PHIL: RE: Motivation and achievement

Christopher Fedeli (
Mon, 2 Mar 98 06:18:18 UT

I have been thinking about people's motivations lately.

Finally, someone bold enough to tackle some big questions.

There are some obvious drives.  Self-respect, power, money,
recognition. . . . They can still play a motivational
role if one wants to get as much of them as possible, but the
continuing motivation by goals that are no longer rational
(and apparently are not analyzed) seems to be a serious
weakness by itself.  I would recommend anybody in such
state to stop whatever they are doing for these goals, and
try to understand why they do it, and whether they should.

Thanks for bringing it up, Alex. Alex seems to be asking why we strive for
acheivement, knowledge or whatever. In other words, why do we do the things
we do with our lives? It doesn't take too much imagination to see the
implications of this question for extropian thinking - if we don't have any
good reasons for doing what we now do in our currently limited lives, what
makes us think an eternity-long existence will be any less pointless?

I'll bite right away - there is no good or rational reason for me to do any of
the things I do today, at least not necessarily so. My presence makes some
people happy, so to them my continued existence is valuable. With others
perhaps the opposite is true. The only thing I can answer with certainty is
that my life, meaning all the things I do and strive for, is valuable and good
to me. I like it, otherwise I would end it right now.

I have stopped and thought about the question Alex raises, basically why do I
bother to do things. I've only come up with one good answer to this question:
I do things for my own pleasure (and by pleasure I mean to inclued
"happiness," contentment, joy, and anything else that I like).

My question to the group is this - has anyone else come up with something
different? I've searched a bit, analyzing all kinds of ethical philosophies
and religions, and nothing else strkes me as a compelling answer to the "why"
question. Yes, it's all wonderfully pointless, amoral and devoid of higher
purpose, this conscious life we have been given, but at least we can enjoy the

Any thoughts?