Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Good intentions

An oath (eg, auditor, banker, courtroom, jurorpresident) is about promising doing good deeds through stating good words. Does that, however, affect our intentions? In 2008, psychologist Dan Ariely claimed that reminding people of the 10 Commandments would decrease their bad intentions (AMA-2008, Wiki). A 2018 revisit of that 2008 study was unable to validate that 2008 conclusion (VK-2018). How do we come to good – or bad – intentions?

I think, feel and believe that the different conclusions reflect the impact of ongoing secularisation. Hence, both the 2008 and 2018 are/were (probably) valid. Appealing to religious beliefs may indeed affect our deeds and words (or: visible human behaviour) but not necessarily our intentions or thoughts.

The genuine explanation to good intentions is hidden in Dan Ariely‘s 2008 study: “This research shows that people behave dishonestly enough to profit but honestly enough to delude themselves of their own integrity. A little bit of dishonesty gives a taste of profit without spoiling a positive self-view.” Profit – or Advantage (my 2017 blog) – does define good/bad intentions.

I think, feel and believe that Religion essentially appeals to this concept of Advantage / Profit, amongst others by introducing Heaven and Hell. Once intentions are affected, words and deeds will follow. Reminding people of the 10 Commandments is only effective once you believe in Religion.

In the absence of (religious) beliefs, our mind will firstly consider the concepts of Advantage / Profit. Expressing an oath, while not believing in it, is generally to our advantage. The oath just feels like a white lie that does not hurt anybody while you are still being able to profit (eg, retain your job).

In 2017, I anticipated declining my auditor’s oath as I do not believe in that oath (my 2017 blog). Even then I already realised that such an oath does not affect my – or someone else’s – intentions. I was, however, not summoned to swear my oath because my membership category is “jobless”. It felt like irony to me.

I think, feel and believe that our intentions follow our beliefs, whether these beliefs are about Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and/or the Truth – a.k.a. the 7 Belief systems. Religion has always been an important pillar for having good intentions. Nowadays, Philosophy is taking over that role. However, Religion was and is a derivative of Philosophy (my 2018 blog, Wiki).

Nowadays, I believe that helping (other) people is our primary goal in Life (my 2017 blog). That belief is philosophical in nature, similar to the Pay-It-Forward philosophy. In general, helping (other) people will result in good intentions. My belief in helping (other) people has one restriction: you can only really help other people, after helping yourself first (emotionally).

Help Yourself (1976) by Joan Armatrading – artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Need someone to help me

But not you, you’re not ready

Seems you have trouble helping yourself

Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise


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