The concept of need is central to the fields of philosophy, biology, psychology, sociology, economics and politics. It is also a common topic for discussion in popular culture and media. In the most basic sense, a need is a deficiency that can result in an adverse outcome. For example, a person who does not have food or shelter is unable to function or survive. In contrast, a want is a desire or wish that does not have the potential to cause an adverse consequence. The distinction between needs and wants is central to the debate about societal priorities and ethical choices.
The word need can be used as a noun or a verb. A noun meaning “something essential for survival, well-being or achieving a goal” is more commonly used, and it suggests an imperative tone: I need help. The verb need can be used in the same way, but it is generally more euphemistic: I want to help you.
A widely discussed academic theory is that people have a hierarchy of psychological needs. According to Abraham Maslow’s 1943 theory, people must satisfy lower order needs such as hunger, water and safety before higher order needs such as self-esteem and self-actualization can be met. Many people spend the majority of their time attempting to meet their lower order needs and often become frustrated when they are not satisfied.
Some philosophers have criticized Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, arguing that it is not a valid model for understanding human motivations in specific contexts. They have advocated a more holistic view of human needs, based on the idea that individuals are capable of identifying their own needs if they have the proper internal assets. These internal assets are a combination of skills, mental health and physical strength.
In this approach, human needs are determined by rational identification, consideration of actual experiences in people’s everyday lives, and democratic decision-making. The authors point out that human needs cannot be imposed from outside because they vary across time and context.
Individuals can identify their own personal needs by evaluating their desires and priorities. To do this, they can write down their life goals and experiences. Then they can analyze the results to determine what their personal needs are. Once they have identified their personal needs, they can create and execute a plan to fulfill those needs. Having a clear picture of one’s personal needs can allow them to make more informed and ethical choices. It can also help them to avoid making harmful decisions that could negatively affect their well-being or the well-being of others. For instance, someone who is trying to lose weight might decide not to eat unhealthy foods that are high in fat and calories.