Necessity is the Mother of Invention | A Short Essay
Introduction to the Proverb
‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ is a very old proverb. Let us first trace the origin of this proverb. Actually in his book ‘Republic’, Plato (the Greek philosopher) wrote;
Our need will be the real creator.
This quote by Plato was later on moulded in the English proverb as ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’. This is the reason why this proverb is famously associated with Plato.
But, what does the proverb actually mean?
It actually means that humans invent things when they need them. In other words, all the inventions throughout history were made due to necessity.
In a literal sense, human beings are blessed with the creative ability to invent and implement new ideas in the hours of need. Quite humorously, the following pic taken from this source aptly explains the proverb.
Justification of the Proverb with Examples
No doubt, all the inventions in the world occurred out of sheer necessity by men. For example, when the human population grew, crimes increased. It became a necessity for humans to control the growing number of crimes to maintain peace and harmony in societies. Ultimately, this led to the new invention of laws and institutions of law enforcement i.e. Police, Courts, etc.
Similarly, as the population increased, in order to feed the growing number of mouths, human beings needed to preserve food. Thus, it led to the invention of certain methods of food preservation. In today’s era, we have freezers and refrigerators to preserve foods.
Likewise, with the industrial revolutions, it became necessary to invent some ways with the help of which raw materials could be transported from fields to industries. Similarly, it was a necessity to invent ways to quickly transport finished goods to markets. Ultimately, humans have invented roads and railway systems.
Similarly, the invention of ships was necessary in old times to carry out trades with far off places through the water when there were no roads and railways.
Along similar lines, with growing nationalism and a sense of ownership, humans felt it necessary to invent ways to defend their territories from foreign invasions. This led to the inventions of battleships, tanks, arms and ammunitions.
Similarly, after the industrial revolution, vehicles were invented to travel to far off places in less time. When it came to cross the rivers, etc, it was necessary to build bridges for vehicles. Thus, the necessity led to the invention of the bridge.
In a similar manner, the invention of the plough came out of necessity. Before the invention of the plough, farmers used sticks and branches to create furrows to sow seeds. This process was time and effort taking. Moreover, the increase in the population increased the necessity to cultivate more soil for more food generation. Thus, humans invented plough in the 19th century to speed up the process of ploughing fields and generating crops.
We can discuss many more examples to justify this proverb. But, it would take much time and space. You can yourself think and enlist multiple examples if need be.
In short, all the inventions throughout history were actually the result of necessity. Plato was simply very right when he said, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. As did in the past, humans will keep inventing things when they would need them for survival or as luxury.