Digest of terms

motivation

internal will or drive for the actions of an individual person. Though primarily seen as involving conscious intent, it may also be affected by unconscious needs/interests. To be motivated is to be induced to act, typically by some kind of desire. Distinctively moral motivations to which appeal may be made include a desire for pleasure - one's own in particular (egoism, hedonism), or everyone's in general (Utilitarianism), a sense of duty (Kant), or a desire to help others, if necessary at cost to oneself (altruism). These are not necessarily mutually exclusive - people often or even generally act from mixed motives. Thus there may be both primary and secondary motives, reflecting overriding or underlying concerns. It remains the case that motivation is commonly driven by different degrees of consideration for both self and others.

Motives may be distinguished from intentions: several people might share the intention of becoming a teacher, but be impelled to do so by different motives - money, career ambitions, a promise made to one's parents, a desire to contribute something to society.

Motivation differs too from justification - we may think a policy morally justified, but lack the motivation to implement it. Again, though, we may fail to feel motivated to do something we desire (as slimmers repeatedly testify) - or is that simply a matter of the relative strength of competing desires? The concept of motivation continues to be the subject of both philosophical and psychological exploration.

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