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This book is dedicated
those who are left to understand the world
and their place in it
those who do not have that good fortune
Copyright © 2013 by Martin Janello
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted,
in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, or otherwise,
without prior written permission from its copyright owner
Cover, book design, and artwork by Martin Janello
Published by Palioxis Publishing
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and the Palioxis Publishing colophon
are trademarks owned by Martin Janello
a two-part paperback edition
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THE CONTENTS OF THIS BOOK ARE PROVIDED FOR PURPOSES OF GENERAL INFORMATION AND INDEPENDENT EVALUATION ONLY.
THEY ARE NOT TO BE TAKEN AS ORDERS, DEMANDS, REQUESTS, ADVICE, SUGGESTIONS, OR RECOMMENDATIONS TO UNDERTAKE OR NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MENTAL, OVERTLY PHYSICAL, OR OTHER ACT.
THEY DO NOT ESTABLISH AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP, NOR DO THEY ESTABLISH A CONFIDENTIAL OR PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP OF ANY OTHER KIND.
THEY CANNOT, DO NOT, AND ARE NOT INTENDED TO, CONSTITUTE, SUBSTITUTE, OR SUPPLEMENT THE SERVICES OF TRAINED PROFESSIONALS IN ANY FIELD, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LEGAL, FINANCIAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, PSYCHIATRIC, OR MEDICAL SERVICES.
COLLECTING OUR SELF
1 WISHES AND NEEDS 13
2 EMOTIONAL AND RATIONAL MIND 32
3 PASSING ON 54
4 AFTERLIFE 68
5 PRESENT LIMITATIONS 83
6 EXPERIENCES AND INFLUENCES 99
7 TRIALS, CONVENTIONS, AND IDOLS 115
8 OPPORTUNITIES OF EMPIRIC INSIGHT 134
9 LIMITATIONS OF EMPIRIC INSIGHT 146
10 THE SUBJECTIVITY OF HAPPINESS 159
11 IDEALISTIC AMBITIONS 171
12 IDEALISTIC CONVERSION 195
13 CRITICAL EXAMINATION 224
14 IDEALISTIC SCIENCE 243
15 IDEALISTIC DISSATISFACTION 257
16 SEARCHING FOR A BETTER WAY 269
17 OUR INNER ESSENCE 290
18 PERSONALITY FORMATION 313
19 THE STRUGGLE FOR OBJECTIVITY 335
20 GATHERING PERSONAL INFORMATION 358
21 IDENTIFYING OUR EMOTIONAL TRAITS 381
22 SELECTING THE BEST APPROACH 398
23 SETTING OUR PRIORITIES 417
24 THE DEMANDS OF COMPROMISE 438
25 ALLOCATING OUR RESOURCES 450
26 COMPETITION AND COOPERATION 479
27 CONTROLLED COMPETITION 513
28 COMPETITIVE STRATEGIES 531
29 THE INDISPENSABILITY OF COOPERATION 566
30 COOPERATIVE PRODUCTION 581
31 COOPERATIVE TRANSFORMATION 607
32 REDISTRIBUTION AND CHARITY 625
33 INTEGRATION AND DISSOCIATION 664
34 POLITICAL CONVERSION 703
35 COOPERATIVE GOVERNANCE 736
36 LOST AND FOUND 759
37 COINCIDENCE 775
38 THE INSUFFICIENCY OF CONTROL 799
39 PURSUIT AND FULFILLMENT 811
40 CONSTRUCTION AND DESTRUCTION 826
41 SOLIDARITY AND DISCRIMINATION 861
42 BASIC GENERAL RECONCILIATION 883
43 ADVANCED GENERAL RECONCILIATION 910
44 HUMAN INTEGRATION 921
45 FREEDOM AND PROGRAM 956
CONCLUSION AND EPILOGUE 971
This book has been facilitated by important factors and persons whom I would like to thank. Although its contents developed over time, they came to me without much prodding. I never wondered what I should write next. In a very real way, the book wrote itself. I felt I was merely serving as a medium in memorializing what was, is, and could be. I am grateful for having been there and having had the capacity and experiences to do this work. It took quite some endurance and calm concentration to collect and ponder all aspects I regarded as relevant, express them in communicable terms, and organize them according to their inherent progression. As the entire measure of this effort materialized and I sacrificed important years in my productive prime to it, I was at times daunted. But I also sensed an increasingly unyielding determination that this work was necessary, that I had to undertake it, dedicate every moment I could to it, and not publish it before I deemed it ready. Even diversionary temptations, disruptions, as well as pursuits that I had to abandon or neglect during my writing focused my mind and made me pursue my purpose with hardened resolve. I thank all of these trials for confirming how much this work matters to me.
Most difficult was the solitude that intense writing and deliberation require. Also, I never told anybody what the book was about until it was completed. I sensed I had to keep my work private to develop my thoughts undisturbedly. I was trying to sort my mind about a great variety of issues that I could often barely describe and not fathom yet. I wanted to do that without being distracted by endeavors of others to influence me. I appreciate that I could mature my thoughts independently. I further wanted to see what I could accomplish, and I am glad to have had the occasion of finding that out. My self-imposed isolation meant that I had to be a critic to my work and had to hold myself accountable where I was not thorough enough, went astray, or could express myself better. I am grateful for this corrective reflection. In addition, I came to appreciate how short and precious time is. It flew while I was immersed in writing and when I looked up at events on the outside, I received an unobstructed impression of life’s actual pace.
Some of my acknowledgments might sound as if I were thanking myself. But I did not create any of the conditions responsible for this book. They were given to me by circumstances to which all credit is due. Immeasurable recognition has to go as well to persons close to me for their unconditional trust, love, and support. Accordingly, while I am gratified by the completion of my book and by its substance, I am equally humbled by the favorable circumstances that enabled them.
The most direct introduction for this book is the story of its development. That story does not begin with deeply contemplated structures and with high concepts. When I started seriously thinking and writing about happiness almost seven years ago, I was not certain what would come of it. Nothing dramatic triggered this enterprise. I was not greatly unhappy. A fair number of my endeavors were bringing me satisfaction, and I had no lack of ideas about conditions that I believed would bring me more satisfaction. But it had bothered me for some time that I possessed no coherent notion of happiness. All I had was a scattering of impressions about it contrasted by a conviction that happiness was very important to me. I recognized that this state of affairs made it difficult to reach or hold, let alone increase or even maximize happiness. Thus, I decided to assemble and consider my impressions to find out whether I could derive a more deliberate approach from them.
I soon realized that my understanding of happiness could not advance much without further exploration. I began by asking whether my objectives, their pursuit, and their fulfillment were generating the best possible quality and quantity of happiness. That questioning encompassed not only obvious failures but successful endeavors as well. Events of happiness appeared to be of short duration and little consequence. They did not appear to have a lasting effect on my long-term level of happiness, which did not impress me as greatly different now from most other times in my life. Perhaps that equalization was fortunate because disappointments seemed to follow the same trend. Still, I wondered whether the results of all my exertions were worthwhile. It worried me that the measures of happiness I had already experienced should be all there would be. How I fared appeared to depend in large parts on the environment of my endeavors and how other persons behaved. Then again, I could see that much of it was a function of my attitudes and actions. Could I have prevented missteps and unsuccessful pursuits? Could I have enhanced the experiences and outcomes of my undertakings? Was there any value in the failures or sacrifices that I had incurred? Was it prudent to give up some of my ambitions and to instead concentrate on others? I found myself asking whether I could have done better. I speculated what I could have done differently and what my life would be like had I made different choices. Even more, I kept wondering whether I was missing anything right now. Was there something that I should be doing of which I was not aware? Should I abandon or restrain certain pursuits for the sake of others? Was I living my life to its greatest potential? I had the suspicion that I was not. This concern did not only focus on the generation of higher intensities and quantities of happiness. I also worried about the stability of happiness. I wished I could better hold on to it when it faded or regain it after it vanished. Both my impressions of deficiencies and, even more, possible cures were unclear. I had a sense that there was room for improvement, but I could not see a clear path to more happiness.
