Problems of business call for definite answers, to be given at once; the problem of life cannot be thus disposed of.
Human life is made to consist of a succession of temporary practical problems, each of them set and once for all given by the outcome of the last and each of them to be solved, or in some form to be disposed of, right away. "Nothing which has ever interested living men and women can wholly lose its vitality" (Offer, & Sabshin, 1984). One can hardly state the limits of what this may be taken to mean. Such, however, is the attitude of humanism; and at the lowest terms it offers a complete contrast to the attitude of pragmatism.
In connection with the pragmatic attitude it was said that the significance of any temporal moment of life, or the meaning of any present desire, might be anything you please; "the present" is a question of the present scope of imagination. The same indefinite possibility confronts us when we think to define the boundaries of human nature. Could we think of the human being simply as an organism with a definite habitat and a restricted span of life, we might then formulate a definite "science of ethics" (Offer, & Sabshin, 1984), based upon human nature as a natural fact, undisturbed by suggestions metaphysical. But such a science of ethics would hardly merit the name of moral philosophy. The "moral nature" of man implies that he is not a mere organism but an organism which is self-conscious and critical, an organism with imagination. To human nature as thus conceived it seems difficult to assign any "natural" boundaries.
Despite the uniqueness of each individual and the different ways and varied environments in which we are raised, all of us are endowed with physical make-ups that are essentially alike and with similar biological needs that must be met. In common with all living things our lives go through a cycle of maturation, maturity, decline, and death. In common with all human beings each of us goes through a prolonged period of dependent immaturity, forms intense bonds to those who nurture us, and never becomes free of our need for others; and we mature sexually relatively late as if the evolutionary process took into account our needs to learn how to live and how to raise our offspring (Lidz, 1983). Each of us requires many years to learn adaptive techniques and become an integrated person, and we depend upon a culture and a society to provide our essential environments; we rely upon thought and foresight to find our paths through life and therefore become aware of the passage of time and our changing position in the life cycle. From an early age we know that the years of our lives are numbered; at times we bemoan the fact and at times we are glad of it; but in some way we learn to come to terms with our mortality and the realization that our lives are one-time ventures in a very small segment of time and space. These and many other such similarities make possible the generalizations and abstractions necessary for the scientific study of personality development.
The Meaning of Development
Many people have always been eager to form theories concerning the phenomena in and around them. They felt that once they had a "theory" concerning events, they could not only understand the event better but eventually control it (Offer, & Sabshin, 1984). When theories were proven wrong, new ones replaced old ones.
In our opinion, a theory concerning normal human