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Factors that determine what people do




   What are the things, the factors, that determine how people 
   behave, what they do?  What role do pleasure and pain play in 
   determining our actions?  The pursuit of pleasure and the 
   avoidance of pain determines a very large portion of what we 
   do.  We are naturally inclined towards going in that direction 
   that will give pleasure or avoid pain.  We are predisposed 
   towards that direction.  However, the situation may not be so 
   simple.  It may be, for example, that any route available to us 
   includes both pleasure and pain or a high likelihood of both 
   pleasure and pain.  For example, a route may include a promise 
   of immediate, momentary pleasure but also a high likelihood of 
   prolonged future pain.  Furthermore, other considerations, in 
   addition to those of pleasure and pain, may be involved in our 
   decision of what to do.  Like what considerations?  To list 
   some: considerations of conscience, right and wrong, duty, 
   potential dangers and risks, long term self-interest, etc..  
   All these can play a part.  And there are yet other factors 
   that are involved in determining what course we actually take.  
   Like courage.  We may decide on the course that we ought to 
   take and want to take but not have the courage to take it.  
   Another factor involved in determining the actual action we 
   take is the amount of self-discipline and determination we 
   have.  For example, we may decide on a course that we know we 
   ought to take but base appetites or habits carry us into an 
   entirely different course (as in the case of an alcoholic or 
   drug addict). 


   Oct 1986


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