01 Need creation
How does any need get started?
At its core,"need" is movement for functioning.
Nothing. Before the beginning, nothing. Nothing to move. No need.
No pain. No purpose. No desire. No pleasure. No longing. No joy. No movement.
As soon as the first thing exists, entirely alone, still no movement. It has to be entirely self-sufficient since nothing else exists to need. Hence, still no need.
As soon as two or more things exist in relatively close proximity, each eventually moves in relation to the other. The functioning of each impacts—and gets impacted by—the functioning of the other, or others.
Need emerges. At its core, “need” is movement for functioning. What never functions relative to its surroundings never develops need for that environment.
The earliest subatomic particles moved around each other. Even at this most elemental material existence, subatomic particles basically “need” in relation to each other.
Much as these particles dance with gravity in relation to each other, much of life dances in relation to others in its environment. Move closer. Move part. Cycling again and again.
This needs that
Something drew closer. Then another. These were pushed away, expelled, as unhelpful, as a hindrance to functioning. Or functioning eventually ceased, and these as entities were no more.
Then something moved in closer that enabled functioning. Primordial protein molecules functioned in water in ways it never functioned in the dry cold vacuum of interstellar space.
The earliest microorganisms took in surrounding nutrients, and expelled rudimentary waste. Its existence continued by maintaining rhythmic equilibrium with its immediate surroundings.
Homeostasis emerged as a basic relationship to material existence. Need emerges as life’s central experience.
Eventually, including yours.
Act on need
Biological inertia. Water moves in and out of the cell in a self-regulated rhythm. Nutrients travel the bloodstream to automatically reach where needed. The heart pumps just the right amount of blood throughout the body.
No sensation. No pain. When life runs on autopilot, it never requires a sensation for you to intervene.
Food, of course, does not automatically enter the body when needed. Life prompts action to feed the body, from something viable outside of it. You pick some fruit to eat.
To report the need, you feel hunger. You feel prompted to ease that hunger. Take too long, you feel the pain of hunger.
Desire prompts you to replenish something lacking. Pain prompts you to remove a threat. Pleasure reports sufficient replenishing. Relief reports sufficient removal of threats. More on this later.
Apart from unresolved needs, you never experience desire or pain. Essentially, your needs drive your life. Your lingering unmet needs consume your focus. That is life.
Reverse engineer your needs
This thought experiment lets us reverse engineer how needs first came into being. Long before our distorted human reasoning stepped in the way.
We generally want to be in charge of our needs, and how we respond to them, or how we react when painfully unmet. Instead of more distortion from our felt need for control, this nature-based approach gets back to how your needs originally formed in nature.
Humans have survived and even thrived since time immemorial. Mostly from allowing nature to take its course in resolving needs naturally. To daily drink the amount of water the body actually needs, for example, instead of consuming flavored drinks high in sugar—then wonder why we feel worse.
Look back how a need first evolved. See how nature restores us to full functioning. Always with the same resource used back when that need originally began.
The further we depart from nature’s course to resolve a need, the more problems naturally emerge. The more we rely on alternatives to these natural resolving of needs, the less we can fully function. The more suffering we endure. The more laws required to sort it all out.
When your “new normal” results in fewer resolved needs and more pain, think how far we have drifted from the higher standard of resolving needs. If all of our social sciences adapt to this less optimal standard, then consider how nature-based anankelogy can liberate you from pain and its dysfunction while unleashing your untapped potential.
The science of need
Anankelogy recognizes your needs as objective phenomena. While clearly involving a subjective component, your needs and mine exist independent of our thoughts, our beliefs, or our differing values.
Think of science as a lens to hold our perceptions accountable to reality. Think of reality as all that occurs in nature independent of human thought, values, beliefs, or interventions. It is “real” because it exists whether we perceive it or not, like it or not, process it or not. Much as the sun is real, whether we perceive it or not, like it or not, process it or not. Occurrence of need is little different.
Nature forms the kernel behind all our human thoughts, values, beliefs and interventions. Social sciences recognize, despite its subjectivity, how our doings are observable phenomenon. The kernel of need behind this exists whether we perceive it or not, like it or not, process it or not.
I can observe as a social scientist, for example, how frequently passersby stop to help someone incessantly coughing. Then ask each passerby why they did or did not stop to offer help. In other words, we can learn from ourselves using scientifically vetted techniques. We can face the kernel of need independent of human reaction to it.
Understanding the limits of understanding
Anankelogy follows in this tradition of the social sciences. Anankelogy uniquely links such observable behavior and self-reported justifications to the kernel of its originating needs. Then unpacks the specifics behind needs rarely explored in the other sciences.
