individually specific products have specific value for a specific individual’s specific needs. For example: a scarf knitted by a loved one, or meal cooked by family, or an individual’s home. These objects can by their very nature not be mass produced. Even if these specific objects were made from industrial prefabs, they have all been re-ordered in accordance to an individual’s specific needs to become specific, and gain specific value and meaning.
It is in fact the movement from a “hallucinatory” and “filtered” (Epstein, 1996, pp. 29-37)
experience of the generic: where experience is a contexture of conceptual “things” known in the abstract, towards the direct experience of the specific present moment that is the actualization of an individual human consciousness. The intrinsic value of our human life; of our selves as individuals, is that our specific consciousness of the specific moment is not generic.
“Jung held that the psyche possess an inherent tendency toward development throughout life, which he called a tendency toward individuation. Because in individuation the person “completes” ego development, working with repressed or universal potentials, it may appear as though an enhanced ego is developing. For instance, a person who has never demonstrated artistic ability may begin to do so at midlife. As individuation proceeds, however, the person begins to use her particular abilities and proclivities as tools, not for personal gain but for the benefit of the community, the world, and the spiritual realm. The individual transcends the ego in the service of the Self” (Scotton, 1996, pp. 39-51)
It is this movement from a generic human consciousness, or collective unconscious, to a specific human consciousness that is the essential evolution of an individual’s psychological development; moving from generic instinctual reactions of a baby or child, through the conditioned reactions of an adolescent, towards the sentient specific choices of an individual ego, and as I will go on to argue, to the transpersonal collective choices of spontaneous participatory democracy of self-actualized individuals.
Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs establishes a model for the successive psychological development of human consciousness culminating in a transpersonal stage of psychological development described as self actualization. “Maslow was quite interested in how his self-actualized subjects differed from normal and neurotic individuals. On the basis of his research, Maslow proposed his famous hierarchy of needs.” (Battista, 1996, pp. 52-61) Figure.1
“Maslow argued that the most basic human needs are physiological: the needs of oxygen, water, food. These form the base of his hierarchal pyramid of human needs. When these needs are satisfied, needs for safety and security become prominent. If safety and security needs are satisfied, needs for love, affection, and belonging predominate. When these requirements are met, self esteem needs emerge. Maslow considered these basic needs to represent deficiency needs. He meant that they all arise from an actual or perceived deficiency in the environment or self. The individual strives to complete these deficiencies through extracting what he or she needs from the physical, interpersonal, or social environment.” (Battista, 1996, pp. 52-61)
To tie Maslow’s stages of psychological development as described by a hierarchy of needs to the material manifestation of that consciousness we should look at the first objects a person as a baby and then as a child can be said to “demand” or “need”, and then chart all the subsequent objects they “demand” or “need” as they grow up and develop. Doing so we can see that the material expression of their individual consciousness does indeed follow a “hierarchy of needs” and that this describes the successive needs of the progressive psychological development of a person over the course of their lifetime towards transpersonal development and ultimately self-actualization. Figure .2
“Transpersonal development is part of continuum of human functioning or consciousness, ranging from the prepersonal (before the formation of a separate ego, to the personal (with a functioning ego) , to the transpersonal (in which the ego remains available but is superseded by more inclusive frames of reference). The transpersonal schema of development extends and clarifies what is implied in the familiar biopsychosocial model: that the later stages of human development address concerns beyond those of the individual” (Scotton, 1996, pp. 3-8)
The Adult Home
I argue that the child-hood home relates to prepersonal stages of an individual’s psychological development, and the adult home: the home we make for ourselves, relates to the personal stage of psychological development. In terms of Maslow’s hierarchy, the point of complete fulfilment of basic personal deficiency needs is materially expressed as that individual’s making of an independent “home”. The need for shelter is a generic need, but the need for an individually specific home that validates and dignifies the individually specific value of an individual’s life is a higher non-material need.
