The Desire for Satisfaction
Thinking about Whitehead
with help from the Rolling Stones
Some say that the fundamental aim in life is for meaning. In their first major hit Satisfaction, the Rolling Stones suggest that, by contrast, it may be much simpler. It is the aim for satisfaction. Whitehead agrees. In Process and Reality Whitehead proposes that is for satisfaction or, more specifically, for satisfying intensity. Humans seek it, God seeks it, other animals seek it, living cells seek it, and quantum events in the depths of atoms seek it. To experience is to hunger for satisfaction. This desire is so deep and pervasive that it functions, for Whitehead, as a categoreal obligation. We cannot not seek satisfaction. Ethics begin when we recognize that others, too, seek it. We begin to seek it for them as well as for us, and to lament that, like us, they can't always get what they want, but if we try sometimes we might get what we need. (JMcD)
The Eighth Categoreal Obligation
"The Category of Subjective Intensity. The subjective aim, whereby there is an origination of conceptual feeling, is at intensity of feeling (α) in the immediate subject, and (β) in the relevant future. This double aim – at the immediate present and the relevant future – is less divided than appears on the surface. For the determination of the relevant future, and the anticipatory feeling respecting provision for its grade of intensity, are elements affecting the immediate complex of feeling. The greater part of morality hinges on the determination or relevance in the future. The relevant future consists of those elements in the anticipated future which are felt with effective intensity by the present subject by reason of the real potentiality for them to be derived from itself.'"
-- Whitehead, Process and Reality, 27