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Re: Motivation in the Sage

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  • malcolmschosha
    Grant wrote: Hi Grant, Since it is known that the
    Message 1 of 50 , Oct 5, 2012
      Grant wrote:
      <<3) I think, _at least_ for the Sage, all
      motivation is future-regarding and _never_ present-

      Hi Grant,

      Since it is known that the Stoics regarded time as an incorporeal, how do you see this playing out in the Sage's reactions to externals? Why would a Sage distinguish between what you call "future-regarding" and "present-regarding"?



      --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, Grant Sterling <gcsterling@...> wrote:
      > Steve:
      > 1) There is a view, originating in
      > Plato and extending through the Middle Ages,
      > which holds that the goal of all actions is
      > something conceived of as being good. The
      > Stoics seem to deny this, since they seem to
      > accept that one can also aim at something that
      > is merely _preferred_. But it's interesting to
      > note, in this context, that they virtually never
      > refer to the avoidance of bad/evil. Flip open
      > a text of Aristotle or Plato or Augustine, etc.
      > You can find a million examples of them discussing
      > the pursuit of good for every case where they
      > mention the avoidance of evil.
      > I find this interesting because it seems
      > to be the inverse of your position. Rather than
      > holding that we perceive some evil or privation
      > in our current state and seek to relieve it, they
      > emphasize the perception of some _benefit_ in
      > a future state, and aim to produce it.
      > Like Jeremy Bentham (and I am like Bentham
      > in virtually no other respects), I see no reason
      > to emphasize one or the other. When a patient
      > undergoes anesthesia before an operation, it seems
      > strange to say (with the Greeks) that he is aiming
      > at the good of painlessness--it seems obvious that
      > he is avoiding the evil/bad/dispreferredness of pain.
      > (The same goes for the case where I am starving to
      > death and eat a tasteless but filling crust of bread.)
      > But it seems equally forced to me to suggest that when
      > I dip my spoon into a delicious bowl of ice cream
      > I am aiming to reduce my current discontent--no,
      > I am aiming at the beneficial pleasure of the taste
      > of ice cream.
      > Any action can be forced into either framework.
      > But I think that either framework is forced--the natural,
      > common-sense way of looking at things is that sometimes
      > we react to deficiencies and sometimes we aim for
      > benefits.
      > 2) In any case, I reject the framework that
      > says that to be motivated I must be reacting to some
      > deficiency in my _current_ state. Contract these
      > two cases:
      > a) I am bleeding from a serious wound in
      > my thigh. A doctor treats my wound, and offers
      > a painkiller.
      > b) I am experiencing no pain, but I am
      > about to run into a burning building. [Let us
      > suppose for the sake of argument that I have some
      > very good reason for doing this.] A doctor offers
      > me an injection of painkiller to allow me to cope
      > with the inevitable burns I will receive.
      > In 'a', one might think that I accept
      > the painkiller to deal with my discontent with
      > my _current_ state. [I will, shortly, argue that
      > this is not true, but it seems reasonable at first
      > glance.] But in 'b', my current state is pain-free
      > and perfectly pleasant...if I accept the painkiller,
      > it is clearly to prevent _future_ pain. {Again, you
      > can say that I "unhappy with my current state of
      > not being protected against future pain", but that
      > seems truly excessive.} So it seems to me that I
      > am often motivated solely by thought of some benefit
      > or some relief of harm to be expected _in the future_
      > even if my current state is blissful indeed.
      > 3) I think, _at least_ for the Sage, all
      > motivation is future-regarding and _never_ present-
      > regarding. (Whether aiming at preferred or dispreferred
      > things.) Take case 'a' above. Do I take the painkiller
      > to relieve my _present_ state of pain? If I do, I
      > am irrational, because the injection will not take
      > place until a few seconds (at least) into the future,
      > and the pain relief not until a few seconds (at least)
      > after that. NOTHING can ever relieve my present instant
