Why is the Question “Why?”

7 min readJun 15, 2020

Socrates described the civilian obligations to the state as three general motives:

> Citizens benefit from the stability of the state, and therefore have an obligation to uphold that state.

> Citizens are free to leave the state, taking with them all that is theirs.

> By remaining in the state, citizens have tacitly agreed to obey the laws of the state.

I have developed a theory, described as a Paradigm of Motivation, which categorizes human motivation into either misery or sense of direction; further illustrated by the relationships between Problems, Curiosity, and Recognition along with clear connections to what it means to be a someone both within and without a government. It is based on the ability to exercise volition that is available to a human being, thereby establishing the presence of choice. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs requires a transmission between each level’s needs as well as meeting those needs. To my knowledge, no such theory currently exists.

a person walking through the second floor of an antique shop
Photograph by Blvk Shots Photography. All rights reserved.

Here is what we know:

Psychopathology (often called abnormal psychology) illustrates the genetic, environmental, and overall mental influences that affect mental health and disorders. Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is described as an organized system with the purpose of illustrating the foundation of a human being’s journey from deficiency needs to ‘self-actualizing’ needs. More so, the needs are presented as Physiological (e.g. food, water, shelter), Safety (e.g. security, order, law, freedom from fear), Love and Belonging (e.g. friendship, trust, acceptance, affection, intimacy), Esteem (e.g. achievement, mastery, independence, reputation, respect), and Self-actualization (e.g. Self-fulfillment, -gasms, peak growth, experiences). Lawrence Kohlberg introduced a theory of Moral Development that illustrates a level-based model of growth in maturity. These three levels, each sectioned into two sublevels, are labeled as Preconventional Morality, Conventional Morality, and Post-Conventional Morality; with the sublevels being Stage 1 & 2, Stage 3 & 4, Stage 5 & 6, respectively. Stage 1: “Morality is motivated solely by punishment and anything which is punishable is deemed wrong.” Stage 2: “Focuses on individualism and different perspectives, and the goal is to avoid punishment.” Stage 3: “Emphasized the maintenance of healthy, happy interpersonal relationships and pleasing others.” Stage 4: “Branches out from pleasing individuals to maintaining social order by following social norms, customs, and laws.” Stage 5: “Emphasis on the social contract and the maintenance of individual rights.” Stage 6: “Search for universal principles. People in this stage of moral development would be most likely to, for example, attempt to overthrow a totalitarian regime.” The general purpose of science is to explain and/or understand. Both explanations and understanding underline the human motivations to solve problems, answer questions, and recognize data.

One intersection between misery and direction addresses how humans handle problems. Problem is defined as an inquiry starting from given conditions to investigate or demonstrate a fact, result, or law. If a human is hungry, then s/he will seek out food. If a human feels unsafe, s/he will choose to seek out security or will choose not to; either way, addressing the problem. Likewise, when pursuing intimacy, it is often to do away with loneliness, (the absence and longing of intimacy). A problem requiring the craft associated with an ability cannot be addressed without a level of mastery in that craft. A person cannot be self-actualized without addressing the problem of figuring out how to be self-actualized.

A visual of the paradigm.
A graphic of the paradigm. All rights reserved.

Another intersection between misery and direction is based around the concept of addressing curiosity. Curiosity is defined as the desire to know or learn something. Why do humans choose to interact with problems? Why is the question “Why?” The origin of this intellectual trait has been theorized for millennia and as of today, we do not have an evidentiary-based answer that has the capacity to fully, without doubt or contradicting evidence, answer this question. What we do know is that this mental complex exists and appears to further enhance the human intelligence.

History has displayed many intellects pursuing answers to these questions to address problems, curiosity, and also recognition. We have highlighted the existence, approach, and origin of the mental capacity to self-actualize. We now focus towards the future and ‘impactfulness’ of volition and insurance. Humans tend to approach addiction, denial, and other cognitive maps in a manner that influences the dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin levels of the brain. Recognition, defined as 1) acknowledgement of something’s existence, validity or legality and 2) appreciation or acclaim for an achievement, service or ability, is often best illustrated in the self-actualization stage. Recognition is the state of reputation. According to Robert Greene, reputation is the cornerstone of the concept of power (and also freedom) (e.g. being known as a provider, leader, liar, lover, teacher). An intellect with this capacity has the volition to address the problems and curiousness of Maslow’s Hierarchy, Kohlberg’s Moral Development, and the fundamentals of science. Approaching these paradigms and theories through means of recognition internally (e.g. “I am glad I solved this problem,” or “I figured this out”), or externally (e.g. “The world knows I saved this country,” or “They may never know, but I am the cause of this effect”), is precisely how we self-actualize!

