Friday, October 17, 2014

The shrink and the sage: on motivation

From the pair's weekly column in the FT:

"Our motivations spring from desires but rationality has no desire, which is why, as Hume said, “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions.”"

Leading on to:

"Reason’s role is to work out if our motivations – and what we do with them – are coherent. This also extends to checking whether one motivation conflicts with another or whether the values that we hold are consistent with what we find ourselves wanting to do. This makes reason less of a slave and more of a kind of existential coach. By making us rigorously examine the coherence of our motivations, reason sometimes changes them. Realising that fame is empty, for instance, can get us to concentrate more on what we want to be famous for. Motivations therefore don’t come directly from reason but they are and ought to be shaped by it."

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