Is it human nature to want more? - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-17-2005, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
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Is it human nature to want more?

Or are we just taught to think that way?
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post #2 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-17-2005, 03:42 PM
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RE: Is it human nature to want more?

If you're referring to physical possessions, I believe we are taught to think that way. Anything beyond the basic requirements of territoriality has its roots in local culture.

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #3 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-17-2005, 04:28 PM
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RE: Is it human nature to want more?

Greed is a fat demon with a small mouth and whatever you feed it is never enough. -Janwillem van de Wetering

Possessions are usually diminished by possession. –Nietzsche

Two hands full of gimme gimme and a mouth full of thank you please. - ThrillKills boss many years ago.



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post #4 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-17-2005, 04:31 PM
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RE: Is it human nature to want more?

Greed is Good
The point is, ladies and gentlemen, is that greed--for lack of a better word--is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms--greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge--has marked the upward surge of mankind. And Greed--you mark my works--will not only save [this company] but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.
Thank you very much.
--Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) Wall Street 1987
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post #5 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-17-2005, 04:35 PM
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RE: Is it human nature to want more?

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GermanStar - 8/17/2005 5:42 PM

If you're referring to physical possessions, I believe we are taught to think that way. Anything beyond the basic requirements of territoriality has its roots in local culture.
I'm not sure about that. Most species of animal will grab all they can get whether it's territory or food. But does trying to overfeed to protect against future bouts of starvation count as "wanting" or as "surviving"?

Despite a little tirade against human population growth in the Matrix, generally all animal populations will grow until their environment won't support them. As a species animals are programmed to grow like this, but does the individual actually "want more" or is it simply some genetic pre-disposition that has been proven to be able to withstand the tests of evolution (or at least following God's will for you heathen creationalists!).

Of course you can also look at domesticated animals. Most dogs will eat until they're sick, but a cat can have access to food all the time and will only eat what it needs. Does this mean that the nature of most dogs is to want more but the nature of most cats is to be content with what they have?

From an altruistic perspective, did early man see birds in flight and say "I want that"? Is it our drive to "want more" that allows us to create the tools with which we can satisfy that desire - at least temporarily?

Reducing things to a more biological need, having something new tends to provide a euphoria and releases chemicals that make us feel good. But eventually that feeling fades and we need something newer and better to replace those feelings. Being content is great, but if we establish content as a baseline does the feeling of content fade? Could something new and different be the only thing that can make us happy?

Of course on the flip side, why does something new make us happy? That could be the influence of society, but some happiness is so primal and universal that it transcends societal boundaries. Clearly what is important varies by culture (and by individual). My wife couldn't care less if she got a new 911 Turbo because she was never taught to care much about the type of car she drives (which, thankfully, means that I get more than my fair share of the car budget). Even for food, what constitutes a delicacy varies by location but the concept of a delicacy is fairly ubiquitous. It's not enough to subsist on the bare minimum of food, every culture has it's own set of treats that advance beyond the necessities.

All in all this is a very interesting question that will keep me amused on the drive home.

Thanks,

Jeff
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post #6 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-17-2005, 04:47 PM
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RE: Is it human nature to want more?

Quote:
BackRoll23 - 8/17/2005 5:31 PM

Greed is Good
The point is, ladies and gentlemen, is that greed--for lack of a better word--is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms--greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge--has marked the upward surge of mankind. And Greed--you mark my works--will not only save [this company] but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.
Thank you very much.
--Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) Wall Street 1987

He also said, "If I want a freind, I'll get a dog". A wiser philosophy exists not.

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post #7 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-17-2005, 04:52 PM
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RE: Is it human nature to want more?