This science of need peers through a nature-based lens. It was shaped largely independent of Western anti-nature bias. How can one fully understand what they observe in nature while also assuming they must control it?
The Western mindset, for example, stumbles when defining emotion. How can it define emotion from its assumption that emotions must always be controlled by human reasoning? Nature-based anankelogy sees this is an emotional reaction itself, distorting observations of natural emotions.
Anankelogical observation does not guarantee perfect answers. As any social science, anankelogy in the wrong hands could dip into science-in-name-only. Poor science rationalizes, by indulging our distorted assumptions. Good science provides reliable yet provisional answers. Great science inspires better questions to ask and test.
Social science discipline
The more needs resolve, the easier to observe reality without distortion. Unresolved needs tend to insist something should be a certain way. The more painful the need, the more insistent for its relief. A better understanding of needs can help better understand their impact on science.
Anankelogy adds this discipline to the social sciences. The more an observer’s needs remain resolved, the more reliable their observations. And the more trustworthy their framed hypotheses for testing.
Objective observations depend on the observer’s ability to function. The more their functioning depends to some extent on what is being observed, the less objective they can be. As social beings, our observations can never be completely objective.
Nature-based anankelogy appreciates the role of needs in our science. And to better understand how functioning impacts us all. Needs are all about functioning.
anankelogy [n.] (ä'-nä-kĕ'-lŏ-jē): the study of need, specifically here the human experience of need.
anankelogical [adj.] (ä'-nä-kĕ-lŏ'-jĭ'-kâl): of, relating to, or characteristic of anankelogy; referring to the role of need in another subject.
anankelogist [n.] (ä'-nä-kĕ'-lŏ-jĭst): one who studies the role of need in observable phenomenon.
anankelogically [adv.] (ä'-nä-kĕ-lŏ'-jĭ-kâ-lē'): referring to the role of need on some action. E.g., Political views tend to be less rationally deduced and more anankelogically produced.
anakelogic [adj.] (ä'-nä-kĕ-lŏ'-jĭk): same as anankelogical.
Apart from unresolved needs, you never experience desire or pain.
Need as functioning
You drink water to quench a thirst, and then your body can function. If left stranded in a dessert to dehydrate, your body cannot fully function.
Water draws in, and your body’s cells pass nutrients and waste. The more nutrients pulled in and waste expelled, the better that cell can perform its function.
Functioning depends on movement. Moving in what your body requires, and moving out what your body no longer requires.
Obstructing such movement disrupts functioning. The less water drawn in, the fewer nutrients drawn into the cell. The more buildup of potentially damaging waste. Such cells die sooner.
What applies at a biological level similarly applies at the level of emotional needs. You function at a biological and an emotional level based on this same rhythmic in-and-out movement.
The more isolated from others you must rely upon, for example, the less you can function. Or the more smothered by others, the less you can function. There is a time for one, and then the other.
Movement in. Movement out. This includes two phases of relatively little movement. Moved in and staying put for a while. And later expelled and staying that way for a while.
Nature-abased anankelogy appreciates this cyclic pattern. Indeed, indigenous wisdom uses a four-quadrant cycle to illustrate this primordial movement in nature.
You function throughout life in a predictably pattern of moving toward something or towards others, then moving back away. Then again moving together, followed by moving part, in a continual cycle.
This cycle is punctuated by periods of relative less movement. Being together for a while. Being apart for a while.
Water moving in. Water sitting in your body. Excess water expelled. Lower water amount for a while.
Friends come over to visit. They stay a while. Then it’s time for them to leave. You enjoy solitude for a while.
Anything we label as need points back to this cyclic rhythm of nature. Nature is more than what exists outside ourselves. Like anything else in nature, are all subject to this four-part cycle for our existence.
We too are creatures of nature. We “need” stuff from nature. Some aspects of nature rely on us.
As social beings, we need each other. We are drawn to be together. We rely on each other. We each need the warmth of “summer.”
We cannot produce for ourselves all the food we will ever eat. Or access all the other things required in life. At some point and on some level, we continue to function by being together.
Some elements in nature cannot coexist in close proximity to each other. At least not for very long.
We each need our own space at times. To know we can take of ourselves when all alone. We each need to “winter” in place.
We cannot always count on others to provide for our every need. We must at times be self-sufficient, and autonomous. At some point and on some level, we continue to function by being apart.
Nature prompts life to shift from being apart toward being together. From not enough to replenishing what is lacking.
After being alone for a while, you naturally seek some social company. To plant seeds of renewal. “Spring” has arrived.
At some point and on some level, we continue to function by moving together.
Nature prompts life to shift from being together toward being apart. From too much to removing excess.
After being together for a while, you naturally seek some solitude. To harvest the benefits of relationship. “Autumn” has arrived.
