• schopenhauer1
    3.7k
    Come on. I've written a lot trying to describe how it feels to do stuff. I've enjoyed it and it's been helpful for me to try to put into words, but it's time for you to contribute a bit more.T Clark

    I liked reading your comments. Sorry, I'm trying to formulate something but it's hard to. I am trying to understand how people's intentions/desires are formed, and then how people decide to act upon them. So today, I've decided to do X, Y, Z tasks and I am going to give various reasonings for it. Some of them are work related, so the reason I am going to give is that I don't want the bossman to get mad or my work to be less efficient if I don't do these other tasks. Other things I might do are watch some documentaries, read, and meet up with a friend. I am going to give various reasons for these too that are less causal. One reason for the documentary is to inform myself of more information, same with the reading. I am going to meet up with a friend because I like talking to him. But where do these desires stem from? How did I decide these are the things I am going to do? When I change my mind, what priorities are more considerable than others? I'm not asking you to answer my personal goals and priorities, those questions are more rhetorical :). The human animal is perhaps the only animal that has complex deliberative abilities, and I am trying to understand the mechanism by which we deliberate and take action from our deliberations and goals- arguably the most unique of human traits.
    @khaled
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    Why even comment on this thread? Don't be an asshole. The question of the OP directly applies to you here.schopenhauer1

    I think the activities you are listing are probably different than those I was. You're planning ahead. I would think consciousness would have a much bigger role in those than the ones I discussed. I was talking about motivation that lead immediately to action. I'm sure they are different, although I'm not sure how much.

    How did I decide these are the things I am going to do? When I change my mind, what priorities are more considerable than others?schopenhauer1

    When I first read @god must be atheist's post, I thought of a bumper sticker I saw recently - "Don't be a dick."
  • god must be atheist
    1.2k
    When I first read god must be atheist's post, I thought of a bumper sticker I saw recently - "Don't be a dick."T Clark

    Hehe. At least you did not call me a c**t.

    What an improvement from the other philosophy forum I was active on.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    Hehe. At least you did not call me a c**t.god must be atheist

    That's more of a British thing.

    This thread is interesting to me and others, if not you. You have no good reason to be disruptive. Please stop.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.7k
    I think the activities you are listing are probably different than those I was. You're planning ahead. I would think consciousness would have a much bigger role in those than the ones I discussed. I was talking about motivation that lead immediately to action. I'm sure they are different, although I'm not sure how much.T Clark

    Yes, so not getting fired becomes a priority. Getting in car to get to work..etc. These are all habits dictated by the social convention- lateness or absenteeism leads to being fired in most places, so we habituate ourselves with the values of timeliness and punctuality. We take on self-imposed values to align with how others expect us to act. Then there are other values.. Many times I think these values are projections of what others might think we should be doing at that moment. Other times we just go to the lowest common denominator and do what's most expedient. It is interesting how we decide what we are going to do, and even determine what it is we want. It is more of a fuzzy sense of direction often made more defined by self-imposed habituation of values, addictions, expediency, discomfort, and loneliness/boredom. I would still characterize most decisions as based on survival (in a societal setting), discomfort, and boredom (in a societal setting).
  • Possibility
    831
    Yes, so not getting fired becomes a priority. Getting in car to get to work..etc. These are all habits dictated by the social convention- lateness or absenteeism leads to being fired in most places, so we habituate ourselves with the values of timeliness and punctuality. We take on self-imposed values to align with how others expect us to act. Then there are other values.. Many times I think these values are projections of what others might think we should be doing at that moment. Other times we just go to the lowest common denominator and do what's most expedient. It is interesting how we decide what we are going to do, and even determine what it is we want. It is more of a fuzzy sense of direction often made more defined by self-imposed habituation of values, addictions, expediency, discomfort, and loneliness/boredom. I would still characterize most decisions as based on survival (in a societal setting), discomfort, and boredom (in a societal setting).schopenhauer1

    Once again, an interesting discussion, Schopenhauer.

