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Motivation, Ideology, Action 4: Your Thoughts

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Dec. 7, 2019
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Having completed the (very quick) foray into the workings of motivations, ideologies and behaviors, the time has come for a look-see of all your amazing comments, from all three articles!

I haven't done this before so I'm not entirely sure how to present them. I'll wing it, and hope that I do a good enough job! I will mention the content of the comment and add my own comment below, in hopes to spark a conversation we could even take to the forums if you like! I won't mention names, because I'm not sure if that will be taken that I'm putting anyone on the spot. If you want your name mentioned, tell me and i'll add it afterwards!

Comments from part 1, about behavior

I like thinking of the motivations for my characters :D

For sure! It's a big part of character design!

As Charles Grodin said in the Great Muppet Caper, when asked “why are you doing this?” “ Because I'm the villain ”

As would befit satire!

You mean I stubbed my toe because of a subconscious motivation??? 8-| Man, that's some deep-seated self-loathing.

No, of course not. What you are describing isn't behavior. Behavior would be something wilful, with purpose to achieve a goal. Not reactions that happen as reflexes or occurences that are accidental. Now, how you react after stubbing your toe and after your reflex reactions, then that would be behavior :)

In the kind of philosophical action/decision theory where I‘m at home,we say that actions are motivated, not necessarily all behavior. That would take care of MOrgan‘s case. (Also, I think motivations can „petrify“ in the way that you do things that you do often or for a long time merely because you’re used to doing them, not because there’s any deeper reason.)

That would imply you are going by a different definition for behavior than we do, potentially more inclusive. As for the ‘petrified’ patterns, habit is definitely an element. However, behaviorists would still argue that a pattern remains unchanged because either it keeps satisfying some need or goal (thus is enhanced/reinforced) or because it doesn't bring about any deterrent consequences- or that any negative consequences are not negative enough to create motivation for changing the established pattern.

When a soldier throws himself on a grenade to save his comrades, the argument can be made that he did so selfishly, be it because he gets more pleasure from the thought of their survival than his own, or because protecting his country means protecting people with DNA similar to his own. But I'm not sure that's the best point to start from as a writer; it seems rather shallow and circular (People want to satisfy their desires. Their desires for what? For satisfaction, of course!). I'm sure the everyone-is-selfishly-motivated approach is adequate for some kinds of writing, but I'm skeptical that you'll produce a lot of inspiring results. This is only Part 1 though, so I should probably just shut up and wait for the rest of it!

That is actually a good point, as far as the starting point for designing motivations being not the choice of throwing oneself on a grenade. As a writer, the first thing one should decide on is what the character's goals are, or aspirations, or ambitions. These in turn will become key motivators. Then, the three elements discussed in part 3 should be the factors by which the character's MO on attaining these goals should be designed. Within this framework would the mechanism I described work. Otherwise we would keep ourselves from getting into each character's inner workings, so to speak.

(…)Our actions are motivated, but we do not control the universe. The universe operates outside of us. That in itself could be a motivation. Control. But you could still stub your toe because your wife left her tote bag in the middle of the floor again! She had her reasons for doing that. Not to trip you, but because it was convenient and she was to tired to put it away. Welcome to the universe of conflicting motivations and reasoning all acting for or against each other.

That's well said! And that's when the characters come to life- and the universe we've created for them, I would say.

Comments from part 2 about ideologies

So someone could work for an ideology they don't believe in because it pays the bills, because paying the bills and getting along is their ideology. For example, a soldier could shoot civilians when ordered to do so, not because he believes the civilians are an evil to be stamped out, but because he believes in doing what he's told. But what about disillusionment and change? Not everyone is an obsessed fanatic like Javert, some can and do change when they see the cracks in their world view.

That could definitely be the case for a character. Working out and figuring out his/her rationalizing would be fascinating, because everyone needs some explanation on why they're shooting civilians if they don't think they're evil like their bosses are telling them. As for being able to change (unlike Javert), that is also definitely the case. Some have it in them to change and reconfigure their entire approach to life and the cosmos, and some others balk at such a task.

Another point about ideologies is that these are group things. Humans are really social animals who strive to be part of a group and therefore need a social role and a social identity. Thus ideologies are able to give roles and identities to those who are part of the group that follows them, and so to speak give meaning to the world and to the life of people. In the same process ideologies create enemies and thus give rise to tribalism, because by giving moral meaning to the world they also create the concept of evil.

An excellent point through and through!

I would like to present a question to this topic. How would it be, if instead of basing ones conduct purely on achieving a specific ultimate goal, one would turn the conduct in of itself, and the determination behind the conduct in of itself, into the ultimate goal in question? Could that be the foundation of an ideology? To simply do what you do and watch what happens when you do it? Could that be a “greater good” to strive for, without it becoming another good intention to pave the road to hell, as we've seen throughout history?

Theoretically speaking, in my opinion, anything could viably become an ideology and a point of reference. Good intentions that ‘pave the road to hell’ usually involve people becoming unreceptive to feedback from around them, and believing that only they have the proper answer to a constantly changing set of circumstance. So I wouldn't want to couple ideologies with the road to hell unless the ideology itself already has that roadmap inbuilt (i.e. “let's kill everyone that isn't like us”).

Comments from part 3 about action

This really does break down how normal people think n a rather mechanistic format. I like it :D

Behaviorists would absolutely stand by the asserting that there are mechanics that determine our behaviors. Behaviorists are generally determinists I'd say, and don't quite believe in free will as we would construe it. I don't go that far, being cognitive-behavioral in my approach, but there are definitely mechanisms at work in our minds, just as they are in our brains ;)

This is something I feel imbues most, if not all, of my writing. Characters being put in uncomfortable situations where they have to make a sincere, life-altering move between what they want and what they need, what is ideal to have and what is, within the realm of circumstance and/or within the realm of personal urge, required to have.

Well said. I would also argue that the hero's journey itself, which is one way or the other ubiquitous in writing in some shape or form, is exactly that.

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comment

anonymous?

Abt_Nihil at 6:39AM, Dec. 9, 2019

Yep, that was a great series of posts, and a nice wrap-up post too! :)

Andreas_Helixfinger at 1:32AM, Dec. 8, 2019

I personally wouldn't mind talking more about this kind of stuff:) Like ozoneocean said, this is very inspiring(Y)

ozoneocean at 5:34AM, Dec. 6, 2019

I love how you address the comments here. The level of discourse is inspiring!


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