Now switch to a description of maturity offered by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, (see Wikipedia.)
The model shows 5 levels of maturity. The most basic level includes absolute material components to assure life itself: food, clothing, shelter, air, physical capacity for the body to stay alive. If/when these are assured, the individual is able to shift attention to level 2: material security, health, resources – Maslow includes ‘morality’ at this level, a curiosity to me. (Maslow’s Hierarchy does have criticism, I do not know if placing ‘morality’ at level two is a target of these and am wondering if he may mean what I would consider a ‘simplistic’ moral view based in prescribed, somewhat rigid, ‘rules’ or conduct – a can of worms I’m not opening in this discussion.)
Once material fundamentals are assured at level two, the individual feels secure and turns his/her attention to personal relationships – close at hand: family, friends, (level 3).
With these somewhat in place, the individual shifts attention to level 4. Maslow labels this level as “esteem”. It is demonstrated in confidence, achievement, shared respect.
As the individual develops within level 4, toward greater maturity of understanding of self and other, she/he begins to demonstrate ‘transcendent’ interests and practices. “Morality” again enters the list of qualities, but this time is based in “lack of prejudice”, “acceptance of facts”. At level 5, the individual is “into” “creativity, spontaneity, problem solving”. Maslow’s named individuals representing this level of maturity included “Albert Einstein, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Frederick Douglas.” Level 5 is one in which valuing ‘whole humanity’ need, well beyond one’s personal whims, is demonstrated.
Maslow’s Hierarchy, as a good generalized model, suggests a somewhat clear development path for the individual. Real life for most individuals is much more murky – one can be involved in altruistic choice in public life, and – quite frankly – be a ‘jerk’ in private. The opposite is also true (jerk in public, generous and kind in private).
My point is not to argue the merits of Maslow’s Hierarchy, but to accept it as a good general description of any individual’s process of maturity. (Indeed, in my work in education, this is how we applied the model.)
(See – same title, part 3)