What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self-actualization.
– Abraham Maslow
In psychology, physiology, and medicine, wherever a debate between the mystics and the scientifics has been once for all decided, it is the mystics who have usually proved to be right about the facts, while the scientifics had the better of it in respect to the theories.
– William James
In the 40 years since Abraham Maslow’s death, the impact of his thinking about human needs and potential is still resonating in business and academic circles. Maslow’s original writings first appeared in a 1943 paper, A Theory of Human Motivation, and helped frame what drives us. It was drawn from his careful review and observation of those known for their greatness, and others, students in particular, less well known who seemed to exemplify a host of very positive values.
While sometimes criticized as not “empirical” — that is, based in scientific principles and rigorous research data — the power of case study and careful observation cannot be underestimated. Freud wrote only about a handful of patients, Piaget commented on watching his three children, and Erik Erickson wrote, “Gandhi’s Truth,” which earned him both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Case studies and observation, not just the more standard form of scientific method, have earned their value in understanding of the human condition.
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