Friday, March 10, 2006

The Opposite of Generativity, Take Two

My query the other day about what is the opposite of the "culture of generativity" brought several interesting responses. Annie at Ambivablog noted that in Erik Erikson's schema, where the idea of generativity as a life stage, the opposition that he names is "stagnation/self-absorption." This gets the opposition right, from one perspective, but does not get the positive spin that I was looking for. Annie suggests "self-realization," which I think is about right.

Tom Strong, on the other hand, thinks that is still too condescending. He suggests "culture of fairness" as the right opposite to the culture of generativity. I will grant him that this notion is more positive – but I don't think it is really matched up with its alleged opposite. Strong's definition is that:

if you dig for the core value here, that's what you're going to find - whether the issue is abortion, or euthanasia, or gay marriage. It's about respecting other people's right and ability to make the best choices for themselves.

No, I just don't see it. Strong is arguing for respecting other people's individual choices. The idea of a culture of generativity, though, is that the society as a whole makes and cherishes life, especially in the form of children. Such a culture has all kinds of room for individuals who make other choices. But if the culture passes the tipping point from generativity to the other thing, it will die. No matter how well the remaining selves realize themselves.


SPorcupine said...

How about "Culture of fairness (with option of extinction)?"

Tom Strong said...

Ah, well... I don't really have a better argument up my sleeve, so I'll leave it at that for now.