Governments are historically known for providing hierarchical possibilities. The environment of a state/government also provides significant influence in moral development. However, it is important to note that an environment without a government can also provide these very same qualities in addition to more social opportunities (the very first civilization was built in a place where there was no civilization). Why do humans seek experiences and explanations? Understanding and conception? How does a human being, whom has intellectual capabilities, choose (or believes to be choosing) between environments, situations, and other forms of choices with a sense of direction; a sense of motivation?

Photograph by Blvk Shots Photography. All rights reserved.

As was criticized of Kohlberg, not all people may reach a balanced sense of direction, which leads to questions of if these elements are the crossroads of motivation. The incorporation of other developmental factors such as age, environment, genetics, and knowledge raise scrutiny on the reliability of this paradigm and how it can used in application, if at all. Daniel McConnell said, “A key lesson is that science is about always questioning. Nothing should ever be assumed as unquestionable fact.”

Based off this hypothesis, further questions are beseeched. Do these cognitive maps provide human beings, and animals, with the intellectual capacity to make an emotional decision (all decisions are currently accepted to be influenced by emotions), and not only suppress our emotions when executing the decision, but consciously enter an abnormal state that lacks remorse; per the choices of leaders who prefer profit of an economy over the value of human life? If we have this capacity, is it empirical or rational? How do incentives play a role (the payout of a huge gamble, the orgasm of infidelity, the prestige in control of others)? Can mental disorders cause this state or be treated with this capacity? In time, further analysis and future tests may bring us closer to answering these questions.

Analysis & Relevance

This Paradigm of Motivation is descripted as a circle with an equilateral triangle consisting of three intersections between the two shapes. The intersections, in no specific order, are defined as recognition, problems, and curiosity. The area within the triangle is defined as direction, with the center point of both the circle and triangle being the most balanced and direction-oriented location of the system. Outside of the triangle but within the circle is the area descripted as misery. Misery is defined as aimlessness (or not knowing where you are going and trying your best to get there). Direction is defined as the course, aim, or purpose that must be taken or sought after to reach a destination, point, or state.

Misery is often descripted as circular in nature with respect to beings of higher consciousness like humans. Addiction to a substance can influence an individual in many ways, especially if this individual is not aware of the addiction. By attempting to satisfy a corrupted reward system, an addict can continue in a cycle until his/her untimely death. Along this cycle will be continuous crossroads of volition along the motivation system(e.g. the problems of addiction, the curiosity of quitting, the recognition of becoming ‘clean’). Similarly, an individual may not be aware of the psychostate that is misery: ants leave chemical trails that allow them to find their hives/homes but if enough ants confuse the trails and begin to walk in a circle, known as a Death Spiral, these ants will walk themselves to death.

Upon achieving a need, such as thirst, or want, like attending a museum, another crossroads arises: aimlessness. What happens after the thirst is quenched or the museum has been seen? Until the misery of thirst or wanderlust returns an individual has the problem of deciding to wait for the yearning to return or to pursue a new problem, level of curiousness, or want of recognition, such as shelter, reading a book, or clocking into a job to make money. This system is a process that consistently remains as prominent as its fuel, direction and misery.

Many needs and wants can be juxtaposed by two or all three intersections of the paradigm. These crossroads do not require mutual exclusivity. Like the theory of chakra alignment, it is theorized that if all three points are met physiologically, securely, intimately, and venerately, the individual now possesses the true sense of direction to reach one’s full potential, maintain this stature, and self-actualize. Humans are direction-oriented and without a sense of direction, humans, like ants, can often walk in circles.












Hooley, J. M., Butcher, J. N., Nock, M. K., & Mineka, S. (2017). Abnormal psychology (17th ed.). Boston:

Pearson. Motivation

McConnell, Daniel S. Philosophical and Theoretical Foundations of Psychology (3rd ed.).

Petri, H., & Govern, J. (2012). Motivation: Theory, research, and application. Cengage Learning.

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