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enowning development: a manifold sense of self formativity
december 28, 2010


Love of learning, going forward (futural), presumes a past (the development) of good self efficacy (a legacy of fulfillments); yet that presumes its past of securely forward-looking intents, desires, interests, and purposes that built the self efficacy that makes new curiosities or interests welcomed. A new prospect of fulfillment motivates because a legacy of interest has resulted in optimism about new prospects. New appeals motivate because they mirror a past of fulfilling appeals that one identifies with or belongs to.

So, in a sense, there’s no beginning to love of learning, as the genealogy of adult interest or aspiration is experienced like a given present, a givenness. But that givenness has also been a temporal prevalence of promising futurity over pastness—however fulfilling (or unfulfilling) past accomplishment has been—and remains futural in the presence of appeals.

That’s an ambitious sense of development, which is more progressive than merely adaptive development.


Desire resulting from one’s legacy of individuation is selfidentical, i.e., integral to one’s conception of oneself. For love of learning, there’s given a legacy of esteeming confidence about learning (happily secure exploring); cultivated curiosity (building and broadening thought and action); and selfidentical capability, value, and purpose.

Aspiration feels intrinsic to oneself. Imaginativeness and idealization have become second nature. Generative feeling (especially optimism), conducive to openness, expanding horizons, and taking risks, happens easily (ref.1: 408). Desire for fulfillment prevails over need for satisfaction. Need satisfaction serves the purposiveness of the valuing life. An effective appeal of futural promise prevails over any sense of past setbacks.

In selfidentical aspiration, one is cultivating self expansiveness—which I want to phrase (oddly, I recognize) as: one’s belonging interest of enowned growth.


Instrumental to enowned growth is a legacy of fruitful appreciation of experience (a progressive realism) that has led to good self efficacy, in light of aspirational desire. There has been a durably-good sense of one’s zone of fruitful challenge or current era of learning whose felt boundaries are aspirationally expanding, in the sense that one’s personal best is a baseline going forward that is never durably satisfying. One must see over the next hill.

In the long run, the promising appeal of more progress or advancement leads to shifts of dimension, like desire to better and better master a 2-dimensional mass of details causes a shift to 3-d understanding, and the conception of aspiration is transformed—albeit less and less with age (as a given higher peak is less likely to lead to one higher than it, relative to the lower peaks that more-easily led to it); but the thrill is always available. (There is no highest peak.)

That’s an expansive way of expressing a long-viewing generativity of esteeming self efficacy. Thinking about self efficacy (by educators, clinicians, theorists) should be oriented by values of identity-developmental capability formation or individuation: belonging to one’s aspirational interest in self fulfillment. The value of self efficacy is motivational; self efficacy is esteeming—but only when it’s valid, i.e., based in actual capabilities that have been enowned. Conversely, a standardly-educational sense of capability formation is developmentally valid only when integral to a child’s sense of becoming. Developmental understanding of given efficacies is vital to understanding those efficacies as such, i.e., as belonging to purposive identities. Life-centered minds are, at best, oriented by individuational enactivity—desire, valuing, aspiration, purpose, and selfidentifications—via formation of capabilities.

A recent review of research on “Positive psychology for children and adolescents” (ref.1: 133ff.) makes an important distinction between dispositional optimism and explanatory optimism. Persons with good self efficacy don’t merely feel optimistic (“a pattern of positive expectations”); they explain setbacks in terms of enduring promise (but the researchers don’t ask: What’s the developmental basis of already having that “explanatory style”?). “When [‘optimism’] is defined in terms of explanatory style, optimism refers to how an individual thinks about the causality of an event...[thereby seeing] defeat as temporary, confined to a particular case, and not his or her direct fault” (137)—nor, I would add, the fault of the other.

Let me presume the meaning of ‘hope’ and presume the above meaning of ‘optimism’, then use “hope and optimism” to stand for a full range of generative feelings in love of learning. Probably, such optimism alone might stand well for everything else (relative to self efficacy), because such optimism leads to hope (it seems to me): It’s implausible that durable, motivating hope exists without action-oriented optimism. And optimism about one’s self efficacy is a practiced, life-historical part of oneself (not a “personal resource”).

There grows a self-nurturing of talents, self-cultivating interest, and honing of one’s skills, because optimistic learning is satisfying and fulfilling (“rewarding,” in the intrinsic sense). The enowned actuality of what one is capable of doing serves the importance I really place on actual capabilities, i.e., the nexus of motivating (or appealing) importances in one’s capability formation and one’s life.

Self efficacy results from enactive evincing of generative feeling through appreciability that is selfidentical. There is self-evincing motivation in light of appreciative identification with what’s authentically appealing.

[The above section is derived or extracted from a critique of positive psychologists today that has been separated from this page: “aspects of a critique...” Here, the critique is gone; there, this post-critical view is not as elaborate.]

