Abraham Maslow’s Hiearchy of Needs
Do morals exist for people that are starving to death?
Abraham Maslow, born in New York, came up with the five-stage hierarchy of needs. This pyramid represents the five basic needs every man craves for. The lower levels are the more basic, fundamental needs. You are concerned with the higher needs only when satisfied with the lower needs. If the things that satisfy your lower needs are taken away, then the higher needs no longer matter to you.
The fifth step from the pyramid is the biological and physiological needs. Every person innately needs air, food, water, and shelter. This need is the same for any other creature on the planet; a very basic need that most people do not have to think about in order to satisfy. It does not require any extra thinking or analyzing. However, this basic need is the most vital need because without food and shelter, one cannot survive.
With the fifth step satisfied, you will reach for the fourth need, which is saftey. People need protection, freedom, stability, and security in order to feel safe and composed. When there is an uprising or fight, people look for the police to regain their safety.
The third step, after all the physiological needs are met, is belongingness and love needs. This social need is quite important in everyone’s life, as people long for affection, relationships, and a stable family.
Status, reputation, and achievement are all grouped under the esteem needs. People need to feel self-respect and respect for others in order to be confident with their lives. Some people live to please other because they only care about what other people think. Nevertheless, without self-esteem, a person will feel weak and inferior.
Finally, the first step on the pyramid is self-actualization. The question, “what is the purpose of my life?” is the most prominent problem. After all the other four needs are met, people start searching for their talents in life and how they can use the talent to benefit themselves or others.
According to Maslow, the order of these steps is crucial. Without satisfying the fundamental physiological needs, one does not crave for love or self-esteem. Therein lies the question of whether or not morals exist for people that are starving to death. In the Aquarium of Pyungyang, people from the concentration camps don’t even consider their reputation. They eat anything and everything they can find, including rabbits and rats. I have to say that when people are struggling to satisfy their stage 5 needs, they don’t value friendship, self-esteem, or safety. However, Maslow’s theory does not apply to every person. For example, some people who are religiously persecuted still satisfy the self-actualization need–they focus solely on their purpose/meaning in life even if they are missing the other four basic needs.