The Illusion of Natural Desire: the Induced Desire


“Desiring machine” is an expression that reflects faithfully the human being, the contemporary society focusing on this aspect, in particular. In other words, because the desire was defined as “motor” that moves the man (the one that propels him towards the goals, ideals, respective its projects) and refers to the acquisition of favorable and avoidance of harmful, consumer society uses this advantage in its favor. Regarding the term of desire, it can be specified that it is the subject of interdisciplinary fields, being present in philosophical discourse as well as in the psychological one, the medical one, respectively the theological one. The social field can be added to those distinct perspectives, this one being of interest in the present research. It is important to make a distinction concerning the term of desire, being brought into discussion the natural desires on the one hand, and the artificial desires, the induced ones, on the other. The last ones are preferred by today's society, numerous techniques being used for manipulation and creation of human desires. Accordingly, it is about the induced desires, those being, in essence, fake, perverted, unnatural. The desire induced by today’s social context it is carefully masked, in other words this is an illusion of a natural desire.

Keywords: desireconsumerisminduced desiresnatural desires


Nowadays, the human being is often caught in the trap of the illusion of the innate desire, namely

the induced desire, initiating the present research starting from the following questions: Is it true that

our desires are really an expression of needs or just an illusion? How can it be possible to wish for

something, but, in essence, behind this wish to be only a pseudo-need?


The present study aims to investigate, in philosophical, medical, scientific and social terms, the

concept of desire by reference to the today’s human being. To have a complete perspective, it is

necessary to clarify the distinction between natural desire and the induced one. Through the analysis of

the human behavior, of genetic luggage, of thoughts and emotions, of experiences, of physiology,

neuroanatomy, as well as of other aspects, the specialists can observe if a desire is induced or not.


Starting from the problem outlined above, this research aims at analyzing and deepen the matter of

induced desire in the contemporary society, as a form of manipulating the people. In this sense, the

difference between the natural and induced desires is useful.


The main objectives of this analysis seek to highlight the features of the natural desires, using

interdisciplinary sources. Also, it is necessary to investigate the induced desires, the fake ones, which

influence the today’s human being in a negative way. The most interesting is the process in which

those unnatural desires can disguise in benefical desires.

Source of documentation

The main sources of reference are relevant works of some relevant thinkers as Rene Descartes,

Nikolaos Loudovikos, Daniel Wegner or Jacques Lacan. These writers have researched the concept of

desire, they identified the characteristics of natural desires and they realized its importance. Some of

them identified the hidden maneer of inducing the perverted desires to today's human being.


The most of research methods used in this study belong to philosophical domain. First of all,

through deductive method, the research is directed from the general to the particular, in this case, from

the concept of desire to the natural and unnatural desires. Moreover, in this paper are used other

specific methods for the philosophical and social-cultural area, such as criticism, synthesis,

hermeneutics, observation and documentation. All of these methods have the role to improve the

present study.

Interdisciplinary Analysis of Desire

To begin with, the debate on the concept of natural desire is wanted, appealing to an

interdisciplinary analysis, choosing one representative from each field, hence: the medical field is

represented by Rene Descartes, the psychoanalysis and the philosophy is represented by Jacques Lacan

and the theological perspective is represented by Saint Maximus the Confessor.

The Medical Perspective

Examining the desire from the medical point of view, the most appropriate reference is constituted

by Rene Descartes’ theory who, within “Passions of the soul” , deeply analyses our perceptions and

free will acts. He names “passions of the soul” those feelings, emotions caused by impulses. The desire

enjoys a special theory, being one of the six simple and primitive passions and the only one without an


When he describes the desire, Descartes names it an “agitation of the soul”, a different aspect of it

being its orientation towards future, so never towards present or past. Elaborating the process of desire

composition, the philosopher states that “it has the particularity that the will of achieving a certain good

or of avoiding something bad immediately sends the brain impulses to every part of the body that can

serve to the correspondent actions, especially to the heart and the organs that provide it the majority of

blood, so that, receiving a bigger amount than the usual, to transmit more impulses to brain, both to

maintain and to reinforce the idea of this will and to pass from there into all the organs of the senses

and in all muscles that can be used in order to obtain what is desired.” (Descartes, 2011, p. 60).

The difference that was referred previously, regarding the innate desires, beneficial and those

artificial, harmful, can be observed also in the Cartesian discourse, within which it is suggested the idea

that beneficial desires are too little, compared to those harmful. In this case, the remedy is “the release

of the soul, as possible, from all the desires less useful and to try to know as clear as possible and to

carefully search the goodness of the desired thing” (Descartes, 2011, p. 81), as Descartes states.