I further queried myself why I should rely on my aspirations so steadfastly. How many of my ideas were thought out? It seemed that most of them originated as cryptic bits that had attained momentum over time. Where had they come from? Were they really mine? Were they not defined by circumstances I experienced, by what I found possible, by what I was told rather than genuinely by me? Even if my ideas were entirely mine, what basis did I have to think that they would conduct me to happiness? Even if I was confident about my objectives, did I possess sufficient information and skill to implement them? Did I know how to make myself happy? How could I be certain about my competence in setting and pursuing objectives? Even as I confronted myself with the simple question what happiness is, I could cite a variety of examples but I could not succinctly characterize its essence. My inability to define happiness sealed my conviction that I did not have the best grasp on it and drove me to action. The question now became how to extricate myself from this dissatisfactory situation. I realized I was not merely looking for some ideas to boost my happiness. I wanted to get to the bottom of the phenomenon and solve its mystery.
In an attempt to recognize aspects of assurance and direction, I reviewed what I had learned about happiness thus far. I thought I had picked up a sizeable collection of appropriate objectives and standards of conduct that bring about happiness. Perhaps refamiliarizing myself with them, deliberating about them more intensely, or following them more intently could help me to transcend my lack of confidence. Such efforts might empower me to recognize certain principles as true and to confirm or adopt them as mine. I reviewed what I had learned from my family, from school, religion, and the social and cultural context in which I had grown up. I also reviewed what I had learned about happiness as an adult from my personal and work relationships and from other experiences. My life started with a few basic rules that were imposed by my caretakers or that I learned impliedly in contact with my environment. Most of these made intuitive or practical sense and have stood the test of time. But as I was growing up, additional settings and purported authorities emerged whose presence and impositions were less commonsensical. Many principles impressed or inflicted on me were abstract generalities that stayed disconnected from my circumstances. Where specific instructions filled general principles, they often referred to factual and emotional situations with which I could not identify. Even where that did not pose a problem, they regularly presented less than credible or otherwise unsatisfactory explanations why they should apply. Authorities habitually demanded adoption of principles without any verification or only with perfunctory proof. Moreover, many instructions or implementations were plagued by incompleteness or inconsistencies. When they appeared to contain valid aspects, these were frequently hard to recognize and to evaluate because they were adulterated by incorrect translations, interpretations, modifications, additions, or omissions. Quite a number of instructions had been imposed on me under the authority of possible, often vague, direct or indirect external repercussions. Others appealed to an internally administrated sense of shame or of guilt. Even where such pressures were not obvious, their ubiquitous or prevalent acceptance in my environment had suggested them as viable guidelines. For lack of deeper thought or better alternatives, I had tended to comply with them.
As my experience with this guidance had grown, an increasing share of it had revealed itself as detrimental. I frequently found myself disagreeing with attitudes and resulting conditions. Yet that only provided partial instruction about what should take their place. It taught me what not to think, feel, do, or want but less about constructive objectives. I could not even be certain that the guidelines I deemed plausible could be trusted. They frequently conflicted with one another by direct contradiction or indirect competition. Even systems of purported guidance seemed to be afflicted by internal inconsistencies, incompleteness, or inapplicabilities. Frequently, I found in them principles I supported amalgamated with others that I disapproved. If theories appeared acceptable, their practice tended to betray their promise. This meant that hardly any instructions could be adopted free of doubt. It also meant that I could not identify a comprehensive approach toward happiness. My distrust of instructions had grown further with increasing information about their background. They often appeared to have been established or advanced to benefit their initiators and their promoters rather than the persons to whom they were directed.
Not all was lost. I had been able to nuance and supplement the basic guidelines of my youth. I had learned from the concurrences of my experiences with external instructions. I had applied and had confirmed the authority of a number of principles, and I had been able to customize some of them. In addition, I had developed some guidelines of my own through my experiences. In various respects, I had learned what to do if I would find myself in situations similar to those I had already experienced. Even in regions where I lacked experience, the expanded application of trusted principles could give me some guidance. Still, the frame of reference of the guidelines I had approved kept my concepts largely reactive. It was of little help in determining for what I should be searching, in formulating my objectives past the horizon of what I already knew. I had learned how to get along, how to live with reasonable stability, how to contain problems and resolve them with some success. But I had not necessarily found out how to take charge of my existence. It seemed that my experiences, including my experiences with principles, lacked the capacity to convincingly guide me in achieving more happiness, let alone in maximizing it. Basing my pursuits on an incomplete set of guidelines and trying to expand them by new interesting ideas and their trial did not strike me as the best way of confronting the problem. Even if I could generate some progress in this manner, shaping a happy existence this way seemed uneconomical and ineffective. I thought that, despite unique challenges posed by contemporary life, previous generations must have had many similar experiences. By now, there should be an established, solidly founded, and intelligible guidance structure by which humans should be able to advance their happiness. Only, I had not found such a system.
I was aware that various religious and secular doctrines claimed to have resolved the challenges of happiness. I had examined many of them during my formal studies of law and of philosophy and in later years. Some of their principles rang true to me. Yet I did not discover anything that dramatically reformed my mind. I mostly accumulated deeper in-sights into what I disapproved. I considered that my failure to be positively impressed by any of the formalized recipes for happiness might be a personal peculiarity. After all, many of these doctrines seemed to have significant influence on many other individuals. Then again, the condition of happiness of their originators, proponents, and followers, let alone the effects their application had on other humans overwhelmingly did not live up to their claims. This was often blamed on interpretive error, abuse, lack of dedication, or the difficulty of circumstances. But I thought that a valid message about how happiness can be accomplished should have broken through such impediments. I found this to be the case for fundamental features stated in a variety of doctrines. However, it seemed to me that anybody sufficiently considerate could readily identify these maxims without much guidance. That philosophies acknowledged these did not redeem their incapacity to go beyond and define a practicable path toward happiness. It had mystified me that, after years of studies, I had not come across a general system for the pursuit of happiness and that it might not exist.
Confronting this issue again brought back a vivid memory of an event during my studies of philosophy at the University of Heidelberg. I had been attending an introductory course with Professor Friedrich Fulda, the dean of the philosophical faculty. One of the statements he made engraved itself into my mind down to its exact setting. I can still see and hear the professor pronounce that studying philosophy is not likely to help individuals who are looking for authoritative answers to their personal problems. Rather, it instills a flexibility of thought and tolerance of different viewpoints and gives us the tools to explore and compare these viewpoints. This declaration had not bothered me immediately because I had not chosen philosophy to find answers to personal problems. I had begun studying it in addition to law because of an interest in the foundations of law. But I had not understood why I had that interest. Looking back, I began to recognize that my interest had been all along in happiness and had only been couched in terms of legal theory. I had hoped that the incongruities between assertions of safe and systematic guidance and the reality I had increasingly encountered could be closed by studying sources. That issue had become acute if I was going to represent such guidance in form of the law. I had expected that the study of philosophy would disclose substantive guidance on how to behave individually, as a society, and as a species. I had thought that, similar to wealth and health, happiness was an objective state and therefore assumed that its constituents and principles could be rationally investigated, understood, detailed, and implemented. I had expected that identifying objective normative principles by which happiness operates and can be systematized was feasible. I had trusted that best practices of acting and interacting with others, best principles of law and morality could be deduced as matters of science. I had believed in their derivability from a substance of happiness and that, by following them upstream, that substance could be revealed.
