Do you believe all actions to be self-motivated?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by CrispyDelicious, Feb 11, 2009.

  1. Do you believe all actions to be self motivated?

    Example: Even a charitible action is self motivated in that the person giving the donation, on the simplest level, feels good about giving to chairty.

  2. fitbass3p


    Oct 7, 2006
    Madison, WI
    I believe that many, if not most can be self-motivated. However, if that were truly the case, you wouldn't hear about the dad that jumped in front of his kid to stop them from getting shot, etc.

    Not that that isn't motivated by something very similar, but if it was entirely within yourself, there would be a very different definition of the word "hero," I think.
  3. No.

    I do things almost every day for my kids that have nothing to do with me. I do them because I know they are the right things to do and they will benefit directly from it.

    I'll put this as plainly as I can. I was a 100% selfish being until I had children. It still took a couple years to transition. Up until that point, EVERYTHING I did was self motivated, even after marriage.
  4. stevetx19


    Sep 28, 2006
    Denton, Texas
    ok so here is where we can get into the interesting problem of intent.

    Lets say one day your car wont start, and you assume your battery has died. A few days go buy, and your large, un-philosophical neighbor has been screaming at you to move the car out of his side of the driveway. One morning, he is looking particularly angry, so you try to appease him by jumping in your car. You know it wont turn on, it has a dead battery. However, when you turn the key, it starts, and you move the car.

    We do things all the time that we didn't intend to do. If you walk into your house and turn the lights on, and there happens to be a burglar in the house that is scared away by your arrival, then you have performed an action that has gone beyond your intent.
  5. stevetx19


    Sep 28, 2006
    Denton, Texas
    another good example is called the toxin puzzle

    a rich man gives you a toxin that he tells you will make you horribly sick for a day, but will have no lasting effects beyond that. He promises you a million dollars if you intend to drink it that night at midnight. He emphasizes that you don't actually have to drink the toxin, only intend to.
  6. Altruism is an interesting case. Chairty ties into this as well. One theory behind it is that it is somewhat of a vestigial reaction retained from man's earlier ages where communities consisted of small groups only. Those who developed gut-raction altruism and helped others were more inclined to be aided by their community in times of need, thus perpetuating their genetic code. This evolutionary design was carried on into the age of greater populations, which explains why people will jump to save not only their kin, but complete strangers: the reaction evolved when everyone in your community was your kin, to a certain degree.

    The argument against this one is that it's actually the result of an evolutionary drive to preserve your gene pool.

    This is somewhat off topic. Of course our actions have unintended consequences all the time. Side effects, if you will. I am more concerned with the primary cause-and-effect relationship. Did mother Theresa, for example, gain NO pleasure from her chairitible work? Even the slightest personal gratification would imply that her actions were somewhat self-motivated.

    EDIT: I'm not disagreeing with you guys, just trying to fuel discussion. :)
  7. I'm sure it is exactly that. Otherwise, I'd have the same unconditional concern for all children. I guess the difference is whether it's an innate genetic drive versus a conscious self motivated drive.
  8. DaveDeVille

    DaveDeVille ... you talkin' to me ?? Supporting Member

    hmmm , that's an interesting question ,
    and i'd really like to take the time and effort to answer ...

    but what's in it for me ?

  9. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    The entire notion of altruism reminds me of an example of Abe Lincoln:

    I too, believe, even the most apparently selfless acts are rooted in being able to live without regret in the end. I do a lot of things for people, but I do them partially because I don't think I could be happy with myself if I didn't.
  10. That's pretty much my take on charity and benevolence. Anytime I do something along those lines, it's usually due to having to relieve that nagging feeling of "I feel like crap for just letting it happen..."
  11. didn't Freud say something like that?
  12. Freud said a lot of things, many of which had to do with wanting to bang your mom.
  13. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City

    All actions by the vast majority of humankind are externally motivated, reactions to stimulus outside of yourself. To be driven by internal influences is to ignore all the distractions that mankind, for the most part live by everyday, and is extremely rare. Those that are driven by internal influences have nothing in common with the rest of us TV-watching-sports-loving-actor/musician-adoring mechanical, non-thinking, lower level-reacting existers. They are spiritually evolved, and live with the planet and the universe, not off of it, their ego suppressed.

    To answer your question, no very little, if any, thing we do, say or think is self motivated.

    Although, with a lot of work and dedication, it's possible.
  14. IconBasser

    IconBasser Scuba Viking

    Feb 28, 2007
    Fontana, California
  15. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    This could have been a Sopranos quote :D
  16. :scowl:

    yeah, i think i liked T.O.Bass better...
  17. I'd say that everything that someone does is for his or her self.

    Not that that can be called selfish if you help others to give yourself the feeling of accomplishment or whatever
  18. I think you're blurring the line between the catalyst for a event, and for the motivation to act in response to that catalyst. The stimulus is the trigger which we respond to, but our response may well be self-motivated. That lincoln exaple is perfect - the pig in the mud was the catalyst; it triggered a feeling of guilt. Lincoln's action was entirely self-motivated in that he wanted to relieve himself of that feeling of guilt. The stimulus is external, the motivation to act on that stimulus is entirely internal. I don't disagree that most stimului, if not all, are external.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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