December 1, 2011

To What End?

While toiling in my nerdery the past few days, my thoughts drifted from the concrete actions I took in front of me, to a more meta level where I asked "Why am I doing this?" Initially I really only asked the question with regard to what I was doing with my hands at that moment, but then I got to wondering why anyone does anything. Why did you get out of bed this morning? Why do you go to school/work/whatever? Why do you talk to strangers/friends/anyone?

I arrived at two reasons: survival and pleasure. The first one should be pretty obvious, although I'm suspicious and undecided of the real reason we fear our non-existence. I'll save that for another time, though. Let's talk about pleasure.

If all we must do is eat and sleep to survive, then everything else beyond that is motivated by pleasure. Even eating and sleeping are influenced by this motivation. Do you add spices to your meals? Pleasure. Have a Coke and a smile, instead of just water? Pleasure. Sleep on a mattress when the floor will do? Pleasure.

Pleasure is a complex experience. There's a time component to pleasure (immediate versus delayed gratification), and expectations play a huge role in our perception of a pleasurable experience. Marketing over hypes a movie and we're left dissatisfied. Catch a good band you've never heard of and you come away satisfied. Ah, the complexity.

This was an unexpected, pleasurable concert.
I'm going to dwell on these concepts in coming articles in an effort to understand my own motivation, and why I sometimes do what I consider best for me, and many times choose to do an inferior task.

Do you think there's more to life than survival and pleasure? Do you always do "what's best" (the answer is no, but why?).


  1. Theres definitely more to life than survival and pleasure. I think maybe its curiosity. LOL please expand on this post! I'd really love to see what more you have to say, this is really interesting!

  2. Thanks for the comments all.

    @Sub-Radar-Mike: They were a fan's band for sure!

    @PC: I'll use curiosity as a specific example, in case you were wondering.


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