It had profoundly surprised me that someone like the professor, who had such intense knowledge of so many philosophies, should not have found and would not commit to authoritative answers on how to lead a proper existence. I had no problem acknowledging that certain areas of philosophy should be preoccupied with technique. But I had not been able to accept that the study of philosophies addressing human affairs should be a mere exercise of instilling flexibility, tolerance, and analytical skills, that there was little hope of finding one guiding truth in them. As I remembered my struggling with the implications of this apparent limitation, I realized that I had not found peace with it. If there was no singular truth applicable to human existence, there could be any number of legitimate opinions and approaches. This had not comported with my ideal of happiness as an objective phenomenon then, and I could not accept it now. It seemed problematic to me that there should be multiple coexisting claims to the truth. I likened this setting to different positioning in observation of a physical environment. Although the experiences made in different positions might vary, they would still pertain to the same objective phenomenon that could be described as one truth by the same principles. It struck me as odd that human happiness should deviate from this standard, particularly in view of the claim of scientific derivation and objective certainty by most philosophies addressing matters of happiness. Much of that claim was already suspect to the extent philosophies contradicted one another. Yet, if their characteristics merely represented one viewpoint among others, all of them would have to be mistaken in their claim of objective truth regarding these characteristics. They could not contain any valid knowledge of what makes humans happy other than subjective preferences and their elaborations. Some of us might be fortunate enough to find a philosophy in concordance with our views and obtain applicable guidance from it. The rest of us would be on our own. Further, the subjectivity of happiness called into question the functionality of many laws, morality, and other principles that might be focused on improving and optimizing human existence. Even where philosophies superficially appeared to agree, their interpretations frequently left them with little in common. The widespread absence of objective truth about happiness in them seemed to make the derivation of generally valid principles for human behavior mostly impossible.
I remembered that the lack of guidance revealed by this conclusion had troubled me. As much as I had tried to escape this result, my studies in the following years had regularly confirmed it. This had led me to considerable disillusionment about the function of philosophy in the betterment of humans and humanity. My disappointment with substantive philosophies and their reflection on law had prompted me to concentrate on the technical aspects of law and philosophy. In my practice as a business attorney, I represented a broad variety of interests. I learned to assess the positions, objectives, and arguments of all participants to a transaction and to negotiate solutions among them. I became skilled in the safeguarding and the cooperative optimization of clients’ purposes in a shared environment. Developing and applying these capacities formed a source of considerable satisfaction. Still, as I assessed the progression from my university days through my career, I realized that I had become a representation of Professor Fulda’s declaration. I had become proficient in understanding, in respecting, and in harmonizing different viewpoints to design productive arrangements for my clients. However, I had not come across a philosophy by which I could comprehensively identify and connect valid objectives and systematically enhance and maximize their pursuit. This did not disturb my functioning. Clients hired me to represent their defined or implied business objectives and not to answer deeper questions of what they really wanted or should want. But I had also relented finding these answers for myself. As this insight emerged, I understood why the professor’s statement had stayed with me so persistently. For all this time, I had ignored the reminder of an unfinished task that my memory of his statement had continued to submit. I finally decided to pay attention and ask: If philosophies cannot provide authoritative answers to the question how to be happy, what or who can? The answer was obvious. I needed to find my own way. I began to see why I had avoided this task before. It seemed exceedingly difficult. There did not seem to be much to work with even now that I understood the challenge better. The assortment of principles I had gathered up along my path had served me reasonably well. Yet, if I was to improve on them, I had to take a few steps back and gain a better comprehension of happiness. I had to reflect deeper on what my impressions represented and might have to develop and supplement them. To undertake all that, I had to represent my thoughts and thus began to commit them to writing.
As my considerations progressed, I detected an unexpected development. Not only did I assemble a better picture of what happiness meant to me. I also began to notice the emergence of a general procedural concept about how happiness might be found, maintained, improved, and maximized according to an individual’s autonomous insights. The development of this method instigated my writing of this book in addition to the personal records I built for myself. It does not presume to know the particularities of happiness for any of us. Rather, it explores how we can identify what will make us happy. It proposes that we must turn inward to accomplish this identification. We have to comprehensively come to know who we are and what we want. The book offers perspectives on how to achieve that knowledge and shows that autonomous acquisition of knowledge is not only possible but is also necessary. Once we have established a topical comprehension of what makes us happy, we must employ this knowledge in its practical context. We have to identify, examine, and select means and strategies to pursue our objectives. That work exceeds immediate technical concerns. We have to comprehend how to harmonize our pursuits within ourselves and with our human and nonhuman environment to obtain the best possible results. A significant portion of this book is therefore dedicated to the transitioning of our ideas of happiness into reality.
Because these processes focus on exploring and expressing who we are and bringing our self into reality, their results are bound to be as individual as our differences. Nevertheless, when we step back from the particulars of our pursuits and compare them with the pursuits of other individuals, we can perceive a larger picture. We can distinguish common denominators that derive from our nature as humans and universally shared conditions of human existence. These commonalities cause us to recognize foundations of our nature in others. They allow us to draw conclusions about happiness and our pursuit of it beyond individual particularities. They permit us to formulate a general concept of happiness, including its purposes, sources, motivations, requirements, detractions, and implications. As a result, we are able to construct a general substantive theory of happiness. Although its tenets may be modulated by particular internal and external conditions, it prescribes guide-lines and parameters for our objectives and pursuits that we cannot transgress if we want to be happy. Understanding the nature of happiness is a condition for more comprehensive access to its potential. To prosecute our happiness effectively and efficiently, we must comprehend the topography and physics of its universe and our position in it. This orientation permits us to improve the selection of objectives and methods and to behave in a more purposeful manner. Further, we gain a better judgment of our ability to control our happiness and about how much happiness we might be able to obtain.
The exposition of both the procedural and substantive aspects of a general theory of happiness obligated me to observe stringent requirements. To preserve the general applicability of the theory, I had to keep its presentation separate from the originally intended writing that focused on my person. Still, neither of these writings would have been possible without the other. Exploring and memorializing ideas for the advancement of my happiness alerted me to the manifestation of generally applicable principles. Moreover, the development of these principles benefited from being tested by personal application. In return, applying emerging principles greatly helped me to develop and understand what I needed to do for my happiness. The mutual illumination between theory and practice helped me to develop and sharpen both of these aspects. My hope is that this book can prompt a similar progress of reciprocal discovery between the principled and practical aspects of happiness for its readers. I set forth best efforts to find, develop, and delineate universal concepts. But proving their universality is not my supreme ambition. A critical examination is necessary if the concepts in this book are to serve their function of enabling readers to identify and advance their happiness through their own insights.
COLLECTING OUR SELF
WISHES AND NEEDS
To find out how we can advance our happiness, we must first identify what it is and how it comes about. We may begin this venture by observing how we experience happiness. When we think about our happiness, we tend to associate immediately its particularizations in our existence. We picture past and present conditions, or we imagine settings that we believe or hope to be capable of bringing us happiness in the future. Our awareness of past and present events and our ideas of future events of happiness correlate with a desire to rekindle that past, to hold on to present situations, or to engender particular conditions. These longings to be situated in past, present, or future circumstances and to experience their beneficial implications for our emotional state constitute our wishes. We wish to re-create, attain, or maintain particular circumstances so we can be happy. Our wishes define our happiness and guide our exploration for it. The fulfillment of a wish conveys happiness onto us. We are happy when we get what we want. Because our understanding of happiness is so intricately intertwined with the substance of our wishes, we have difficulties thinking rationally about it or our wishes. Our wishes appear to be phenomena in our mind that precede our rational thoughts. They appear to be emotional incidents, urges that appear to exist independently of what we think about them. We may apply rational considerations to help in their definition and advancement. But even if we find rational reasons why we should not give in to particular wishes, they still tend to persist. The only way we appear to be able to reformulate our wishes is if we perceive that they or other wishes may suffer from their pursuit and we form new, more advanced wishes. In that formulation, our wishes seem to take rational advice and emotionally reconcile. Yet, even then, the underlying desires may continue to agitate and may be difficult to discourage.
