The Pyramid of Needs and the Dead End of Civilization

pyramid of needs

The complex of problems that have grown before mankind dictates the need to find a non-trivial method for the further development of civilization. The global problems of humanity can be solved only by combining the scientific knowledge of biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology and other sciences that study the interaction of man, society and nature as a single interconnected system.

Studies of the nature of the anthroposystem have been going on for decades, but, perhaps, it was our school that first made an attempt to systematize this knowledge. To describe the relationship "man-nature", the direction we created used a systematic macroanthropological approach as a way of studying a person in the anthroposystem. A systematic approach is of great importance as a means of studying the integral phenomena of nature, society, group, person.

Need or desire to receive

Mankind develops gradually, and the force of its development is the growing egoism in it. If egoism had not developed in people, the present generation would not have developed the experience of the past, just as we observe it in animals. Egoistic desire is the essential nature of creation at all its levels - it is the only thing that was created in the act of creation of the universe. We called it "the desire to have fun" or "selfishness."

Concepts under consideration:

selfishness- the need, the desire to receive, as the driving force of the evolutionary process;

man - as an object and subject of macroanthropology, as a creature capable of feeling and developing in order to change.

evolution of the anthroposystem - the development of mankind from the moment of the emergence of human society to the present day, as a result of the progress of human needs (egoism).

Our study is based on the following assumptions:

the principle of identity: the evolution of the anthroposystem depends on the degree of identity of the properties of man with the properties of nature;

altruism: a measure of similarity to the property of higher control of nature. A person acquires a force that counteracts natural egoism, called altruism, and becomes similar to the property of a higher nature. To the extent of similarity, perception expands;
there are many laws in the world, but among them there is a higher law to which all others are subject. This is the law of the return to the altruistic nature;

the ultimate goal of creation is achieved on the one hand - through the process of evolution, and on the other hand - through the process of involution (the return of plurality to unity).
internal inversion: the creation in a person of the prerequisites for self-actualization and growth occurs by the method of inversion of his natural properties;

self-actualization consists in self-knowledge, in a person's comprehension of his true "I", his higher nature.

Desire Growth

Satisfaction of the desire to receive is felt by us in the form of fulfillment and pleasure, and dissatisfaction - as emptiness, despair and suffering. Any action, from the simplest to the most complex, is only intended to increase the level of pleasure or reduce the degree of suffering. In fact, these are two sides of the same coin.

It is known that a person will not make the slightest movement without motivation, a driving force, that is, without counting on personal gain. He must imagine and really hope that in the new state he will get more pleasure than in the current one. This assumption about obtaining future benefits is the energy that drives human activity.

Man differs from the rest of nature not only by the strength and nature of his desires, but also by the fact that these desires are constantly changing and growing, both throughout the life of the individual and with the change of generations.

Abraham Maslow divided human needs into five main levels according to a hierarchical principle, which means that a person, when satisfying his needs, moves like a ladder, moving from a lower level to a higher one. The growing desire to receive awakens new needs in a person. The greater the desire, the higher the demands of a person, and this leads to the development of civilization. It is the steady growth of selfishness that has propelled us forward, inspiring the formation of humanity throughout its history.

In the beginning, human egoism manifested itself only in the essential bodily needs for food, sex, creating a family, and so on. This foundation has been laid in humanity since ancient times.

However, the individual lives in society, and therefore he has higher, social aspirations. The desire to enjoy wealth, honors, power and glory has changed the face of mankind. They led to class and hierarchical stratification, as well as to the formation of new types of socio-economic structures.

Climbing the pyramid of needs , a person wanted to enjoy knowledge. This desire manifested itself in the development of science, education, upbringing and culture. Its historical imprint is most felt by us from the Renaissance, from the time of the scientific revolution, and up to the present day. Mass education and the secularization of society were also consequences of the thirst for knowledge, which requires us to know the surrounding reality. We need to constantly replenish our store of information about the world, we need to know everything, invade, explore and dominate everything.

Desire is a universal driving factor, and if we look at the process of cultural, scientific and technological development of mankind from this angle, we will come to the conclusion that it was the growing desire that gave rise to all ideas, inventions and innovations. In essence, the entire process of development is some kind of technical tools, devices, service tools that were developed only to satisfy the needs caused by the growing desires of man.

It should be emphasized that egoism develops not only in a historical perspective, not only in humanity as a whole, but also in an individual throughout his personal life. One after another, all sorts of needs awaken in us in various combinations, guiding the course of our whole life.

Thus, the desire to receive is the engine of progress. It is it that pushes us forward, causing everything that happens to a person individually and to humanity as a whole. The continuous development of desire shapes the present as well as the future towards which we are moving.

