Final fictive goal and national identity

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Thu, 21 Jul 2016 Source: Osei, Nana Yaw

The Neo-Freudian and the founder of individual psychology, Alfred Adler (1870-1937), asserted that every individual is motivated to strive for superiority in order to compensate for inferiority.

In his view, such compensatory striving and its attendant final fictive goal can fashion out the development of the individual. The final fictive goal is what motivates individual’s conduct. The purpose of this article is to elucidate the concept of final fictive goal as espoused by Alfred Adler and establish the connection between the aforesaid construct and our national identity as Ghanaian.

This correlation will reveal our purpose in life and our goal as a country (development). Knowledge of our national purpose and discourse will somewhat prevent conflicts before, during and after 2016 polls in Ghana.

Adler opined that an individual’s life cannot be understood apart from social context (Mosak & Maniacci, 1999). This thought of Adler was partly necessitated by a philosophy in the 19th century Europe known as idealistic positivism.

Adler was typically influenced by the philosophy of Hans Vaihinger and the ideas of Max Weber, as espoused in his book known, “protestant ethics and the spirit of capitalism” to propound a theory known as fictive finalism or final fictive goal. Sigmund Freud had emphasized on constitutional factors and experience during early childhood as determiners of personality traits (Hall & Lindzey, 1957).

Adler found from the Vaihinger’ rebuttal to this rigid historical determiner of personality and discovered the idea that man is motivated more by his expectation of the future not by the experience of the past. These goals do not exist in the future as a part of some teleological design.

Adler believed in predestination or fatality, but to him, they exist subjectively or mentally here and now as striving or ideals which affect present behavior (Hall & Lindzey, 1957). If a person believes, for example, that there is a heaven for virtuous people and a hell for sinners, this fiction (Adler’s view), it may be presumed, will exercise considerable influences on his or her behavior. In the Adler’s view, these fictive goals were, the subjective causation of psychological event (Hall & Lindzey, 1957).

As citizens of Ghana, we all have individual final fictive goals. Our life cannot be understood unless it is placed within social context. All human problems are social and even those within the province of individual are capable of becoming social (Mosak & Maniacci, 1999).

As Christians, the final fictive goals motivate us to love our neighbor as ourselves. 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:31). We do that for eternal blissfulness in heaven.

Muslims are motivated by a final fictive goal by practicing their five pillars of faith. These include: Shahada, five daily prayers, Zakat (alms giving), Ramadan and Hajj (Insoll, 2003). The practitioners of African traditional religion have their own means of describing God for the purpose of the final fictive goal.

For example, Professor John. S Mbiti, asserted that man, in some ways, considers himself to be the center of the universe, and this egocentricism makes him interpret the universe both anthropocentrically (looking at God from the point of his relationship with man) and anthropomorphically (Giving human attribute to God). This view of God regulates the conduct of African believers.

I am yet to find a society or a country whose final fictive goal is conflict. In the view of the French social psychologist and sociologist, Gabriel Tarde (1843-1904) society cannot be defined but individuals in it could be defined. As a country however, our constitution defined our identity and goals.

The development of Ghana is the final fictive goal in the nation as a whole. We have an identity as one country with a common goal. Our tribal, ethnic, religious, political affiliations are the product of culture. Democracy and rule of law are the vehicles helping us as we traverse the rough road to development.

To a very large extent, I do agree with Asantehene that if democracy will bring conflicts to our nation then it is not worth practicing. Ghanaian electorates, leaders must be guided by the final fictive goal of the nation and must be ever ready to avoid conflicts

As a country, we must conduct self-introspection: what are our goals? How far have we reached those goals? How come that we are very rich by natural resources and ironically poor by bank account (Baffour Ankomah)? The answers to these questions from foreigner’s perspective will help us to understand our shortcomings.

Therefore, in his book, “from third World to First, the Singapore Story: 1965-2000” pp, 355-356, the Singapore’s oriental despot who transformed that country into its height of economic glory, Lee Kuan Yew gave a horrifying tale of administrative ineptitude he witnessed during his visit to Ghana. Underneath are the vignettes of his observation.

By 1966, "Osagyefo” (Redeemer), as Nkrumah was called, "had recovered enough of his bounce to give me dinner with some of his senior ministers and a bright young vice-chancellor of his university. This man, Abraham, was only 30 years old, had taken a First in classics at Oxford and was a fellow of All Souls’ college. Nkrumah was very proud of him. I was impressed, but wondered why a country so dependent on agriculture should have its brightest and best do Classics-Latin and Greek”.

On our arrival at Accra, the person who came up to the aircraft to greet me was Krobo Edusei, the then minister for presidential affairs. “He had gained notoriety as a corrupt minister who had bought himself a golden bedstead" (this was for the wife), a story much publicized in the World press.

On my second night in Accra, he took me to a nightclub. Krobo Edusei, proudly announced that he was the owner and that all VIPS would enjoy their evenings there. With impunity Krobo Edusei talked about the number of properties he had acquired as a minister.

I was not optimistic about Africa. My fears for the people of Ghana were not misplaced. Notwithstanding their rich cocoa plantations, gold mines, and high Volta dam, which could generate enormous amounts of power, Ghana’s economy sank into disrepair and has not recovered the early promise it held out at independence in 1957, he asserted.

Instances of corruption in Africa and Ghana could be mentioned ad infinitum. As we are going to the polls, we must vote on issues that fit into our national final fictive goals.

In sum, an identification of our purpose of life and national development as shrouded in Adler’s final fictive goal, must encourage us to make good choices for our country. Conflict is definitely not a choice for us. Let us allow the institutions of the country to work.

As Leonardo da Vinci, observed: the greatest deception men suffer from is their own opinion. The natural desire of good men is knowledge. If education instigates us to fight among ourselves, then it is not education but miseducation. Let us work hard to ensure a peaceful and violent-free election 2016. I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing (Socrates). I humbly stand for Corrections.

Writer's e-mail: Padigogoma77@yahoo.co.uk


Hall, C. S., & Lindzey, G. (1957). Social psychological theories: Adler, Fromm, Horney, and Sullivan. In Theories of personality (pp. 114-156). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc. doi:10.1037/10910-004 Insoll. T (2003). The archaeology of Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa, Combridge University Press

Mbiti, J. S (1997). African Religions and Philosophy, 2nd, ed, Heineman. Mosak, H. H., & Maniacci, M. P. (1999). A primer of Adlerian psychology: The analytic-behavioral-cognitive psychology of Alfred Adler. Philadelphia, PA: Brunner/Mazel.

Columnist: Osei, Nana Yaw