Of all the man-made, the home itself is the best tidemark of individual psychological development because it is the ultimately destiny of every adult human to make a home for themselves. The making of the adult home, in many cultures, is conjoined with marriage and the making of a house hold. Together, the adult home and the house hold, fulfil both the lower physiological deficiency needs, as well as the higher psychological deficiency needs; love, interpersonal relationships.
In terms of developmental psychology, making a home is literally the semiotic manifestation of the psychological development of the fully functional ego: “without it man would be a dispersed being.” (Bachelard, 1969, pp. 13) In term’s of Maslow’s hierarchy making a home is literally the fulfilment of all prior deficiency needs; the home is an individual’s manifest recognition, and self-fulfilment, of all prior deficit needs: safety, food, etc.
What is poignant here is that all other previous “deficit needs” and prerogatives of our consciousness may have been satisfied by generic objects, but the “self-fulfilment” needs can only be satisfied by a specific, and self-made object: the home. We must make our own home ourselves. Thus the making of the adult home signifies the individual’s transitioning to the self-actualization form of the pyramid.
Though most of us shall never literally construct our own habitations, home is not specifically a material product as much as it is a subjectively meaningful order. Bachelard asks, “A house that has been experienced is not an inert box. Inhabited space transcends geometrical space. But can this transposition of the being of a house into human values be considered as an activity or metaphor? (Bachelard, 1969, pp. 47) Levi-Strauss seems to answer him, If “to speak of order and to speak of meaning is to speak of the same thing;”(Levi-Strauss, 1979, pp. 12) then home is a conjoined material ordering and meaning. Home is the psychological and material projection of our own specific order upon matter, the externalization of the individuated consciousness, so we may not be the architects of our own habitation, but we re-order the space to make it our home: to make that space mean “our home”.
This is the “intimacy” Bachelard refers to in his ‘Poetics of Space’:
“A house is first and foremost a geometrical object, one which we are tempted to analyze rationally… A geometrical object of this kind ought to resist metaphors that welcome the human body and the human soul. But the transposition to the human plane takes place immediately whenever a house is considered a space for cheer and intimacy, space that is supposed to condense and defend intimacy.” (Bachelard, 1969, pp. 47– 48)
For Bachelard, diametrically opposed to intimacy is aggression. He argues, “All aggression, whether it comes from man or from the world, is of animal origin. However subtle, however indirect, hidden or contrived a human act of aggression may be it reveals an origin that is unredeemed. In the tiniest of hatreds there is a little, live, animal filament.” (Bachelard, 1969, pp. 44) Bachelard’s argument implies a spatial gradient between the private home as intimate space and public space as aggressive space in “the dynamic rivalry between house and universe” (Bachelard, 1969, pp. 47) “Faced with the bestial hostility of the storm and the hurricane, the house’s virtues of protection and resistance are transposed in human virtues. The house acquires the physical and moral energy of a human body.” (Bachelard, 1969, pp. 46)
As there is a gradient between public and private rooms and spaces of a home, there must also be a gradient of intimacy and aggression. If a bedroom is the most private and so most intimate, and the reception room the most public and so the most aggressive space of a home, then it follows that intimacy must mean psychological safety.
When Bachelard says: “Before man is “cast into the world, man is laid in the cradle of the house” and “Life begins well, it begins enclosed, protected, all warm in the bosom of the house” (Bachelard, 1969, pp. 7) he is saying the home is not just a material shelter against physical danger it is also a psychic sanctuary where we may practice our psychology, train our behaviour, learn and develop: “the house remodels man.” (Bachelard, 1969, pp. 47)
The private home is the incubator of the functional ego, and public space is the proving grounds of the functional ego. The walls of the home literally represent the walls of individuation that define one ego as apart from another. The intimacy within a home allows us to relax the psychological boundaries of our conscious self and experience and express our individual unconscious, in a natural process of integration and psychological development. It allows experimentation, and incubates the development of personal consciousness. This emphasizes the destructive effect of aggression and abuse within the home, because when aggression destroys intimacy within the home, it effectively destroys the space in which an individual can develop psychologically by forcing them to continually contract psychologically, and therefore stunts the integration of the conscious with the unconscious.