Primal Desires

The need for food and sex are animal desires because animals also experience them. Even being in complete isolation, a person experiences hunger and the desire to procreate. Essential needs are called physical desires, and anything beyond that refers to social, human desires. If any desire awakens in us that exceeds the need for food, sex, physical security, then we can analyze the way it is used along the “selfishness-altruism” vector.

social desires

According to Maslow, our desires are divided into two types: physical and human or urgent and social. Let's take a look at social desires to see which factor in our relationship with our neighbor is causing the most tangible imbalance.

M. Laitman divides social desires into three main categories:

desire for wealth;
desire for honors and power;
desire for knowledge.

These categories reflect all non-physical desires that can awaken in us.

Social desires are called such for two reasons: A person adopts them from society. Living alone, he would not seek such pleasures. These desires can be realized only within the framework of society. Each of us is characterized by his own special combination of social desires. Moreover, this combination changes throughout life. To put it schematically, one person has a strong desire for money (the desire for wealth), another has a desire for honors, and a third has a desire for knowledge.

"Money" personifies the desire to take possession of something, turning it into a personal acquisition. Ideally, a person wants to gain the whole world, so that everything belongs to him alone.

“Honors” is already a “higher” desire. Man no longer wants to take everything into his own hands, like a small child. On the contrary, he understands that he is surrounded by a huge world, and prefers to work all his life in order to achieve respect and honor from those around him. He is even willing to pay to be respected. Unlike the primitive thirst for money, which allows one to “inflate” oneself with countless acquisitions, the desire for honors attracts a person not by the abolition of his neighbor, but by the presence of a full-fledged personality that will respect him, elevating him above himself. Thus, "honours" personify the desire of a person to gain the whole world - but not in his own property. On the contrary, let the world remain outside and honor us, reverent to the point of self-forgetfulness.

“Knowledge” symbolizes even greater power. It is about the desire to gain wisdom, to know all aspects and details of reality, to study the mechanism of the universe and understand how to turn nature and people to your advantage. Knowledge means unlimited power through reason.

Any desire that goes beyond the basic needs is adopted by us from society. Accordingly, the degree of success or failure in satisfying these desires is measured only in relation to society. Thus, D. Kahneman's research showed that people evaluate the intensity of their emotional feeling of happiness mainly in accordance with social criteria. It also turned out that the degree of happiness we experience depends not so much on our personal success, but on comparing it with the success of others. Less for them, more for us, more for them, less for us. We are ashamed to admit it, but when someone else succeeds, envy awakens in us, and sometimes a natural uncontrollable reaction flares up automatically, and then inside ourselves we frankly want him to fail. When someone else stumbles, we rejoice, because in comparison with this our condition immediately improved. If many suffer, this is in itself comforting, as it is a vivid example of the “relativity” and social orientation of our assessments.

It follows from this that human pleasures that do not fit into the framework of physical vital needs depend on our attitude towards our neighbor, in other words, on the key in which we perceive our relationships with others. What warms our hearts is not so much new acquisitions as such, but gaining dominance over others, respect in the eyes of society (and therefore in our own eyes) and the power that we seek.

Such a selfish attitude towards our neighbor causes an imbalance, a discrepancy between us and the general law of nature, the law of altruism. The egoistic desire to rise above others, to enjoy at their expense and isolate themselves from them, contradicts the desire of nature to collect all its parts together through altruism. This is the source of our suffering.

Let us be unfamiliar with certain laws of nature, but they still affect us, being absolute and unshakable. If someone violated one of them, its very deviation becomes a factor of influence and obliges the person to return to the observance of the “rules of the game”. We already know many of the laws of nature that operate at the inanimate, vegetative and animal levels, including man. However, we mistakenly believe that at the human level, in the sphere of relationships, there are no absolute laws.

This delusion is caused by the fact that, being at a certain stage of development, it is very difficult to understand its laws - for this you need to ascend to a higher stage. Therefore, we are unable to draw clear parallels between selfish behavior towards our neighbor and the negative phenomena of our lives.

supreme need

Maslow describes this need as "... the desire to become more and more what you are, to become everything that you are capable of becoming." A person who has reached the actualization of the highest need in his development enjoys the pleasure of other people, which allows us to call him an altruist.

He found that self-actualizing people enjoy life more. They value her more; they have more interests; they see more beauty in the world. They have less fear and anxiety and more confidence. They are much less prone to feelings of boredom, despair, shame, and lack of purpose. In Maslow's words, "They are directly inclined to do the right thing because that's what they want, that's what they need, that's what they approve of, enjoy it, and tend to keep enjoying it."

If the first four categories of desires (the desire of the body - for food, shelter, sex; the desire for wealth; the desire for power, honor; the desire for knowledge) are completely understandable and tangible to us, then we have no idea about the highest - spiritual - desire.

A person does not know what a spiritual desire is until he can satisfy his desires from those around him in our world. He sees these objects and knows exactly what he is striving for. But when he has a desire for something higher, he does not see in our world a source that could fill this desire.