    I think values are fifth dimension structures that ultimately enable us to achieve what motivates us at the deepest level: to increase our awareness of the world, to connect with aspects of it in ways that are not confined by our spacetime existence, and to collaborate beyond our physicality. I think these three motivations operate at a deeper level than survival or responding to discomfort and boredom (ie. deeper than causal), but because we’ve reasoned that survival, for instance, is a high priority (based on the theory of evolution), we focus on and build our value structures around it. Plus, most of us don’t really believe there IS anything deeper than causal, do we?

    Why do you like to talk with your friend? Why don’t you want to get fired? Why do you want to inform yourself of more information? These are often question we don’t ask ourselves anymore - as @god must be atheist mentioned, the questions were asked when we were four - but the answers now may be more revealing than we might think, if we’re honest with ourselves. I think that your answers may uncover these three underlying motivations, but they can also reveal the deep-seated fears that are blocking these motivations: perhaps you believe that your social ‘survival’ is at stake, but at a deeper level getting fired may prevent you from maintaining certain connections or collaborating with others to achieve a success that benefits all those involved, regardless of the money, status or control that you may be led to believe makes the world go ‘round, and irrespective of your physical survival, discomfort or boredom.

    I think that how others expect us to act, and what we think we should be doing, also boil down to our current beliefs that these actions maintain the levels of awareness, the connections and opportunities to collaborate and achieve with others that motivate us more than our own survival. The real question to ask is: Once I understand what’s most important to me, are these actions the only options I have to achieve it?
  • Noah Te Stroete
    2.1k


    I happen to be agnostic about hard determinism and have been for some time. I was asking legitimate questions.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.7k
    Once again, an interesting discussion, Schopenhauer.Possibility

    Thank you :smile: .

    Once I understand what’s most important to me, are these actions the only options I have to achieve it?Possibility

    Why would anything become important to me in the first place? At the end of the day we are looking to be most comfortable, survive, and find ways to assuage boredom. Mainly we seek out the positive "goods" of in various forms of achievement, physical/aesthetic pleasure, relationships, flow-states, and maybe learning to this basic motivation of boredom. But how we prioritize specific goals each day on the microlevel- how this "background radiation" of general motivation is translated to individual deliberations everyday to do anything at all is fascinating. Much of it is based on habituation patterns, social expectations, enculturation, mixed with less predictable contingent circumstances, personality-traits (maybe?), etc.

    For example, whatever motivated @Bitter Crank to write the post on the Second Amendment is interesting.. all the goals and deliberations and causations that lead to that activity.
  • Possibility
    831
    At the end of the day we are looking to be most comfortable, survive, and find ways to assuage boredom. Mainly we seek out the positive "goods" of in various forms of achievement, physical/aesthetic pleasure, relationships, flow-states, and maybe learning to this basic motivation of boredom.schopenhauer1

    And yet people everyday are motivated to get uncomfortable, to risk their lives and continue a monotonous task - even all three at once - suggesting that there is motivation more fundamental than these...

    My theory: to increase awareness, connection and collaboration towards overall achievement, unless blocked/prevented by fear.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.7k
    My theory: to increase awareness, connection and collaboration towards overall achievement, unless blocked/prevented by fear.Possibility

    But doesn't this sound a bit too starry-eyed to you? What makes you think this? Is this conscious or unconscious? Is this evolutionary? Are humans that "If/then"? Also, aren't these just the type of values society would want individuals to follow anyways, thus begging the question, or making it circular?
  • Possibility
    831
    But doesn't this sound a bit too starry-eyed to you? What makes you think this? Is this conscious or unconscious? Is this evolutionary? Are humans that "If/then"? Also, aren't these just the type of values society would want individuals to follow anyways, thus begging the question, or making it circular?schopenhauer1

    Yes - it does sound starry-eyed, I agree. That doesn’t make it wrong or even misguided. Who said reality isn’t allowed to be uplifting? If you were capable of doing anything at all, if you removed all obstacles, then what would you do with your purchase on the world? If death couldn’t stop you - if you could freely choose your actions without having to worry about your own pain, loss or humiliation - would you really pursue short term, personal pleasure? Comfort? Relief from boredom? It would probably be your initial response, sure - but if you had time to think about it, once all your immediate needs were met, what would motivate you to do anything else?