Space and Needs
Figure .3 is an illustration that explores the idea of a spatial relationship as to where different needs are fulfilled. There is not necessarily a defined linear developmental relationship between needs and the increasing or decreasing privacy of space, but we can speak of general trends. Most physiological needs are needs we fulfil ourselves, so in general we can say they are mostly fulfilled in private space. Psychological needs, such as belongingness and prestige, intuitively require other people, and so it can be said that in general they are fulfilled in public space.
Where we fulfil our needs is a discussion about an individual’s levels of social independence or isolation, and social dependence and community within a society. It is too broad a discussion for my subject to fully explore. However it is important to note that a private home can be a single room in which only but the most basic physiological needs are met, or, it can have a specialized room for every potential need, for example a panic room for personal security, a game room for interpersonal relationships, a sex room for sexual relationships, and so on. The more we move the fulfilment of needs into private space, we emphasize the self-fulfilment of our own need; and so then, the more public space becomes barren of community, and mutual fulfilment.
I would argue this would represent a developmental arrest and an avoidance of reality. ““Humankind can not bear much reality” according to T. S. Eliot, and defence mechanisms are the crutches we use to help us avoid reality” (Walsh, 1996, pp. 396-405) The front door is literally a defence mechanism against the aggression and reality of the world. Understanding where we fulfil our needs can reveal the extent to which we “decide to form a conception of the real circumstances in the external world and to endeavour to make a real alteration in them” (Epstein, 1996, pp. 29-38), or “attempt at satisfaction through hallucination” (Epstein, 1996, pp. 29-38).
So if the making of the average adult home represents the complete fulfilment of an individual’s deficiency needs and the completion of the functional ego, or personal stage of psychological development, what needs are represented and fulfilled in public space and to what stage of psychological development do those needs correspond?
“Maslow contrasted such deficiency needs with what he called being-needs, which include the need for creativity, beauty, simplicity, connection, meaning, service, advancement of knowledge, and society’s improvements. Individuals pursue being-needs after sufficiently satisfying the physiological, security, and interpersonal and self-esteem needs.” (Battista, 1996, pp. 52-61)
All these being-needs are pursued after an individual has fulfilled their prior deficiency needs. So they correspond materially to individuals who have set up an adult home and house hold. People need to already be quite comfortable in themselves, and their material situation before becoming interested in self-fulfilment. All though Being-needs, as well as deficiency needs, can be fulfilled by one’s self at home or by and together with others in public space: I argue that, materially and spatially they manifest socially in public space. Deficiency needs correspond to preegoic and egoic stages of psychological development. However Being-needs are pursued by individuals with an already functional ego, so they correspond to the transpersonal stages of psychological development.
“Maslow was particularly concerned with the application of his basic theory of motivation to the understanding of social and organizational structures. In the last few years of his life he further refined his hierarchy of motivations into a threefold model that included deficiency-motivated (theory x), humanistically motivated (theory y), and transcendentally motivated (theory z) individuals.” (Battista, 1996, pp. 52-61) “ In his final conceptual paper, entitled “Theory Z” Maslow tried to show how his three levels of human motivation could be applied to a wide variety of topics including those of government, business, religion, psychotherapy, philosophy, and politics”. (Battista, 1996, pp. 52-61)
For example Maslow classified and described religions in these terms of deficiency, humanistic, and transpersonal.
“Religions conducted on the deficiency level are concerned with a God of wrath. Religions at the humanistic level are concerned with a God of a loving-kindness and with affirming the goodness of being human. Religions at the transpersonal level are concerned with spiritual realization; they use no concept of a personal God or utilize a God concept that is all-inclusive, paradoxical, and inexpressible.” (Battista, 1996, pp. 52-61)
Another example is his classification and description of businesses:
“Business organization operating at the deficiency level use a managerial style of power-authority in which the employee is paid to do the job she is told to do. Businesses functioning at the humanistic level operate collectively through mutual respect. The employee is empowered to participate in the organization as fully as possible. Authority is assumed to be within each individual. Businesses at the transcendent level assume that all workers are devoted to service. The purpose of the business is to serve the client or consumer as fully as possible. Authority is assumed to be transcendent and ethically apparent to each individual.” (Battista, 1996, pp. 52-61)
In this context, all the basic individual deficiency needs are fulfilled by the private space of the home. Along with the intimacy or psychological safety the home provides and creates an almost necessarily preegoic space where egoic personal development is incubated. Ego to ego interactions occur outside the home, or in the cast of inhabitant to guest interactions in the more public areas of the home.
