Here is a short compilation on equality, by Roberto Assagioli:
Higher, Lower and Equality
The denomination “high” and “heights” has been used both in the East and in the West to designate what are called religious or mystical attainments. Mountains were considered to be the abode of gods or higher beings. …and therefore sacred. … Maslow has extensively used the words “low” and “high” in his description of human needs. He speaks of…a hierarchical order (… particularly in Motivation and Personality, p. 97ff.).
A general reason for the hostility toward the designation “high “is a semantic one. There is an unfortunate connection between the words “high” and “low” used in the psychological sense, and the moral valuations attached to them. … The word “low” is considered to (denote) something inferior in the moral sense, something to be eliminated or repressed. But this is a false conception. “Low” and “high” can, and often do, designate simply a stage of development. … A very simple biological instance shows this clearly. A child is lower in stature than an adult; a child is at a less evolved stage of development than an adult. But that does not mean at all that the adult, as such, is “better “or “superior’ to the child. Both from the psychological and the moral standpoint, a healthy child is better or superior to a neurotic adult.
… The existence of these different stages of development is an incontrovertible fact.
It has been objected that (the word “high”) implies moral valuations which are extraneous to objective science. However a purely objective psychology (in this sense) is not valid, because values are psychological facts. … They have to be taken into account in an inclusive psychology, an inclusive study of human nature…
In general there is resistance (to acknowledge) these higher reaches because they seem to imply an obligation to achieve them. Or there is a fear of that realm, as Maslow has pointed out very well, and there is a fierce hostility to admit that fear. … Behaviourists of every brand are opposed to it…
Another reason or pseudo-reason for the hostility… is a false concept of the equality of human beings and the democratic ideal. … It seems… almost an insult to admit that there are people of a higher stature, psychologically and spiritually. This attitude is demonstrated by the neglect of…and (suspicious) hostility towards…gifted and super-gifted individuals, especially children and adolescents…(which occurs among) those of the same age (as well as) educators, who really should know better…
As Maslow has well pointed out, there is a basic ambivalence; some are attracted in an exaggerated and even fanatical way… to peak experiences and breakthroughs and insights, and use artificial means to achieve them also, while others are actively opposed to them. And sometimes this ambivalence exists within the same individual.
Anyhow, the “culprit” is not the word “high”, but the existence itself of these farther reaches. Even if they were not called “higher’, the situation would be the same…
However, in spite of all the existing confusion and conflict in conceptions of human nature,… there is a rapidly growing… interest in and appreciation of what is called the human potential (Excerpted from the Introduction to R. Assagioli’s forthcoming book, Height Psychology and the Self.) (Height Psychology – an interview with Roberto Assagioli)
Equality of opportunity
A misunderstanding with regard to the meaning of democracy exists which is creating unfavorable conditions in the field of education, and which must therefore be pointed out and eliminated. It has its origins in an erroneous concept of “equality” that forms the basis of the democratic ideal. The true equality that democracy should foster is that of offering equal opportunities to all, independent of differences in social and financial position, sex, race and religion, and not the obviously erroneous ideas about the identicalness of all human beings. This equality of opportunity constitutes the essence of social justice and fully complies with the recognition of the varied and profound differences among human beings. The reality of these differences is evident and undeniable for any impartial observer, and an important branch of psychology (differential psychology) is dedicated to their scientific investigation. (Notes on Education)
Equality and the couple
Let us come now to the couple. A couple founded on a basis of fundamental equality, respect, reciprocal appreciation as human beings, can work out the psychosynthesis of their particular couple together. Each one can work on his own psychosynthesis, and each one can also collaborate in the psychosynthesis of the other, helping the other to achieve his own psychosynthesis by helping him strengthen his less developed functions. Then once they have done this to a certain point, they can truly act as a couple by combining and complementing their qualities and functions in all situations: in their marriage, their role as parents, and in their social activities. … (A Higher View of the Man-Woman Problem)
“For each couple the situation is different. Each human being is unique. Thus unique multiplied by unique gives unique squared; this is a fundamental principle of psychosynthesis.
Each case is unique, each situation is unique. Each couple is unique. Each family is unique. We need to focus on the unique existential problem of a certain situation, rather than on generalities, and afterwards to choose techniques which are most adequate for resolving the problems of that particular case. This eliminates the fictitious, inauthentic problems. It may be called the psychoanalytical phase: the discovery of the obstacles to constructive work. And the obstacles are for the most part those which we spoke about before: erroneous attitudes of men and women. I believe therefore in the equality of value, and in the differentiation of functions up to a certain point. Collaboration, integration on a base of equality. (A Higher View of the Man-Woman Problem)
“It is an indisputable fact that any one who examines even superficially a variety of human beings cannot fail to notice the inequality of their stages of progress, as for example, men in the savage stage, or very little removed from it, and men of great intellectual and spiritual attainment. However we must not stop short of this very obvious conclusion, but proceed to make a careful delineation of the various stages of progress to which human souls may be assigned. We shall then discover an interesting analogy between the psychological character pertaining to the several ages of human life: infancy, adolescence, youth, maturity, old age.
This should not surprise us, since we find in a larger cycle, in the psychological and spiritual sphere the biological law of the correlation between auto-genesis and philo genesis.
We shall see how illuminating is this analogy, studied more closely, and what insight it gives us into the law of a hierarchical ordering of humanity, based, not on extrinsic privileges, on violence and injustice, but on genuine and immutable differences of evolutionary progress – and hierarchical order that, if understood and accepted, would decide in the most just and sound manner the questions of equality, liberty, authority, etc.” (Individual psychology and spiritual development, 22 pages, Assagioli Archive, Florence)
In addition to these general rules for the method of collective deliberation, there are others to be applied according to the different situations that call for decision. I cannot deal with them here except to advocate that the decisions each of us finds himself having to make with others be conducted as much as possible on a basis of equality. The proper attitude to take can be summed up in this simple, practical formula: “Let us not argue, but look for the best solution together.” This demands of each the preparation already recommended for individual deliberation, that is to say, the examination of personality motives and reasons. The Act of Will, p. 164
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