Friday, December 29, 2006

The passions of maturity: Morality and creativity in later life

Studies of moral development have concentrated on children and adolescents rather than older adults. Yet people continue to face and reflect on moral dilemmas throughout the life-course. This article examines how a group of older women and men from a rural New York community deal with issues of meaning and purpose in their mature years, and compares their experiences with those of elders from India. Through a series of ethnographic vignettes, three American approaches to the moral nature of late life are explored: viz., deep involvement in art, in public service, and in self-exploration. Rural people discovered many forms of passion, ranging from the personal, professional and political to the ethical and expressive. In their attempts to negotiate both passion and purpose, these individuals also found themselves contending with major contradictions in their own culture, especially the tensions between self fulfillment and social responsibility, duty and creativity, and personal meaning and reciprocity. Their sense of purpose is compared with that of sannyasins, older spiritual seekers from India, whose goals stressed a very distinct set of cultural ideals.

Savishinsky, Joel. (2001). The passions of maturity: Morality and creativity in later life. Journal of Cross Cultural Gerontology. Vol 16 (1): 41-55


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