Fundamental human needs  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Fundamental human needs, according to the school of Human Scale Development developed by Manfred Max-Neef and others (Antonio Elizalde and Martin Hopenhayn), are seen as ontological (stemming from the condition of being human), are few, finite and classifiable (as distinct from the conventional notion of conventional economic "wants" that are infinite and insatiable).

Classification of Needs

Max-Neef classifies the fundamental human needs as:

  • subsistence,
  • protection,
  • affection,
  • understanding,
  • participation,
  • leisure,
  • creation,
  • identity and
  • freedom.

Needs are also defined according to the existential categories of being, having, doing and interacting, and from these dimensions, a 36 cell matrix is developed <ref>Human Needs and Human-scale Development</ref>

Need Being (qualities) Having (things) Doing (actions) Interacting (settings)
subsistence physical and mental health food, shelter, work feed, clothe, rest, work living environment, social setting
protection care, adaptability, autonomy social security, health systems, work co-operate, plan, take care of, help social environment, dwelling
affection respect, sense of humour, generosity, sensuality friendships, family, relationships with nature share, take care of, make love, express emotions privacy, intimate spaces of togetherness
understanding critical capacity, curiosity, intuition literature, teachers, policies, educational analyse, study, meditate, investigate, schools, families, universities, communities,
participation receptiveness, dedication, sense of humour responsibilities, duties, work, rights cooperate, dissent, express opinions associations, parties, churches, neighbourhoods
leisure imagination, tranquility, spontaneity games, parties, peace of mind day-dream, remember, relax, have fun landscapes, intimate spaces, places to be alone
creation imagination, boldness, inventiveness, curiosity abilities, skills, work, techniques invent, build, design, work, compose, interpret spaces for expression, workshops, audiences
identity sense of belonging, self-esteem, consistency language, religions, work, customs, values, norms get to know oneself, grow, commit oneself places one belongs to, everyday settings
freedom autonomy, passion, self-esteem, open-mindedness equal rights dissent, choose, run risks, develop awareness anywhere
right to speak





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Fundamental human needs" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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