In contrast, public space can be said to be humanistic space, corresponding to the personal or egoic stage of psychological development. Commercial and Industrial spaces, essentially market spaces, where individuals mutually earn and spend would correspond with the ego to ego interactions of humanistic space. Here psychological needs are pursued and fulfilled.
Transpersonal space would be community spaces, where the individuation of the functional ego is set aside. Examples could be Victory Gardens, sports stadiums, and religious community spaces such as churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques. Here being-needs could fully be fulfilled and enjoyed.
“Self actualized persons are humble, detached (not egocentric), humorous, and creative. They resist cultural belief systems, accept imperfections, and transcend dichotomies (e.g., reason-emotion, self-society, mystical-realistic; masculine-feminine).” (Battista, 1996, pp. 52-61)
So it follows transpersonal space transcends the dichotomies of public-private space. In Transpersonal space “there exists a play of values, which makes everything in the category of simple determinations fall into second place. The opposition of outside and inside cease to have as coefficient its geometrical evidence” (Bachelard, 1969, pp. 230)
I would argue that as making the adult home is the externalization of an individual’s specific consciousness, making transpersonal space is the externalization of a community’s collective consciousness. I would argue that transpersonal spaces must be collectively made, just as a home is individually made: that collective making is the primary activity of transpersonal consciousness.
Just as though we generally don’t construct the habitations we make our homes in, we don’t necessarily need to construct the collective spaces that a community would make its transpersonal space in. What is necessary is that there is a collective, participatory, and democratic making of the collective space into a transpersonal space. Just as a home is the conjoined order and meaning of an individual’s specific consciousness, a collective democracy must collectively externalize its order through collective making.
Essentially transpersonal space is the “home” for an active participatory democracy. The Occupy movement provided many international examples of such collective space making. Music festivals and their tent encampments also provide many examples. These transpersonal spaces are both the manifestation of a transpersonal consciousness, and the intimate or psychologically safe spaces that incubates the experimentation and development of transpersonal consciousness.
The Transpersonal Future of Society
“Human development, generally speaking, proceeds from prepersonal, or preegoic, stages to personal, or egoic, phases, and on to transpersonal, or transegoic, levels. Pathologies and developmental arrests may arise at each point. This is the biopsychosocialspiritual developmental continuum” (Scotton, 1996, pp. 409-415).
This is as true for society as a whole as it is for the individual. My thesis is that transpersonal development is inevitable. And along with society’s inevitable mass transition from personal to transpersonal consciousness, there will be a conjoined shift in the needs and demands of society, and so a corresponding shift in how and what we produce to supply fulfilment for the new demands of a new consciousness.
In Marx’s Historical materialism he argues that it is the economic base that is the “real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure to which correspond definite forms of consciousness’ (Marx, 1859, pp. 1) Marx would argue that “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.” (Marx, 1859, pp. 1
“No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive forces for which it is sufficient have been developed, and new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society.” (Marx, 1859, pp. 1)
Here, Maslow and Marx agree that “Individuals pursue being-needs after sufficiently satisfying the physiological, security, and interpersonal and self-esteem needs.” (Battista, 1996, pp. 52-61) That until the material and social circumstances occur to satisfy deficiency needs, then consciousness, individually and collectively, can’t develop to the next stage of psychological development: in essence their “social existence determines their consciousness” (Marx, 1859, pp. 1) .
