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Is it fair to assert that our desires increase with our possessions? "Our desires increase with our possessions. The knowledge that something remains yet unenjoyed impairs our enjoyment of the good before us." To what extent is Samuel Johnson's statement applicable to modern society?

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Bruce Bergman eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Standards change with changes in means. This seems like a truism. If you can afford more things, you develop desires for more things. This seems explicable through the inverse.

If you know you cannot afford a yacht, you don't really think about buying one. You don't consider a yacht to be in the scope of possibility. 

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megan-bright eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I believe that this statement may have some truth in regards to the informal saying, 'the more you make, the more you spend.' Sometimes just having the financial means to own more material things makes us pay more attention to obtaining those things.

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wannam eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think this can be particularly accurate in terms of modern society and technology.  We often want the latest and greatest.  That smart phone that was the top of the line last month is now lacking in features.  We want the new one because it is different and better.  The laptop that worked great last year doesn't run the new software, so we want a new one.  Our possessions often lead to new desires or desires for more things.

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Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I have to agree with the previous posters. It seems like the more one has, the more it takes to find the feelings associated with the last thing we "possessed." It seems that our world is becoming more and more materialistic; and some people tend to define themselves by how mush they have. Therefore, I would say that, for some, desires increase with possessions--people simply want more because their desires "to have" increase.

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Mike Walter eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Yes, I think it is fair to say that. Psychologically, sometimes the more we have the more we want. It's easy to look to possessions to provide meaning in our lives. The problem is that the meaning we're looking for may not be met by possessions. So we when one possession loses its appeal we may look for another to give us that "rush" that makes us feel complete for awhile. It's a bit like an addiction in that respect.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think the better way to interpret this statement is to say that the problem comes when we see that others have more.  Johnson says that we want more when we note that "something remains yet unenjoyed."  So it's not that having things makes us want more.  Instead, no matter how much we have, we want more if we see others with more.

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larareneepaterson | Student

absolutely! i feel like that is a really insightful and perceptive (not to mention totally correct) way of seeing things, and i believe that that is enevitable because human nature dictates that we will always be wanting more, and so we accumulate more, and so our desires will naturally increase.