We have been generally taught that food, clothing and shelter are basic human needs. It is generally assumed that satisfaction of these needs is all that is required for peaceful and happy life. This may generally be true among have nots in resource deficient environments. But among people with sufficient material resources satisfaction of these needs is insufficient to meet their ends.
All human beings besides having material and biological needs have other needs in the form of interests, sentiments and relationships.
Interests generally refer to material goals and objectives of human living and may be rooted in other human needs for example a man in need of food is interested in getting food. Interests may also be contextual or culturally determined as generally accepted material entitlements. Interests may be protected by law and then interests are known as rights. Interests may be short term interests such as need for entertainment or long term interests such as the need to conserve relationships, carrier, business establishment, capital etc. Quite often there may be a conflict between short term interests and long term interests.
Sentiments or emotions are protective reflexes that direct action at a distance and thus have a directive influence on human needs. For example sight of the food you relish shall have a directive influence on your appetite and shall make you act to grab the food. The best case on this point is probably parental instinct leading to parental care and survival of species. Sentiments often influence our decisions regarding situations we want to get into or get away from and thus have a directive influence on our wants and desires. Sentiments are ephemeral in character, changing with changing mood, time, place etc. Sentiments may often be in conflict with long term interests.
Relationships are incidental to human need to live in groups such as family, society, work organizations etc. We have a vast variety of relationships such as father, mother, son, daughter, husband etc. Each and every relationship is unique in being governed by particular rules of relationship. In any relationship rules of the particular relationship prevail over self-interest and therefore a relationship demands commitment to rules governing the particular relationship. Relationships are long term phenomena and rules governing particular relationships generally do not vary with time and place. Emotionally wholesome environment (entertainment)
It is self-evident that human needs are diverse; therefore conflicts and contradictions are liable to arise at any point in time and space within an individual or between individuals. Short term pleasures can often be in conflict with long term prudence and pragmatism. Short term sentiments and self-interests can often run contrary to long term relationships. The opposite can also happen that for the sake of long term interests, short term needs are sacrificed. But one thing is certain that conflicts and contradictions are inherent to human existence and an individual has to relentlessly negotiate through.
Conflicts and contradictions being inherent to human condition demands provision for efficient conflict resolution mechanisms with sufficient resilience. We can’t sleep over conflicts or indulge in self-denial or self-deprivation. Conflicts often demand intellectual resolution to the greatest satisfaction of various concerns. Bullying, hegemony, self-denial, authoritarianism, self-deprivation, etc. should be avoided for the sake of mentally healthy individuals and healthy societies. Suppression of normal needs, wants and desires is not good for long term health of a society. Conflict resolution is a perpetual balancing act and we have to constantly act to keep the dynamic equilibrium, individually as well as collectively.
It demands that people adopt a life style (system of living) so that it is generally capable of meeting their short term as well as long term needs, interests, sentiments, relationships etc. Life style should be stable, progressive, well adapted to living conditions as well as adaptable to changing facts and circumstances. The life style should be capable of meeting any destabilizing influences i.e. conflicts and contradictions of diverse origin. This would also demand sufficient resilience within the system of living. So the life style is not only well adapted to living conditions but is also adaptable to future conditions. In any well organized system of living, an individual conflict or contradiction is a tiny fraction of the whole and therefore should not a cause to worry about.
There is also need to design a self-perpetuating sustainable culture which can naturally and organically take care of various human needs. It should have efficient conflict resolution mechanisms to ensure its adaptability to various challenges in the face of perpetual struggle for survival. Authoritarianism, egocentricity, will to dominate; hegemony can’t have a place in a sustainable culture.
Lastly individuals as well as societies should not only be adapted to conditions of their existence but should also be adaptable to ever changing conditions of their existence. The issue is not existence of inherent conflicts; rather the issue is how effectively we deal with them. It demands a perpetual balancing act to sustain the dynamic equilibrium incidental to existence of an individual as well as any human society.
Author: Dr Mahesh C. Jain is a practicing medical doctor and has written the book “Encounter of Science with Philosophy – A synthetic view”. The book begins with first chapter devoted to scientifically valid concept of God and then explains cosmic phenomena right from origin of nature and universe up to origin of life and evolution of man. The book includes several chapters devoted to auxiliary concepts and social sciences as corollaries to the concept of God. This is the only book which deals with origin of nature and universe from null or Zero or nothing. 37th chapter of the book deals with Philosophy of Living.