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MOTIVE
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[ Also see Ambition Cause Desire Feeling Impulse Influence Instinct Intention Interest Justification Principles Purpose Reason ]

Who does not feel that Nansen's account of his search for the Pole rather loses than gains in ideal satisfaction by the pretense of a few trifling acquisitions for science?
      - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.,
        Collected Legal Papers (p. 273)

All merit ceases the moment we perform an act for the sake of its consequences. Truly, in this respect "we have our reward."
      - Wilhelm von Humboldt

In the motive lies the good or ill.
      - Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature")

The whole world is put in motion by the wish for riches and the dread of poverty.
      - Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature")

Let the motive be in the deed, and not in the event. Be not one whose motive for action is the hope of reward.
      - Krishna

It is motive alone that gives real value to the actions of men, and disinterestedness puts the cap to it.
      - Jean de la Bruyere

However brilliant an action, it should not be esteemed great unless the result of a great motive.
      - Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld

Selfishness is the grand moving principle of nine-tenths of our actions.
      - Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld

We should often have reason to be ashamed of our most brilliant actions if the world could see the motives from which they spring.
      - Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld

The mingled incentives which lead to action are often too subtle and lie too deep for us to analyze.
      - Johann Kaspar Lavater (John Caspar Lavater)

Ready are we all to cry out and ascribe motives when our toes are pinched.
      - Abraham Lincoln

For there's nothing we read of in torture's inventions,
  Like a well-meaning dunce, with the best of intentions.
      - James Russell Lowell, A Fable for Critics
         (l. 250)

What society wants is a new motive, not a new cant.
      - Thomas Babington Macaulay

The value the world sets upon motives is often grossly unjust and inaccurate.
      - Henry Louis Mencken

Real motives, however seemingly apparent, are still hidden.
      - Alfred Mercier

When we do not know the truth of a thing, it is good that there should exist a common error which determines the mind of man, as, for example, the moon, to which is attributed the change of seasons, the progress of diseases, etc. For the chief malady of man is a restless curiosity about things which he cannot understand; and it is not so bad for him to be in error as to be curious to no purpose.
      - Blaise Pascal, Pensees (no. 18)

The true worth of a soul is revealed as much by the motive it attributes to the actions of others as by its own deeds.
      - Jean-Antoine Petit-Senn

The scientist does not study nature because it is useful. He studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful.
      - Jules Henri Poincare

No labor is hard, no time is long, wherein the glory of eternity is the mark we level at.
      - Francis Quarles

Skilled work, of no matter what kind, is only done well by those who take a certain pleasure in it, quite apart from its utility, either to themselves in earning a living, or to the world through its outcome.
      - Bertrand Arthur William Russell,
        from Haldemann-Julius' 1942 pamphlet, "How to Become a Mathematician"

Take from men ambition and vanity and you will have neither heroes nor patriots.
      - Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca)

What if a man save my life with a draught that was prepared to poison me? The providence of the issue does not at all discharge the obliquity of the intent. And the same reason holds good even in religion itself. It is not the incense, or the offering that is acceptable to God, but the purity and devotion of the worshipper.
      - Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca)

Prudent men lock up their motives, letting familiars have a key to their hearts, as to their garden.
      - William Shenstone

The difference there is betwixt honor and honesty seems to be chiefly the motive; the mere honest man does that from duty which the man of honor does for the sake of character.
      - William Shenstone

The impulse to perform a worthy action often springs from our best nature, but is afterwards tainted by the spur of selfishness or sinister interest.
      - Emile Souvestre


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