Re: Conscious of the parts

From: Olie Lamb (
Date: Wed Aug 30 2006 - 22:49:44 MDT

On 8/31/06, Tennessee Leeuwenburg <> wrote:
> Olie Lamb wrote:
> > Now, also consider "Transitive concepts". A good example of a
> > transitive concept is "Need". One can't *just* need something; one
> > must need something /for/ something.
> Not so. There are many things which I simply need, depending on your
> definition of need. Define need.

* Is taken aback * * Boggles for a moment * * Unboggles, considers
that although this is clearly not a directly SL4 issue, goals /are/,
and therefore this is possibly worth the effort *


OK, firstly, I'm not talking about "need" in any of the weird economic
senses, or in the sense on penury. I'm talking about the usual sense
of "I need X"

I'm also not talking about the abuse of the term, as in when a kid
realises that by substituting "need" for "want" they get a higher
success rate with their demands. I do not assert that "wants" must be
transitive, although I /suspect/ they must be.

I'd define "need" the verb simply as "to require or to be necessary"
and I assert that the is sometimes suppressed clause effectively
tacked on to the end: "to be or to do something". Similarly, the noun
is "a requirement for something", and i assert that the requirement
for that something indicates that the something is required /for/ a

OK, so "need" is similar to "necessary". There's a strict, /logical/
use of the term "necessary", when discussing "necessary and sufficient
conditions". Neccesary conditions must be necessary for something -
you can't have an antecedent without a consequent. Can't and must...

Now, one might notice that when one starts to talk about necessity and
necessary things, it immediately starts to look like one of those
poorly dressed up ontological-arguments-for-the-existence-of-god. If
you've ever read, say, Bertrand Russell's debating with his religious
contemporaries about necessary and contingent beings, you'd understand
the intense desire to scream that such quibbling can bring. Anyway...

Such definitions as I provided, although possibly accurate, are
clearly not particularly helpful, in the same way that defining "the"
to be "the definite article" doesn't really help anyone understand the
meaning of "the".

Let's sidestep this by discussing the real ways people use the term:

1) "I need X "; "I need Money"
2) "I need to call my sister for her birthday"
3) "I need to go" "I need to pay my taxes" "I need to drink"
4) "I have need of a new coat"
5) "Need for vengeance"
6) "No need to be frightened"

I'm not talking about any of the following:
2 is really saying that one feels a moral obligation - or else a
requirement to do something in order to avoid an unwanted consequence.
4 is about a noticeable lack of something - but this is about an
unfulfilled desire
6 is a funny one. In the negative, it indicates that the current
situation is only one of many possible situations, and doesn't seem to
mean the same thing at all in the positive.

The others are about the perception of necessity for an item, an
entity, or an action. And my contention is that any such "need" is
really a "need... in order to...". How can I make such a
generalisation? Well...

"Humans need the following: food, air, water, shelter from the
elements" is really shorthand for "Humans need food etc _in order to

Maslow's hierarchy of needs are a list of things needed _for_ self
actualisation. Self actualisation was considered by Maslow to be an
intrinsic drive to be the best one could be. This is like saying that
self-actualisation is a native supergoal. Is the need for
self-actualisation a logically necessary part of being a human? I
think it far more accurate to say that humans, by default, want to

As for the need for money, the need for yummy food - these are all
means to an end; the end being pleasure.

(It's amazing how quickly philosobabble can sink into bullshit sometimes... )


No, I can't adequately define "need" in order to demonstrate my
assertion. Can you please provide a single counterexample?


-- Olie

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