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Subject: Next phase of capitalism rss

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Commander Harris
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A youtube video of Alain de Botton spurred me to start this thread. First off, Alain de Botton is a philosopher who posits that we desperately lack something in modern western societies, we lost track of striving for things that are truly important and will lead to fulfillment. For this we should look for guidance in philosophy, art and religion, where he cherry picks the best parts. Because most ideas have some valid aspects that you can use.

The clip:


In the video he starts with Aristotle and his idea that people need more wisdom, which will lead to eudamonia, a sense of fulfillment. De Botton described this as the 'psychological', which is missing in capitalism. Companies serve us material goods, things at the lower end of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. These things don't fulfill us, yet advertisement systematically appeals to those needs: friendship, love, community, etc. And then doesn't deliver on that. Leaving us lonely and desperate.

Then enter a new type of company. People crave those higher needs and where there is demand, supply will appear. Especially now we have the technological possibilities to deliver on those. There is a vast untapped market and someday companies will no longer make hollow promises but actually sell us products that fulfill us.

The first thing that strikes me as odd, is that he thinks we already have those companies emerging. Think AirBnB and Facebook. I think it's debatable whetehr Facebook sells us a fulfilling product, moreover he disparages Apple just selling us the tools. Maybe they are selling these things and it's an inherent distrust I have with companies trying to cater to my 'higher needs'. My current gut feeling is apprehension when he talks about companies delivering on those needs, not a feeling of optimism.

I realize that one could also turn to more traditional sources of fulfillment, such as religion, the family or vocation. However, there is an undeniable trend away from those sources and new sources have yet to form. That is a whole other discussion. So let's focus on the possible emergence of a new kind of market

So are we already seeing a market of that kind appearing? Should we welcome it?
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Agent J
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The very act of it being sold cheapens it, in most cases. Enough so that it is no longer meeting a 'higher' need.
 
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Commander Harris
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Why would something be cheapened when it is for sale? Certain types of products can deliver on those 'higher needs', like a good movie, a play, paintings, music, yet those products have to paid for. Why wouldn't this work for other higher needs?

I would be more suspicious of the ulterior motives of the provider of those services, not so much about it being for sale.

 
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Agent J
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Entertainment is not a higher need.
 
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Commander Harris
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Not necessarily, but it can be. A good movie, a good book, a good song can fulfill higher needs as all sorts of understanding understanding, wonder,spirituality, respect and insight. Yet those things aren't free.

Or are you perhaps talking of other higher needs?

Still, those things are representations of those higher needs and will only take you so far. You can read all the books you want, but that probably won't make you a fulfilled or rounded human being. Is it impossible to deliver those things for real when paying for it?

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Xander Fulton
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Jythier wrote:
The very act of it being sold cheapens it, in most cases. Enough so that it is no longer meeting a 'higher' need.


Indeed, at the very least, the 'love/belonging' on Maslow's hierarchy is cheapened by being a purchasable thing - if that is even really possible. And "esteem"? Well, I guess you technically can buy that (see: Paris Hilton), although I doubt anyone would disagree that it remains cheapened by being purchasable. And as to 'self-actualization'? Ah, no - fairly by definition, that is not something you can buy, you have to find it yourself. Indeed, it's the act OF finding it that is really its entire point.

Of course, I agree that much of the point of modern marketing is to make a person BELIEVE they are buying something that will satisfy a higher need than it does... but it doesn't change the fact that, for all significant purposes, those higher needs are not even buyable things.
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Agent J
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XanderF wrote:
Jythier wrote:
The very act of it being sold cheapens it, in most cases. Enough so that it is no longer meeting a 'higher' need.


Indeed, at the very least, the 'love/belonging' on Maslow's hierarchy is cheapened by being a purchasable thing - if that is even really possible. And "esteem"? Well, I guess you technically can buy that (see: Paris Hilton), although I doubt anyone would disagree that it remains cheapened by being purchasable. And as to 'self-actualization'? Ah, no - fairly by definition, that is not something you can buy, you have to find it yourself. Indeed, it's the act OF finding it that is really its entire point.

Of course, I agree that much of the point of modern marketing is to make a person BELIEVE they are buying something that will satisfy a higher need than it does... but it doesn't change the fact that, for all significant purposes, those higher needs are not even buyable things.


Well, yeah, I could use paragraphs and stuff but I prefer one line posts.
 
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Commander Harris
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CapNClassic wrote:
No. He sounds like a shill for AirBnB and LinkedIn. Sorry, AirBnB is in the business of hooking up renters with landlords (what is the hotel equivalent? These sound like the month to month kind of terms). My guess is he got paid by AirBnB to try to change to company image so when people think of their company, they think that their "journey will be fulfilling."


I think you're jumping to the worst possible conclusion. I've seen quite a few interviews and talks involving him and he strikes me as sincere, maybe he is a bit naive and/or idealistic. I always try ascribe the least nefarious motives to people, maybe that makes me naive and idealistic.

Quote:
I have no idea how AirBnB would enter a different market than the physiological one.


I'm also not buying the new image AirBnB is going for and I think the owner of AirBnB probably sweet talked the guy. But as to the notion that higher needs can't be bought, I agree. You can't buy a box of esteem or self-actualization. But one could imagine products or services that would help you obtain those higher needs, AirBnB could help facilitate that by offering extra services or guidance or what have you.

To be clear, I'm not the biggest fan of companies delivering these kind of services. I'm not fundamentally against this, but I'm very skeptical of companies taking charge of our higher needs. Still, I can see there is a growing problem of these needs not being met. People don't always know where to obtain these, so turn to cheap substitutes. Many organizations or groups that traditionally fulfilled those needs are becoming less relevant and are slowly disappearing. I think capitalism is a big source of this problem, but I know it's here to stay and am trying to approach this possible new source with an open mind.
 
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