Monday, 16 November 2015

Imagination, purpose and motivation

It is most valuable for us to learn to exercise our imaginative capability in order to muse upon the possibilities of purpose beyond any we have, as yet, been able to grasp.

For we can notice that in human nature we can withstand almost any difficulties except the loss of a sense of purpose.

We can make do without happiness, comfort and love, if we feel that the reason for doing so is some great purpose.

This will lead us to expect the same principle to apply to all other beings in any other level or classroom in the university. Consequently, if we can deepen, widen and clarify our sense of purpose, it will have a very far reaching effect.

William Arkle - Equations of Being: notes on the nature of love

I have often remarked that the number one problem in the modern West is Motivation! Motivation! Motivation! That is we are nihilists; and therefore lack any basis for powerful and sustained motivation - which renders us feeble, cowardly, alienated, and ultimately suicidal.

And it could be argued that our chronic feebleness of motivation is itself a consequence of lack of purpose - because purpose is what potentially generates motivation.

Modern man tends to suppose that purposes are interchangeable, malleable - that we can pick up and put down purposes, direct and then redirect our motivations. But that is not what it looks-like. What it looks like is that we are much better at destroying purpose and weakening motivation than we are at discovering or creating purposes capable of eliciting motivation.

We have done a great job of demolishing serious religion, traditional morality, long-termism in public life.

Government Officials and the managers of institutions and corporations are tremendously adept at eroding professionalism, long termism, inner motivation, honesty - but they can only replace them with sticks and carrots, working to rules and checklists, and a sense of purpose no higher than the latest 'targets' - narrowly and literally interpreted, pursued in a manner that is not-provably-dishonest instead of truthful.

In such a world, where might purpose and motivation emerge from except imagination? And what better function could imagination have than to restore to us that sense of purpose which enables us to withstand almost any difficulties?

I do not regard this as an optional extra - but a core task for modern Man. And within Christianity - we simply must have a Christianity that motivates us and restores purpose, builds-in resilience, sustains courage - else our faith will be so feeble as to become rapidly swamped.

Thus we need more than simply to know, to assent, to learn - we need imaginatively to appropriate our faith: to grasp it with the imagination - and where necessary to seek a Christian explanatory system, practice and community that we can, personally, so grasp and appropriate.

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