Can you want what you already have?
This is an interesting thought I came across not too long ago and I find it an interesting claim. What you make out out of it solely depends on how you define a “want” though. Personally I am fond of using the correct terms to describe things rather than filling in the blanks myself where I am uncertain. This is of course generally advisable to avoid confusion with others. Using the same term with different definition is often bound to cause friction. But I digress. I decided to look up the etymology and definition of the word “want” in order to understand this thought better.
Etymonline.com defines “want” as:
Oxford Dictionaries says:
c.1200, "to be lacking," from O.N. vanta "to lack, want," earlier *wanaton, from P.Gmc. *wanen, from PIE *we-no-, from base *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out" (see vain). The meaning "desire, wish for" is first recorded 1706. Wanted "sought by the police" was originally slang, in use by 1812. Wanted poster attested by 1970.
c.1300, "deficiency, shortage," from O.N. vant, neut. of vanr "wanting, deficient;" related to O.E. wanian "to diminish" (see wane). .
1 [with object] have a desire to possess or do (something); wish for:By its original definition, “want” is refering to something one is lacking or is deficient of. By this definition it is not possible to want something one has, as that would be an oxymoron. However, the meaning “desire” or “wish for” appeared in the 1700’s. If one thinks of “want” simply as an expression of your desire then maybe it is possible to want what you already have? If a female is attracted to a male and wants to get closer to him one could easily call this a “want”. If she manages to “get” this male, she would, by the first definition, not “want” him any more. This does of course not compute and forces us to look deeper into what it is exactly that we want.
I would separate the want into two stages, a physical one and an abstract one. The physical refers to real world concepts and things we can touch. The abstact stage refers to emotions, actions or experienses. Let’s say I have a big chunk of delicious marzipan in front of me which is mine. I have it and cannot “want it” physically because I already do have it. What I do however NOT have is the action of eating the marzipan and the sensation of tasting it. If I did not own the marzipan physically, my want for the marzipan itself would be valid. As I gain ownership of it, my want enters the abstract stage where I now have the wish to do something with it.
The want is always an expression of what you do not have, even if you know you will have direct access to it. I know I could open up my marzipan at any moment to eat it. I do however not have the experiense of eating it right now, which justifies my “want to eat it”. This is not the same as wanting the physical block of marzipan in front of me. Once I gain the sensation of eating the marzipan, my want transforms into a flow of enjoyment as it happens and again transforms back to a want as I wish for another bite.
Interesting thoughts like this one forces one to look into the real meaning of words and what actions we really mean to describe when we use them. I hope my pondering have shed some light onto the concept of “want”. To end this, for clarity’s sake(and of course based on the definitions and ponderings mentioned earlier): no, you can not want what you already have.