It is important to state the fact that the French philosopher connects the concept of desire to the

conjunctive rapport existent between the concepts of thinking and existence. In other words, the desire

is associated with the being that thinks, this entity representing even the cross point between thinking

and existence. represented by Saint Maximus the Confessor.

The Philosophical Conception

Making reference to the same rapport, Jacques Lacan, the representative of philosophy and

psychoanalysis, perceives it differently: the being that thinks doesn’t exist at the conjunction between

the thinking and the existence, as Descartes stated; they both miss. In other words, one can discuss, on

the one hand, about the thinking as in-existence, the thinking as subconscious (represented through the

phrase “I don’t exist, but I think” ), and on the other hand, “the existence as false, imaginary self and as

non-thinking” (Loudovikos, 2015, p. 27), the presence of being and the absence of thinking, is in


For Lacan, there is another scheme of formatting the subject, this one following three phases. The

first phase is the alienation : the price of be, of existence (The Other One “has catalyzer significance”

(Loudovikos, 2015, p. 28), the segregated subject appears on discussion, that who “confronts his own

existence”). It is spoken further about the separation : idea expressed through a reference to the

mathematical equation, in which the numerator is the object , and the denominator is the segregated

subject . The object represents, in Lacan’s philosophical conception, “the Other’s desire that comes to

determine the subject”. (Loudovikos, 2015, p. 29). The last phase is theorized through the idea

expressed according to which, taking on the Other’s desire, the man reaches the “pure desire without an

object”, in other words, “a pure state of desire”. (Loudovikos, 2015, p. 38).

Lacan’s conception, according to which “the man’s desire is the Other’s desire”, sends even to the

theological perspective and to two ideas: “The man’s desire is the same with Other’s desire. The man

desires what Other desires.”. These two phrases are completed by the following: “The man’s desire is

that of being desired by the Other. The man desires what Other desires for himself”. In other words, the

process of constituting the subject is ontologically connected to the Other. (Loudovikos, 2015, p. 29).

Elaborating the process of “becoming into being”, so that we use the terminology of the Romanian

philosophy, we need to outline a few ideas, for example the idea that the object is the one who

stimulates the desire. In searching for the object, de man becomes “a being of desire”, an eager man

(“desiring machine” in modern terminology). The being achieves individuality, which means it

becomes subject, when it internalizes the Other’s desire, it takes it on and it creates its own desire. It

appears, in this context, the idea of dependence: the dependence on the Other. In other words, I am

through the Other (as subject), through the Other’s desire, through the taking on of this desire.

The Theological Outlook

The medical perspectives, psychoanalytical and philosophical, are completed by the theological one.

In this respect, one can determine the fact that the adequate theological term for expressing this

internalizing, this taking on, is perihoresis (defined in the theological field as overlap, closely

connected to accomplishment; accomplishment through overlapping). Reaching this level, of

internalizing and taking on, involves the partial overtaking of the alienation reminded previously (there

are indicated here ideas like: the self-salvation idea, the idea of recovering and discovering the self, of

the personal identity). In this context, it is important to outline that the man completes himself through

the Other, he accomplishes, as, through the Other, the human being discovers love as “way of absolute

existence”, which means that he becomes subject.

For Saint Maximus the Confessor, the natural desire is interpreted as desire to reach the

completeness , in other words, it is an aspiration to a “complete individual reality”. (Loudovikos, 2015,

p. 35). The human desire is infinite in its essence. The same Maximus the Confessor states: “The will is

natural, namely will”. In contemporary terms, the sense of Saint Maximus’ statement can be expressed

through “The human desire is innate, natural”. More concrete, the human being is “driven by the

longing to discover his complete and own individuality”, “natural and complete individuality”.

(Loudovikos, 2015, pp. 40-41).

The patristic ontology is peculiarly profound regarding this aspect: “the nature is in itself capable to

want itself and all that compose it lean at the capacity level of wanting on its reason of being, in

accordance with which exists and was created”. In the same time, “the existence is connected at the

capacity level of wanting with its reason of being, it is connected to the desire”. (Loudovikos, 2015, p.


In the orthodox theological field, the desire without object, this natural, innate desire represents even

the desire for God (it is a desire of completeness, of deification, of coming back to the natural state

before falling into sin). The innate, natural desire is, in fact, God’s calling: full of love, addressed to

human being, the calling to holiness, to redemption. “The desire as natural will has the sense of desire

as dialogical reality of existence. It is a communal completeness perceived as purpose in its self”

(Loudovikos, 2015, p. 42), states the Greek Professor Nikolaos Loudovikos.

