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10.28.2018

Loevinger asks us to focus on three sequential adult stages: the conformist, the conscientious, and the autonomous. In Loevinger’s... >>>

Loevinger asks us to focus on three sequential adult stages: the conformist, the conscientious, and the autonomous. In Loevinger’s conformist stages, morality is evaluated in terms of concrete externals rather than in terms of emotions. You love a woman if you give her an engagement ring. You can be trusted to have a child when you have a valid marriage license. You were admirable if you enlisted in the United States Marines in January 1942. Russiais “the Evil Empire,” and the American
flag is emblazoned with colors that don’t
run. Most laws and most religious
dogma work at this level. So do the
minds of a lot of devout patriots in all of
the world’s nations. If you are not with
us, you are against us.
As individuals mature, they reach
Loevinger’s conscientious stage. Love
means you put your mate’s needs above
your own lust. You can be trusted to
have children when you are able to care
for them properly. You learn to entertain
the possibility that a man might still have
been admirable if in 1942 he preferred
jail as a conscientious objector to killing
other human beings. You value
ecumenical religious services, andsometimes you support the United Nations over your own country’s interests. You learn to differentiate your emotions and master Piagetian formal operations. Loevinger believes, and I agree, that
some, but not most, adults evolve further into what she calls the autonomous stage. By autonomous she means trusting others to be autonomous. Rather than giving the hungry a fish, you teach them how to catch fish themselves. Defining love becomes more difficult than just the

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