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Motivation, Ideology, Action 2

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Nov. 16, 2019

Last time we talked about motivation in people, and its relationship to behavior. And I must say you all had great comments I feel deserve to be addressed, so instead of a four-part tour to the world of what makes people tick, I will add a fifth part where I'll talk about everything mentioned in the comments throughout these articles.

I feel the need to do that because there's a lot to unpack, such as what behavior is (as opposed to reflexes and chance encounters) as well as how such knowledge can be useful to the creative process. So, expect the discussion of today about ideology, next time should be the discussion on how motivation and ideology translate into action (and behavior) and after that a discussion of all the points raised in your comments!

(only heads up, I just watched Joker so I might opt for an intermission to talk about the movie as I'd promised before continuing)

One of the points I made last time on motivation, is the individual's inherent tendency for the pursuit of pleasure. Note, that when I say ‘pleasure’ I don't mean hedonistic (as in sexual pleasuring or necessarily concrete concepts of pleasure) but hedonic sensations. So what we looked at was the tendency of people to avoid pain and seek pleasure, however that might translate into conscious, cognitive thinking.

Another point I made was that this hedonism isn't tied to ‘selfish’ motivations (as society or ideology can label as we will see) but also to ‘selfless’ ones. It is, therefore, something I'm inviting you to look at without value judgment, the way we look, say, at the workings of the body.

This general motivation of the individual also translates to groups of individuals that come together to achieve an existence where pleasurable experiences outweigh the painful ones. Just as any other goal we might set, after it's there, we are called to find the method with which we will get to achieve it. What tactics should we use, what concepts will bring us closer to it and which ones will push us away from it?

And this is where ideology is born and comes into play.

From the most horrific to the most utopically perfect, all ideologies have the same parentage and share the same genes: they are codes of conduct and a method in order to achieve the goal of a mostly-pleasurable existence with an ultimate minimization or elimination of pain. Ideologies come in many categories. There are political ones, religious ones, existential ones and more.

But, while it might reasonably feel shocking, the truth remains that every ideology is a proposal of sorts which purports in an axiomatic manner that it is the road to achieving that seminal goal. From theism to atheism, from communism, fascism and nazism to democracy to oligarchy, from liberalism to alt-rightism, from equality to inequality (racism, sexism, and everything else), all of these are ideologies and ALL of these, without fail, suggest that they have the answer to a happy existence.

Not all, if any, are of course, correct. Some could argue that humanity's struggle through the ages is to find which one is.

Each individual, through the process of their socialization as well as personal experiences and thinking, will opt in one or several different ideologies that may or may not be completely in sync and congruent with each other. It is then up to the individual to apply this ideology to their daily, practical routine and expectations, experiences and wants in order to navigate life. Through this interaction of applying one's ideology and then receiving reality's (i.e. real events and society's/environment's interpretations of it) feedback on it, a person's personal ideology constantly morphs and develops or even changes altogether.

And this is what I want to point out when it comes to character building: No person opts in an ideology if they believe this ideology is irrevocably flawed. Ascribing to an ideology comes with great emotional investment, whether one realises it or not. Such investment is made only when merit is seen to be a constant given. Rejecting an ideology can be a very traumatic, emotionally exhausting even a person will fight tooth and nail against rather than having to do.

That's why in Les Miserables, Javert had to commit suicide when faced with the irreparable flaw to his ideology- because he couldn't bear to reject it and go through the process of finding another one.

So what happens with hypocrites?

A hypocrite also has an ideology. Just not the one he or she is miming or parroting for other purposes- so he/she is simply pretending to ascribe to the one he/she doesn't have, as the word's etymology implies. Consider that amoral approaches or nihilism also fall within the range of ideology.

Villains AND Heroes, for example, will be aware others perceive them as villainous or the enemy, but they won't care because they will see the opposition as:
a) deranged individuals that don't know any better –> they have the wrong ideology
b) the enemy representing the opposing side to them in terms of ideology or ideology application
c) non-significant per their ideology and therefore with irrelevant opinions (e.g. “they are sheep/ they are alt-right/ nazis/ leftists/ liberals/ etc.” –Twitter Today)

They themselves tend to see themselves along the lines of:
a) the agent of the One and Only Truth –> the enlightened one
b) the one that is more intelligent than the others and thus has the better ideology (e.g. “Evil will always win because Good is dumb” –Lord Helmet)
c) the one that has the power and thus the valid ideology
d) the one that has the better arguments and proof that their ideology is better than the other side's.

Note that I am NOT saying whether anyone is right or wrong, good or bad. I'm just pointing out the common workings within the mind. That's all.

Do I have a set of ideologies I ascribe to? You bet.
Do I think they are the best available to the best of my experience, capacity, studying and thought? Absolutely.

Do I want to enforce them all on others?

Goes against my ideology :P

Disclaimer: Ideology is NOT science, science is NOT ideology- its workings, though, can be. ;)

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Tantz_Aerine at 10:28AM, Nov. 16, 2019

Great comments and questions guys, keep them coming!

Andreas_Helixfinger at 6:09AM, Nov. 16, 2019

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?

marcorossi at 3:29AM, Nov. 16, 2019

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.

bravo1102 at 12:18AM, Nov. 16, 2019

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.

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