• Shawn
    10.4k
    I really would like to know, as to why people confuse needs for wants and wants for needs?

    To define something as a need seems to place it of such high priority as to devote time towards it, where that time and effort could have devoted to other tasks.

    For me, there are four things that count as needs:

    -Water
    -Food
    -Shelter
    -Medication

    ...whilst the rest remain as wants. But, here is a question to the reader:

    When I have satisfied all my needs, then should my focus shift towards the entertainment of wants? How do you go about satisfying wants if all your needs are met?

    It seems to me that at this point, that needs get redefined when they seem all satisfied, as the things we find it hard to do without. Such as, coffee, tea, pizza, etc.

    Interestingly enough, does money count as a need?
  • Evil
    255
    Change your name to 'The Threadmaker' pls
  • Shawn
    10.4k
    Change your name to 'The Threadmaker' plsEvil

    Negative, Sire. Shawn is what it is, and not gonna make further changes.

    What can you do without?
  • Evil
    255
    Swimming
  • 3017amen
    1.5k


    Have you considered the infamous Maslownian hierarchy of needs?
  • Evil
    255
    Because I dislocated my shoulder 5 times when I was younger, had an operation on it, and now I need to swim at least once a week - otherwise it hurts
  • Shawn
    10.4k
    Have you considered the infamous Maslownian hierarchy of needs?3017amen

    I have; but, on point would be the issue of self-realization. Is that an occurrence when a want gets transferred into a need, once fulfilled?
  • Evil
    255
    Shit I misread the question
  • Shawn
    10.4k


    Yeah, it's simple enough. So, what do you think is the issue here? The ego or what?
  • Valentinus
    696
    Maybe the way to approach it is to start with the relativity of absence.
    Aristotle noted that people suffering from an illness experienced their needs and what they wanted differently from when they were healthy.
    With each individual, the matter of what "healthy" involves elements "needed" by the organism as such and another element peculiar to a particular situation at a certain time.

    From that point of view, separating needs from wants is inseparable from distinguishing any moment from another.
  • ZhouBoTong
    837
    I really would like to know, as to why people confuse needs for wants and wants for needs?Shawn

    Doesn't "need" and "want" just have to do with the "why"? You are referring to physiological needs, but need is just a word...it is a "need" if there is an attached necessity.

    I want a baseball jersey.

    I need a baseball jersey in order to participate in tomorrow's game.

    I need food TO LIVE. (notice to just say "I need food" is largely meaningless unless we add the implied "or I will die")

    Otherwise, I want food, is typically more accurate.

    Or from a developed world perspective it could change to, "I need food or I will feel uncomfortable".

    And I would say all of this is why these two words are often confused. We get lazy with our language.

    When I have satisfied all my needs, then should my focus shift towards the entertainment of wants?Shawn

    That would seem to be human nature to me...whether we SHOULD is different, but it seems to be human nature that once we don't worry about needs we find other things to occupy our minds...things we like or WANT in our lives.

    How do you go about satisfying wants if all your needs are met?Shawn

    However you want :razz:

    It seems to me that at this point, that needs get redefined when they seem all satisfied, as the things we find it hard to do without. Such as, coffee, tea, pizza, etc.Shawn

    For sure. Instead of "I need food to live." It becomes "I need pizza for happiness." But if any amount of happiness is dependent on eating pizza, then I think "need" still works grammatically.

    Interestingly enough, does money count as a need?Shawn

    As it is the most direct way (in our current world) of attaining the four needs you described, I would say yes as a shortcut. The long answer - we want money because it allows us to easily fulfill our needs. Or perhaps - Money is needed if I wish to obtain my needs without breaking the law?

    Sorry if this whole thing is just the High School English teacher answer :grimace:
  • Shawn
    10.4k
    relativity of absence.Valentinus

    Please expand on this term for me to understand it better.

    Thanks.
  • Shawn
    10.4k
    That would seem to be human nature to me...whether we SHOULD is different, but it seems to be human nature that once we don't worry about needs we find other things to occupy our minds...things we like or WANT in our lives.ZhouBoTong

    Yes! And, it is that facet of human nature that worries me. It is reckless and insatiable, and needs to be controlled. Would you agree with my pejorative here?

    For sure. Instead of "I need food to live." It becomes "I need pizza for happiness." But if any amount of happiness is dependent on eating pizza, then I think "need" still works grammatically.ZhouBoTong

    Well, yes. Pragmatically, to interchange want and need seems fine and dandy; yet, it seems to me that there's an issue with treating something with such a strong propositional attitude, as a "need".

    Can anyone chime in on the internalist account for the definition of a "need" contra a "want"?

