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The Evolution of Desires – Lesson 2, part 1

I am an egoist

The statement that human nature is egoistic is unlikely to make any headlines. But because we are naturally egoistic, we are all, without exception, prone to misusing what we know. This need not mean that we will use knowledge to commit a crime. It can express itself in very small, seemingly trifle things, like getting promoted at work when we didn’t deserve it, or taking our best friend’s loved one away from them. 

The real news about egoism is not that human nature is egoistic; it is that I am an egoist. The first time we confront our own egoism is quite a sobering experience. And like any sobering, it is a giant headache. 

There is good reason why our will to receive constantly evolves, and we will touch upon it in a little while. But for now, let’s focus on the role of this evolution in how we acquire knowledge. 

Evolution creates evolution

When a new desire appears, it creates new needs. And when we search for ways to satisfy these needs, we develop and improve our minds. In other words, it is the evolution of the will to receive pleasure that creates evolution. 

A look at human history from the perspective of the evolution of desires shows how these growing desires generated every concept, discovery, and invention. Each innovation, in fact, has been a tool that helps us satisfy the mounting needs and demands our desires create. 

Different levels of desire

Unlike the first level of desires, all other levels are uniquely human and stem from being in a human society. The second level is the desire for wealth; the third is the desire for honor, fame and domination, and the fourth level is the desire for knowledge. 

Happiness or unhappiness, and pleasure or suffering depend on how much we satisfy our needs. But satisfaction requires effort. Actually, we are so pleasure-driven that, we cannot perform even the slightest movement without motivation without somehow benefiting oneself. Moreover, when, for example, if we move our hand from the chair to the table it is because we think that by putting our hand on the table we will receive greater pleasure. If we didn’t think so, we would leave our hand on the chair for the rest of our life.

Egoism is a Catch-22

In the previous chapter; we said that egoism is a Catch-22. In other words, the intensity of the pleasure depends on the intensity of the desire. As satiation increases, desire proportionally decreases. Therefore, when the desire is gone, so is the pleasure. It turns out that to enjoy something, we must not only want it, but keep wanting it, or the pleasure will fade away. 

Moreover, the pleasure is not in the desired object; it’s in the one who wants the pleasure. For example: If I’m crazy about tuna, it doesn’t mean that the tuna has any pleasure within it, but that a pleasure in the “form” of tuna exists in me

Tuna

Ask any tuna if it enjoys its own flesh. I doubt it would answer positively. I might tactlessly ask the tuna, “But why aren’t you enjoying it? When I take a bite of you, it tastes so good… And you have tons of tuna! If I were you, I’d be in Heaven.” 

Of course, we all know this is not a realistic dialogue, and not just because tuna don’t speak English. We instinctively feel that tuna fish can’t enjoy their own flesh, while humans can very much enjoy the taste of tuna. 

Desire is a vessel that wants to be filled

Why this human enjoyment of the taste of tuna? Because we have a desire for it. The reason tuna fish can’t enjoy their own flesh is that they have no desire for it. A specific desire to receive pleasure from a specific object could be referred to as a vessel and to the filling of the vessel as pleasure. When you can build a vessel,a you will receive the filling and to stay fulfilled we have to keep growing our desire.