Ends and Motivation

I've been thinking about various bits of folk wisdom about how to motivate other people to understand and act regarding climate change.

One such piece of wisdom is the following [Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 'The Wisdom of the Sands", University of Chicago Press, June 1984]
"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead teach them to yearn for the vast and open sea."
So, desire must come first in these things, it seems.

After desire, we then see things in terms of Goals and Objectives. I found the following information useful [ny95bl]
  • A goal is a broad statement of what the program hopes to accomplish. (e.g. "To motivate food stamp participants to eat foods that are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Food Guide Pyramid".)
  • An objective is a specific, measurable condition that must be attained in order to accomplish a particular program goal. There are many different ways to specify objectives; the program and evaluator should choose the method that works best for each situation. (e.g. "50% of learners will be able to report making knowledgeable decisions about food purchases after completion of the eight week course.")
Another interesting quote is the following:
"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime".

(According to Wikiquote [awcblc] this has origin unknown.)

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When discussing motivations it's good to note that some or all of our motivations seem to have some relation to our biological functions and/or goals.

Aristotle's ethical thought [2gyf85] attempts to find the good to which activities aim:
Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim. But a certain difference is found among ends; some are activities, others are products apart from the activities that produce them. Where there are ends apart from the actions, it is the nature of the products to be better than the activities. Now, as there are many actions, arts, and sciences, their ends also are many; the end of the medical art is health, that of shipbuilding a vessel, that of strategy victory, that of economics wealth. But where such arts fall under a single capacity- as bridle-making and the other arts concerned with the equipment of horses fall under the art of riding, and this and every military action under strategy, in the same way other arts fall under yet others- in all of these the ends of the master arts are to be preferred to all the subordinate ends; for it is for the sake of the former that the latter are pursued. It makes no difference whether the activities themselves are the ends of the actions, or something else apart from the activities, as in the case of the sciences just mentioned.

He does so "by ascertaining the specific function of man" [nobpxj], and in particular that which makes us specifically human, the rational part.

Certainly we can ascertain a lot by assessing function and biological function; but that is the end to man qua piece of life, rather than the end to man qua man. It seems that the end to man qua man is subordinated in evolution and in the sense of Aristotle to the end of man qua lifeform and the end of man qua life form to the ends of our genes. However, for Aristotle it is not our overall ends that matter, but rather the ends of the specific features that make us human.

Aristotle argues that all reality can be classified metaphysically, with distinctions being made when there are differences. So if we can define man, this way; by his distinctions from other animals then we can deduce certain things from this definition. If 'man' can be defined like 'can opener' there's a chance that just like a can opener has a good function, so can man. I'm not necessarily asserting this mode of argument, merely exploring it.


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