Marx’s Historical materialism outlines a formula for successive developments or phases in the relationships between individuals in society that correspond to changes in that society’s political economy; namely changes in the “relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production” (Marx, 1859, pp. 1)
I would argue that since Marx and Maslow are talking about the same principle they establish a causal relationship between a society’s economic circumstance and that society’s collective level of psychological maturity. When the material and social circumstance are attained in which current needs are fulfilled, the consequent development in consciousness generates new prerogatives. The pursuit of these new prerogatives and needs then change the material and social circumstance of society. In this sense, Marx corroborates the idea that the political economy of society evolves in much the same way as an individual evolves.
“The individual is also a hierarchically organized set of motivational structures. The physiological level is primary and dominates the other levels when it is not satisfied. The second order of motivations seeks to provide for security needs, and comes into play when the basic physiological needs are met. When security needs are satisfied, interpersonal motives for love and belonging emerge. When these interpersonal needs are sufficiently met, motives for self-esteem and self-assertion operate. Finally, when these personal needs are satisfied, motives for self-actualization and self-transcendence come into play.” (Battista, 1996, pp. 52-61)
That changes in the level of psychological development of an individual consciousness brings with them changes in the prerogatives or needs of that consciousness, and it is those changes in needs, on a collective and macrocosmic level, that produce great upheavals in the economic and social structure of society.
A criticism of Marx is that he only considers relations of production to be the means by which humans collectively produce the material necessities of life, and not real prerogatives of human consciousness in and of themselves. ”Needs themselves are an undefined function and it is completely arbitrary to arrest them at the threshold of a basic minimum survival (Baudrillard, 1975, pp. 75)
In excluding the non-material prerogatives of human consciousness Marx dismisses phases of psychological development beyond the formation of the individual ego. By only acknowledging basic deficiency needs Marx only considers the production of generic material products with generic value for generic needs, excluding altogether higher material needs or, as Maslow would say, being-needs, for specific individual products as well as their non-material fulfilment.
Making: from abstraction to reality
“The reward of making is the opportunity to experience an individual sense of freedom and control in the world. Making is therefore not only a fulfilment of needs, but of desires – a process whereby mind, body, and imagination are integrated in the practice of thought though action.” (Charny, 2011, pp. 39)
When all products are generic, making is the only means of fulfilling the being-needs of self-actualization. The specific nature of a specific individual need’s for their self-fulfilment implies the individual must make for themselves what they need, and that often means making the experiences they need to experience to fulfil those needs.
Making means engaging with reality, and so it is a means for psychological development. Freud’s Pleasure-principle represents the “infantile wishful impulse” (Epstein, 1996, pp. 36) for immediate gratification regardless of reality or consequence, while the Reality-principle represents a concern beyond immediate gratification which eventually develops, with the recognition of the reality of other persons, into a transpersonal concern for gratification or happiness beyond the immediate self.
Making engages reality not through abstract theory but through practice. “Palissy writes a dialogue between Theory and Practice on the production of glazed ceramics, wherein the latter says “Even if I have a thousand reams of paper to write down all the accidents that have happened to me in learning this art, you must be assured that, however good a brain you may have, you will still make a thousand mistakes, which cannot be learned from writing””(Charny, 2011, pp. 39) This parallels the shift from knowing in the abstract associated the hallucination of the pleasure principle, to experiencing specific reality directly in the reality principle.
Along with creativity, Maslow would say psychologically mature individuals “have a desire to help, are efficient, and spontaneously engage in attempts to resolve social problems”. (Battista, 1996, pp. 52-61) Jung would corroborate that “As individuation proceeds, however, the person begins to use her abilities and proclivities as tools, not for personal gain but for the benefit of the community, the world and the spiritual realm. The Individual transcends the ego in service of the Self.” (Scotton, 1996, pp. 39-51)
“The role of making is therefore to give life to things, but also to show evidence of life within us, perhaps also at a spiritual level. The role of making is a sequence of actions that set in motion a curiosity to go beyond what is already known, in a non-verbal language that extends our abilities to communication with each other across culture, time, and space.” (Charny, 2011, pp. 43)
Humanity is still developing psychologically which means we are still emerging from our egotistical bubble towards greater contact with reality. It is our activity based on abstract knowledge rather than actual reference to reality that has blindly caused much of the social and ecological problems we now face. Our collective psychological development and emergence from abstract knowing into reality is the driver of positive change.
