Wanting —

A close friend asked me just now if wanting was wrong?

It’s a good question — because wanting something, in and of itself isn’t right or wrong — until action is taken… or, is it?

Maybe the answer is much more complex, because wanting something you are unlikely to get causes angst — and that angst causes a person to feel things like envy, jealousy and other negative feelings.

If you are willing to hurt others to achieve what you want — then those actions are wrong… but the wanting itself is not wrong.

As it is, my friend is young and doesn’t understand what I’ve come to see recently — that material things aren’t the key to happiness.  Instead, you need to surround yourself with good people, who inspire you and who support you.  You need to engage in activities that challenge you and that you find enjoyable.  Finally, you need to find a way to be happy with yourself who you are right now and where you are right now.

It took me a long time to come to this realization — and along the way I collected a lot of stuff that was purchased out of boredom or unhappiness — anybody want all my old cosmic junk?

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6 Responses

  1. It seems to me that wanting in some cases is wrong, and whether it’s wrong can depend on the object of the desire.

    So, for example, a person might want someone else to be murdered. Or a person might want to enslave another human being. Or a person might want someone else to suffer greatly because it would give him or her pleasure. The feelings a person has about his ex-girlfriend might be summed up by a certain song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atBg9zLI2bA).

    This is my initial reaction, and I haven’t thought about this at length or carefully, but it seems to me that it is wrong to want these things. Wanting such things reflects badly on the person who wants them, even if the desires do not result in any action. What do you think?

  2. Hmmm… I suppose there is a distinction between wanting material things and wanting circumstances to change for others. The formal seems to be a simple kind of desire that only impacts yourself, the latter involves others and as such may need to meet higher ethical standards.

    Also, I’m not so sure simply wanting something bad to happen to another person is actually a bad thing — it doesn’t speak well of one’s character, but actually carrying out the action is worse — I suppose the counter to this is that all actions start with ideas — so without those negative ideas, actions that negatively impact others won’t happen…

  3. @ rodney
    i suppose you have a good point but in osama bin ladens case mostly everybody wanted him dead so i am wondering if you are not the only person wanting such a request does that make you a bad person?

    p.s. i was the one who asked if it was bad to want ( i was refering to legos ).

  4. @legomanmax… (who did ask me the question… about legos 🙂 ) —

    I think that the reason most people wanted osama dead is important to the question. If he were simply unpopular because he had bad gas in a small philosophy seminar room, that wouldn’t be enough to wish him dead — now would it?

    Also, just because most or all people want something to happen, it doesn’t follow that that thing should happen — For example, during slavery, most or all of the people in power thought it was morally permissible to own slaves, but — it turns out that it probably wasn’t —

  5. @ phillosophyfactory
    1 its not resonable to compare osama bin laden sending people to blow up d.c. but insted ran into the twin towers and killed more than 500 people to bad gas !!!!!!!!!!

    HE IS THE REASON MY GRANDMOTHER ALMOST COULDN’T COME FOR MY BIRTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. @legomanmax — you are correct — Osama did something really wrong — something that ended the lives of many people and was a violent attack on innocents… the point is that, no matter how many people want him dead — he probably deserves to die…

    If nobody wanted him dead, he still did those horrible things and perhaps he deserves to die for them — so, one person or many people wanting him to die doesn’t seem to be extraordinarily wrong.

    I’m trying to get at the point that many people wanting X does not make X moral — instead, X is moral or immoral on other grounds…

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