Most of our wishes do not materialize by mere willpower. They pose objectives that have to be carried out. This implementation takes place in movements that we can frequently describe in a sequence of changes, in related steps. Simple wishes may feature only one narrowly defined activity engendering their accomplishment. Wishes that are more complex necessitate multiple steps of activity and accomplishment that sequentially build on other steps to bring about the desired result. Many of our wishes require more than a singular chain of steps. They require the convergence or the interaction of two or more parallel sequences or single steps to produce a combined step. That combined step may serve the fulfillment of a wish alone or together with other steps. All steps involved in building to the fulfillment of a wish are means in its accomplishment. We may describe these constructive means as subordinated steps in a strategy to reach its ulterior objective. Because each such means is a step toward an ulterior objective, the accomplishment of each means also forms an objective. When we consider subordinated steps helpful or necessary to reach a desired result, they become subsidiary objects of our desire. Each means to the ulterior objective of a wish is the subject of a subordinated wish. Our desire attaches to them because they enable the fulfillment of our ulterior wishes. Because subordinated objectives form auxiliary targets of our desire, their attainment instills us with increments of happiness as well. Yet even ulterior wishes tend to attend additional purposes. Consequently, ulterior and subordinated wishes appear to be similar in their functionalities and emotional effects. Our characterization of the subject of a wish as a means or as an objective depends on whether we focus on it as a target or as an instrument for another target.
Observing how wishes are positioned in our life as motivations for means and objectives gives us some information about their workings. But it does not inform us much about their nature, the source of their motivation, or even about the motivation we sense. The immediate, emotional, demanding character of our wishes causes us to focus our inquiries regarding happiness mostly on questions about the objects or events that can make us happy, on technical concerns of their fulfillment. We preoccupy ourselves with concerns of how we or others should behave or what we or they should possess or be able to effect to meet the claims of our wishes. Wishes strike us mostly as topical demands. This prompts us to deal with them in a disjointed manner. Their impulsive quality may instruct us to behave in manners that may not be to our advantage. Our mind is continually flooded by an abundance of wishes that might not be reconciled. Before we can improve our happiness, we must learn how they affect our happiness by themselves and in correlation with one another. To judge our wishes competently, we have to inquire deeper into them and ask where they originate, why we have them, and what they do to us. To find the answers to these questions, we might envisage our existence without the fulfillment of our wishes. Without the fulfillment of wishes, we would be without happiness, we would be unhappy. Because our wishes are instruments for our happiness, the enjoyment of our existence is negatively affected by a failure to fulfill our wishes. More than that, we find that if all our wishes would carry on unfulfilled, we could not exist. Thus, at least some of our wishes have to be of existential importance. But not all our wishes are existential in the manner that our existence depends on each of them. Many subordinated wishes may fail without serious repercussions on our existence. If a wish fails, we may reapply the same strategy in hope for better circumstances. We may also formulate a different strategy that is set to avoid the repetition of a previous failure. We may engage several identical or disparate sequences of subordinated purposes simultaneously or successively to pursue the same objective. As long as some attempt succeeds in timely fulfilling an existential wish, a failure of subordinated wishes would not appear to be existential. The only exception would occur if parallel, repeat, or alternative tries would strain our resources or otherwise damage our future chances of fulfilling the same or other existential wishes.
Existential wishes are not optional or interchangeable with other strategies because their fulfillment is necessary to secure our existence. An instinctive command urges us to pursue and satisfy them as objectives in themselves, as ultimate wishes. The compelling and general nature of these demands gives them the quality of needs. We may call needs that directly concentrate on the physical aspects of survival our survival needs. Some of these needs seem to be limited to our individual survival. Our individual survival is predicated on the suitable supply of oxygen, food, water, exercise, and sleep. We depend on controlled pres-sure, gravity, and radiation, including visible and invisible light and temperature. More generally, we require corporeal integrity and surroundings that assist and do not interfere with it. Beyond representing an ultimate wish on their own, all these needs seem to constitute or to support a principal need for individual survival for which they form necessary instruments. We may designate these needs and the principal need they attend individual survival needs. We can further differentiate needs that constitute or support a principal need to provide for the survival of our species. Among these are the needs to reproduce, to raise progeny, and to protect and support individuals we view as our kind. We may call these needs and the principal need they constitute our collective survival needs. These needs may appear selfless. Yet, through their pursuit, we are following a genuine individual interest that is founded in the desire to have our essence survive and proliferate. We may define this essence narrowly as our genetic or acquired particularities or more broadly on the basis of commonalities we share with other or even all humans. We traditionally identify the strength of our essence in others by how similar they are to us. Historically, our principal criteria to ascertain similarity have been behavior and appearance. We have been sensitive to distinctions despite prodigious evidence of commonality. We may place emphasis on discrepancies in geography, culture, religion, and group membership, obviously physical traits including skin, hair, and eye color, facial features, build, strength, endurance, symmetry, and health, as well as mental features such as intelligence, personality, social attitude, experiences, or style. Any of these distinctions may make it difficult for us to confer protection and support onto other humans. An exclusion from our care may move in gradations depending on the perceived significance of distinguishing marks. We may discriminate against their carriers to a point where we deny all recognition to them as carriers of our essence. We may not only deny them our assistance. Once we regard them as relatively or absolutely beyond the purview of our need to protect or support them to secure collective survival, we may change our behavior toward them accordingly. We may feel free to actively damage them in the pursuit of our needs, including through their exploitation as resources or their exclusion or even elimination as obstacles or rivals.
Apart from needs that obviously serve survival, we can discern ultimate wishes whose fulfillment might not seem to be indispensable for our survival. Still, we sense an instinctive urge that demands their fulfillment with a vehemence that is similar to our survival needs. We may therefore recognize these wishes as needs yet distinguish them as collateral needs. Among these needs seem to be needs for companionship, social interaction, acceptance, giving and receiving love, and for treating other individuals as we treat us that we may also call our need for empathy. Additionally, they comprise needs for peace, justice, harmony, for the control and reliability of our circumstances, and for optimized comfort. They further incorporate our needs for self-determination, privacy, expression, self-realization, and self-respect. Accurately and succinctly describing these needs, if not even ascertaining their existence, seems to be difficult. It seems to be more complicated than determining the nature and scope of survival needs. Because survival needs focus on obviously physical conditions, fulfilling such needs has a plainly detectable utility in support of our own existence or the existence of others. What we require for survival appears to lend itself to scientific quantification and illumination. While collateral needs may involve overt physical requirements and mechanisms and various corresponding secondary effects, their essential concerns seem to express themselves on a nonphysical, mental level. Their deprivation and fulfillment have primary effects that defy attempts of isolation, qualification, and quantification. This complication may cause them to appear as nonessential for our individual and collective survival. We may acknowledge that their deprivation affects our wellbeing to some extent and that their fulfillment adds satisfaction to our existence. Nevertheless, we may believe that we should be able to survive individually and collectively without fulfilling collateral needs. We may regard them as luxuries or even as nuisances that disturb our peace with overwrought demands. This may lead us to believe that we can do well or even better without satisfying them. We may consider them options that we can curb or reject without serious import. We are particularly prone to develop this attitude regarding collateral needs that we struggle or are unable to fulfill. We may discredit what resists us or what we cannot have. For the short term, our disregard of collateral needs may render our life simpler and seemingly without significant repercussions. Yet a long-term omission to fulfill any of these needs, and sometimes their brief deprivation, may have significant effects on our individual or collective existence. Depending on the duration and severity of the deprivation and our further condition, we may experience negative emotional consequences. These may range from temporary discomfort to a state of intense pain in which our existence has lost its appeal. They may precipitate other mental as well as overtly physiological deteriorations. These conditions may weaken our response to threats and opportunities that are relevant for our individual or collective survival.
