Tuesday, December 16, 2008


The Hierarchy Of Needs and Thermo-dynamics

Below are my comments on Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs" model for human fulfillment. According to Maslow's model, humans have five basic needs that can be arranged in a pyramid like fashion. These are: Physiological Needs (at the top), Safety Needs, Needs of Love, Needs for Esteem and, finally, Needs for Self-Actualization (at the bottom). After the top tier need is secured, according to Maslow, we seek in successive order the fulfillement of the rest. Here is what I had to say:

I like the scheme presented here describing and contextualizing the basic human, and I might add, at least with the top tier need for survival, the animal instinct for survival.

I would only extend it further to explicitly take into account the laws of thermodynamics (i.e. matter cannot be created or destroyed, the universe tends toward a state of disorder or entropy). The implications of these Laws for, to use a dated term, mankind hit me a number a years ago.

It seems to me that from law of entropy one can draw a direct line to our present predicament. Because all creatures strive to ensure their survival and that means securing food, shelter and, in the case of our species, clothing, then it follows that the best way to do that from an individual standpoint is to, on one hand over-produce (preferably by exploiting others) so as to never run out and, on the other hand to hoard. This to me is the material basis of greed; The instinctual fear of not having enough and starving.

Moreover, is this not the basic defect of market economies or ooooh Capitalism? The system over-produces, the elite hoard as much of the surplus as they can get away with and the masses are left increasingly gasping. However since it is the masses that produce the surplus, squeezing them ever harder tends to reduce the rate of surplus creation because the masses cannot consume (buy) at the increasing levels necessary to raise the rate of profit. It is in the forms of profits, after all, that the Capitalist elite hoard the surpluses created within the system. Thus new means have to be introduced to keep it all going. This is where debt and financialization come in. Through these techniques or mechanisms the elite can continue their hoarding and the masses can keep up consumption. Except that, as we see today, this is a edifice built on quicksand and will eventually sink into the depths. This is partly because of the exhaustion, in its many forms, of the masses and, of course, resource limits (i. e. Peak Oil, Climate Change, water, soil and air pollution . . . etc.). In sum, while we as species have created these massive economic edifices so that only a few can delusionally believe that through the hoarding of massive wealth they could permanently stave off entropy, in actuality they have succeeded in accelerating the effects of the law of diminishing returns as well as entropy on an individual and planetary scale. This, by a supposedly intelligent species.

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