Hegel and Marx: The Concept of Need

By Ian Fraser

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This textual content introduces the concept that of desire as seen via Hegel and Marx, and areas it in the context of recent desire theories and theorists. The booklet works via key texts, together with Hegel's Philosophy of correct and Marx's Capital, and discusses the speculation relating to Soviet Communism and social democracy. * Covers key texts by means of Hegel and Marx studied via undergraduates on political idea classes * appears at political implications for contemporary desire thought * available: writer makes solid use of textual proof * want concept is an incredible component to glossy social theory.

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The  truth or falsity of a want statement depends, therefore, on how a person subjectively thinks or believes. A need statement, however, can only be true objectively, on  how things actually are rather than how we think they are. Wants relate, therefore, to a person's psychological state whereas needs do not. 28  The psychological basis  to wants enables theorists to argue that statements about wants are intentional and referentially opaque. 29  Intentionality and referential opacity relate to the fact that  terms which refer to the same thing in a sentence are not interchangeable because they will alter the truth­value of that statement. In contrast, a need statement is  referentially transparent because the substitution of terms with the same meaning does not alter the truth­value of the statement. 30  For example, if I want to kill X and  X is my wife, then that does not entail that I want to kill my wife. If I need to kill X,      Page 14 however, and X is my wife, then I need to kill my wife. The substitution of the term 'wife' for 'X' changes the truth­value of the want statement. That I want to kill X  does not mean that I want to kill my wife. The fact that I need to kill X, however, means that I need to kill whoever X is, even if it is my wife. The truth­value of the  need statement therefore remains. The objective nature of needs that demarcates them from the subjectivity of wants, however, is not as pronounced as these  examples would suggest. This becomes readily apparent when considering the relation between needs and their ends. Needs and Ends Brian Barry argues that a need cannot be normatively independent of its end because the case for meeting a need must always derive from the achievement of its end  kingdom. 31  This raises the issue of what 'Y' is in our original need statement. For many need theorists, 'Y' refers to the avoidance of serious harm. This is particularly the  case for Thompson, who states: 'to say that A has a fundamental need for X is to assert that so long as A is without X he must suffer serious harm'. 32  This implies that  needs are parasitic on ends and thus require the avoidance of harm, or some other end, to be included to make the statement normative. We will discuss the  relationship between needs and harm more fully in a moment. First, it is necessary to be clear about the importance of ends or goals in this context. Barry indicates that ends themselves have to he justifiable, that is, they must appear desirable or worthy to pursue. The problem is that people can differ in their  justification of ends. A welfare liberal, for instance, may justify the end of social justice by emphasising the need for a minimum wage. A libertarian, however, would  argue that this end is not justifiable because a minimum wage interferes with the need of an individual to offer or hire labour at the market price. The problem of  relativism arises. We cannot define needs because to understand needs we have to understand the ends to which those needs relate; but the normative evaluation of  ends can find no consensus in society.

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