    Frankly, if it weren’t for our fears - for encountering and then flatly denying the fragile, temporary nature of our existence - don’t you think we’d be doing a whole lot more with what we’re capable of? So, you see, it’s not so starry-eyed: it’s actually scary as hell to recognise that the only thing really holding me back is me...

    The way I see it, the three ACC motivations are fundamentally pre-conscious, but that doesn’t prevent us from being conscious of them OR from ignoring them. They’re evolutionary, but not Darwinian. Rather, they appear to have preceded natural selection and continue to run alongside and sometimes counter to it. They’re the spanner in the works of evolutionary theory: where abiogenesis, multi-celled organisms, establishing social groups, altruism and unconditional love look like round pegs being forced into the square holes of established theories.

    And if these are just the type of values society would want individuals to follow, then why are all of their value systems structured in a way that counteracts it? Is it because we’ve been convinced that the pyramid is naturally smaller at the top? What brought about these systems? Was it perhaps fear?
  • khaled
    1.2k
    The human animal is perhaps the only animal that has complex deliberative abilities, and I am trying to understand the mechanism by which we deliberate and take action from our deliberations and goals- arguably the most unique of human traits.schopenhauer1

    If that's what you're looking for I think Daniel Dennett's "Consciousness explained" is good. Haven't read it myself though so this is an uninformed opinion but from listening to some of his talks it seems that's what the book tries to explain. The wikipedia page sums up a lot of it
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consciousness_Explained
  • khaled
    1.2k
    I happen to be agnostic about hard determinism and have been for some time. I was asking legitimate questions.Noah Te Stroete

    Me too, and I was giving legitimate answers.
  • BrianW
    895
    conation
    /kəˈneɪʃ(ə)n/

    noun PHILOSOPHY•PSYCHOLOGY
    the mental faculty of purpose, desire, or will to perform an action; volition.
    — Google

    If there's such a faculty, then perhaps doing something is an intrinsic part of being human.
  • khaled
    1.2k
    I'm trying to get at the subjective experience of what how we form our intentions/desires and how we act upon themschopenhauer1

    I have been trying to answer that for a while by binge reading psychology books but to almost no avail. If you want the neurological answer to this question I have no idea but I've been working on a psychological answer for a while. I have some thoughts on it that aren't complete that I posted on another post but they've changes since so I'll post them again here (I procrastinated on writing this yesterday, what motivated that I wonder). I've been trying to combine all the concepts I read about with as few rules as possible and so far failing but here it is anyways:

    The basic concept is something called "Quota" which is a currency you use to "buy" and "sell" actions. I wanted to call it "willpower" or "motiviation" but I found it easier to call it something abstract with no emotional baggage

    Every action has a different "degrees of success" so if your goal was "Go to the gym for an hour", going there for 2 hours is a very high degree of success and going there for 2 minutes is very low. Each action has a quota cost and return. The quota return depends on the degree of success you achieved. Going to the gym for 2 hours would net a huge quota return, 2 minutes would net a huge quota LOSS (because its way less than 1 hour). In this scenario say, 45 minutes is the "turning point" at which you feel like you've succeeded enough that you get a 0 quota return.

