A&O – NEEDS (06-11-2017)

 

ART AND ORGANISM

 

“Frugal Repast” by Picasso.. 

 

NEEDS

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The story of evolutionary change is the story of how organisms met their needs to survive and thrive.  These needs, imposed on them by their environments, is as variable as our environments—the needs and our ways of coping are in perpetual flux.

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The survivors, our ancestors, met those needs.

 

HUMAN NEEDS, identified in Maslow’s “NEED HIERARCHY,” familiar in psychology, has clear correspondences in BIOLOGY and can provide leverage for exploring the biological functions of receptive or expressive art (by “receptive” art I intend the appreciation of objects of aesthetic interest by means of perceptual functions; by “expressive” art I intend actions that manifest ideas of aesthetic interest in a way that makes them accessible to the senses)

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We must meet needs or die.  “MOTIVATION” describes to impulse to meet specific needs: hunger, thirst, dominance, sex…  The most fundamental need is to live, but beyond that many other needs must be met — and we  live more-or-less well, more-or-less fulfilled.

 

Of our many NEEDS, some are real, some perceived.  The relative urgency of a particular need can more-or-less evoke the stress response, behavioral components of which include AFFECT –recognized as emotions– which energize our motives to meet NEEDS

 

Most needs are met non-consciously.  COGNITION involves memory and the organization and deployment of conscious or nonconscious motives.  These can modulate our perceptions of needs and how we meet them.

 

 

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King Solomon states: “Give me neither poverty nor wealth;

provide me my allotted bread… lest I become impoverished and steal.”

Proverbs 30:8-9

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Necessity makes an honest man a knave.

(Daniel Defoe, 1720)

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Necessity hath no law. Feigned necessities, imaginary necessities…are the greatest cozenage that men can put upon the Providence of God, and make pretences to break known rules by.

(Oliver Cromwell’s Speech to Parliament, 12 September 1654)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A&O notes: NEEDS

 

NEEDS must be met before any organism can prosper and thrive. A first approach to understanding a behavioral pattern (not least that of making art or making science) is to consider what needs it serves — recognizing that the same behavior can serve different needs in different people and in the same person at different times.

 

Considering biological NEEDS can lead to the deep structure of behavior.   

 

A particularly useful and influential “Hierarchy of Needs” was outlined in the 1940’s by the psychologist  Abraham H. MASLOW (1908-1970)  in “A theory of human motivation” (Psych. Rev.  50:370-396. 1943)    In 1962, Maslow was identified as one of the founders of  “Humanistic Psychology”   (You should know more about Maslow)

 

Maslow proposed that human needs are hierarchically organized (the biological correspondences to these psychological needs are outlined below):

 

 

Classic needs in psychology, with biological interpretation)

“first comes food, then morals,” Brecht . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  •  Physiology (food, drink, exercise)
  •  Safety (security, order, protection)
  •  Sociality (belonging, acceptance, need-love)
  •  Esteem (status, prestige, acknowledgment) (maximizing individual traits of potential value for attracting a reproductive partner)
  •  Self-Actualization (personal fulfillment and growth) Arete  Wikipedia on self-actualization (“maximizing biological finess)

 

 

 

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Maslow’s first interest was in MOTIVATION.  When more fundamental needs are not met, according to Maslow, attempts to meet them can dominate behavior.  As they  are met, higher level needs come into focus and our concern shifts.  The satisfaction of higher needs  is sought in the context of maximizing the lower needs.  Personality  disturbances are often keyed to imbalances in what a person perceives as a need

 

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NEED for PHYSIOLOGICAL RESOURCES:   “Some people are so poor, that God appears to them in the form of bread.”

-Gandhi

 

 

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NEED for SAFETY:  Various aspects of the environment—climate, geology, predators, prey, conspecifics—often  exceed an organism’s ability to cope UNLESS its ACTIONS or PHYSIOLOIGICAL tolerances change so that it can PROTECT itself or go outside its habitual ways of dealing its vagaries and exigencies. 

 

 

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NEED for BELONGING:    I find it interesting that the  highest and lowest levels of the need hierarchy  are PRIVATE, while the intermediate levels are SOCIAL.  Aristotle wrote: “The man who is isolated –who is unable to share in society– or who has no need to share because he is self-sufficient — is no part of the polis, and thus must be either a beast or a god

(Politics I, 1, 14)

 

 

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NEED to KNOW:   Seen as more-or-less urgent;l Aristotle  recognized this READ MORE

 

 

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NEED for SOCIAL ESTEEM:   “There lurks, perhaps, in every human heart a desire of distinction, which inclines every man to hope, and then to believe, that nature has given himself something peculiar to himself.”  –Samuel Johnson

 

DEEP ETHOLOGY notes on sociality | HUMAN SOCIALITY | BACTERIAL SOCIALITY .

 

 

 

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BEYOND SELF-ACTUALIZATION?  “There is within us — in even the blithest, most light hearted among us — a fundamental dis-ease. It acts like an unquenchable fire that renders the vast majority of us incapable in this life of ever coming to full peace. This desire lies in the marrow of our bones and the deep regions of our souls. All great literature, poetry, art, philosophy, psychology, and religion tries to name and analyze this longing. We are seldom in direct touch with it, and indeed the modern world seems set on preventing us from getting in touch with it by covering it with an unending phantasmagoria of entertainments, obsessions, addictions, and distractions of every sort. But the longing is there, built into us like a jack-in-the-box that presses for release. Two great paintings suggest this longing in their titles:  Gauguin’s Who Are We? Where Did We Come From? Where Are We Going? and de Chirico’s Nostalgia for the Infinite, but I must work with words. Whether we realize it or not, simply to be human is to long for release from mundane existence, with its confining walls of finitude and mortality.