The nonpursuit of collateral needs may particularly have negative effects because of their numerous correlations with social interaction. Some of them may be fulfilled unilaterally without the provision of means to others. Others may be fulfilled by the protection and support of others without an expectation of compensation activities. Assisting the needs of others may trigger collateral satisfaction in us. But many collateral needs require constructive contributions from others. More than that, they may require contributions by particular individuals. Our inability to fulfill such collateral needs alone compels us to obtain cooperation to satisfy them. Individuals whose cooperation we desire may decline or condition their participation. This affords them power over our happiness if we are not or less willing or able to satisfy such needs by correlating with other individuals. Our dependence on their cooperation may give rise to conflict if they deny, ration, or condition their contributions. Then again, there is a likelihood that other individuals might cooperate because they require assistance to satisfy their own collateral needs of this sort as well under similar conditions. Unless they are satisfied or committed to reaching satisfaction in a relationship that requires exclusivity, they might be interested in an exchange relation-ship. The social context of collateral needs is intensified because some derive essential means from the pursuit of collateral or survival needs by others. They require that others pursue needs in a direct exchange, by themselves, or in connection with third parties. These dependences may create close mechanisms of mutuality.
Regardless of how firm the dependence of collateral needs that necessitate cooperation from others is, they are vulnerable to disturbances. But such settings may also often possess some resilience against disfunction. The desire to fulfill collateral needs through the cooperation by others may prompt individuals to make advances even if their intended cooperation partners do not currently reciprocate. Together with the protection or provision of means without an expectation of return, this advance may hold the potential of constraining deficiencies of mutuality and of aiding to repair them. Only, such investments may cease if benefactors comprehend that recipients hinder, damage, or jeopardize the pursuit or fulfillment of benefactors’ needs to an extent that renders further investments unattractive. Such a determination may be hastened if benefactors have the opportunity to attain superior satisfaction of their collateral needs through other sources. The threat of benefit withdrawal incentivizes recipients to care for the collateral pursuits of their benefactors. The dependences of many collateral needs and the threats noncooperation produces encourage the establishment of social structures, processes, and conventions that protect the fulfillment of collateral needs through mutuality and the creation of a joint undertaking that covers all collateral needs. A failure to participate in the pursuit of collateral needs in conformance with such arrangements can have extensive adverse consequences for a violator.
The pursuit of collateral needs and the mechanisms of care they promote can provide essential or helpful assistance for individual and collective survival. They can organize and safeguard unilateral protection or provision of obviously physical means, their exchange, as well as multilateral cooperation in obviously physical pursuits as means for achieving collateral objectives. Our desire to secure the fulfillment of survival needs may independently motivate us to engage in such undertakings. The social structures and conventions created for the pursuit of collateral needs therefore regularly overlap with those designed to promote and secure the fulfillment of survival needs. This may lead to the commingling and interaction of pursuits and effects. Additionally, collateral and survival needs seem to be substantively connected in many cases. The failure to socially pursue collateral needs may then have significant repercussions on the capability of individuals to satisfy their survival needs, and the reverse is also true. Collective survival needs appear particularly susceptible to this interdependence because they intrinsically require cooperation or are directed toward cooperation. Their extensive correspondence with collateral needs may cause collective survival needs to be particularly affected by disturbances in the pursuit of collateral needs. Individuals who are frustrated in their pursuit of collateral needs and suppress such pursuits to reduce their unhappiness may abstain from engaging in tasks necessary for collective survival because the manner of pursuit and the motivations of the underlying needs are narrowly intertwined with collateral needs. That might even happen if collateral frustration does not arise from participants in collective survival pursuits or individuals with the potential of pursuing collective survival needs. The resulting denial of cooperation may disrupt social interaction that is necessary to secure our species’ survival by a mere failure to engage in such an interaction. But a frustration of collateral needs may also be vented by behavior that actively damages collective survival. This destructive demeanor, by itself or by the conflict it incites, may become so effective and so widespread that it devastates or eliminates parts or all of humanity. Short of that, collective survival mechanisms may become so weakened by nonfeasance or malfeasance that humanity or segments of it may decline or expire without any other causes or might be damaged by or succumb to external causes that otherwise could be repelled or survived.
A failure to satisfy collateral needs seems to have a lesser effect on individual survival needs. Frustrations of our collateral needs may weaken our resolve and our resilience to pursue our individual survival needs similar to how they might affect our collective survival needs. In extreme cases, such frustrations may make us lash out against other individuals or ourselves or to cease our pursuits of individual survival needs. However, those needs appear to be intrinsically much less dependent on cooperation by others. Our collateral needs seem less likely to directly affect our capacity to engage in overt physical pursuits to obtain overt physical means for our individual survival. Similarly, our failure to cater to the collateral needs of others may only insignificantly affect our ability to satisfy our overt physical pursuits. We may find sufficient counterparts in the pursuits of our individual survival needs who are willing to deal with us on a level purely concerned with obviously physical matters. It appears possible to create modes of interaction where disturbances caused by collateral pursuits would have only an attenuated effect on the pursuit of our individual survival needs, if any effect at all. Even where the pursuits of survival needs and of collateral needs overlap, the damage might be limited although we might have to sacrifice the benefits of collateral motivations for cooperative pursuits. It even seems possible to survive without any social interaction once we leave childhood disabilities and dependences behind.
Then again, that separation may be difficult to realize if we live in an interconnected world where we regularly rely on others for the fulfillment of individual survival needs. A large portion of our obviously physical dealings may not be directly subject to collateral aspects. Nevertheless, the frustration of collateral needs might affect the capability or the willingness of individuals on whose contributions we rely to provide necessary or helpful goods and services. It may further motivate individuals to interfere with necessary or helpful resources for the fulfillment of our individual survival needs or our state of fulfillment. Such actions may be taken because individuals may connect in their mind obviously physical and purportedly mental means and pursuits. A disturbance of our obviously physical pursuits may be targeted at us if those whose collateral needs are frustrated consider us responsible. But our obviously physical dependence on others could also expose us to repercussions if the actual or deemed source of collateral frustration is located anywhere in our supply chain or if it is situated beyond. Even slight effects might have substantial consequences in an interconnected system, and they might build on one another either by causing negative obviously physical interactions or other frustrations.
Not all disturbances in our obviously physical concerns are coincidental. Individuals regularly mingle obviously physical and mental means for the pursuit of both collateral and survival needs. A separation may be concentrated in dealings with individuals on whom we do not rely for the supply of collateral means. Still, that appears to be unnatural. It may weaken obviously physical commitments and leave aspects of our collateral needs wanting. It may therefore be helpful and even necessary to generally harmonize obviously physical with mental pursuits. The artificial and unsustainable character of separating these pursuits becomes particularly clear when we consider our inability to separate obviously physical and mental aspects within the same need. Every need seems to have obviously physical aspects, if not in its objective then at least in its means. A minimum of obviously physical activity seems necessary in some respects to shape circumstances for the fulfillment of mental objectives, and supplementary obviously physical provisions and protections may be helpful in ameliorating fulfillment. Similarly, every need seems to have some mental aspect, if not in its means then at least in its objectives. At the end of our efforts in all our needs we expect a mental, emotional reward. Even if we acknowledge that every need possesses obviously physical and mental aspects, survival needs appear as physiologically originated needs. Our senses tell us that they correspond to functions of particular parts of our body in correlation with environmental factors. The origin of most collateral needs seems less clear, although we may feel that certain parts of our body are involved in them. Our difficulty to connect them directly to a substantive cause or the functionality of a body part may tempt us to describe them as nonphysical. Yet closer inspection indicates that they must be physical phenomena as well. Our collateral needs connect to physical sensory impressions of physical objects and events in and beyond us. This connection implies a physical format of subsequent processing. Moreover, the presence or absence of certain facilities or conditions in our body determines whether we exhibit certain collateral needs and how these needs are expressed. We seem to draw a distinction between collateral and remaining needs based on a difference between sensory impressions that we connect with physical objects and events and sensory impressions that we connect to mental phenomena. This distinction seems to originate from our natural incapacity to direct our senses toward the physiological processes in our mind and not from a fundamentally different, nonphysical quality of our mind.