    Along with the quota returns your brain calculates a "Chance of success" at each point of the degree of success. So if you've been saying "I'll go the gym for an hour tomorrow" for 2 weeks straight, you won't do the action because your brain calculates that you have a high chance of getting a very low degree of success and losing quota. Your brain follows a simple strategy: If it is likely to return quota keep doing it and if it's not stop. That's why you usually find it takes effort (quota) to override these instrucitons and why you're more prone to doing easy, low effort, guaranteed activities than challenging risky ones that might not pay off. Ex: Sit at home and play video games (this is me)

    Quota returns depend on how much you "invest" in the activity. If you are very serious about going to the gym because, say you resolved to reach a certain weight within a month then the goal "Go the the gym for an hour" has a very high investment and consequently very high quota returns. Quota costs are a sort of up front payment you pay to initiate the action.

    Another concept is repititions. The more times you repeat an activity the less your investment in it, the more the "turning point" shifts up (the more costly failing becomes and the less rewarding success becomes if you're succeeding and vice versa if you're failing) and the more quota cost goes down. So using the number line analogy, imagine a normal probability distribution curve with the mean at 0 and the X axis goes from -10 to 10. The X axis is the quota returns (both poitive and negative) and the Y axis is the calculated chance of success. Say this is you at the first workout and you're just as likely to fail than to succeed . If you succeed (stay for more than 45 mins), the mean of the distribution curve shifts towards the positive axis and so does the Y axis itself. So now, the X axis goes from -10 to 8 and your mean is still at 0. This means you now have to stay for 50 mins just to achieve 0 quota gained. Your expectations went higher. Also notice how the the potential quota gained + lost is now 18 instead of 20. In other words, this activity has becomes less "serious" for you, your investment went down

    Say you succeed 100 times in a row. Now the distribution is going to be a VERY high chance of success at the very end of the "degree of success" axis (the X axis) so your X axis will go from -9 to 1 and your mean will be at 0 still. Now, you barely get any quota from going to the gym for 1 hour and you have to stay there for the full hour just to make any quota gainst at all. You also make much less quota if you fail OR succeed.

    If you had been repeatedly failing at getting above your "mean value" then the opposite would happen. Your X axis would go from, say -1 to 9 meaning now you only have to stay for like 20 minutes to get no quota change and staying for the full hour will be a massive gain in quota.

    The final concept is modifiers which are external factors that can influence your quota gains or losses from an activity. For example, having a family member keep track of when you go the gym will make your graph go from -13 to 10 instead of -10 to 10. Aka its more costly to fail now.

    Phew, that was long. Basically with this framework your goal is to maximize quota gains as much as possible because quota is what enables you to choose harder (or more accurately, higher investment) actions which potentially give you more quota. "You" have the job of setting which goals to pursue which takes quota, aka you try to override your brain's basic strategy of doing easy actions you can always succeed in (Ex: play videogames) instead of harder ones that can provide more quota in the long term (Ex: Studying, reading). So strategies that can work include: Increasing the quota gains of an action by adding modifiers (Ex: You can reward yourself for succeeding at a specific goal), Increasing quota gains by changing the goal (Ex: instead of go to the gym for 1 hour make it 30 at the start so you're more likely to succeed), Reducing the initial quota cost of an action (Ex: Have your gym stuff ready), etc etc.

    So to finally answer your question: Our default behaviour is to do actions that have low investment and very high chances of success because that's our brain's way of minimizing quota loss but with enough quota we can override this instinct and choose to do high investment actions which are high risk high reward. Your job is to choose among all of your possible actions in a way that maximizes your quota. This means that sometimes its best to follow the default strategy and do low risk low reward actions and sometimes better to do high risk actions with a good chance of success.