At some point and on some level, we continue to function by moving apart.
Put these quadrants together, you see a fundamental cycle behind all life. And beyond. The planets and stars move by this same cycle.
Two quadrants speak to those periods of relative calm. We can understand a lot about needs from understanding these stationary phases.
Two quadrants speak to those periods of movement. We can understand a lot about needs from understanding these movement phases.
The four quadrants create the four-part cycle familiar to traditional Native American wisdom. Moving together in life’s Spring. Being together in life’s Summer. Moving apart in apart in life’s Autumn. Being apart in life’s Winter.
You can think of these quadrants as seasons in your life, and not merely the calendar year. Native American elders did. Which enabled my Oneida ancestors to live in relative contentment with nature. And enables me now to live in relative contentment.
This four-part cycle provides nature-based anankelogy with a basic tool to understand needs. Reflect on your own needs. For food to satisfy hunger. For a job to earn an income to buy goods and services. For companionship to satisfy intimacy needs.
The cycle typically starts in the east quadrant. As two things start moving together. Needs typically begin there.
Next, understanding your needs using this four-part cycle.
Function is a balancing act
As stated earlier, you drink water so your body can function. If left stranded in a dessert to dehydrate, your body cannot fully function.
As you in draw in water, your body’s cells can pass more nutrients and waste. The more nutrients pulled in and waste expelled, the better that cell can perform its function.
Functioning depends on movement. Moving in what your body requires, and moving out what your body no longer requires. Or removing a threat from something your body never required.
Obstructing such movement disrupts functioning. The less water drawn in, the fewer nutrients get drawn into the cell. A buildup of potentially damaging waste could kill your cells.
Nature’s mechanism for maintaining this optimal level of functioning is called homeostasis. You draw in from your environment what you need for functioning. You expel excess to maintain an optimal functioning level.
Consider how water passes through your body in a cyclic rhythm.
Most of the time, your body fluid remains within an optimal level. You function well enough. No need for water. No need to remove excess fluid. As your body level goes, you function just fine.
Eventually, your body loses water. You sweat it out. Or your cells lose water as it passes out waste. So your body triggers thirst. To prompt you for restoring that preferable fluid level.
By habit, you reach for some water. Or for your coffee, or tea. Whatever is handy for you to drink. Down your throat it goes. To your stomach. And wherever in your body it’s needed.
Typically, your body replies with a level of satisfaction. Ahhhh. You thirst no more. By quenching your thirst, your body can get back to processing those nutrients and waste through your cells.
You enjoy another moment of relative satisfaction. Your body indicates it has just enough fluids. Not too much or too little. The feeling cannot last long.
Your bladder warns you it’s time to go the restroom. The waste removed from your cells is ready to be removed from your body. The longer you wait, the more painful the urge.
At last, you release the excess waste from your body. Your body removes what it does not need. Although a very private act for most of us, the body naturally returns to fluid equilibrium.
Similar to that sensation of thirst, you feel the sensation of relief. Your body tells you it has returned to a preferable fluid level. Not too much or too little. Just enough.
You just traversed two complementary cycles. According to indigenous nature-based wisdom, this homeostatic process applies in similar way to all of our needs.
Homeostasis of your needs
Homeostasis can be lost from equilibrium in either direction. Too much of something is a threat to be removed.
At first, you experience a mild threat as discomfort. You can remove it eventually. If the threat is not too alarming, you know you can act soon for relief. If you act too soon for relief, you risk relieving the pain without removing the cause of that pain.
If not removed in time, you feel an increasing urgency. Mild discomfort now builds into a pounding pain. The buildup of pain becomes a problem itself. You feel the urgency to react now for relief.
If too late, damage sets in. Homeostatic failure means you suffer injury. And you may undergo trauma. The damage could heal, or remain permanent. Worst of all, you could die.
Homeostatic equilibrium gets lost in the other direction. Too little of something prompts desire. You must replenish something to fully function. If just beginning to feel depleted, you can act soon for relief.
If not replenished in time, you feel an increasing urgency. Casual desire gives way to a deep craving. You must have it now! Not having it becomes painful. So you react for relief.
If too late, you start suffering a deficiency. Homeostatic failure here means your body can no longer function fully—if at all. You face momentary impairment. Or permanent damage. Perhaps even starvation or dehydration leading to death.
Your body performs all this without distracting you, much. Your heartbeat and breathing are homeostatic. Fortunately, much of our life runs on autopilot.
Sometimes, to restore homeostatic balance, your body prompts you to take some action. Your body requires no input from you to pump blood to your body’s extremities.
Your body does require your input to restore water equilibrium. And for plenty of other things involving your immediate environment. That’s where our emotions play a role.
Next, what exactly are emotions?