PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Friday, October 20, 2017

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: What we want and what we can get

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: What we want and what we can get.

Don't forget we now meet at Café Madrid at 6:30pm.

What we want and what we can get

It is very unlikely that if we didn't have needs, wants, desires,
wishes, dreams, yearnings, or whims we would never do anything or get
anything done. These emotions, mental states and impulses motivate us
into action.

These mental states are also subjective mental states, by which I mean
what we want is something we want for us. Sure we want peace on Earth or
for my family to be happy, but it is the self that wants these things
for ourselves. I cannot want something for others without first wanting
it myself.

This is not a tautology but rather a motivator for action. If my friend
wants to stop for a beer, the mental state of my friend is not a
motivator for me to act. However, my friend can try to create a mental
state in me so that my acts and his or her act will coincide with the
same desire as mine: stop for a drink.

Language is the normal way to communicate with others so that they
change their mind set to meet what we want them to do. Language is like
a jump start cable for cars; the battery from one car passes electricity
to the other car to give some life to the battery of that car. Officers
use language to give orders, teachers use language to instruct their
students, and my friend uses language to make me stop with them for a drink.

Indeed the list I gave in the first paragraph are language concepts to
define in very minute detail our mind set for a motive to act. Wants and
needs both direct our mind set to activate our motor skills to interact
with the world to bring about what we want or need. And although in
everyday use we might not distinguish a clear difference between these
two mind sets, at a deeper level the subtle and not so subtle
differences regulate, or have the potential to regulate, the nature or
intensity of our actions.

There is a difference between my friend telling me that he or she needed
a beer now, from just wanting a beer. There is an urgency about needing
a beer now which is not present in just wanting a beer. Why is this

If what we want (plus the other mind sets) is a motivational impulse, an
impulse to act in a certain way, are all these different mind sets the
same at the very mental level? As I have just said from the language
perspective each different word is supposed to elicit a certain set of
ideas in us. eg want from need. Is it possible, however, that we just
over time or use forget the subtle differences between these mind sets?
Can we reach a point where wishes, needs wants etc just mean the same
and have the same effect on us?

One aspect of language is indeed to help us gauge the chances of
something happening or the time frame it can happen. A need is more
urgent than what we want, but what about a wish or desire? What are the
chances of my wish for world peace happening? We all wish for world
peace, but would a mind set of needing world peace make sense? Basically
world peace is just not going to happen!

I would argue that some people in life become disappointed because they
haven't got a realistic sense of distinguishing needs, wants and wishes.
Thus wanting to be a successful athlete means that one must have a good
physical constitution but if one does not have the physical make up for
an athlete nothing is going to happen.

It is therefore quite clear that not only do we need to linguistically
classify our mental states correctly but then we need to have a fair
idea of what is involved to bring about that which we want.

We generally do get our language and our information right concerning
matters of wants, wishes desires etc. But many times this fails and we
end up bitterly disappointed. An alternative strategy would be to focus
on what we can get. Not many people are Olympic gold material but many
people have a satisfying life enjoying sport activities.

Some might argue that focusing on what we can get would, at the very
least, hamper our ambitions or even stultify our ambitions. A more
serious charge would be that this mentality of going after what we can
get will turn us into opportunists; living the equivalent of rational
nomads, or worse we become the sharks of the rational world.

Well focusing on what we can get might not turn us into sharks of the
rational world, but if the pre history narrative is to be believed, our
first ancestors were indeed hunter-gathers in other words going after
what they could get. Hence, at which point did we turn from
hunter-gathers, happy with what we can get, to economic creatures
focused on what we want?

Indeed hunting and gathering is the main strategy of the animal kingdom.
But we made the jump to wanting things, things that do not necessarily
grow on trees nor graze on the parries. Does this mean that one strategy
is better than the other? Or could it be that the strategy might not be
as important as identifying correctly what our mind set is and then
correctly ascertain what we need to know to turn that mind set into a

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813

PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Café Madrid
Calle del Meson de Panos in Opera

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: What we want and
what we can get


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