    So you wake up and get out of bed, do some stuff which you say is habitual (brush teeth, etc.), and then do some "stuff" which you decide you want to do. Where do these decisions well up from? What is the cause? Is there a cause? How do you structure the liquid fray of all possibilities into some actual activity?schopenhauer1

    I think the decisions well up from a combination of your instinct (the default strategy I talked about) and the subjective you. Brushing your teeth is a very low investment activity with almost no chance of failure so that's why everyone does it all the time. It's default behaviour so you don't have to pay to do it. You structure the possibilities by investing quota in certain activities hoping for a return with the default strategy being the crux you rely on if you go bankrupt (If you have a series of disappointing failures and you run out of quota you'll find it very difficult to take similar risks for a while and will probably stick to low risk actions)


    Feel free to ignore this if it makes no sense
  • schopenhauer1
    3.7k
    Frankly, if it weren’t for our fears - for encountering and then flatly denying the fragile, temporary nature of our existence - don’t you think we’d be doing a whole lot more with what we’re capable of? So, you see, it’s not so starry-eyed: it’s actually scary as hell to recognise that the only thing really holding me back is me...Possibility

    This would assume that we are motivated by capabilities, rather than just have capabilities that we can or cannot work towards achieving. That is a major difference. The former is saying that we can't help being motivated by what we may be capable of. How do you know that's not just habituation? Is that internal? How would you prove that?

    And if these are just the type of values society would want individuals to follow, then why are all of their value systems structured in a way that counteracts it? Is it because we’ve been convinced that the pyramid is naturally smaller at the top? What brought about these systems? Was it perhaps fear?Possibility

    Social expectation seems to motivate a lot of what we do, and what goals to achieve.
  • Possibility
    831
    This would assume that we are motivated by capabilities, rather than just have capabilities that we can or cannot work towards achieving. That is a major difference. The former is saying that we can't help being motivated by what we may be capable of. How do you know that's not just habituation? Is that internal? How would you prove that?schopenhauer1

    But we can help it. Fear is our capacity to say ‘No’ to awareness of, connection or collaboration with what we’re capable of. If we say ‘Yes’ to all three, then we cannot help but be motivated by it. As far as proof is concerned, I’m not sure - the best I can do at this point is keep offering it up to testing against a range of subjective experiences. That’s why I’m here.

    Social expectation seems to motivate a lot of what we do, and what goals to achieve.schopenhauer1

    That’s a decision we make to surrender to social expectation, to allow it to answer yes/no for us. How does society respond to those who act against social expectation? Is that what we’re afraid of? How capable do you believe you are of living counter to any particular expectation of society?
  • luckswallowsall
    61
    "Motives are causes from within." - Arthur Schopenhauer

    Ultimately the laws of the universe dictates everything we do, though, because our motives stem from them. And our motives are just part of the way we are (our nature).

    (1) Ultimately, to control your actions you have to originate your original nature.

    (2) But you can't originate your original nature—it's already there.

    (3) So, ultimately, you can't control your actions.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.7k
    That’s a decision we make to surrender to social expectation, to allow it to answer yes/no for us. How does society respond to those who act against social expectation? Is that what we’re afraid of? How capable do you believe you are of living counter to any particular expectation of society?Possibility

    When you wake up in the morning, what structures and prioritizes your day? I'm obviously getting somewhere with this... Keep in mind the underlying current moving individuals are BOREDOM, DISCOMFORT, and SURVIVAL. The medium of these principles is linguistic-based, enculturated social interactions with other humans in a certain culture. Thus boredom, discomfort, and survival is mediated and filtered through this medium. Secondary, and tertiary reasons for doing things really are reducible to boredom, discomfort, and survival mediated through a social setting. Thus getting mad at a boss or a friend, or wanting to maximize your fastest time running, or beat that monster in a game, are all secondary and tertiary goals related to some form of initial boredom, discomfort, and survival related motivation. That is my theory, anyways.

    Laundry and cleaning dwelling- not survival related, nor necessarily boredom. More discomfort.

    Talking to your friend who then got you angry (secondary reaction)- not survival or discomfort. More boredom-related.

    Going to work and buying food and paying for utilities- mix of survival and discomfort related activities.

    You get the picture. That makes sense to me. What doesn't make sense is the specific content we actually prioritize to fill these three motivating factors. Why, this day did you choose to do this particular thing when you prioritized your day?
  • schopenhauer1
    3.7k
    (1) Ultimately, to control your actions you have to originate your original nature.