    As it is the most direct way (in our current world) of attaining the four needs you described, I would say yes as a shortcut. The long answer - we want money because it allows us to easily fulfill our needs. Or perhaps - Money is needed if I wish to obtain my needs without breaking the law?ZhouBoTong

    Yeah, it's interesting to note that the desire for money is often due to a want, and not a need, since needs are already de facto easily satisfied, given our socio-economics of satisfying wants.

    What do you think?
  • TheMadFool
    5.3k
    -Water
    -Food
    -Shelter
    -Medication
    Shawn

    I need some air.
  • Shawn
    10.4k


    What about emotions?
  • TheMadFool
    5.3k
    What about emotions?Shawn

    I'm not the right person to answer this question. Sorry.
  • Shawn
    10.4k
    I'm not the right person to answer this question. Sorry.TheMadFool

    Why? Don't you feel emotions?

    I think the gist of the issue is that common feeling of insatiability manifest in "Can I have some more?"

    Why do we ask for more?
  • Valentinus
    696

    When you need or want things, it is not happening in a vacuum. If you say you need to eat you also want to eat. A distinction is made but it doesn't put the lack of food into an absolute category unless we are talking about starvation.
    On a good day, the various responses to needing and wanting food are mixed up with other things. In that way, it is a relationship of relative factors and expectations balanced against other needs and desires.
    On a bad day, you need to eat or die.
    So, one can make different categories to assign the absence of food to correspond to different conditions or accept that we can only distinguish qualities of this kind in the most terrible set of circumstances. And the latter is an acceptance of a relativity that cannot be continued for the time being.
  • Shawn
    10.4k
    On a good day, the various responses to needing and wanting food are mixed up with other things. In that way, it is a relationship of relative factors and expectations balanced against other needs and desires.Valentinus

    This is where I differ. I believe that needs stand absolutely above wants, and are hence are not subject to any sense of relativity of absence. My desire for water and my need for it doesn't make a difference as the same amount of effort is required to maintain their replenishment.
  • Valentinus
    696

    Yes, the need is prior to the "desire" for something but noticing that doesn't separate the two in an absolute fashion.
    For the most part, we want what we need. The way they get mixed up with each other is important to learn about. The qualities don't care what box we put them in.
  • Shawn
    10.4k
    For the most part, we want what we need. The way they get mixed up with each other is important to learn about.Valentinus

    I contest that there is a strict dichotomy here, a need is fundamentally different than a want. Wants are like superlatives stemming from a mischaracterization of a need in disguise.
  • TheMadFool
    5.3k
    Why? Don't you feel emotions?

    I think the gist of the issue is that common feeling of insatiability manifest in "Can I have some more?"

    Why do we ask for more?
    Shawn

    I don't know why people ask for more. It just dawned on me that there really is no difference between wants and needs, not at least in ways that would be surprising.

    You mentioned

    1. Food
    2. Shelter
    3. Water
    4. Medication

    I added
    5. Air

    I suppose we could talk about this in terms of the rich and the poor with the accepted wisdom being the poor are about fulfilling needs and the rich, already having their needs fulfilled, are simply pandering to their wants.

    My question is how do needs differ from wants? It appears to me that the adding what can be roughly called quality & luxuriousness to a need transforms it into a want. Think of it; the difference between a poor family and a rich family can be said to be that between living in a hut and living in a mansion, that between eating burgers and eating gourmet meals, that between wearing unbranded apparel and wearing branded clothes, that between drinking tap water and drinking bottled spring water, that between breathing polluted air and breathing clean mountain air. All in all, the rich differ from the poor, wants differ from needs, only in degrees of quality and luxoriousness i.e. wants and needs are not distinguished by kind but by degrees(of quality & luxoriousness). So, asking for more is simply a want for increasing the quality and luxoriousness of needs.
  • Shawn
    10.4k
    It just dawned on me that there really is no difference between wants and needs, not at least in ways that would be surprising.TheMadFool

    Surely, there is a difference between the two, no? I outlined in the OP how they differ in terms of needs taking more of a priority of the will to entertain than wants.

    I guess, I'm asking how much of a difference is there between the two, and you posit that it's not that big a deal. Or is it?
  • ZhouBoTong
    837
    And, it is that facet of human nature that worries me. It is reckless and insatiable, and needs to be controlled. Would you agree with my pejorative here?Shawn

    Hmmmm, I see your concern, and certainly agree for MOST people, but I think there is another aspect that leads to harm (I am not saying I have any clue what that is, but I will give a short argument why I am not convinced shifting from living for needs to living for wants is automatically negative).

    The greatest deeds in history were wants not needs. Gandhi didn't need a hunger strike. To be fair the worst deeds in history were not needs either.

    Hmmmm, I am unsure again.