“Many of the causes of our crises stem from normative cultural beliefs and values, the effectiveness of the people will depend on the degree to which they can extract themselves from limiting and distorting cultural biases. This is the process of “detribalization,” by which a person matures from an ethnocentric to a global worldview. Such a person no longer looks through but rather but rather looks at the cultural filters and hence can work on them.” (Walsh, 1996, pp. 396-405)
Political Economy is a product of a rational consciousness; of abstractions, distinctions, and hierarchy. In Capitalism’s extremes of game-theory based socioeconomic policy, it is ultimately a product of an egoic consciousness; that necessarily produces a society of selfish individuals. It can not comprehend or provide a framework for the satisfaction of transpersonal needs or the actualization of a community with collective responsibility. It is the shift into transpersonal consciousness that will bring “the abolition of this code, this strategy composed of distinction, separations, discriminations, oppositions that are structured and hierarchized.” (Baudrillard, 1975, pp. 134)
However society’s collective transpersonal development doesn’t “defeat the capitalist social reality principle” (Baudrillard, 1975, pp. 134) , but rather integrates it with reality. As Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggests, all prior needs don’t suddenly disappear at the onset of transpersonal development. The ego is not destroyed, but rather it “remains available but is superseded by more inclusive frames of reference.” (Scotton, 1996, pp. 3-8) In the same way, a transegoic economy for collective gratification could co-exist with an egoic capitalist economy of mutual gratification; in many ways they already do. A transpersonal economy is already represented in the volunteer sector of the economy: where individuals already work to benefit others. I would argue that the collective shift towards transpersonal consciousness would expand upon this already present seed. A flourishing transpersonal volunteer economy where maturing individuals can fulfil their being-needs to serve others would be a force for providing social welfare where commercial incentives cannot be present.
I argue that collectively all our needs work together as a holistic mechanism to fulfil themselves. Much like Capitalism suggests our needs naturally distribute wealth and economic resources where they need to be, I posit that holistically, within a population of varying levels of psychological development, our collective needs work as a system of personal and community care to create the basic blue print of a functional and happy society. Society is the natural product of holistic human needs synergistically fulfilling themselves.
“Maslow’s theory implies that over the course of their lives, individuals experience themselves going up and down, and in and out of this hierarchy as they respond to the stresses and rewards of life.” (Battista, 1996, pp. 52-61) I would argue that since Humanity’s collective course through history, parallels the psychological developmental journey of an individual, we have simply suffered some developmental arrests, perhaps even regressions on our journey towards collective self-actualization. And it is the psychologically mature members of society that must identify these arrests, and generate the healing and developmental momentum to bring the rest of society with them: “People of wisdom and maturity who work not only to relieve suffering, but also to awaken themselves and others.” (Walsh, 1996, pp. 396-405)
Conclusion: Transpersonal Production
“In as much as we respond to our current dilemma with maturing responses, service and contribution may increase. Both research and theory indicate that psychological maturity is associated with greater orientation towards service. Whether significant degrees of psychological maturation occurs or not, it may well be that increasing numbers of people will be moved to contribute,” (Walsh, 1996, pp. 396-405)
There are many examples of transpersonal behaviour and activity by psychologically mature people; from “traditional descriptions of enlightened persons” (Battista, 1996, pp. 52-61) to “practitioners of Gandhi’s satyagraha and in Martin Luther King’s civil right workers, who were willing to nonviolently risk their lives for higher values, transcending concern with personal survival for larger goals.” (Scotton, 1996, pp. 3-8) These individuals may have been ahead of the bell-curve, but there are many social and economic signs that society is collectively entering into the developmental stages of transpersonal consciousness.
