Many philosophers have searched for a single motivating factor in humans, or one foundational attribute of human psychology that can explain all of humanity’s actions. One possibility put forward is rational self-interest. This theory claims that a person always acts in their own self-interest, and they discern their own self-interest through their use of reason and rationality. This is an especially common assumption in economics. The theory can explain some phenomena, but it ultimately fails. It is apparent from everyday experience that people do not act rationally. Even if they know a certain path of action will benefit them the most, such as studying for an exam, people sometimes choose to go to a party instead. Furthermore, in Notes from the Underground, Dostoyevsky observes that people have a deep need to feel that they have free will. If a person’s rationality proves to him that he has no free will, then rationality and self-interest will be in direct conflict. In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche calls free will, “The hundred-times-refuted theory” (§18). Therefore, a person is forced to reject either rationality or self-interest. This conclusively proves that people cannot be motivated by rational self-interest, as it results in a contradiction.
The Combahee River Collective is a group of black lesbian feminists operating in the mid to late 1970s (CRC 63). In “A Black Feminist Statement,” they remind the reader of the presence of black women in political activist movements throughout the history of America. They then describe the events and discoveries that led them to create the Collective. Finally, they describe their politics, which can be summarized in three principles. The Collective adheres to identity politics, resists fractionalization, and holds to Marxism. Despite the valuable contributions which the document provides, its adoption of identity politics leads to hypocrisy, as can be seen through their failure to mention disadvantaged groups other than themselves. Although this glaring silence does exist, the Collective itself would dispute any charge of hypocrisy.
In Shakespeare’s Othello and Macbeth, and in John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography, we find individuals face great anguish when they are faced with the question of the value of life. A solution to Shakespeare’s characters can be found in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments. Smith would say that Othello temporarily ignored his impartial spectator until he had committed an evil so great that he could not bear the accusation of his spectator once he again felt its force. Macbeth, on the other hand, continually insisted on self-deceit, though he could feel the force of his spectator weighing upon him. Smith can partially answer Mill. He would say that Mill’s spectator did not function properly because Mill could not imagine his case in someone else. However, Smith would not be able to answer the core of Mill’s problem.
This is an entirely fictional account, though of course, it is autobiographical at some level. I have certainly felt these things, though less than this particular Bride did.
I am worthless, I am worthless, but my Groom has brought me to Himself! He sought me out, He pursued me, and He even gave me the desire to love Him. Oh! what a Groom! It was not easy for Him; He died to save me. How could he sacrifice himself for the pit that is me? What a mystery, but He has done it! He knows who I really am inside, and He loves me…. I can’t even imagine this. Continue reading “Diary of a Bride”