I believe that at a high level, only one concept motivates humans: the desire to continue to exist either physically (survival) or through genes (reproduction).

I was wondering if there is a single word that encapsulates both? An example would be like existence but that seems to broad

  • I don't think there's a comprehensive word. They're both survival, but one is surivival of the individual, the other is survival of the species.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jul 7 at 19:57
  • Perhaps viableable to continue to exist as or develop into a living being. Commented Jul 7 at 21:08
  • Do you want a word meaning 'continuing to exist whether as genes / species' or one meaning 'motivated/driven by the desire/driving force of continuing existence'? Please add a sentence with a ____ gap for the hoped-for word. Commented Jul 7 at 23:20
  • "Taking these three things together, we arrive at our own ‘central theorem’ of the extended phenotype: An animal's behaviour tends to maximize the survival of the genes "for" that behaviour, whether or not those genes happen to be in the body of the particular animal performing it.[2] "- Richard Dawkins, from The extended phenotype en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Extended_Phenotype
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Jul 8 at 2:48

1 Answer 1


I don't think there is a formal word for this. However, One word you can look into is continuance .

As per Merriem Webster it means following things:

1 continuation
2 the extent of continuing : duration    
3 the quality of enduring : permanence

As a more formal sounding version (or I can say sense) of continuation it should serve the purpose here.

I made a search for the word on Google Books and it seems to be used more often in religious philosophy where the continuance of God or continuance of spirit is often the subject. Here's the link -continuance of existence

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