The Motivational Nature of Good Living: What is Human Autonomy and Why is it Good for People and Societies?
This chapter consists of two parts. The first one presents a summary of the selfdetermination theory account of people’s good living and optimal functioning. It highlights three motivational components identified by this theory: psychological needs (needs for autonomy competence and relatedness), aspirations and life strivings, and the continuum of motivational regulation. All these components are considered in relation to people’s eudaimonic happiness and optimal, healthy functioning. The main conclusion of
this section is that in order to be happy, people need to regularly and in a balanced way gratify their needs, have strong intrinsic strivings relative to extrinsic aspirations, and be relatively self-determined in their main domains of living and functioning. The second part addresses in more detail the controversial question of the nature of human autonomy as a fundamental condition for people’s thriving and flourishing. It provides a conceptual analysis of this construct, uncovers the mechanisms of its beneficial performance, and addresses a highly discussed question of relationships of autonomy and culture. This section ends with a conclusion on the fundamental importance of human autonomy for people, communities and societies to survive and thrive.