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« Nature's Rule of Survival: Grow or Go | Main | Your Brain on Strong Brands »

November 17, 2006



Interestingly, the infomercial king Anthony Robbins lists growth as one of the six major human needs, along with:







Joe Green

"growth is an integral function of self-preservation"

This really hit home with me because I just read a book, What Got You Here Won't Get You There (written by Marshall Goldsmith), which talks about 20 habits successful people need to break to become even more successful. Basically saying that if you don't continue to grow and identify areas of improvement you won't reach the next level of success you are seeking. You or your readers might be interested in the book, it definitely made me think. His list also appeared in BusinessWeek

I really enjoy the blog. Keep up the great work!

Joe Green

David Wolfe


Thanks for the book tip. And thanks for being a supporter of my blog. I only wish I could spend more time with it. But with a new book coming out (Firms of Endearment), I just can't get it all in in a 24-hour day.


David Wolfe


Thanks for the book tip. And thanks for being a supporter of my blog. I only wish I could spend more time with it. But with a new book coming out (Firms of Endearment), I just can't get it all in in a 24-hour day.


Steven Horrobin

Dear David,

I thought your analysis and exposition of conatus was excellent and timely. I am a researcher in Bioethics in the University of Edinburgh. My primary focus is on human lifespan extension, and my analysis of persons as conatively driven processes accords very well with all you say in this piece.

If you google "Value of Life Extension" you will find my work. I am presently editing a further piece which makes the conatus connection far more explicit than it appears in the publications to date, but you may find these interesting in any case.

Yours Aye,

Steven Horrobin

David Wolfe

Thanks very much for writing to me. I've been out of town for the past week, so please forgive my tardiness in responding.

Please peruse the following from my book, Ageless marketing:

Survival scenarios are the sum total of everything needed for a safe, comfortable and pleasurable existence. What makes for a safe, comfortable and pleasurable existence revolves around what Antonio Damasio calls basic life value. He says willful action depends first on attentionality – for example, an ad has to grab a person’s attention before she can think about it. He then observes that willful action also depends also on working memory – the ability to keep track of information in the ad as the customer takes it in, manipulates it and massages the information into final perceptions, concrete thoughts and a final decision. But what coheres the customer’s attentionality and what engages her working memory? Damasio says that some “basic life value” – some innate force or forces catalyze attentionality and turns on working memory.

Nothing coheres attentionality and engages working memory more forcefully than an event that threatens a person’s very existence. Thus, the most basic life value is the will to live, and the most basic behavior consists of acts in service of self-preservation.

There is much more to self-preservation than dealing with threats to the continuity of life. Quality of life is necessary to make it worth continuing. Life quality depends on a secure sense of identity, connectedness to others, feelings of purpose, skills and knowledge adequate to accomplishing one’s objectives, and finally physical and psychological health and well-being.

To create marketing messages that survive information triage with enough force to cohere attentionality and engage working memory, messages must have some connection with basic life values, which are not determined by the conscious, willful mind. They are encoded in the chemistry of DNA. We can safely presume that basic life values, which I refer to as primary core values, are embedded in our biology because they are present in everyone of us in every generation; that means they must be heritable; they must be part of the biological makeup of Bill Bernbach’s unchanging man.

The five primary core values that qualify as the “basic life value,” which Damasio says underlies all behavior are in brief:

· Identity Values – involving self-preservation, self-awareness, self-image.

· Relationship Values – involving connections to others, institutions and beliefs

· Purpose Values – involving meaning and validation of one’s life and actions

· Adaptation Values – involving skills and knowledge necessary to negotiate life

· Energy Values – involving health and well-being and functionality

Conatus is the driving force behind the operation of Identity Values (or I-Values). I submit that the five core values that comprise Damasio's "basic life value" are the psychological (or metaphysical) equivalent of DNA -- the basic building blocks of behavior.

I believe that conatus is the primary motivating force in all of nature -- the Prime Mover, if you will, for "an object that exists tends to persist."

Similarly, an object that persists seeks to secure and augment is existence through relationships (R-Values).

In turn, the security of relationships depends on pursuit of purpose (P-Values). Objects whose purpose has become exhausted experience acceleration toward entropy and full equilibrium as happens with cells whose exhausted purpose triggers "cell suicide" or apoptosis.

An object that exists is predisposed to adapting to environmental change in order to continue to exist.

And finally, an object's persistent existence requires uptake and expenditure of energy.

I believe that conatus is as essential to the life and role of a subatomic particle as to our own lives.

In fact, some physicists have suggested that the behavior of electrons appear to reflect some sort of rudimentary will (the operation of I-Values).

law of attraction program

I found your post really interesting and it has really improved my knowledge on the matter. You’ve assisted my understanding on the subject which is usually a hard to tackle subject, and not a lot of people can do this with the ease that you seem to. Thank you!

law of attraction

I’m so glad that I have found your post. I have been unsure of this topic for some time and you have enabled me to understand it a whole lot better. I really appreciate it. I was reading a post a while ago that helped me in the same way that yours has.

Organic Chemistry

This sounds like the earlier rendering of darwinian theory. Makes perfect sense to me.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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