When experts study animal behavior, they identify many key “motives” that likely drive such behavior, even if those animals aren’t consciously aware of them. Such as getting food, avoiding predation, and making and raising babies. Most such motives also apply to humans, as do several new human-specific motives. Biologists and social scientists have had great success over centuries explaining animal and human behavior using these motives. And ordinary people also commonly and successfully use such motives to explain the behaviors of distant humans and animals.
I think there's an important distinction to be made between not knowing one's motives and being motivated by something wholistic that cannot be reductionalistically described in terms of other motives, even if it is related to those other motives.
There’s a difference between someone's intelligence and looks influencing how much you like them and liking them only or primarily because they're smart and pretty. Sometimes people will like somone for the latter reason and just hide that from themselves, and I agree that this is distasteful.
But I think often liking something for its own sake is just that, even if the own-sake-ness is influenced by other factors. After all, given that intelligence and looks are part of who someone is, it's totally consistent to like someone "for who they are" and for that decision to be influenced by their being smart and pretty.
I think what people primarily object to is the way of thinking in which things are a means to an end, and in which the value of something can be separated into distinct factors. That sort of thinking is super valuable in some contexts, but never captures the whole picture.
(The Master and His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist is one good book that discusses these two ways of thinking.)
I can think of no habits that I like "for their own sake."
Do people really think this way?
I'm not sure there is really a lie involved as much as a different kind of explanation.
Just as the question: "Why did I just get hit in the head by a snowball" can be (literally) answered both by "It was moving on a high enough arc to get over the hedge" (or other Newtonian explanations) and "Bob was goofing off" so too the kind of explanations you cite above seem to be compatible accounts that just operate on different levels. When the context changes what kind of explanation seems salient/informative changes.
In other words, usually, when someone asks "why do you like to drive" they want to know something about how you psychologically feel about it. OTOH when asking about less habitual behavior the kind of explanation sought is usually more practical.
See those habits of yours where you feel like you just do them “for their own sake”? [...] It makes you quickly look away, just as you do when you glance at the sun.
Having tried for a few moments this is indeed somewhat unpleasant experiment, stopping now!
FYI, the thumb up button hasn't been working for a while.
I could more respect those who say "I just don't want to know my deeper motives on this."
> That is just where your mind doesn’t want you to think about the factors that cause you to adopt or not drop such habits. It makes you quickly look away, just as you do when you glance at the sun.
“Madman theory” of creative work (art, science, whatever). Only if you deny yourself knowing the reasons you can be surprised, and expect to surprise others; even expect them to read past the title. I don’t actually consciously believe this anymore but I think this is the unconscious theory here for many people
This also seems consistent with people just liking things they've already done for a long time (for possible reasons like wanting to look consistent to other people, or rationalizing time investment).