There are many inevitable political, economic, cultural, and spiritual ramifications of collective transpersonal development: the legal and political recognition of human unity and a reformation of global identity politics, the democratization of urban space, and the secularization of spiritual experiences. These should be better explored in another book: for the purposes of my dissertation I will focus on examples of transpersonal production and consumption.
“We are in a fascinating era, in which change is being driven by massive computational powers and social movements. New networks for sharing knowledge are creating new types of makers and fuelling new communities of practice. Crafts are mixing with digital practices and finding new audiences. Models of fabrication, production and distribution are being revisited. There are those who advocate making rather than buying, in order to take care of the planet’s limited resources. And growing numbers of people are interested in where their food, clothing, furniture, building materials, and cultural products are coming from, how they were made, and by whom.” ( Charny, 2011, pp. 8)
“Self-actualized individuals are reality-orientated” (Battista, 1996, pp. 52-61) and we are collectively beginning to awaken to the significance of production and consumption externalities, and this represents a collective decision “to form a conception of the real circumstances in the external world and to endeavour to make a real alteration in them.” (Scotton et al, 1996, pp. 36)
The internet, as a non-located virtual space that has been collectively produced is itself a material manifestation of our burgeoning transpersonal consciousness. Examples such as Wikipedia where thousands of individual contribute selflessly to create a service for the benefit of all, or “the open-source operating system Linux, for example, is a public craft because it is a tool that actively shapes the world around us through collective making.” ( Charny, 2011, pp. 49)
Collective making produces goods for the collective: collective making is the main activity of transpersonal consciousness, and, as a trend, it is out-pacing the private commercial production of individual goods for individual consumption.
All products made for individual consumption have externalities in their production and consumption that affect the planet and so they are a collective responsibility. In the sense that the real cost of a product includes the externalities of its production and consumption, there are no private products because the costs are collective. This reveals that whole concept of a private good is, once again, a product of our knowing in abstract, and is not an actual possibility. In this context the unsustainable practice of individual production and consumption of a private goods is a product of an egoic consciousness concerned not with the reality of the consequences of its actions, but, rather, only with its own gratification.
Sustainability is about acknowledging the reality of externalities: about maturing psychologically beyond immediate gratification to consider long term consequences that affect others. Sustainable production is necessarily transpersonal production. Good examples include crowd funding and creative commons.
“Alternative production and distribution models are explored through the Creative Commons, where digital materials can be licensed to share rather than to own. The Creative Commons licences use clauses such as ‘share-alike’, and grant permission for others to remix content and make new ‘derivative’ works.” ( Charny, 2011, pp. 50)
When products are collectively made for collective consumption there are by definition no externalities, because their production and consumption is considered collectively. There are no externalities because no one is left out of the loop. However this form of transpersonal production and consumption is not just digital: guerrilla gardening, products made from recycled materials, community housing projects, etc. represent growing contemporary trends.
Sustainable products are not abstract units. Every detail of their production and consumption is considered: materials, labour, distribution are specific, local, known, and acknowledged. The reality is that when the real costs of a products consumption and production are considered everything becomes specific, real: human. The knowing in the abstract associated with mass-production of abstract units of a good is not compatible with sustainable production that is aware and considers the specific and real ecological and social consequences of product’s production and consumption
“Suddenly we are thinking of a much wider world, including countries that are otherwise banished to mere ‘Made in…’ labels hidden in the clothes or ornaments we buy, which protect us from views of exploitation and from our own role and responsibility for a world in which demand for cheaper and cheaper goods ends up somewhere as competition for lower – and lower-paid labour” ( Charny, 2011, pp. 21-22)
These new forms of sustainable and socially responsible collective production and consumption constitute “new superior relations of production” (Marx, 1859, pp. 1) that represent a collective and societal transpersonal psychological development.
The “critical mass of makers”( Charny, 2011, pp. 49) in maker culture represent the psychologically mature individuals in society who are collectively “unveiling the psychological forces that have brought us to this turning point in history; working to transform them into forces for our collective survival, well-being, and fulfilment” (Walsh, 1996, pp. 396-405)
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