Part I – The Basics of Desire

We all have desires.

We can desire to have sex, money, power, status, etc. We can also desire to follow certain principles such as being disciplined, well-read, or virtuous.

How do these desires work?

Desires follow two simple steps:

  1. We think about the desired object or circumstance.
  2. We are motivated to act towards it.

Desires are distinguished by what they do, and what they
do is move us to act. If I drive to San Francisco, that surely means that I wanted to go to San Francisco; if I had not wanted to go (for fun, to do my duty, or whatnot), I just would not have gone.

Timothy Schroeder, Three Faces of Desire, p. 11

Part II – Desires vs Beliefs

Beliefs may also cause feelings of worry or guilt, and thoughts about [Nashville], but beliefs alone do not seem to move us to action.

Timothy Schroeder, Three Faces of Desire, p. 11

About a month ago, I visited my hometown and reached out to a few old friends from middle school. The people that I reached out to were pleasantly surprised. One actually said that he had always wondered how I was doing randomly when he was in the grocery store or some other place.

However, neither of us actually reached out.

We may have had the belief that we wanted to talk to our old friend, but we did not have a strong enough drive to turn the belief into a desire.

As another example, here is a email that I sent someone.

[I apologize if the text is difficult to read. The image could not be resized without it changing the webpage’s format.]

This person may have believed that I was a good person, but they did not have the desire to send me a reply.

Part III – Conflicting Desires

However, what if the old friend or email person did want to respond, but they had conflicting desires?

The old friend may have desired to reach out, but he also may have desired to maintain his masculine image.

Additionally, the email person may have desired to reply, but she also may have desired to watch netflix.

It is difficult to say what happens when one has two conflicting desires.

What is safe to say is that the dACC [(the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex)] probably plays a critical role in all sorts of everyday choice conflicts. Should I stay for one more drink, or head home before it gets too late for public transport? Should I flirt back with this gorgeous human being or, as I already have a partner, would it be better to avoid temptation? Will I take a look at the dessert menu like everyone else, or stick to my guns and [risk] having to endure the frustration of food envy, as I continue my vain efforts to achieve that beach-ready body? The dACC is not so much the lair in which the various Princes of Hell reside, more the battlefield where the angels and demons fight it out.

The Science of Sin, Jack Lewis

[Image by Pexels from Pixabay]

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