    I got it...isn't it our WANTS that separate us from the other animals? Still not necessarily a good thing...but maybe it is a defining aspect of humans. We may have to learn to deal with this side of ourselves as opposed to thinking we can eliminate it completely.

    Can anyone chime in on the internalist account for the definition of a "need" contra a "want"?Shawn

    Probably good to get more philosophical perspectives...I think I approached this a bit more from a grammar perspective :grimace:

    Yeah, it's interesting to note that the desire for money is often due to a want, and not a need, since needs are already de facto easily satisfied, given our socio-economics of satisfying wants.

    What do you think?
    Shawn

    This may be your point, but this made me think that our society has so muddled the lines between needs and wants, that it is hard to really tell the difference sometimes. Take a 13 year old who has 10 friends and they all have xbox and playstation...they now NEED at least one of those devices or they may lose some friends.
  • A Seagull
    344
    For me, there are four things that count as needs:

    -Water
    -Food
    -Shelter
    -Medication
    Shawn

    You left out air.

    and maybe entertainment.
  • TheMadFool
    5.3k
    Surely, there is a difference between the two, no? I outlined in the OP how they differ in terms of needs taking more of a priority of the will to entertain than wants.

    I guess, I'm asking how much of a difference is there between the two, and you posit that it's not that big a deal. Or is it?
    Shawn

    I don't know how a person changes between living in a small hut and living in 300 bedroom mansion? Both are shelter, right?
  • Shawn
    10.4k


    Yeah, they are a shelter; but, needs have to get done first, no?
  • Shawn
    10.4k


    And, philosophy!
  • TheMadFool
    5.3k
    Yeah, they are a shelter; but, needs have to get done first, no?Shawn

    Absolutely, I don't deny that needs come before wants. All I'm trying to get across is that they differ only in degree and not in kind. Basically, wants are just better incarnations of needs and by "better incarnations" I refer to the additional qualities that needs acquire that up the price tag, turning them into wants. These additional qualities could be anything from aesthetic considerations to better performance; whatever the exact nature of the additional quality the upshot is a hefty price tag that effects the transformation of needs like bread, potable water, living in a hut and a first-aid kit into wants like cake, vintage wine, owning a castle and having a personal physician on one's payroll.

    I must add that wants and needs are usually distinguished in terms of necessity in re living and if that's the case then some versions of shelter as in a castle of one's own, some versions of food as in expensive caviar, some versions of water as in Acqua di Cristallo, and some versions of medicine as in a personal physician and nurse, aren't necessities and ergo will fail to qualify as needs. Nevertheless, this in itself is not sufficient to show that there are major differences between wants and needs. Au contraire, that wants and needs differ not in the sense of what it is that's desired but only in the sense of what extra feautres are in attendance is remarkable in itself.

    All that aside, it seems the notion of wants also includes the desire for personal development; some try to pass this off as people whose needs have been met and thus free, can engage in higher pursuits such philosophy, music, and art to name a few. Whether these are wants or needs may depend on what standards we employ to measure what living means. High standards and philosophy, music and art become needs; lower the bar and these are simply wants.
  • Congau
    116

    A need is something that is necessary in order to achieve something else. If staying alive is the only thing you aspire to achieve, all you need is food, water and possibly medication.

    Why is shelter added to your list? It suggests that some comfort is also needed, but why stop at shelter? Once you have introduced an item that aims at more than mere survival, there is no end to what could possibly count as a need.

    By the way, do you need to stay alive? That is already a prejudice. You certainly want to, but why call it a need in itself.

    Needs are just relative to your aims. There are no absolute needs, and everything could be a potential need.
    If you want X, you need Y. If you don’t want X, you don’t need Y.

    Everybody wants happiness, and whatever might lead to happiness is needed. When a person says he needs something, he is actually saying that he believes this thing would lead to happiness. He needs money because he thinks money could buy something that would make him somewhat happy.
    Now, he may be wrong in his believe that this thing would make him happy. Then you could tell him: No, you don’t really need that thing.
  • 3017amen
    1.5k
    I have; but, on point would be the issue of self-realization. Is that an occurrence when a want gets transferred into a need, once fulfilled?

    No, it's typically the opposite. The key phrase is that those things are 'intrinsic needs' that are along the motivational scale of hierarchy.

    An example of the distinction between wants and needs would be if someone says: " I want to be married; I don't need to be married". That assumes their basic needs in life have been met.

    Beyond that, we will always have a tension of existence, or a constant life of striving. We are hard wired to never be satisfied. When one need is met, another takes it's place. Think about if we were not hardwired to have wants and needs, what would that look like?

    Similarly, there will come a time when having, is not so pleasing as wanting:

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