What Is Life? And Why Does Every Person Need Survival?

An animal needs what it needs to survive. But humans are not animals. We have needs, too. So why do we need to take the lives of other beings so that we may have what we want?

A human need is something that is needed for an organism to survive. Individual needs are distinguished from desires. In the case of a desire, a lack of it causes an obvious undesirable result: death or a malfunction. But what about the needs of other people? Are there any inherent requirements which we may not be able to meet? Are they worth supporting with our lives and well-being?

If a desire is not strong enough to provide us with the necessities of life, then the desire for the act of living itself is unlikely to lead to survival. Consider again the parable about the king and the duke. The duke wanted to have the beautiful princess as a wife. However, the king had no more wealth than the duke desired. So in order to ensure his own existence and well-being, he had to murder the princess – to ensure her demise – thereby ensuring that she would not have children.

Now take a term, life, and replace the word desire with it. We can replace the king and duke with anyone who lacks the ability to satisfy the desires of life: children, the sick, old, the disabled, the bereaved, the homeless, and others. That’s a long list, but it’s also a very accurate one. It shows that what they needed was not survival, but life; hence, their desire for the things that make life meaningful did not lead them to survival but to survival.

We have, then, two basic needs: survival and the desire to survive. Now, many may argue that both are important. They may claim that you don’t need either to survive or to want to survive. After all, most people “live” long enough to get all the things they want. Therefore, they might argue, if the person doesn’t “have” the desire to live he/she wouldn’t “have” the survival needs to live.

Well, to be fair, the answer is not that simple. Some people “have” the desire to survive, whereas some people “have” the survival instinct. Still, I think we can be clear: the goal here is not to claim that every person has a desire to survive, because some do not. Rather, we want to say that a person has the power to desire survival, but lacks the ability to fulfill that desire.