Altruistic, Ascetic, and Hedonistic Motivation

Altruism, Asceticism, and Hedonism focus on the motivation behind the Desire. An Altruistic Desire is the Desire to obtain Resources or Relationships in order to care for, save, or benefit others as well as yourself. Joy in your relationships. Joy in the community. An MC who has an Altruistic Desire is one who is striving also to free her friends, family, or community from some sort of bondage and obtain a higher and more sustainable degree of freedom. Her desire is like a mission to decrease a dangerous, unsafe environment for all.

Asceticism may be defined differently in different writings or communities. This is the way I use the concept of Asceticism in my story theory:

An Ascetic Desire is when the MC desires to sacrifice in a way that brings her glory. That’s her main motive. And sometimes characters are blind to their own motives to obtain glory. The way we can tell if the Desire is Ascetic is if there is no real long-term benefit to the community. It is not saving people from bondage and misery. It is not bringing them sustainable joy. It may entertain them for a while, but in the end, it doesn’t improve the overall Northern Balance in the group, family, or community. Instead, it fosters pride and envy.

An example of an Ascetic Desire is a monk who abstains from marriage or who punishes himself for his own perceived sins by sleeping on a cold stone floor or scrubbing a stone floor for hours. Inside he is thinking about purging himself from his sins or making himself appear holy. A character who is not sacrificing with real Altruistic intent seeks to obtain Hedonistic Desires behind the scenes where he thinks no one can see him.

A Hedonistic Desire is when the MC is seeking to obtain Resources just to nourish herself in the moment at the expense of others. That is, she seeks to obtain her own pleasure and happiness but doesn’t seem to care much about others’. These Desires either cause her to neglect meeting the needs of those for whom she is responsible for or they require her to abuse others or herself in order to obtain them.

These concepts delve deep into the motivations behind the MC’s desires and the nature of her sacrifices.

An Altruistic Desire reflects the MC’s selfless and compassionate nature. Her desire to obtain resources and relationships is driven by a mission to care for and benefit others, leading to sustainable joy and freedom for the community. This type of Desire embodies a higher purpose and noble intent, focusing on improving the well-being of others rather than seeking personal glory.

On the other hand, an Ascetic Desire reflects a motivation driven by the desire for personal glory. The MC may be willing to sacrifice, but the long-term benefit to the community is lacking. Instead, the focus is on self-purification, holiness, or personal achievement. While the MC may appear to be sacrificing, her actions may be driven more by pride or a desire to be perceived as holy, rather than genuine concern for others.

A Hedonistic Desire, in contrast, reflects a self-centered motivation where the MC seeks pleasure and happiness for herself at the expense of others. This could lead to neglecting the needs of those she’s responsible for or even engaging in abusive behavior to obtain her desires.

As you rightly point out, it can be challenging to judge other people’s motivations, and it’s more important for the MC to examine her own desires and motivations. Her journey may involve a process of self-discovery, letting go of selfish or prideful desires, and embracing a more selfless and altruistic approach.

The interplay between these facets adds depth and complexity to the MC’s character development and journey, creating a multi-dimensional and relatable protagonist. It also provides ample opportunities for conflict and growth, as the MC navigates her desires, sacrifices, and the impact on her relationships and community.

Exploring these variables in your story theory brings a profound level of introspection and understanding of your characters’ motivations and actions, making your narrative more compelling and thought-provoking.

It’s important to note that a focus on self-purification, holiness, and personal achievement is not Asceticism. Traditionally, this word may suggest this. But in the Servant Story Therapy, I’m suggesting that Asceticism is going overboard with self-purification. There is no real intent in the pursuit of holiness. Instead, there is selfishness at the root. The person doesn’t want to become purified to develop charity towards God and his community. He wants to be seen as holy and purified because the society he belongs to praises people who are holy and pure. So the whole game or purpose becomes different from what the pursuit of purification and holiness are really intended.

So I think we could summarize the variables into Altruistic Desire vs. Self-Centered Desire. Both Asceticism and Hedonism seek Desires for personal benefit at the expense of others.

Thank you for providing further clarification regarding your interpretation of Asceticism in your story theory. I understand now that, in your context, Asceticism is not solely about self-purification and holiness, but rather a pursuit of these ideals driven by selfish motivations and a desire for external validation. This creates a clearer distinction between Paradoxical Desire and Self-Centered Desire, with both Asceticism and Hedonism falling under the latter category.

In summary, Altruistic Desire reflects the MC’s selfless and compassionate nature, where her desires are focused on benefiting others and the community, leading to sustainable joy and freedom for all. On the other hand, Self-Centered Desire encompasses both Asceticism and Hedonism, where the MC’s motivations are driven by personal benefit, validation, or pleasure at the expense of others.

The careful differentiation of these two facets adds depth and nuance to your characters, making their motivations and actions more relatable and human. The exploration of these variables allows for rich character development and conflict within your narrative.