Reading Response #8

to Artful Design • Chapter 8: “Manifesto” and “Coda” 




Music 256A / CS476a, Stanford University

Reading Response: 


From this week's reading, I'd like to respond to  Artful Design Definition 8.7 which states:

Definition 8.7: Hypothetical Imperative

In the coda and eighth chapter of the book Artful design, the focus centers on the philosophy of design and more specifically what it means for something to be design and how design has shaped us. In these sections, we see references to ancient philosophy,  references to previously discussed chapters and concepts, and thoughtful discussion on these long-considered topics as the book is brought to a close. The specific idea I would like to reflect on today is Definition 8.7 “Hypothetical Imperative”. This idea is further elaborated on and described as “Taking action Conditionally, out of desire for an external goal.” This concept is used directly in comparison with the following concept Categorical imperative, which describes taking action because of an intrinsic value. This could be compared to the book's earlier reference to a means-to-an-end vs end-in-itself discussion.  In light of this comparison between external and internal rewards, I find it interesting that external motivation (hypothetical imperative) is referred to specifically as hypothetical. Although there is a discussion about how hypothetical can mean that the means by which achieving said goal could vary, I think there is further discussion to be had on what it means to even be able to achieve the said goal at all. 

In my personal experience, I have found that external forces are a much more reliable source of motivation than intrinsic values. (Of course, this depends on how deeply these values are engrained in your character.) I find that intrinsic motivation while the purest of heart, is the least reliable, you can change your mood and that may overpower your intrinsic value movement to moment. Overall this is going to be a driving force, but there is no guarantee that this self-perpetuated energy can last indefinitely, or without interruption. When it comes to reliability, external seems to be the most promising, it shows up no matter your mood, circumstance, or ideals. 

That being said, however, external I find is also the most damaging to the self. Your hopes, energy, and efforts all go toward a goal that can not be guaranteed to be achieved. The reward is in the completion of the task and not in the doing. (It is a journey entirely about the destination.) This means you could go through an incredibly painful experience, and still not achieve what you set out to. If you were to put everything you have into completing one goal and not being able to achieve it and it could be devastating, especially if you put off your own current joy, and ignored your personal values to get there. This use of the term hypothetical has so much more power than just a suggestion, it warns the reader of a risk, of a chance of failure. So the question now not only becomes what it could take to succeed, but what you could lose if you failed.