We may therefore remain with the classification of needs based on their relationship to individual or collective survival. Although that distinction seems to have immediate merit in grouping the principal functions of our survival needs, it is ultimately superficial as well. Our ability to pursue collective survival needs is founded on our individual survival, and our individual life would be negatively affected by an absence of collective survival needs, or individuals would not even exist. The distinction provides even less assistance in the area of collateral needs because most of these do not appear to distinguish in this way. Its import is further diminished by a variety of interchanges occurring among all types of needs. Effects of collateral needs on individual survival needs may bear on collective survival needs. Effects of collateral needs on collective survival needs may have an impact on our individual survival needs. Beyond effects by collateral needs on our individual and collective survival needs, we can also detect the reverse. Additional correlations can be found between individual and collective survival needs and between the individual and collective aspects of collateral needs. Finally, our undertakings for needs in each of these categories may have effects on the pursuit of other needs in that same category.
Accordingly, there does not appear to be any limit to the variety and spread of interchanges among all kinds of pursuits. Nevertheless, we may regard the ubiquitous presence of collateral needs combined with the resistance of most of them to immediate categorization and a definition that shows them to be in support of our individual or collective survival as particularly problematic. We may believe that they pose a threat of disturbances for the pursuit of our individual and collective survival needs that exceeds the level of a mere nuisance. Even if we concede that survival needs may as well influence one another in detrimental ways, we may view that to be a necessary tradeoff because all of these needs are necessary to secure human survival. We may argue that the relationship of survival needs should not present a great problem because it has been perfected since the beginning of life. We may view many or all collateral needs as comparatively recent developments that cause particular volatility for the formation, spread, and expansion of disturbances. They do not appear to be as accessible to reason or clearly bound to the same purpose as survival needs. Their complex, surreptitious, and frequently interwoven character raises the risk that disturbances might arise and circulate without effective containment. Their negative effects may not be easily discerned because they might accumulate in small and diverse increments, develop over time, or become revolving and increasing causes for one another. This may make the arrest or the reversal of negative developments difficult. We might conclude that their troublesome potential makes them burdens from which we have to liberate ourselves. We may also be of the opinion that such hindrances are largely or entirely unnecessary. References to life forms that are successful in their individual and collective survival without any or most of our collateral needs or with simplified versions of them appear to support that view. Arguably, all positive motivations to secure human survival that are conferred by collateral needs can arise from survival needs as well. It might therefore seem that we could improve our happiness if we abolished or simplified our collateral needs because we would reduce our risk of failure.
Nevertheless, when we inspect our collateral needs, we can discern a constructive function of every need for us individually and as a species. Unilateral pursuits of collateral needs can protect and support the fulfillment of survival needs for others. Moreover, the pursuit and satisfaction of interactive collateral needs can generate incentives, organizational structures, and procedures for unilateral and for mutual protection and support that can not only fortify but also broaden and deepen our activities on behalf of our survival needs. The resulting effectiveness, efficiency, and resiliency may assist us to overcome adversities and provide a crucial edge in securing survival. The development of collateral needs and their relative advantages can be traced in related species of lesser advancement. Although the negative potential of collateral needs if they are not satisfied and the investments and forbearances that they demand compete with the benefits they can confer, they seem to benefit humanity and individual humans more than they detract. In any event, our collateral needs are ingrained in us as much as our survival needs. This compels us to manage their positive and negative potential. It invests us with an obligation to fulfill them that is paired with a threat if we fail or we go too far in their pursuit. Their influence on our individual and collective existence prevents us from keeping them in a category of lesser importance. Collateral needs must be categorized as survival needs as well. In acknowledgment of this fact, we may refer to what we previously termed survival needs as basic survival needs. To signify the combined importance of basic survival needs and collateral needs, we refer to them as existential needs.
The pursuit of collateral needs may not only markedly increase our chances of survival in terms of a bare continuation of our existence. They also have the capacity and the tendency to render that existence more secure and less arduous. They assist us in forming a buffer of means and strategies that can improve our management of existential threats and challenges. Yet even our basic needs for individual and collective survival incorporate that aspect. We try to reach a level of existence that avails us and our kind of more than a minimum level of survival. We do not merely want to exist. We want to thrive as well. We want to increase and maximize the fulfillment of our needs. With this additional purpose of our existential needs, they present themselves as needs for individual and collective survival and thriving.
Now that we comprehend the basic classes and underlying purposes and effects of our needs, we can turn our attention to our experience of their function. The irresistible character of our needs coerces us to act upon their command. We pursue their impulses because we feel a longing to make them cease. We experience them as emotional discontent. The unpleasant character of the upheaval they cause motivates us to take action that appeases them by meeting their requirements. We may characterize needs by our refutation of their disturbance. We may describe them in terms of our struggle to escape unsettling, irritating, or more painful conditions. We may also brand them by the relief we sense in their resolution and by our attachment to the related objects and events. Defining our needs in positive and negative terms begins to contour our motivations, our underlying concerns and hopes, the extent of potential we seek to bridge. It becomes clear that we pursue the fulfillment of our needs for two related purposes. We try to avoid or escape from circumstances we perceive as painful and to reach or maintain a state of affairs we regard as pleasant. The relation of these two categories differentiates them as the beginning and end points for our drive to satisfy our needs. Our movement between them can be described as a sequence of steps by which we leave pain behind and approach pleasure. Our struggles for the fulfillment of our needs are marked by our movements in a spectrum from pain toward pleasure. We are happy when we avoid or escape from pain and obtain or maintain pleasure. Pain and pleasure are our basic motivations for seeking happiness. It appears that the absence of pain and presence of pleasure represents our ideal of happiness. Conversely, the presence of pain and absence of pleasure seems to epitomize unhappiness. Thus, happiness can be equated with pleasure, and pain with unhappiness.
The ability to build strategies for the satisfaction of our needs occurs on several levels. In their most rudimentary experience of pain and pleasure, life forms react to the immediate sensory experiences of pain and pleasure without foresight or recollection of the same or the opposing type of sensory condition. The immediacy of pain and pleasure in-forms us whether we are in a state that damages or benefits us. If we could not foresee or recall pleasurable events in a condition of pain, pain would seem to be the sole motivator to improve our chances of survival and thriving. We could only react by fleeing or dismantling causes of pain. If we find ourselves in circumstances that create pleasure, these motivations cease. Pleasure does not seem to generate a motivation of its own in the immediacy of its sensation. We cannot develop a motivation to sustain conditions of fulfillment if we do not have a memory of pain. Once we are in a state of pleasure, its momentary impression motivates us to cease activities of pursuit until a painful state reemerges. Further, without its memory, pleasure cannot be a motivator in the formulation of our wishes in a state of deficiency. The rudimentary duality of repulsion from a state of pain resulting in activity and of satisfaction and rest in a state of pleasure serves organisms well as a simple guidance scheme. Even inactivity upon pleasure may have its merits because it creates efficiency by conserving energy and because it forestalls organisms from leaving or destroying a conducive situation. Still, an existence where we blindly run into pain and pleasure and react only in the moment does not provide the most effective or efficient direction. As important as in-formation of pain and pleasure might be, it is of incomplete benefit. The efficiency of sensing pain and pleasure becomes vastly enhanced if we can avoid incidents that damage the fulfillment of our needs and if we can seek incidents that have positive effects. These adjuncts to pain and pleasure represent the ability to anticipate pain and pleasure. With respect to pain, we call its anticipation fear. The anticipation of pleasure is desire.
