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Motivation Notes

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Motivation

Plato's Republic J Cooper : Plato's Theory of Human Motivation Human virtue taken as a whole is a complex interrelationship among three separate psychological elements - each of which its own indispensable contribution to make. This theory of virtue contrasts with the Socratic theory in the Protagoras. According to the Socratic theory, virtue is essentially a property of the intellect - never mind what other parts of the soul there may be. Most no doubt agree that the Republic's theory is an improvement. Even if knowledge by itself does motivate actions, as Socrates evidently though obscurely assumed, there are surely other motivating facts as well, and being virtuous must therefore partly consist in having these other facts - whatever they may be, in some special condition or other. To be virtuous is to have one's practical attitudes / dispositions. Whatever it is that affects one's actions, and the ways one is inclined to act, structured in some special way. The virtuous person's practical attitudes must be such as always to produce the virtuous / right act in the given circumstances. Plato's Republic theory can be seen as a stage in progression from Socratic rationalism to the Aristotelian theory that moral virtue is an interfusion of desire / reason - Reason having the truth about the ends of life and how to achieve them, and desire embodying these truths so that the person habitually wants just the things that reason says are worth pursuing. T H R E E PAR T S O F T H E S O U L Does Plato simply force the facts of human psychology to fit theoretical preconceptions derived from these other parts of his argument? Or does he, after all, produce cogent independent reasons, based in unbiased reflection on facts about the individual human beings, for adopting this theory?
Cooper argues that when understood properly, Plato's theory presents in a subtle / interesting way, undoubted facts about the psychology of human motivation, and that this theory accounts for some central features of human beings, better than other later theories are able to do. Plato makes his own view clear when he first raises the question about the parts of the soul (435b-c). He asks whether there are in each of us three things corresponding to the three kinds of persons.

- The question of how many parts the soul has is the question of how many distinct types of psychological input go to determining a person's choice / voluntary action. That is, it makes the up the pattern of his life in general.

- There is now a familiar modern theory, going back to Hobbes, that a person's actions are the joint product of his relevant beliefs and desires, and nothing else. Desire providing the original motive force and belief factual information about how to act in order to satisfy desire. On Plato's theory, all three parts, reason, as well as appetite and spirit are independent sources of motivation - the contrast between reason and the other two is not really is not really akin to the modern theory's distinction between inert, purely factual belief and motivating desire. It is incorrect to see the division as a basic one between reason on the one side, and appetite & spirit together on the other.

- This fact does not emerge with perfect explicitness until the ninth book where Socrates advances the claim that as there are three parts, there are also three kinds of pleasure, one peculiar to each part, and so with desires' (580d)

- The desire of reason are implied tone strong impulses of some kind which experience simply because we posses the power of reason, the power to figure things out and know the truth. Socrates specifics one of these desire a little

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Motivation later in the ninth book when he says that 'It is obvious to anyone that the part by which we learn is always holly straining to know where the truth lies' (581b). On Socrates view, merely in virtue of having minds - of having the capacity to inquire we possess the desire to do these things. For Socrates, the desire to know the truth cannot be wholly explained as the outcome of our discovery that knowing the truth helps us to advance the goals which our appetites, or other reason-independent-desires incline us towards. There is always an irreducible desire for knowledge that is not dependent on an interplay between reason and other aspects of our nature. This desire is an original constituent of human nature, as much so as our appetites themselves, or our sensibility in general. According to Socrates, human reason has an innate taste for ruling, just as it has an innate taste of knowing - This can be most convincingly brought out by considering the way in which he attempts to argue the distinctness of reason from appetite.

- The fact that sometimes reason opposes appetite shows that there must be distinct parts of the soul.
- The drinking example is unclear - it is not explicit as to whether in saying that reason opposes appetite he means merely that the object which appetite goes for reason rejects, or rather that reason in rejecting the object also addresses / opposes the appetite itself.

- Cooper follows Irwin interpreting Socrates as claiming that because reason sometimes rejects an appetite insists than an appetite is not to be acted on, that it does not constitute a reason, say, to drink whatever liquid may be in question : Reason and Appetite must be distinct.

- The text does make it clear that Socrate is conceiving reason as a force which works counter to appetite, pulling the agent back from what appetite pushes him toward.

- Desire of reason is not represented as intellectual curiosity; so, apparently, reason has other desires than the desire to know the truth. ARCHER ANALOGY: DESIRE TO RULE He draws an analogy between what goes on inside this thirst man and what happens when an archer draws his bow : Just as the archer's one hand pulls the bow to him while the other hand pushes it away, so thirst moves him toward the drink while reason pulls him back. This shows that already in Book IV reason is becoming conceived as itself a source of desires, of motivating conditions. It is suggested that this is misleading : If I am thirsty but know the water is contaminated - I hold back from drinking it because I want to avoid the pain. Although it may be fair enough to say that reason restrains me, this does not imply that reason is the original source of any motivating desire not to drink; what motivates me to abstain from drinking is my aversion to pain.

- If this is the kind of example of conflict that Socrates has in mind, then he is not entitled to treat reason as a motivating force on its own, and so the question doesn't arise, what kind of desire of reason is working here.

- Cooper argues that in the case just described, Socrates would agree that only the aversion to pain motivated abstention. Presumably, not every case of conflict is like this.

- There seems no doubt that on the Republic's scheme reason is taken too be capable of deciding on its own theoretic grounds which ends are worth pursuing, and does not merely provide the means to, or work out some balance among, appetitively or otherwise given ends.

