Throughout history we have seen the general population wanting to look up to some leader, some god -- wanting some kind of leadership and something to place their worries upon. Individuals who notice humans' susceptibility to this "phenomenon" have managed to use it to their advantage, such as by using religion to control a mass of people, such as by managing to impose and portray themselves as an all powerful leader where everyone can look up to and place their worries upon. I have nothing against religious beliefs, but like almost anything else, it can be abused and throughout history, people have used it to control others.

Which leads me to three separate points:

I) Why do us humans desire or in some sense, need a leader, a god or something to look up to and guide us. Can't we be more independent, enjoy the days that we have on earth and seek peace and happiness? Why do we need anyone or a religion to guide us in our lives?

II) Why do humans desire power, and control over others?

III) As Bertrand Russell said,

From the beginning of civilization until the Industrial Revolution, a man could, as a rule, produce by hard work little more than was required for the subsistence of himself and his family, although his wife worked at least as hard as he did, and his children added their labor as soon as they were old enough to do so.

Whilst mentioning

One of the commonest things to do with savings is to lend them to some Government. In view of the fact that the bulk of the public expenditure of most civilized Governments consists in payment for past wars or preparation for future wars,

In bold, it relates to point II), which I wonder, why do humans desire power and control over others?

Whilst Bertrand Russell was talking below about what would happen if no one was compelled to work more than four hours a day, I wonder, why can't us human beings just enjoy the simple pleasures of life and not crave for power, and hopefully:

Ordinary men and women, having the opportunity of a happy life, will become more kindly and less persecuting and less inclined to view others with suspicion. The taste for war will die out, partly for this reason, and partly because it will involve long and severe work for all. Good nature is, of all moral qualities, the one that the world needs most, and good nature is the result of ease and security, not of a life of arduous struggle.

  • 1
    Seems more psychology-oriented than philosophy...
    – stoicfury
    Sep 8 '13 at 7:02
  • Or to put it another way, the only question I'm seeing here is a question about anthropology or human psychology. Other than that, there's some pontificating. And I don't see how this can do anything put to turn into a war of opinions.
    – virmaior
    Oct 20 '15 at 12:10

We're social primates. Dominance hierarchies provide an effective way to allow directed action by a whole group (because one person is in charge) among other advantages for the group; and there are clear rewards for the dominant individual so it makes sense to want to be that individual if one can. Things will be bad for you if you don't recognize the authority of that individual, though, so you need to be emotionally prepared for accepting authority also.


Why do we need anyone or a religion to guide us in our lives?

Anthropological research has shown that there is a deep felt need for religion in all societies. When a society has self-consciously done away with god one has to unearth exactly what is their god. In this situation I am using 'god' for philosophy/theology/worldview.

It's an easy mistake to think that we by our own strength and our own self can come up with a fulfilling and convincing theology. This is the work of many men and many generations and not of the individual thinking in a void. An easy parallel is that of language.

In this paradigm, Athiesm or Epicureanism is a religion as much as say Islam. One can wonder what will become the 'canon' for the New Athiesm, or what shape or form will condense as its own rituals and saints to genuflect at. As religion is more often referred to certain established forms of worship, its better perhaps to call them worldviews - but this doesn't really capture the its force.

Can't we be more independent, enjoy the days that we have on earth and seek peace and happiness?

This is the fruit or of a complex theology/philosophy. Perhaps better described as a distilled slogan. As one can use a computer without understanding at all the complex nature of how its put together - its physics, chemistry, computer science - one can be the beneficiary of an inherited philosophy/theology without being at all aware of all its intricacies or ramifications, or indeed that one has inherited it. (Although, one could say that the seed of all thought is already inside one and it is the conversation of our ancestors that has brought it to flower).

why do humans desire power and control over others

This is difficult.


German policy in 1940 would not allow Ham radios. If you owned a radio of this type people had to hide them in their attic or hidden sheds. Easy to control people without realistic knowledge. The use of propaganda by radio and flyers and mail was used to control the masses. Today is entirely different. We have complete communication this is now is available to everyone. But still we are fooled by non sequiturs in radio and TV and journalism. The statements do not follow the realistic truth. Hence the term "Politically Correct". Can we create a homogeneous society? I believe that the days of external authority are on there way out and a world homogeneous society is eminent for our survival. The desire for external guidance is a remnant of our past and a unknown entity that can be used for gain by people that understand how to use it. We are all being used by this.

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