Chapter

Existential Psychology and Intrinsic Motivation: Deci, Maslow, and Frankl

John Davenport

in Will as Commitment and Resolve

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780823225750
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235896 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fso/9780823225750.003.0012
Existential Psychology and Intrinsic               Motivation: Deci, Maslow, and Frankl

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In models of divine creativity, agape, and moral motivation in John Duns Scotus, Immanuel Kant, and Anders Nygren, we find both precedent and evidence for the existential model of the will. This chapter looks at the emergence of this idea in twentieth-century psychology, especially in the new study of “intrinsic motivation” and in Viktor Frankl's mid-century theory of life-meaning. It discusses Frankl's existential will to meaning and his existential critique of Abraham Maslow's eudaimonism, the alterity of values to which the will responds, Jean Paul Sartre's views on willed inferiority, and willed carelessness in the case of Emily Fox Gordon. Frankl's success with logotherapy provides strong evidence for the importance of objective values as grounds for projective motivation in the existential model. The chapter supports this position with a case study on the self-defeating nature of self-absorption and a critical discussion of Harry Frankfurt's argument that caring is justified by its by-product benefit to caring agents.

Keywords: Viktor Frankl; intrinsic motivation; life-meaning; existential will; Abraham Maslow; eudaimonism; alterity; Jean Paul Sartre; willed inferiority; Emily Fox Gordon

Chapter.  17868 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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