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Motivation

- When it proposes an end on its own authority, Socrates evidently thinks, reason also, at least sometimes, contributes a desire of its own (the desire to achieve that end), and this is an additional motivating force, over and above whatever other kids of desire may also be operating. The case Socrates has in mind is one where such a reason-generated desire comes into conflict with an appetite. If this is so, then the conflict he has in mind is as so :

- The thirsty man has worked out on grounds of reason that health is a good thing, more important than instant gratification. He also desires to preserve his health because it is a good thing, and this desire (a product of reason) conflict with his thirst - the desire of reason wins and the man abstains.

- Presumably Socrates does not hold that the desire for health is part of the original constitution - it is instead the consequence of a higher order desire for good, as such, together with the sounds on which health is thought to be good. So what is inherent in reason is the desire for good - not the desire for any particular good. Plato speaks of this desire as something that we all have.

- The desire for the good can now be seen as equivalent to the desire on the part of reason to work out the ends of life on its own and to achieve them. Reason wants to do these things on its own - without treating the fact that one has an attachment for a thing grounded in appetite or spirit or any other source of desire there may be as a ground for pursuing it. The claim that the desire for the good is inherent in reason itself amounts to the claim that anyone who possesses the power of reason wants to think out on his own - on purely rational grounds, what goals to pursue in life, and to achieve those goals. The claim that the desire for the good is inherent in reason amounts to the claim that anyone who possesses the power of reason wants to think out on his own, on rational grounds, what goals to pursue and to achieve those goals. He wants reason to rule in his life. C R EAT I N G T H E D I V I S I O N The appetite / spirit figure as independent influence on action, which can conflict reason. In the fourth book he focuses on the clearest instances of what he has in mind - thirst / hunger / sexual desire. He insists on quite a narrow conception of these. If I am hungry for chocolate, this is not merely hunger, it is a modified desire. It might seem that Plato limits the appetitive desires to basic recurrent biological urges / only to the part of them which is primitive. On the other hand, he refers to other appetites (439 / 436a/437d) - and gives an interesting example with the Story of Leonids. In the same context, he argues that spirit never allies itself with appetite - a decent man, if he thinks he has been in the wrong, cannot become angry. Later, particularly in Books VIII and IX, the love of money is treated as an appetite. Desire that embody moifiticaiotns of the basic appetites for sex / food / drink are still appetitive desire - likewise, physical desires such as to be warmed up or the aversion to pain count as appetitive - as do the impulse of Leonitus' for looking at dead bodies. So also the love of money / Liking of physical exercise. What is the principle of unity between desires?
Plato begins with the recurrent biological urges for food / drink / sex. Socrates' first concern is to convince that there are two independent sources of motivation - reason on the one side and appetite on the other.

- There seems to be no doubt that hunger / thirst arise wholly from physiological causes without intervention from reason. It is equally clear that these have a direct motivating influence on action.

- By concentrating on the clearest cases he can demonstrate the existence of motivating desires that work altogether independently of reasoning of whatever sort.

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Motivation

- Once established that there is such a source of motivating desires independent of reason, it is not difficult to recognise other desires beside hunger / thirst / sexual appetites that are based on physical / physiological causes. Such as the desire to be warmed when cold.

- These desires give rise to further desires for those objects themselves. So even though what we would (but not Plato) classify as rational powers may be involved in the constitution of further desires it is not at all events motivating reason, but only calculation undertaken in the interest of the appetitive goal of physical gratification.

- In this way, beginning with simple hunger, we can explain why modified desires should count as desires of the same basic type - they all rest on brute facts about our bodily constitution and about the means by which pleasurable bodily states may be caused. They are not limited to facts about of bodily constitution : L E O N T I U S Leontius is overcome by his appetites and his spirit intervenes to chastise him for overruling his reason. Socrates says spirit places the blame on his eyes. This might suggest that according to Plato it is the constitution of eyes that makes looking at corpses so fascinating to him. It is difficult to sustain this. It is, in fact, his imagination at work here. The imagination may be thought of as a source of pleasure in the same way as the bodily sense are. A person simply find certain imaginings amusing just as he finds certain tastes appealing.

- Whatever exactly the imagination may be it is on Plato's view linked essentially to the world as it appears rather than to reason, which is understood as devoted to knowing the truth. SPIRIT The work is etymologically the same as our word 'fume'. Plato's theory of fume is indebted to Homer - it names the part of themselves to which Homeric heroes speak when they are aroused for action, and into which they, or some deity, pour might / strength. It is the immediate source of action - and the seat of emotion, especially those emotions of anger, that motivate vigorous action. Fume seems closely connected with competitive action. In his account in Book IV Plato appeals exclusively to various forms of anger and not to any of the other desires / emotions that gets assigned to it in Homer's account His examples cover a fairly wide range - from screaming infants and barking dogs, to Odysseus' outrage at the sexual misbehaviour of Penelope's maids with her suitors, to Leontius' annoyance / disgust with himself for giving in to his fascination for corpses. Later in Book IV corsage emerges as a specific virtue of this part of the soul, and in Books VIII-IX it is described as the honour-loving / victory-loving part - it is always wholly striving for power and victory and good repute. The spirited part expresses itself :

1. In ordinary anger

2. In the moral feelings of shame / outrage / offended sense of justice

3. In the desire to assert oneself, to be effective both in one's private life & community. What is the Principle of Unity here? Why does he think that together they constitute a third sort of motivation?
As with before, his argument depends upon appeal to the fact of conflict. But his method of arguing from striking examples fails him in this instead. He argues frost that fume is distinct from appetite with the example of Leontius being angry at himself. Here appetite is opposed by anger, so this anger is a desire deriving from another source than appetite. He then argues it is distinct from reason - because babies / animals get furious but do not have the power of reason to figure out the truth of things / direct their life in accordance with the truth. His second example is

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