This paper uses systems theory to clarify the crucial point that there is a basic, inborn, bodily motivation, and that a social theory of the self cannot simply be a theory of process. By bridging across current neuroscience, cognitive science, and systems theory, I propose a self that is fundamentally emotional energy seeking. There are other bodily needs (food, drink, etc), but these satiate quickly, and although they can override everything else at moments when they are low, they are not the central switching mechanism, the top of the hierarchy in the subsumption architecture of the self. Basing the formation and ongoing processes of the self in the motive to maximize emotional energy can explain the seeming conflict between tendencies towards self-consistency and the potential for creativity and change. It also allows us to detail the mechanisms that underlie the process of individuals drawing on culture as a resource and in turn diffusing new symbols and meanings into the larger culture.
Summers-Effler, E. (2004), "A THEORY OF THE SELF, EMOTION, AND CULTURE", Turner, J.H. (Ed.) Theory and Research on Human Emotions (Advances in Group Processes, Vol. 21), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 273-308. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0882-6145(04)21011-6
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