Kim E. Clark


This Article works toward a theory of self-transcendence that leads to social change. The Maslow self-transcendence hypothesis is reformulated. The old hypothesis, when applied to self-transcendence in humans, has two major problems: (1) it posits an erasure of the Self that was motivated to achieve the self-actualization state, i.e., the self-transcendence process causes erasure of the self-actualized Self as the individual moves toward gratifying self-transcendence motivational needs (ego-less, seeking communion with the transcendent, service to others, acting in more collectivist ways, coming to identify with something greater than the purely individual self); and (2) it does not adequately explain when self-transcendence values—as guiding principles for individual, social, or cultural action—can be expected to be observed and when not.

A reformulation of the self-transcendence hypothesis proposes to resolve these inadequacies. According to this reformulation, the process of self-transcendence produces a unitive identity under peak experience conditions resulting in the erasure of self-aggrandizement, yet the self-actualized Self persists with full agency. Furthermore, an acceptance of the unknown/unknowable (in contrast to communion with) causes an awareness and acceptance of maturity, growth, and health motivational values emanating through peak experiences.

Moreover, one achieves gratification of the self-transcendence universal human unitive needs, expressed as guiding principles for individual, social, or cultural action. The implications for this self-transcendence reformulation are also outlined. Self-transcendence, peak experience, Being-cognition, agency, structure, Being-values, and other concepts are explored as theoretical support. Oppositional Cultural Practice™ (OCP) as peak experience can lead to achievement of this reformulated self-transcendence, as well as social change. This Article exemplifies the possibility of grounding a scholarly voice in the material, aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual experiences of humans. Of specific intsocierest to law students and practitioners is the benefit of experiencing justice in the now.