WANTS AND NEEDS are concepts that have come to be developed around 3 different spheres of discussion, biological, social, and economic. Each is an expansion in size and scale over the 1 preceding it. In addition, it is important to remember that the subject is biological in character. This means that we do not discuss the wants and needs of inanimate things. The second important point to recognize is that “wants” are subservient to “needs” and, as far as we know, restricted to the realm of humans. From this perspective, we can think of wants as some specific expression of how we choose to meet those needs. The discussion of wants and needs has an origin in Greek thought more than 2,500 years ago in works by Xenephon, Aristotle, Plato, and Protagoras. But their discussion of the issue was fairly broad and aimed primarily at what constitutes good administration as the driving force in society. However, Protagoras did make a distinction between human perception and physical phenomena, stressing that hedonic calculus (self-interest) is a vital element in individual decisions. These ideas held for more than 1,200 years until the subject was once again discussed at length during the Scholastic Period beginning in the 1200s. Here, the writings of Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas began to explicitly explore what they called indigentia, or human wants. But the writing was vague in the sense that the distinction between wants and needs was far from clear. At the end of the 18th century, the Classical School of economic writers once again found room for wants and needs in their writings. But the development of economic ideas during this time considered human wants and needs to be insatiable (and generally identical), and as such, the real interest was in finding ways to economically balance unlimited wants with limited resources. The importance here is that the reference to limited resources marks the first time that geographic factors are openly included as an important element in the wants and needs discussion. During the 19th century all forms of science began to blossom, including psychology. One of the areas of development within psychology was a new examination of human need. Psychologists quickly established certain primal needs such as those involving physiology: the need for food and shelter, where food also includes drink and where shelter can refer to clothing, housing, or other individuals. By the mid-20th century a wide variety of needs were being identified and debated, but they were generally related to biology, achievement, or power. Probably the most well known of these were put forward by Abraham Maslow (1943). Maslow developed a conceptual framework that suggested a hierarchy of human needs addressing issues as either growth needs or deficiency needs and where each lower-level need must be meet before the 1 above it can be fulfilled. If you review all that has been discussed, you will find that most of the discussion can be put into 1 of 2 boxes, things that are instinctive and things that are learned responses. In doing this, the differences between needs and wants not only becomes much clearer, but it is possible to extend the thinking to areas beyond the biological and make use of the ideas within a geographic context.