My extended advocacy of a life-centered, individuational approach to learning could be elaborated relative to the model of “positive youth development” (PYD) mentioned earlier. “Based on both the experiences of practitioners and on reviews of the adolescent development literature...‘five Cs’...were hypothesized as a way of conceptualizing PYD (and integrating all the separate indicators of it, such as academic achievement or self esteem)” (ref.1: 155), a hypothesizing which panned out, which is why the author, R.M. Lerner, is discussing the model. The “5 Cs” are: “competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring,” which are integrated through an “ecological” theory of development whose axis is intiative (a 6th C: “contribution”), which I’m understanding in terms of aspiration, idealization, and long-term purposiveness: “A hypothesis subsidiary to the... ‘five Cs’ as a means to operationalize PYD is that, when a young person manifests the Cs across time (when the youth is thriving), he or she will be on a life trajectory toward an ‘idealized adulthood,’” which is understood (referenced) relative to the well-known research of Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi (“chick-sent-me-high”). I’m not going to dwell with PYD here, but it’s clear that the interests of educational psychology (and clinical psychology) live in a different register from the concerns of empirical psychology. (Psychotherapy is fundamentally educational depth psychology, which grounds remedial aims.)

A baby (an incipient Self) is born seeking novelty and exploration. Appealing promise of good release (anticipated enjoyment) sustains curiosity of oneSelf (intrinsic interest in appeals) which may consolidate into a prevailing promise of selfidentically-purposive fulfillment. In time, self-monitoring of purposive progress provides esteeming pleasure which fuels, thus furthers, one’s scale of desire, expressing an embodied valuing of knowledge gained (including capability, which is know-how). Short-term dispositions to broaden oneself (new interests, some of which pass away) serve long-term dispositions to build oneself. Medial, self-esteeming satisfaction in the appeal of challenges leads to (then serves) regular fulfillments of evident promise. One belongs to a fullfilling promise of desire, gaining so-called long-term potentiation (or durable self efficacy) through medial satisfactions.


Imaginative pleasure grown from free play of mind embodying open prospects of mystery-dissolving discovery, whose horizon is bounded only by conceivability, elates me. Why not as much scalarity as possible?

Short-sighted realism slights one’s promise. Yet also, there’s virtue in prudence. Excellent self formativity is realistic, but aspires (or should aspire) to be highly comprehensive in its realism, as well as pursuing itself in light of humanistic aspiration. A mind not only embodies, but is embodied by inworldness, which may have as much scale as one can appreciate. I’m for ambitiously balancing realism (well-founded self-efficacy) and idealism (selfidentically-high aspiration).

Part of my idealism has been to dissolve the narrative/discursive boundaries between child and adult development, implicitly begging the question of what degree of conceptual aspiration is appropriate for a “child.” After all, the impetus of psychotherapy has always been to address a fullness of lived self presence, which includes the horizonal child (the “Inner Child”) of unrealized potential, as well as the actual child of parenting and education.

Thanks to extensive empirical research by leading positive psychologists (tongue in cheek here), we can be confident of what’s intuitively obvious: Pleasure through “engagement leads individuals to seek out activities that challenge their skills and develops their talents and interests” (ref.16: 14). Research assures the wary that we naturally want to grow through novelty, complexity, and challenge: “Seeking new experiences, preferring complexity over simplicity, and engaging in actions out of intrinsic interest are hallmarks of human action” (ref.1: 367). Sustained intrinsic motivation leads to upward spirals of “nurturing talents, cultivating interest, and honing skills” (ref.16: 14), which I mentioned earlier.

Individuation is fueled by recursive pleasure, as different kinds of satisfactions build on each other (ibid.) into reliabilities of optimism about future satisfaction and fulfillments warranting fidelity to later-emergent promise.

In self-directed learning, openness to the appeal of a mystery or challenge is deliberately done and sustained due to reliable promise of satisfaction, then fulfillment, in learning that esteems a future promise in appeals. In short, investments pay off because the selfidentically life-centered investment is very deliberately made; and the risk is reliably rewarding, so desire to progress is recurrent.

Pleasure in enactive response to appeal leads to self efficacy, which I thought to call (rather eccentrically) appellantly-constructive capability formation through recursive pleasure in self expansive learning—cultivated curiosity as venturous constructivism? The so-called “spiral” of learning Time is an embracing gravity in the horizon, an appeal of horizonality as such?

The potential scale of The Opening, so to speak, deserves to have no apparent boundaries. All height, breadth, and depth (e.g., potential for transposed dimensionality, like an eerie resonance of textual intimacy with you or immanent discursive reflectivity), all implicatures (all Shadows), belong to The Opening: daydreaming, elations of imagining, planning, rehearsing, venturing, thinking, enthral, adventure, and transgression—all reveries, all hedonistic leisures.




  Be fair. © 2017, gary e. davis