Should We or Should We Not Satisfy Our Desires?

Published 23 Dec 2016

Since time immemorial, desires have been one of the most powerful natural forces which move humans’ behavior, motivation, and personalities. Whether material, intangible, spiritual, or emotional, it seems that desire has forever been a part of human nature, and it also appears to be a phenomenon which tends to be inevitable and inescapable in people’s lives. Thus, as people carry on with their personal tasks and agendas everyday, they may acknowledge the reality that desires indeed serve as a driving force in these everyday matters. Consequently, desire has been studied debated over even during the early time of Aristotle.

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During this era, most philosophers agree that an inpidual’s capability is composed of three aspects, namely, the ratio (brain), the will (desire), and the soul (Hartono). Hence, this shows that since the earliest times, desire have been recognized to be a strong force which greatly affects a person’s capacity and competence. However, in the contemporary days, it appears that the word desire has been tagged with various connotations. Some may associate with unnecessary pleasure-seeking, while some may argue that it is a necessity for humans to satisfy their desires. Thus, this paper shall prove and support the fact that as human with a natural will and tendency to want things, desires must therefore be satisfied well to achieve one’s optimal capacity as a human being.

Theories, Philosophies, and Supporting Thoughts on Desire Satisfaction

Sigmund Freud and His Theories on Sexual Desires

Over the years, the concept and nature of human desire have been carefully studied and have been debated over by numerous philosophers and other great minds in psychology and sociology, resulting in numerous connotations about the reality of human desire. As a result, many are continuously being puzzled whether desires are meant to be satisfied or to become merely temptations and challenges. Sigmund Freud has been a popular identity in the study of human desire as he became known by his very controversial sexist ideologies. Desire for Freud is generally associated with sexual drive which acts as the principal driving force not just for grown-ups but also for children. Freud believes that since birth, the satisfaction of all the pleasurable sensations from the skin drives a person, ensures an optimal social and emotional development, and prevents future psychological crises like the Oedipal crisis and the Electra complex.

Freud named the first psychosexual stage as the oral stage which is undergone by children 18 months and below. In this stage, the focus of pleasure is the mouth which can be observed by the frequent urge of the baby to suck everything that he or she holds. The second stage is the anal stage which, from its name, technically focuses on the pleasure derived from the anus. This is usually observed in children 18 months to 4 years of age. Next is the phallic stage. In this level, four to seven year-old children derive pleasure mainly from their genitalia. Thus, as Freud stated, masturbation can be observed as common practice among children that fall on this age range. The latent stage, on the other hand, relates a stage wherein most sexual desires are being repressed because of the pressure from school and the society. In this stage, children from seven to twelve years of age can be observed to be subdued and calm. The last stage is called the genital stage which begins at puberty and extends until adulthood.

During this stage, the center of pleasure is sexual intercourse itself. Freud argues that the desire for sexual intercourse in this stage is natural and inevitable. He also emphasizes that most social, emotional, and identity crises like homosexuality and sexual fixation root from this stage when the desire tends to be taken for granted or repressed (Boeree). This theory of Freud supports the idea that desires have that natural tendencies and effects of people. Although his theory deals with only one kind of desire which is that of the sexual urges, it very well discusses how natural and innate desires are to human and how necessary it is to satisfy these desires in order to avoid social, psychological, and identity crises later on in a person’s life.

Aristippus’ Hedonism

Aside from this theory, Hedonism, which literally talks about the importance of satisfying one’s desires, contributes to the idea that desire satisfaction plays a vital role in making a person realize his or her optimum capabilities and potential. Aristippus of Cyrene is the father of Hedonism. He believes that aside from the sensual pleasure, higher forms of pleasure such as mental pleasures, domestic love, friendship, and moral contentment are also important to be satisfied (Fox). His theory also explains that satisfaction of desires leads to a pleasant outlook and attitude in life. Thus, the kind of desire that this theory focuses on is that of the intrinsic desire which is the innermost desire a person has (Heathwood 540). Intrinsic desires are those desires supported by other desires and are usually simpler. In other words, intrinsic desires are the last ones in the long chain and regress of desires (Irvine 55).

Theories, Philosophies, and Thoughts Against Desire Satisfaction

However, there are critics who challenge the idea of desire satisfactionism by saying that this theory depends on a false psychological analysis as it relies on the fact that pleasure is the only motive of action. Also, critics argue that desire satisfactionism induces selfishness and lets people deviate from self-sacrificing and generosity. Also a lot of critics suggest that hedonism or desire satisfactionism induces too much egocentrism in the sense that it allows an inpidual to splurge and satisfy him/her with all the worldly and materialist desires which s/he wants. Aside from this, desire satisfaction was also tagged to derive more unnecessary desires such as luxuries and vices since it advices the satisfaction of all desires a man could have even those which s/he may not know to be bad for him/her.

