Needs, Goods and Self-Actualization

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The aim of this chapter is to begin to advance a response to the ‘Bongo-Bongo’ objection to universal accounts of well-being. Building upon Gray’s broad-brush treatment of the notion of well-being, I wish to circumvent the empirical rejection of universalism by advancing apparently intrinsic, immanent human goods. The nature of this approach, which will extend into the next chapter, is to distinguish between immanent, fundamental or first-order goods, of which we may be unconscious, and experientially acquired derivative desires, of which we are always conscious (Adler 2006, 11; see also Kenrick et al. 2010, 295). So long as we hold that humans are fallible in their recognition of the good and its various constituents, cultural acknowledgment or consensus is unnecessary — failure to acknowledge the good or to promote that good in valuable forms may, though, be indicative of a cultural deficit. For the purposes of this project, I require a ‘thick vague’ account of the good which identifies core features of human well-being without constraining, through ethnocentric or ideological bias, the forms in which that good is realized. The approach I wish to advance is a eudaimonic fundamental goods view of well-being grounded in the Aristotelian relationship between doing and being. To this end, I set aside theistic conceptions of the good which concern an afterlife on the grounds that they are unfalsifiable.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEvaluating Culture
Subtitle of host publicationWell-Being, Institutions and Circumstance
EditorsMatthew Thomas Johnson
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781137313799
ISBN (Print)9781349333769, 9780230296565
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2013
Externally publishedYes


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