RE: Is it human nature to want more?
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.
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