„Any attempt to understand the motivation of these occurrences is blocked by our own anthropomorphism. Where there are no men, there cannot be motives accessible to men.“

—  Stanisław Lem, book Solaris

Source: Solaris (1961), Ch. 9: "The Liquid Oxygen", p. 134

Last update June 4, 2020. History
Stanisław Lem photo
Stanisław Lem74
Polish science fiction author 1921 - 2006

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Norman Angell photo

„The force which makes for war does not derive its strength from the interested motives of evil men; it derives its strength from the disinterested motives of good men.“

—  Norman Angell British politician 1872 - 1967

Peace and the Public Mind (1935)
Context: The force which makes for war does not derive its strength from the interested motives of evil men; it derives its strength from the disinterested motives of good men. Pacifists have sometimes evaded that truth as making too great a concession to Mars, as seeming to imply (which it does not in fact) that in order to abolish war, men must cease to be noble.
Base motives are, of course, among those which make up the forces that produce war. Base motives are among those which get great cathedrals built and hospitals constructed-contractors' profit-seeking, the vested interests of doctors and clergy. But Europe has not been covered by cathedrals because contractors wanted to make money, or priests wanted jobs.

Brandon Sanderson photo
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Albert Einstein photo

„He must learn to understand the motives of human beings, their illusions, and their sufferings in order to acquire a proper relationship to individual fellow-men and to the community.“

—  Albert Einstein German-born physicist and founder of the theory of relativity 1879 - 1955

"Education for Independent Thought" in The New York Times, 5 October 1952. Reprinted in Ideas and Opinions (1954)
1950s
Context: It is not enough to teach a man a specialty. Through it he may become a kind of useful machine but not a harmoniously developed personality. It is essential that the student acquire an understanding of and a lively feeling for values. He must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and of the morally good. Otherwise he—with his specialized knowledge—more closely resembles a well-trained dog than a harmoniously developed person. He must learn to understand the motives of human beings, their illusions, and their sufferings in order to acquire a proper relationship to individual fellow-men and to the community. These precious things are conveyed to the younger generation through personal contact with those who teach, not—or at least not in the main—through textbooks. It is this that primarily constitutes and preserves culture. This is what I have in mind when I recommend the "humanities" as important, not just dry specialized knowledge in the fields of history and philosophy.

„Generally, it was impossible to understand the motives of aliens.“

—  M. John Harrison, book Light

Source: Light (2002), Chapter 2 “Gold Diggers of 2400 AD” (p. 16)

Man Ray photo

„An original is a creation motivated by desire.
Any reproduction of an original is motivated by necessity.“

—  Man Ray American artist and photographer 1890 - 1976

"Originals Graphics Multiples" (1973) <!-- as quoted in Man Ray : American Artist (1988) by Neil Baldwin, p. 323 -->
Context: An original is a creation motivated by desire.
Any reproduction of an original is motivated by necessity.
The original is the result of an automatic process, the reproduction, of a mechanical process. In other words: Inspiration then information; each validates the other.
All other considerations are beyond the scope of these statements.
It is marvelous that we are the only species that creates gratuitous forms. To create is divine, to reproduce is human.

Michael Halliday photo

„Foregrounding, as I understand it, is prominence that is motivated“

—  Michael Halliday Australian linguist 1925 - 2018

Source: 1970s and later, Explorations in the functions of language, 1973, p. 112 cited in: Laura Hidalgo-Downing (2000) Negation, Text Worlds, and Discourse. p. 4.

Henry Adams photo

„Modern politics is, at bottom, a struggle not of men but of forces. The men become every year more and more creatures of force, massed about central power-houses. The conflict is no longer between the men, but between the motors that drive the men, and the men tend to succumb to their own motive forces.“

—  Henry Adams journalist, historian, academic, novelist 1838 - 1918

Context: The work of domestic progress is done by masses of mechanical power — steam, electric, furnace, or other — which have to be controlled by a score or two of individuals who have shown capacity to manage it. The work of internal government has become the task of controlling these men, who are socially as remote as heathen gods, alone worth knowing, but never known, and who could tell nothing of political value if one skinned them alive. Most of them have nothing to tell, but are forces as dumb as their dynamos, absorbed in the development or economy of power. They are trustees for the public, and whenever society assumes the property, it must confer on them that title; but the power will remain as before, whoever manages it, and will then control society without appeal, as it controls its stokers and pit-men. Modern politics is, at bottom, a struggle not of men but of forces. The men become every year more and more creatures of force, massed about central power-houses. The conflict is no longer between the men, but between the motors that drive the men, and the men tend to succumb to their own motive forces.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer photo
Cassandra Clare photo
Emil M. Cioran photo
John Maynard Keynes photo

„Capitalism is “the astonishing belief that the nastiest motives of the nastiest men somehow or other work for the best results in the best of all possible worlds.”“

—  John Maynard Keynes British economist 1883 - 1946

Attributed by Sir George Schuster, Christianity and human relations in industry (1951), p. 109
Recent variant: Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.
As quoted in Moving Forward: Programme for a Participatory Economy (2000) by Michael Albert, p. 128
Attributed

Ralph Waldo Emerson photo

„The young men were born with knives in their brain, a tendency to introversion, self-dissection, anatomizing of motives.“

—  Ralph Waldo Emerson American philosopher, essayist, and poet 1803 - 1882

1860s, Life and Letters in New England (1867)

Louis-ferdinand Céline photo
Houston Stewart Chamberlain photo
Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot photo

„The maximum of motive power resulting from the employment of steam is also the maximum of motive power realizable by any means whatever.“

—  Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot French physicist, the "father of thermodynamics" (1796–1832) 1796 - 1832

p, 125
Reflections on the Motive Power of Heat (1824)

Edward Bernays photo
William Hazlitt photo

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“