Monday, April 7, 2008

Desire for Love and Respect

Doesn't everyone like the prospect of being loved and respected in your community, amongst your peers and colleagues? Certainly as our mind and behavior is wholly influenced by the various flavors and mixes of hormones that permeate our brain, any desire for anything, including love and respect, is merely a product of chemistry. But it is a curious property of human nature that many of us have a desire not to compete, not for fame and fortune, but simply the desire to be recognized and, perhaps even revered, as a great person.

I suppose Freud and others would attribute this to the sex instinct, as if instinctive desire to reproduce is the sole impetus of any human behavior. I think it is more complicated than that. Say for example, you were given a unique opportunity to become recognized as a distinguished and innovative scholar in your community, or in your profession. Lets say for example, you discover one day that some work you did recently has a series of journalists requesting you for interviews to be published in many notable publications and media outlets. Who does not enjoy talking about their passions? Who would refuse the opportunity, unless perhaps they feared becoming the target of ridicule? I think even the meekest among us would prefer to be noticed in this way.

Those people who have become the archetypical example of evil, like Hitler or Stalin, or more recently Saddam Hussein or George W. Bush, are perhaps examples of this desire taken to an extreme, and succeeding in the short term, only to fail and to be amongst the most hated people of our time. Conversely, Albert Einstein or Martin Luther Kind Jr. are loved by nearly everyone who is aware of their work. I hope no one would suggest to me that all of these people are related by the same sex instinct. I think, to achieve fame or infamy is definitely the consequence of something more complex.

Whatever the cause of this desire for recognition, it seems to also be the cause of any change in society. Sometimes this desire leads to invention, discovery, and liberty. Sometimes it leads to oppression, destruction, and death. It would be nice if this mechanism of human nature were better understood so oppression and death could be avoided more often.

I propose a machine which plugs into your brain and makes you think you have achieved fame, fortune, and the love and respect of all mankind. Anyone who feels like they don't receive the love and respect they deserve can be plugged into this machine, and save everyone else the trouble of having to deal with them. Maybe a machine is not neccessary; maybe a shot of heroine or LSD would do the trick, but that wouldn't be legal. What's worse is the effect would wear off eventually, and then you have a drug-addicted fool who desires more love and respect from their peers and colleagues. That would be incredibly annoying.

There are no concluding remarks, this is an abrupt end to my thought.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Your ideas about people's drive to be respected are similar to that of philosopher John Dewey, who says that the desire to be important is the deepest urge in human nature. I don't know if you're familiar with his work, but I suggest checking it out if you're not, since I'm sure you'll find his ideas interesting.