A person finds himself in a state of helplessness and confusion: there is no longer a sense of taste for life, there is nothing to fill it with. He's just bad. He is being pulled somewhere. But where is it? He does not know where to turn, because the source of pleasure is not visible. A person has the opportunity to forget for a while, which, as a rule, he does.

And the one who urgently demands an answer to it is not able to fill the emerging void. And then the search for a remedy begins, which has been forgotten by mankind for many centuries.

The dead end of civilization and the search for a way out

Everything in nature, except for man, consumes only what is necessary for its existence. Whereas human desires, even concerning the simplest needs - food, sex, physical comfort - are not limited to the necessary. The simplest and most striking example: a person uses food by no means only to maintain life, as an animal does. But people are well aware that the quantitative and qualitative excess in nutrition harms them, but in the vast majority of cases this cannot stop them. Man's desires are excessive in everything.

And yet, the insatiability of a person who stands apart in nature is especially brightly manifested in the desires inherent only to him: in the pursuit of wealth, power, honors, fame, even in the pursuit of information. It is in these desires that a person is selfish, because in order to satisfy them he uses the company of his own kind. A person, unlike an animal, enjoys when he humiliates another, rules over him. Power over one's neighbor, which harms him, can safely be called the quintessence of human egoism.

Selfish use by a person of his desires leads to a threatening imbalance with the outside world. That is why “philanthropic altruism”, which we sometimes notice, cannot fix the world in any way, since its basis is a natural, often not even conscious desire for personal satisfaction. The internal flaw in the relation of the person to the person cannot be corrected by "humanitarian help". The more we help financially, the more clearly we see how far we really are from each other. People are increasingly lacking an understanding of what really unites them.

The habitual use of all social desires only to achieve personal satisfaction leads to a dead end in development. The highest desire is not realized, and this makes it impossible to maintain homeostasis - that great balance, beyond which the disintegration of society and its death begin.

For thousands of years, man has been constantly increasing the scale of his egoistic aspirations, pushing society to development, to the emergence of new social formations, to the development of various forms of knowledge and creativity in the field of science, culture, upbringing, and education. And today we can state the sad result of uncontrolled egoistic development: society has entered a period when every thinking person sees that civilization has reached a dead end. And the transition to a new level requires a change in the vector of his desire from egoism to altruism.

After all, it was globalization that made us realize that today, even in the planetary community, everyone depends on everyone, and everyone determines what our common future will be like. The analysis shows that the source of the crisis is the basic error inherent in the "program" of a person's relationship to the outside world: to other people, to society, to the universe. The snowball of problems that has grown over the centuries of this error has led to the fact that modern humanity is a terminally ill organism that devours itself.

Condition for moving to the last step of desires

If a person changes the vector of his egoism from receiving to bestowing, then altruism becomes his need, i.e. "to give for the sake of giving." In his perception, the world becomes whole, and all people become close.

Necessary conditions for a new civilization: that everyone should take upon himself the duty to take care of everyone and take care of satisfying the needs of everyone to a degree no less than nature has instilled in a person to take care of providing for his own needs. So that everyone in the world feels that he is responsible for everyone.

However, if a part of the world does not want to fulfill such a guarantee, but remains immersed in selfish desires, then the rest will be forced to remain at this level, without any possibility of getting out of the crisis.

Figuratively, a guarantee can be compared with two people sailing in the same boat. Suddenly, one began to drill a hole in the bottom of the boat under him, and when asked by the other why he was doing this, he answered: “What do you care? I'm drilling a hole under me, not under you." To which the second said: “Fool! After all, being in the same boat, we will drown together.

However, it is impossible to arrive at universal guarantee in one leap, but only by a slow stepwise development. As figuratively written by the sages: "Until the scales tilt to the side of merit." That is, in the end, everyone contributes to the development of mankind, just as a person who weighs sesame seeds adds one grain to the scale until he finishes weighing. And of course, every grain matters, because without it it is impossible to complete the weighing.”

Thus, the first condition that operates in the new civilization, that is, at the last stage of our needs, is the exit from one's "I" and the readiness to give to everyone, without making any difference between them. Since everything that is outside a person is the same for him - whether it is far or close - and so he must correct himself to correspond to the highest level, fulfilling this first condition, allowing him to ascend to it.


The main indicator that characterizes our civilization today is the inability to actualize the highest human need. Hence the feeling of the loss of the meaning of life, the feeling of the emptiness of existence.

Mankind is faced with the need to develop the right single solution - an altruistic attitude towards society and nature.

The need to actualize the highest need obliges each individual to altruistic activity in relation to the system of which he is a part. If any individual does not obey this principle of life, the principle of altruism, he thereby hinders development.

If we realize how each of us influences the world with our thoughts, our inner “I”, then we will understand why the world is so cruel to us. If we develop a methodology for interacting with each other, we will no longer be able to destroy our lives. And this will be the beginning of a new civilization.


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