Saturday, March 14, 2015

12 Propositions of Alfred Adler

This blog originally appeared on October 20, 2013.

Let's dwell in the work of Alfred Adler; his cultural, group, and individual processes of a mediated world and a mediated self. Adler began with 12 propositions which serve as the ground or referent for his working system. Like the Ptolemaic, geocentric, worldview; it can function pragmatically. What interests us here is not objective Truth, but rather a functional, pragmatic, system that is both useful and thoughtful. We approach Adler with the attitude of radical empiricism.

The 12 propositions (paraphrased):
  1. The fundamental human condition is a striving from a state of "felt minus situation towards a plus situation, from a feeling of inferiority towards superiority, perfection, totality."
  2. We strive towards a biological and environmental self-ideal, a fiction that we (ultimately) create and choose to endorse as our guiding fiction.
  3. We go about our business largely unaware of our guiding fiction, it is unconscious.
  4. The goal (guiding fiction) is a final cause. It is a teleological pull towards the self-deal fiction. One must identify the final fiction to organize the behavior into meaningfulness.
  5. Ones style of life is shaped by this final fiction from an early age. Behavior that seems contradictory or absurd becomes meaningful when viewed from the final fiction of the self-ideal.
  6. The style of life is a system that is comprised of conscious and unconscious processes.
  7. Biological and environmental factors are relative to the goal. Genes and experience are not direct causes but probabilities that function through the style of life towards a self-ideal.
  8. An individual's opinion of themselves and their worldview (enframing) influence all psychological processes.
  9. The individual self is embedded with the social context. The self and context are not independent.
  10. All biological and personal desires become social desires.
  11. The goal of the healthful individual is social interest; an un-narcissistic, non-ego-centered life.
  12. Maladjustment includes lack of social interest, a persistent and defining sense of inferiority, and a goal of personal superiority over others. 
Adler proposes a psychology of context. How can we understand the individual-mediated (figure-ground) phenomena of media psychology through this pragmatic system of thought? What are the implications for thinking through cultural phenomena that we have encountered in media and psychology? If we ask the questions; how does this behavior serve to move from a state of minus (inferiority) to a state of plus? How does the style of life form the worldview that produces phenomena? How can we think from new directions when we consider the fictional finaltude of a media producer and media re-broadcaster (persona)?

Direct comments, questions, & corrections to Matthew Giobbi.