 

 Huston Smith, Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief

(New York, N.Y.: Harper Collins, 2001), p.28 (Parabola Newsletter Feb 3, 2012

 

 

 

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SELF-ACTUALIZATION requires thinking beyond the SELF:

“The most meaningful activity in which a human being can be engaged is one that is directly related to human evolution. This is true because human beings now play an active and critical role not only in the process of their own evolution but in the survival and evolution of all living beings. Awareness of this places upon human beings a responsibility for their participation in and contribution to the process of evolution. If humankind would accept and acknowledge this responsibility and become creatively engaged in the process of metabiological evolution consciously, as well as unconsciously, a new reality would emerge, and a new age would be born.”  –Jonas Salk, Anatomy of Reality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arching over and threading through Maslow’s Need Hierarchy is the pursuit of PLEASURE and the avoidance of PAIN (and even in success, these goals are themselves often ambiguous and sometimes even indistinguishable) :

 

Pleasure. what a need is met –or even when we are making progress towards meeting a need– we often feel pleasure    [more on pleasure].  Is this a sensation that evolved to signal us that we’re on the right track?

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MORE on the BIOLOGY of NEEDS

 

For any organism to survive and thrive it must meet a sequence of needs that begin with health and end with self-actualization.  In evolutionary terms, self-actualization (“being all you can be”) corresponds to fitness.  This term originally referred only to reproductive success, but now is often understood to mean any transmission of “biologically relevant information” to the next generation.  Such information is classically represented by genes, but contemporary views can encompass memes — or cultural units of inheritance — transmitted through culture.  (more on fitness)

 

NEEDS and STRESS

 

“Poverty removes a person from his [normal state of] mind.”

Talmud

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Real or perceived challenges to meeting needs can evokes a stress response —  an ensemble of  physiological responses –much like reflexes — to cope with the stressor, mainly by reallocating the organism’s resources (especially energy) to deal with the most urgent need first.   For example, if a basic safety need seems threatened, activities such as feeding, reproduction, or even fighting off disease may suffer as the system tries to resolve the more urgent survival need.

 

The stress response also involves physiological changes in the brain that affect behavioral patterns that should work in concert with other physiological changes.  In general, mild stress is positive, motivating… while extreme stress can be paralyzing.

 

BEHAVIORAL changes can (depending on the level of stress)  involve facilitated or inhibited alertness, sensory sensitivity, thought processes, and activity levels.  Exactly how these are expressed depends on the context –the person’s experience, values, and opportunities.

 

Among the most powerful of psychological stressors is CHANGE —  challenges to the existing stability of the organism and its environment.  Organisms try to COMPENSATE for change.  Compensation for modest changes are done automatically and we are unaware of them — but if serious enough, the need to compensate can “break into” consciousness.  

 

 (Organisms are fundamentally conservative and many evolutionary changes (“innovations” )  manifested over time seem to support the general principle nicknamed “Romer’s Rule” :   “the initial survival value of a favorable innovation is conservative, in that it renders possible the maintenance of a traditional way of life in the face of changed circumstances.”   –Hockett & Asher 1964:137)

 

[optional: more about STRESS]

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NOTE:  The need hierarchy  appears to reconcile conflicting schools of  psychology, each with their special emphasis:

     Freud: early experiences of physiology and security;

     Reich: love and attachment;

     Adler: self-esteem;

     Jung, self-fulfillment.

 

 

 

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 THE MOTIVATION TO MEET NEEDS might propel us forward, but do we always know WHEN TO STOP?   “Once biological needs have caused mental life to reach a certain level, this mentality goes on to manifest itself independently beyond those needs”  (Mach, Knowledge and Error, 53)  Think about how technology enlarges and extends our dispositions to act in ways that meet specific needs — but those dispositions emerged in us long before we had technology.  Where once we sought to neutralize a competitor or adversary, now we can destroy entire nations.  

 

“… A monkey in a zoo caught a ‘possum, examined it, found the pouch and took out the young, looked at them and put them back: here the curiosity of the little zoologist goes far beyond biological needs.”  (Mach)  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brain-Break:  EVOLUTION was “in the air” in Darwin’s day  (that may have been part of the reason it was not part of the title of his book) — so, what was the big fuss?  How was Darwin’s theory of “:evolution” offensive to some religious people where other theories were not? The answer may be in the last paragraph of Origins.  But here’s how evolutionary thinking affected Tennyson.

 

 

 

Interdisciplinary Connections:  NEEDS we were speaking of are those of living organisms — but possibly a FIRST need is to be ALIVE. How do we  defeat the Second Law of Thermodynamics!?  Or do we?  What is the Second Law of Thermodynamics!?

ALIVE? what does that mean anyway? [more]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NEEDS met by ART

[more]

spiritual aspects of self-actualization

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Unsupported image type.

Arete

  more on pleasure

 more on fitness

 more about STRESS

spiritual aspects of self-actualization

 

reconfigured, minor revisions Feb 5, 2012 / Mar 20 2012 / Apr 4 2013 / 2014 /2017