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Lecture 8

SOC SCI H1E Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Epicurus, Homeostasis, Food Science

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SocCore H1E Lecture #8
To the social / health sciences!
Thi week we’re starting the ‘bear; necessities - understanding how basic body
functioning connects with well being. Then we’ll ove onto other factors from the social /
health sciences.
Maslow’s “A Theory of Motivation”
Maslow’s goal: To explain what motivates us, i.e., what compels us to action
Are motivation (needs) in any sense equivalent to utility?
No, they are not the same. 1) There are other reasons for behavior besides these
motivations. 2) We commonly override what is motivating us and make other
With utility, utility was defined by your choice. If you acted to get something, then
you must be putting utility value on it, that’s just what utility is.
Are our motivations the same as the things we (expect to) make us happy (well)?
Perhaps not, though Maslow argues that we are motivated by our needs, and if
these needs go unmet, we cannot be happy or satisfied. He is talking about
things that are preconditions for living the good life.
Socrates? Needs are not relevant to (spiritual) happiness
Aristotle? Lack of needs met may cause unhappiness. To be happy you needed
to be born and live with some degree of luck and fortune.
Epictetus? Happiness consists in learning to entirely suppress/ ignore such
needs. Epictetus was focused on these things Maslow talk about, but he
approaches it in a very different way. We can recognize there are things and
physical urges we are motivated to get, but we might not be able to get them so
we must learn to suppress and ignore these urges in order to be happy.
Epicurus? To be happy, dont worry too much about these needs, trust that you’ll
be able to meet them, enjoy meeting them. What’s good is easy to get, and if
you’re not getting your needs met that is fine just endure it.
Nietzsche? Will to power!
Hierarchy of Needs: According to maslow, human needs form a hierarchy - when
unfulfilled those at the bottom will create greater motivation than those at the top.
Physiological - safety- love/belonging - esteem - self actualization.
Physiological needs - the lowest level, most basic needs are physiological needs such
as food, water, air, sleep, etc
Homeostasis - remaining constant or normal
The physiological needs are those that preserve your body’s homeostasis - salt
content, water content, temperature, etc
Lack of homeostasis? You die! This is the reason why these are the most
motivating and pressing needs. If we don’t fulfill these needs we are literally
going to die and die pretty quickly.
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He doesn’t talk about evolutionary theory but we can ground it here. We evolved
to have bodies that keep us alive until we reproduce, and our motivations is to
keep this body alive so we can reproduce.
Although he doesn’t count sleep, it should clearly be on there. Exercise and
maybe sex should have some almost-counting position as well.
The hierarchy the reason hierarchy matters, for Maslow, is that pressing lower needs
will completely block higher needs from manifesting. For example, a truly hungry person
will focus only on getting food. This person will, according to maslow, believe that they
will be happy forever if they only have food. But once you get food, you can start to focus
on higher needs.
“It is quite true that man lives by bread alone - when there is no bread. But what
Safety needs: the next step up is safety, the right conditions to ensure that our bodies
(and minds?) are not damaged
Shelter, clothing, protection, psychological safety.
Take evolutionary perspective - makes sense as why we would be motivated to
fill these needs.
How do we know about safety needs? Children. He didn’t gather empirical data or do an
experiment, but to ground his argument he draws on observations to describe why he
things certain things are motivating. Particularly, children get very stressed when there
safety and physiological needs are not met and how much they will do to meet those
The love needs: When physiological / safety needs are met, we come to recognize a
need for love and belonging.
Can you regress back down the hierarchy, or once you experience higher needs,
is that all you’ll ever crave. Say you were raised really well...then were stranded
on a deserted island. Will you be craving food or connection more?
How do we know about love needs? Psychopaths, they are this way because
they didn’t get enough love as a child. We know this isn’t true now, but this is
what he draws on to make his argument, lack of love can cause very serious
psychological issues.
Esteem: Both self-esteem and the esteem of one’s community. We want to gain
admiration of those around them and also feel personally that they are good.
The evidence - we can tell what happens when these needs aren’t meet, people
are continually motivated to meet them and can cause psychological problems
such as discouragement and neurotic trends (depression and anxiety)
Self-actualization: “Self-actualization...refers to the desire of self-fullfillment, namely, to
the tendency for him to become actualized in what is potentially.” Whether it be as a
mother, an athlete, an inventor, or an artist. We all have some core self if all our needs
were being met.
What about certain people that work best and have the greatest role in times of
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