Quote:
jdbower - 8/17/2005 3:35 PM

Quote:
GermanStar - 8/17/2005 5:42 PM

If you're referring to physical possessions, I believe we are taught to think that way. Anything beyond the basic requirements of territoriality has its roots in local culture.
I'm not sure about that. Most species of animal will grab all they can get whether it's territory or food. But does trying to overfeed to protect against future bouts of starvation count as "wanting" or as "surviving"?
Yes, but they don't grab pretty rocks, antler moss, gold coins, or anything else they don't have a need for. Western humans do. If you look at our roots, humans are natural hunter/gatherers -- we appear to have learned the lessons of territorialty, possibly from dogs and wolves.

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #8 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-17-2005, 05:09 PM
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RE: Is it human nature to want more?

Quote:
GermanStar - 8/17/2005 6:52 PM
Yes, but they don't grab pretty rocks, antler moss, gold coins, or anything else they don't have a need for. Western humans do. If you look at our roots, humans are natural hunter/gatherers -- we appear to have learned the lessons of territorialty, possibly from dogs and wolves.
Actually a lot of animals are attracted to shiny things that serve no purpose. I also object to the term "Western humans" - people are people and they all have the same general tendencies whether they're Western or Asian (I can't vouch for the rest of the world personally, but the behavior of African warlords seems to indicate that it's worse over there...). And regarding "learning" territoriality from canines, who taught the canines? Humans are animals just like everything else, we're bred to have certain traits. It's just as plausible that we learned to be territorial vs. we have the same inherent territoriality as other animals and that is what allowed us to survive.

I think our definition of what's useful and desirable is different since we rely on tools for our survival. We've developed currency mostly because it's hard to make change for a sheep, and we have learned that currency equates to value. You show me a seashell with a hole in it and I'll toss it away but I'm sure someone on an island someplace will tell me that it would buy food for his entire village.

It's only modern man who actually has a choice in how he behaves. A person can be taught to disobey his core instincts because most of the instincts we grew up with are useless in our protected lives. After many generations of teaching away these instincts it's valid to question what is instinct and what is learned. A more interesting question is whether these instincts are still there or if a lack of evolutionary need for them has diluted them to non-existence.

I'll have to give it some more thought, but it's my current belief that early man must have had a drive to want more in order to survive. If not, his territory would have been taken from him by all the competition at the time.

It is valid, however, to say that this thinking may no longer be required. The only fear we have on this planet is the fear of other tribes of humans. It's possible that this need for the basics was simply translated to a need for other things. Can the need for other things be overcome? Certainly it can be overcome much easier than the need for the basics.

Thanks,

Jeff
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post #9 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-17-2005, 05:38 PM
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RE: Is it human nature to want more?

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jdbower - 8/17/2005 4:09 PM

It's just as plausible that we learned to be territorial vs. we have the same inherent territoriality as other animals and that is what allowed us to survive.
Yes, it would be, except for substantial evidence that indicates otherwise. In any case, believe as you will...

BTW, "Western humans" speaks to Western culture, no more no less. Eastern culture and Western culture are different, whether you object or not.

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #10 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-17-2005, 06:12 PM
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RE: Is it human nature to want more?

Success is measured by the amount of surviving genome from generation to generation. Life will always act to maximize exploitation of resources to ensure genomic survival.

Now boys and girls, what is it that encourages fertile males and females to each other? When we list those factors we will notice a pattern.

Humans are generally attracted based on certain proportionalities of the body. Men like one set of proportions and women like another.

Women are less motivated by physical appearance than are men. In contrast, women know men are attracted by certain geometries and contrasts in color and so, spend a significant amount of effort and time seeking those proportionalities and color contrasts or applying illusions to attain them. Men fall for it easily, even without beer goggles.

Women are attracted to men who display power and wealth (a surrogate of power). Men who have neither power nor wealth are unable to avoid displays of personal power, whether physical or through the display of iconic items of power.

Bigger, more, better. Those are what attracts reproductive females. That's why rich, decrepit old farts gather trophy wives or mistresses and poor slobs don't.

So why do we want more? reproduction, m'boy. It's the impetus for everything in life.

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