The Sociological View

To these interdisciplinary fields, it is added, in the end, the sociological perspective, to this latter

being attributed the theorization of the illusion of natural desire, the induced desire. I mention here the

expression of “induced desire” with the sense of artificial, false desire, created by the consumerist

society, through the using of numerous manipulation techniques. This type of desire is closely masked

by the actual context, for which the “illusion of natural desire” comes into question.

In the majority of cases, the man has the feeling that personal wishes are consciously and naturally

provoked, excluding the outer influences and, mainly, the violation of the free will. The human being

attributes a major importance to the notion of natural desire, as the need is intensely perceived, and the

idea of inducing the desire does not seem viable.

Nonetheless, one cannot deny the fact that some human desires are an illusion, in the sense that the

triggering factor of those are not the natural needs, even though their perception seems convincing and

real, but rather a series of mechanism and strategies of which our society uses. In other words, these

desires do not appear voluntarily and consciously, but are induced to the individual by different outer


Marin Minsky, surnamed “the father of artificial intelligence”, considers the fact that “no one likes

the thought that what we do depend on processes that are unknown to us; we prefer to attribute the

choices to desire, to will or to self-control. […] Maybe it would be fairer to say: <<My desire was

determined by inner forces that I don’t understand>>.” (Loudovikos, 2015, p. 46).

Daniel Wegner, a famous social psychologist, sustains the fact that “the mind is a system that

produces appearances for its master. […] The mind creates the continuous illusion; it doesn’t know

what causes its actions. […] The mind has a mechanism of auto-explanation that produces the almost

continuous sensation that actions are causally determined by the what is in conscience – the

phenomenal will – when, in fact, the mind can never know itself enough so that it might be able to

determine the causes of its own actions.” (Wegner, 2013, p. 45).

Most of the times, people have the tendency to exclude the causal influence when we refer to

induced desires, because the illusion of natural desire is so strong, that it generates the impression of

authentic, volunteer and conscious need. From this results the human intention to defend the illusion of

natural desire, by accepting the induced desire as innate, natural desire.


Nowadays, the human being is often caught in the trap of the illusion of the innate desire, namely

the induced desire, initiating the present research starting from the following questions: Is it true that

our desires are really an expression of needs or just infinite development from the technical, scientific

and economical point of view, the spirit of this era being the consumption. The consumption society

has as purpose the creation of these “non-natural desires”, completely unreal, that separate the people

from realities of the physical and spiritual experience. Thus, the consumerism replaces the natural

needs of the human being, continuously induces new desires, the individual being convinced through

ideology of the urgent satisfaction of these false needs.

In this context, one can speak about “the end of transcendence”, as people cannot discern anymore

the natural desires from those induced, cannot perceive anymore another way of living, or more, they

cannot find themselves anymore. The consumerism man isolates himself from his peers; he loses the

connection with the transcendence, his only reference being to objects, sole generators of satisfaction.

People come to be surrounded by people no more, but by objects, the interpersonal relationship being

lost (the peer is seen also as an object to consumption). The human being does not refer himself to the

other, as Jacques Lacan or Saint Maximus describe, but to the self. The only thing that matters is

himself, and the peer is unimportant to him, as the peer cannot replace the commodity ensured by

objects. The renunciation to another human being becomes simpler than the renunciation to the

consumer items.

The losing of self-identity inevitably leads to the alienation of man, to his transformation into a

“desiring machine”. The self-alienation problem has its origin exactly into the desires induction, the

human being experimenting the transition from the quality of person to the distressing homo consumens [1 The phrase “homo consumens” is used by sociologist and psychotherapist Erich Fromm to point out through this the collective pathology to consume, specific to the current era.].


  1. Descartes, R. (2011). The passions of the soul. Translated by Andreea Năstase. Bucharest: Antet.
  2. Loudovikos, N. (2015). Psychoanalysis and Orthodox Theology. About Desire, Universality and Eschatology. Translated by Gabriel Mîndrilă. Bucarest: Sophia.
  3. Wegner, D.M. (2013). The illusion of conscious will. Translated by Anca Bărbulescu. Bucharest: Humanitas.

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18 December 2019

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Cite this article as:

Brindusa Carlan, E. (2019). The Illusion of Natural Desire: the Induced Desire. In A. Sandu, T. Ciulei, & A. Frunza (Eds.), Logos Universality Mentality Education Novelty, vol 15. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 157-162). Future Academy.