    (2) But you can't originate your original nature—it's already there.
    luckswallowsall

    Yes I agree with this in a way. I think our wills manifest in boredom, discomfort, and survival pursuits.

    (3) So, ultimately, you can't control your actions.luckswallowsall

    This I'm not sure of at a daily level. Each day we can prioritize what content we will do as a result of these three basic motivating factors. However, I can see what Schopenhauer means by the fact that each of us has a different psyche with a different personality that may preset what we choose to value. Even breaking the original values with other ones, may be preset in how easy it is to change our values in the first place. Free will may be mediated to the psychology of the individual, and the circumstantial causation leading up to what that individual deems worthy of doing or not doing at a particular time.
  • Possibility
    831
    Keep in mind the underlying current moving individuals are BOREDOM, DISCOMFORT, and SURVIVAL.schopenhauer1

    I disagree with this. All of these are still motivated by an underlying FEAR that blocks more fundamental motivation to increase awareness, connection and collaboration.

    Survival is our response to fears generated by increased AWARENESS. The more we know about the universe, the more capable we are of surviving, but the more we also recognise ourselves as individually fragile, temporary creatures with no solid, eternal existence in the physical world. In fact, we cannot exist without some connection to the world. But we reject/resent this reality out of fear by decreasing awareness, and in doing so strive pointlessly towards a survival that will ultimately fail.

    Discomfort is our response to fears generated by increased CONNECTION. The more we connect with the world around us, the less discomfort we feel with the world, but the more we also recognise that the universe is not made solely for our benefit. Any sense of comfort in a world we share with others relies on collaboration. But we reject/resent this reality by decreasing connection, and in doing so strive to achieve a sense of individual comfort that’s ultimately an illusion.

    Boredom is our response to fears generated by increased COLLABORATION. The more we work together with others, the less boredom we feel, but the more we also recognise that some activities don’t interest us, yet must be achieved in order to work on what does interest us. But we reject/resent this reality by decreasing collaboration, and in doing so strive pointlessly and alone to relieve the boredom of our everyday lives.
  • Wheatley
    631
    What makes you do any particular activity throughout your daily life?schopenhauer1
    There's so many ways to answer this question. To be honest, I don't know the best way to answer it. I don't think you care about the atoms in my body or the nature of my central nervous system. Nor do I think you care about psychological theories about extrinsic and intrinsic motivation or operant conditioning. Even if you did want these complicated scientific explanations, I'm no help because I'm not a scientist.

    I can only give you simple explanations to specific things I do. I scratch my mosquito bite because it's itchy. I eat because I'm hungry. I sleep because I'm tired. I write on the philosophy forum because I like to write and have people react to it. I spending a ridiculous amount of time writing this post because I'm very obsessive. I hesitate before I post this because I'm anxious and I'm not sure if this is helpful.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.7k

    But what do you use to justify what it is you decide to prioritize?
  • Wheatley
    631
    But what do you use to justify what it is you decide to prioritize?schopenhauer1
    I'm not sure what you mean.

    It seems obvious that I should do those things that do me the most good, all the while being considerate of other people. Also, the happier I am, the better off I'll be. Put those two together and there's my justification for me prioritizing things that make me happy (albeit taking into account how my actions affect other people). Does that answer your question?

    That aside, I don't usually do things that are most important (i.e priorities). I often do things that will make me feel better in the short term, while ignoring all the things that will benefit or hurt me in the long run.
  • Moliere
    1.7k
    I am what makes me do any particular activity in my life. I don't believe there is some deeper entity than that from which my actions stem.
  • S
    11.8k
    @schopenhauer1

    Weird questions. Don't you already know the answers? Where's the mystery?
  • schopenhauer1
    3.7k
    Weird questions. Don't you already know the answers? Where's the mystery?S

    The broad cultural and internal themes that influence how humans prioritize their goals fascinates me.
123Next
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.