M. Scott Peck's philosophical novels and the importance of human development

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In modern society, more and more people vainly try to find meaning in their lives through the acquisition of money, material goods, and popularity. While these secular pleasures may bring us financial security, comfort, or short term happiness, the true purpose of life is to mature physically, mentally, and spiritually. As M. Scott Peck postulates in his series of philosophical novels, if one wishes to be happy and to live life to its fullest, one must simply strive to learn and develop. Thus, human development is the highest aspiration one can possess. Peck speculates in The Road Less Traveled and The Different Drum that in order to grow individually we must first be willing to grow with others as a community. Over the semester, I …show more content…
It encourages us to hide our weaknesses and failures. It teaches us to be utterly ashamed of our limitations. It drives us to attempt to be superwomen and supermen not only in the eyes of others but also in our own (Drum 56-7).
While this philosophy does encourage individuation, it ignores the fact that we as people are social creatures who need human contact to thrive. This is where soft individualism comes in. According to this theory, it is acceptable, even beneficial to admit our shortcomings. We are encouraged to become introspective and to honestly evaluate ourselves in order to identify both our strengths and our weaknesses. Like rugged individualism, soft individualism recognizes that we are called to both individuation and to wholeness, yet it stipulates that the only way to achieve this wholeness is through human contact. Thus, while Peck invites us to march to the beat of our own, unique drum, we should do so by becoming interdependent rather than completely independent (Drum 56).
The main thesis of The Road Less Traveled is that personal growth requires discipline, a term which Peck defines as, “The basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems” (Road 15). Peck writes that life is difficult because the process of confronting these problems, and thus personal growth, is in itself difficult (Road 16). He outlines four techniques of discipline (delaying of gratification, acceptance of responsibility, dedication to truth,

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