Fear and desire enrich the mechanism of our wishes beyond an immediate reflex to exposure. When we fear, we appear to be repulsed by future circumstances we imagine to cause pain. When we desire, we appear to be attracted to future circumstances we imagine to cause pleasure. We can presently sense a shadow of the pain or pleasure we expect from circumstances we anticipate. We might be under the impression that when we fear or desire we make future pain or pleasure present. Yet, in fact, we are drawing on experiences of pain and pleasure and project them into the future. Together with the transposition of past factual circumstances, we transfer emotional impressions that were connected to the samples from which we draw. Fear and desire appear to require a higher-developed mental capacity because they involve recollection and projection of painful or pleasurable results. But fear and desire do not seem to be limited to individual learning about elements of painful and pleasurable events and the application of that knowledge to subsequent occurrences that bear similarity to elements of these former events. Even relatively basic life forms that cannot individually build anticipations from memories seem to possess modes of fear and desire. They may avoid painful situations before their painful impact comes to pass. They may further be able to seek pleasurable circumstances or to maintain such circumstances. In these life forms, fear or desire seem to be instilled by an automatic emotional response that is based on genetic development. Experiences of pain and pleasure may instigate or influence the formation of genetic material. They may install a genetic memory of past events or patterns of events and a program that executes at the sign of partial congruence of indicators with such genetic memory. Then again, developments that instill fear or desire might not be the result of experiences. Rather, they might be the result of variations whose development is inherently programmed in genetic mechanisms or is formed by environmental influences that are unrelated to causes of pain or pleasure. The motivating experiences of pain or pleasure that were selected by these mutations may make it appear as if the mutations were developed in reaction to painful or pleasurable experiences. Such a semblance may be intensified because coincidental mutations may overlay with experience-based mutations as well as projections arising from experiences during an individual’s life. The combination of these factors may cause some individuals and species to react more appropriately to threats or to opportunities than others, favoring the survival of them and their reaction modes.
The developmental history of humans makes them continuing carriers for genetic sources of fear and of desire. These sources may be modulated or supplemented by experiences of individuals during their lifetime. However, the long-standing development of genetic foundations for fear and desire demands a presumption of validity similar to our sense of pain and pleasure. Our species might have survived with some genetically prompted motivations that were always or that have become deleterious to our survival or thriving. Only, considering the momentous challenges humankind has faced in its development, such detractions in large number or intensity should have caused our species’ demise. Although we may have wishes that might yet cause such a result, no existential needs seem to be intrinsically useless or detrimental. Rather, detriments induced by genetic motivations seem to be confined to issues that concern the context, direction, or manner of pursuits. As we develop, such motivations may require or benefit from adjustment to reflect varied challenges and opportunities. Experiences of pain and pleasure permit us to reinforce, contradict, or supplement genetic impulses. But experiential debate with genetic forces may only be partly effective because these are engraved in our essence. Our genetic motivations may attempt to condition us in spite of experiences. Particularly where contradicting or adjusting experiences are missing or lack strength, genetic motivations may move us to imagine causes that never applied or no longer apply or reactions that were never or are no longer optimized for individual or collective survival and thriving. They may prompt us to form wishes or may influence our wishes in unproductive or detrimental ways. On the other hand, inappropriate pursuits may also result from erroneous interpretations and reactions to experiences that we apply against better genetic judgment.
In their anticipatory context, fear and desire preserve the functions of immediate pain and pleasure differently. Fear forms an extension of past or present pain as anticipated pain. Although similar, that extension can be very useful for the satisfaction of our needs. It retains the same motivating quality of deterring us from and antagonizing us against situations with the potential of harming the fulfillment of our needs. Only now, we can react to harmful events in their nascent stages or can possibly prevent them. Nevertheless, in avoiding or fighting damaging developments, the character of our responses would generally re-main the same. Desire, by contrast, exceeds the previously passive function of pleasure as a signal to cease fulfillment activity. Its anticipation of pleasurable events motivates representatives of life forms to pursue circumstances that may serve the fulfillment of their needs. Arguably, fear already incites activities that serve our needs by motivating us to avoid or curtail potentially painful circumstances. Similarly, pain already incites activities that serve our needs by motivating us to flee from or fight actually painful circumstances. Yet desire imparts an opportunity of qualitative departure from these activities. It instills the concept of wishes with a positive counterpart to pain and fear. The ability to instinctively sense and carry a pleasurable notion and to introduce it as an aim is significant. The resulting focus on the satisfaction of needs allows a more purposeful shaping of events compared to the negation of loathsome circumstances by fear and pain. The positive imagery of desired states provides wishes with positive objectives. These objectives combine with situations of actual or anticipated deprivation to build a developmental motivation that gives our wishes direction and encourages the construction of a concentrated strategy of pursuit. We may call this structure arching between actual and anticipated pain as its starting position and anticipated and eventually actual pleasure as its completion point the pain-pleasure mechanism.
With the forethought of fear and desire, our position becomes proactive instead of being reactive. We gain the opportunity to seek, select, produce, and shape objects and events we favor and to change, prevent, or evade objects and events we disfavor. This ability to generate or affect our future experiences forms a powerful tool in bridging the distance between deprivation and pleasure. Present and anticipated pain and present and anticipated pleasure all drive us toward the satisfaction of a need. Together with actual pain, anticipated pain repulses us from activities that incur, prolong, or deepen our immersion in circumstances that engender such sensations. The negativity of this experience motivates us to take action and terminate, avoid, or at least reduce exposure to a need. It urges us to fight and overcome or to flee and abstain from damaging circumstances and behavior. The motivations that pain and fear can create are vital for our pursuits because they assist us in rejecting and distancing ourselves from what hurts or threatens us. Yet, beyond these reactions, their motivations may only find an expression in incoherent, misdirected, or destructive behavior. Even an emphasis on obstacles that seem to counteract our departure from deprivation or on progress in the departure may be shortsighted. These concerns may not be sufficient to secure our survival and thriving. To make our departures more effective and efficient, we require a positive motivation that infuses direction and draws us toward the fulfillment of our requirements. Anticipatory pleasure sets a beacon toward which we strive. Even actual pleasure obtains essential functions through the capacity of recollection and anticipation. By rewarding us, it generates positive reinforcement for our anticipation and pursuit of pleasure. Its memory can function as reference point for anticipations, and it can contrast and therewith assist to define actual or anticipated pain. Particularly, a current experience of a pleasurable condition constitutes a necessary element for developing a fear of losing it.
Although notions of pain and pleasure, as well as their anticipatory aspects, stand diametrically opposed to each other, pain and fear push us toward happiness and combine with the pull of pleasure and desire. We regularly sense these opposites contemporaneously in the formulation of our wishes. When we aspire toward the fulfillment of a need, we feel the pain of a present deprivation and the anticipation of pleasure. Our unmet desire intensifies our pain because it emphasizes the discrepancy of our current state. We further fear the experience of additional pain until we meet our desire and the uncertainty of obtaining satisfaction. By anticipating the pleasure of fulfillment, we also sense a positive emotion. We perceive an attraction to the anticipated pleasure to be generated by the fulfillment of a wish and to the anticipated relief of our pain and fear. If we presently enjoy the pleasure of fulfillment, that emotional condition and the desire to sustain its presence are paired with fear that the continuation of pleasure might fail, if we believe that to be possible. We fear that we might be exposed to the pain of deprivation and the pain of struggling to regain fulfillment. That fear enables desire to maintain the present fulfillment of a need, giving rise to a potent amalgamated motivation. In the resulting wish to maintain happiness, we sense the pleasure of fulfillment and anticipation of its persistence, but we also fear the pain of its absence.
