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The issue of what motivates human behaviour, what instinctive or learnt impulses cause one to act as he or she does, has been long speculated and debated. While no single theorist has been able to satisfactorily trace the origin of our thoughts, actions, feelings and instincts, several have made noteworthy contributions.
One might ant to cook in order to appease hunger or to gain compliments from a spouse or to save money which would have been spent ordering food. In keeping with this cause-effect relationship, it does seem very easy to advocate that yes, we only do what we want to do.
There is a complication however, which might also be considered an exception; fear. One may also do an act out of fear of the consequences if it were not done. For instance, an all too common phenomenon is thousands of people trudging to their workplaces daily out of fear of being fired or the fear of their wages being cut, or fear of awaiting bills. One may cook at home, continuing from an above example, also out of fear of extra calories or germs that outside food may contain. In such cases, strictly speaking, the individual does not want to act, but does so, since not performing the act would result in an unpleasant situation.
Another consideration when attempting to figure whether we do only what we want to do, is the conflict between rationale and emotion. As Hume states, "nothing is more usual in philosophy, and even in common life, than to talk of the combat of passion and reason." The concept of what one wants to do then, would fit into the realm of passion or emotion rather than logic or reason. ...
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