Desire (hydrogen to human)
Left: two hydrogen atoms form a covalent bond, via a balancing of attraction and repulsion. Center: David Buss's 1994 The Evolution of Desire, the classic work breaking down desire evolution-wise and cross-culturally, in terms of mechanism. Right: a doll-like man and woman: typical objects of desire, made with attractive properties of: averageness, symmetry, fitness, age (ripeness), sexuality (high testosterone to estrogen ratios; or conversely), and complexion; latitude markers (skin color) (immune system optimality), etc., who are found to form stable long-term marriage bonds when the attraction to repulsion ratio is 5-to-1 (Gottman stability ratio).
In science, desire refers to an inherent want or need of an entity.

In 1871, English biologist Thomas Huxley defined the subject of ‘social chemistry’ and in the context of people, viewed as atoms, satisfying their desires in the formation of the social molecule: [1]

“Every society, great or small, resembles ... a complex molecule, in which the atoms are represented by men, possessed of all those multifarious attractions and repulsions which are manifested in their desires and volitions, the unlimited power of satisfying which we call freedom ... the social molecule exists in virtue of the renunciation of more or less of this freedom by every individual. It is decomposed, when the attraction of desire leads to the resumption of that freedom the expression of which is essential to the existence of the social molecule. The great problem of social chemistry we call politics, is to discover what desires of mankind may be gratified, and what must be suppressed, if the highly complex compound, society, is to avoid decomposition.”

In Polish economist Leon Winiarski’s 1898 Essay on Social Mechanics, he is said to have defined desire as a form of energy, in a thermodynamic sense. In commentary on this, in 1907 American sociologist Edward Ross stated that: “Desire may or may not be a form of energy. In any case it is certain that a mechanical interpretation cannot help to predict the choices of people.” [5] In 1925, American chemist E.J. Brockman stated that: [2]

“It is suggested that the formation of complex compounds be due to an inherent desire on the part of the atom of certain elements to complete its outer shell of electrons.”

American chemist-theologian Edwin Slosson cites this passage as an example of anthropomorphism in chemistry. [3] Slosson also cites the teachings of his University of Chicago chemistry professor Nef, who described the transformations of molecules drawn on the board as:

“The atoms are uncomfortable when they are in this position. They do not feel happy till they have rearranged themselves so.”

Slosson then quotes from Johann Goethe, the emperor of human chemistry, albeit he doesn’t seem to be aware of Goethe’s Elective Affinities. The forerunner to this type of logic, of course, is Greek philosopher Parmenides and his 450BC chemical aphorisms.

In Iranian thermodynamicist Mehdi Bazargan’s 1956 Thermodynamics of Humans, in using the following Helmholtz version of free energy as the model for human work W:

 W = U - TS \,

he equates ‘initial internal energy’ with desire, need, and love. [4] This is an interesting view in that it associates the inherent desires of an individual as being a function of or a driving force bound up in the nature of the initial state of the internal energy of a person's existence at the start of a powerful reaction.

Objection to “anthropomorphism in chemistry” was expressed in the recent 2007 Rossini debate, particularly by the religiously-biased chemists, such as American physical chemist John Wojcik.

1. Huxley, Thomas. (1871). “Administrative Nihilism”, Fortnightly Review, pg. 536. Nov.
2. Brockman, E.J. (1925). “Paper”, read before the Baltimore meeting of the American Chemical Society.
3. Slosson, Edwin. (1925). The Sermons of a Chemist (pg. 73). Harcourt, Brace, and Co.
4. Taqavi, Sehed M. (2004). The Flourishing of Islamic Reformism in Iran: Political Islamic Groups in Iran (1941-61) (section: Mehdi Bazargan, pgs. 62-; section: Scientific Approach to Religions (thermodynamics), pgs. 82-96; W=U-TS, pg. 88). Routledge.
5. Ross, Edward A. (1907). Foundations of Sociology (Winiarski, pgs. 156-60). MacMillan Co.

Further reading
● Buss, David M. (1994). The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating. Basic Books.

External links
Desire – Wikipedia.

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