The Stance

It is true that the gratification or fulfillment of one’s desire is not the sole driving force of inpiduals. However, it is one of the major driving forces which push people to have a positive and pleasant outlook about life. Considering the aforementioned thoughts, it appears that desires are not always about the sensual and the self-pleasuring kind of desires. Desires in general, may it be the desire to change someone else’s behavior, desire to make the world a better place, or all the other realistic and even the unrealistic desires forces people to work hard and live for the fulfillment of such desires.

Some people may think that wanting more after fulfilling a desire leads to a problematic situation of non-contentment. They may want more and more after they fulfill a desire they previously wanted badly. This certainly is inevitable for human beings since they would always grow with developing needs as the world around them develops and evolves as well. The negative connotation about desires and desire satisfaction can be very much attributed to the negative perception of conservative society to sensual and sexual desires. As this kind of desire is relatively sensationalized and controversial in the contemporary times, people tend to form the impression that desires are primarily about sexual fantasies and urges that are immoral for people to crave and fulfill over and over.

However, as reality bites, human desires are not all about sexual dreams and cravings. In general, desires are the natural driving forces and motivations which keep people going. These are literally the things that people are motivated to acquire to keep a pleasant attitude in life. If not for satisfying one’s desires, there would not be an Albert Einstein, Alexander Grahambell, and more successful personalities today (Kavanagh). If people would have to repress desires and keep themselves from satisfying them, then contentment and happiness would most likely be hard to achieve.

As it appears, desires come from the illusions and pictures of great and ideal things people want to fulfill for the purpose of rewarding their senses, urges, and needs. Perhaps, these desires are the price people have to pay for their ability of rationalizing or differentiating what is beautiful from ugly, what is elegant from simple, and what is astonishing from lame. This ability also gives them the power to create a mental image of the perfect life and the perfect things which they would eventually tend to desire. Indeed, wanting and desiring beautiful and ideal things and sensation in life come with the humankind’s powerful senses and ability to discern what is desirable from not.

Perhaps, having such strong desires comes from the gift of powerful human consciousness which enables humans to dream and want (McCormick). As inevitable as the tendency of desiring, the need to satisfy such desires appears to be as inevitable. It is certainly a natural need for people to satisfy their desires as these desires have been proven natural and innate as a human tendency. People must also not justify or rationalize desires and their reasons for desires are not cognitive thoughts; these are feelings which drive the minds and the way of thinking of people. Thus, as emotions, desires are different from the tools of cognitions. These things must never be associated. Hence, desires must never be run by logic but by free and genuine feelings and emotions (Firehammer).

Having considered the theories, ideologies, and criticisms about the act of desire satisfaction, the point still stands strong that human beings still ought to satisfy their own desires. However, one must also acknowledge the fact that a desire may either root from a want or a need (Marples). The confusion often arises from determining the difference between the two. Nevertheless, whatever the result of this reflection and differentiation may be, the outcome will still boil down to one fact: understanding human nature suggests the understanding of the natural tendency of desire satisfaction. Thus, this implies that whatever reasons humans try to extract from desires, fantasies, and wants, one fact shall remain: Humans will always crave and desire; thus, as inescapable as desires themselves are the satisfaction of such.

Works Cited

  • Boeree, George C. “Sigmund Freud: 1856-1939.” Shippensburg University. 27 December 2007. 08 January 2009 <>.
  • Firehammer, Reginald. “Desires: The Nature of Desire and Passion.” The Autonomist. 02 November 2004. 08 January 2009 .
  • Fox, James. “Hedonism.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 08 January 2009 .
  • Hartono, Agustinus. The Philosophy of Desire. 16 January 2007. 07 January 2009 .
  • Heathwood, Chris. “Desire Satisfactionism and Hedonism”. University of Colorado at Boulder. 08 January 2009 .
  • Irvine, William Braxton. On Desire: Why We Want What We Want. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Kavanagh, Gail. “Why Do People Go After Unlimited Desires?.” Helium. 08 January 2009. .
  • Marples, Roger. “Education and Well-being: Beyond Desire-Satisfaction.” Philosophy of Education Society. 1995. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 08 January 2009. .
  • McCormick, Louis. “Why Do People Go After Unlimited Desires?.” Helium. 08 January 2009. .
  • Moncur, Michael. “Quotation #24243 from Classic Quotes. The Quotations Page. 2007. 08 January 2009 .
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