      > of pain. My present pain may convince me that a future
      > state where this pain continues will be evil (or dispreferred),
      > and so _that_ may motivate me to act. But even then it is
      > the _future_ pain I'm trying to prevent, not any present
      > discontent that I am trying to relieve.
      > So, in sum, I reject your thesis.
      > a) I don't think we always act to relieve discontent.
      > b) Even when acting to relieve discontent, it is
      > discontent with _the future_ we're trying to relieve, not
      > discontent with our present state. (At least if we're
      > rational.)
      > c) The Sage has no need of any negative feeling
      > directed towards current dispreferreds. "Joy" is simply
      > a 'bonus' positive feeling that has no connection to
      > (future-directed) actions at all.
      > Regards,
      > Grant
      > On 9/26/2012 8:30 PM, Steve Marquis wrote:
      > >
      > >
      > > I have had Keith's chart on Stoic emotion up on my bulletin board for
      > > such a long time it is turning yellow.For those who haven't had a chance
      > > to look at it there are two columns of four.Each column has a position
      > > for desire and aversion directed at either future anticipated events or
      > > current events.The two columns represent the pathe for the vicious
      > > person and the eupatheiai for the virtuous person (the Sage) respectively.
      > >
      > > For example an affective response directed at a current event believed
      > > to be good is hedone (pleasure) for the vicious person and directed at a
      > > preferred is chara (joy) for the virtuous person.
      > >
      > > There is a one to one correspondence except for one position: there is
      > > not a corresponding good emotion for the passion of distress directed at
      > > a current event believed to be bad.There isn't a corresponding good
      > > emotion directed at a current dispreferred.This has never caused me
      > > concern until now.In a private discussion about negative emotion as
      > > motivation it occurred to me that for us to be motivated to do annoying
      > > at all like move a spoon of food to our mouth we have to have some
      > > slight discontent or dissatisfaction at how things are (the food is not
      > > in my mouth).
      > >
      > > So I need some help on this one.If we accept how things are to an extent
      > > that there is no dissatisfaction at all (indicated by no affective
      > > response to a current dispreferred) how can be motivated to do even the
      > > slightest little thing?
      > >
      > > One of the most charming little phrases I've run across is `creative
      > > discontent'.That is what I am trying to find in the Stoic context of
      > > affect that motivates towards a change in the current state of affairs
      > > even though the current state of affairs is not rejected excessively by
      > > assenting to the impression that this currents state is `bad'.Keep in
      > > mind this cannot just be a matter of degree as the Stoic basis for what
      > > is either sufficient impulse or excessive impulse is assenting to
      > > mutually exclusive opposites (truth or falsity).
      > >
      > > Any suggestions anyone?
      > >
      > > Live well,
      > >
      > > Steve
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
    • Steve Marquis
      Wow. Major mismatch between intent and outcome. Malcolm has unsubscribed. He may return after a cooling off period like he has before. Quite frankly I find
      Message 50 of 50 , Oct 13, 2012
        Wow.  Major mismatch between intent and outcome.

        Malcolm has unsubscribed.  He may return after a cooling off period like he has before.

        Quite frankly I find the ISF has been a world of help for my own understanding of Stoicism.  And some of that came from Malcolm.

        Live well,

        From: Malcolm Schosha <malcolmschosha@...>
        To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Sat, October 13, 2012 11:03:30 AM
        Subject: Re: [stoics] The Stoic Sage (Was Motivation in the Sage)

        Steve wrote:
        Malcolm IMO you are quite welcome here.  I have long ceased to feel antagonism towards your (it appears to me) sometimes controversial remarks. 

        Hey Steve,

        What a pleasure to know I am SO welcome here. Makes me feel good.

        Whatever the cause of the mismatch,

        1. my own Stoic journey does not need any support from here, and

        2. my contributions here serve more to foment discord, and complaints, rather than to help.

        The conclusion is obvious.



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