We may then conclude that in both the state of deprivation and the state of fulfillment, our awareness encompasses pain and pleasure either as existing or as a potential. We inexorably feel the presence of one state and the anticipation of the other. In either state, we experience the contrast between what is and what is not and our emotional attraction or repulsion regarding these states. Thus, every wish is motivated by our perception of both pain and pleasure. To occur, a wish has to encompass a differential between the current and an imagined state. We are incapable perceiving a state as better unless we conceive of another state as worse. We cannot imagine the relief of fulfillment without the actual or deemed deprivation of a need. Every wish by its nature entails a movement from a position that is closer to pain to a position that is closer to pleasure. Our wishes are created by, exist in, and represent the discrepancy between these two points. The urgency of a wish is defined by the distance between the situations of pain and pleasure represented in a wish. It would appear that we are incessantly subjected to our wishes. At any time, we are in one of the two states that give rise to them. We are either repulsed by our present state and attracted to an anticipated state, or we are attracted to a present state and repulsed from an anticipated state. Our wishes preoccupy us with desired or feared change. This state of mind gives rise to a restless existence that immerses us in a never-ending succession of wishes.
Our wishes regularly occur in multiple contemporaneous pursuits of different and possibly the same needs. Although our principal needs for individual or collective survival and thriving are supported by subordinated existential needs, these principal needs do not necessarily impress us as leading motivators. Needs whose pursuit advances them are incentivized by their own immediate concerns and rewards. The emotional objective of each need is its own satisfaction. For each need, we can distinguish a different kind of pain and pleasure, a specific quality of happiness and unhappiness. These differences describe needs and identify them to us as disparate. They share the same general pain-pleasure mechanism to indicate deprivation and fulfillment. We can therefore employ general concepts of happiness and unhappiness on them. Still, when we refer to our need to be happy, we are implicitly referring to happiness in different regions of our being. These variations are necessary to enable us to react appropriately toward different types of threats or deficiencies to our individual and collective existence. We could not function with a uniform concept of happiness because we would have no guidance which underlying factual necessities for survival and thriving must be addressed to create satisfaction. The differentiation of pain and pleasure for each type of requirement enables us to identify the functionalities that are in need of remediation or upkeep. Our pursuits are guided by their state and by their potential for change represented by circumstances for each need.
Experiences of deprivation and satisfaction happen in a natural cycle for a large part of our needs, while other needs are not cyclical. Although some needs are initially experienced in their state of satisfaction, other needs may be initially experienced without any knowledge of their satisfaction. If they enter our awareness as an incident of pain without our prior experience of their satisfaction, we have at best a genetic urge to guide our actions. Our forays may be directed by automated instructions that point us toward means or strategies of fulfillment. Genetic instincts may be able to motivate our wishes entirely or partly. Although their instructions might be precise with regard to means, their ultimate objectives may remain indefinite in our mind as long as we possess no memory of satisfaction to which our mind could aspire. Before the initial satisfaction of a need, we do not know the ultimate conclusion for our wishes. Even genetic instructions regarding means may be nebulous or may not be triggered until we are exposed to them. We may be conditioned to search for them without much of previous a notion of them. All we might be able to formulate with certainty might be a negative wish to escape the state of pain or fear we experience. That negative wish may have us search for its counterpart of fulfillment and hence reinforce the search incentivized by positive generic imprints. Apart from that, we may learn from examples or instructions by others. We may imagine fulfillment to be similar to incidents we experienced concerning other needs. Notwithstanding, until the differential between pain and pleasure gains definition by experiencing it for a need, its emotional push and pull will not have been appropriately expressed. Even if we have access to technical information, we cannot be sure that sequences we formulate will cause fulfillment.
Correspondingly, if we have never experienced a need in its deprived state, we cannot formulate a fully formed wish of preserving its fulfillment. The continuous fulfillment of a need may prevent us from being aware of such a need’s existence, even as a matter of genetic instinct because its actualization remains dormant as long as a need re-mains fulfilled. The pleasure of fulfillment does not provide an understanding of its absence. We must have a contrasting experience. Short of experiencing actual deprivation, we can draw on our experiences of pain from the deprivation of other needs. Our inquiries into potentials of loss may leave us with an understanding of the circumstances that maintain fulfillment of a need. We could impart fear regarding events that might deprive us of these circumstances by actual or by simulated endangerment. But such a fear would be indefinite and likely miss the motivating vigor of fear that is founded in a prior experience of loss.
The dichotomy between pain and pleasure may grant us an idea of the general mechanism at the foundation of our needs. Still, to understand the phenomenon of our needs fully, we have to give scrutiny to their sources. As we embark on that exploration, we are confronted by the question how we apply the term need. It appears to incorporate several aspects that we appear to combine in common usage. We can describe a need as a deficiency of means that we require to survive or thrive, thus describing the objective causes for a need. In addition, we use the term to describe our awareness of a deficiency. Finally, we use the term to describe our mental response in form of our motivation to neutralize the causes and our awareness of deficiencies. While we can distinguish among these three aspects of cause, awareness, and reaction, our usage of need commonly encompasses all these aspects. That may be so because these three aspects form parts of an automatic process in which they are naturally linked. Circumstances of actual and of potential deprivation involuntarily prompt our awareness of these circumstances, which involuntarily triggers the urge to address them. All our needs impress us as such involuntary phenomena. They appear to us as uncontrollable forces of nature that seem to originate, if not dictate, our demeanor. Our at times limited understanding of them, their causes, and the ways in which they impose on us can make our needs appear like strange and mysterious forces although they define us.
Because we come across our needs as involuntary sensory phenomena that trigger involuntary responses, we are describing them as forces that move us, as emotions. Most physiological mechanisms involved in our needs are concentrated in our brain. It is largely the site that processes sensory information into emotional reactions. It generates pain, fear, pleasure, and desire from sensory impressions. It also correlates, categorizes, stores, and retrieves sensory impressions of objects and events that we consider to be associated with emotions and generates directives in response by its instinctive mechanisms. Even a number of sensory origins for needs, particularly concerning collateral needs, appear to be located there. Still, many origins for our needs are located in, perceived by, conveyed by, and possibly partly processed in other parts of our body. While we may call all these phenomena mental processes, we can distinguish perceptive facilities that detect, convert, and transport sensory signals from emotional facilities that process our awareness of and response to them. The quality of our emotional mind, our emotional intelligence, can be measured by how well it pairs sensory impressions with emotional cognizance and responses in assistance of our needs. In humanity’s development, perceptive and emotional facilities initially encompassed the entirety of our mind.
Eventually, they were supplemented by discrete facilities of rational thought that we may call our rational mind. Although it seems to depend on the same perceptive mechanisms as our emotional mind and generates awareness, that awareness is only factual and remains detached from the emotional mechanisms of pain, fear, pleasure, and desire and instinctive reactions. Similar to our emotional mind, it relates, categorizes, stores, and retrieves sensory representations of objects and events, but it does so with a vastly expanded capacity. While emotional facilities are limited to processing the fact that certain objects and events or types of them are linked to emotions, rational facilities discern how they happen. Our rational mind processes sensory information of objects and events in a spatially or sequentially correlated manner, and catalogues them according to recognitions of order. The quality of our rational mind, our rational intelligence, can be calculated in four aspects. The first is how well we remember objects and events or connected rational activity in which we engaged. This is our capacity to recall. Another is how well we derive causality from observations. That is our capacity to understand. A third aspect is how well we keep the correlations of multiple aspects present in our mind, our capacity to associate. Finally, rational intelligence is measured by how well we conceptualize new objects or events as means for pursuits, our capacity to invent. These capacities assist similar, rudimentary capacities of our emotional mind and its aptitude to plan and implement the pursuit of our needs. The next chapter examines rational capacities in more detail and how they interact with our emotional capacities.
© 2013-2018 BY MARTIN JANELLO