General Question

whiteliondreams's avatar

Are inclinations an impulse?

Asked by whiteliondreams (1717points) July 30th, 2012

Are inclinations typically irrational thoughts or acts based merely on emotional states, or misunderstood circumstances of given situations?

On inclinations vs duty on Kantian ethics.

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7 Answers

Bill1939's avatar

I think inclinations are pre impulse. I believe that we have genetic predilections that social and physical conditions can initiate. Drives, such as hunger, generate angst drawing the attention of perception to related objects, usually unconsciously. Various objects will elicit emotional responses of different intensities. Thought is not required to be inclined to focus upon the desire’s preferred object. Inclination is sufficient.

dumitus's avatar

I think inclinations are deeply engraved in our DNAs.
I like English but hate math.
No one taught me how to do that.
DNA explains it all.
Sorry for my poor answer.

thorninmud's avatar

Inclinations are shortcuts that we use to sidestep the hard work of careful examination.

To use a simple example, suppose someone asks me for money on the street. To act on impulse would be to simply either give money or not, without engaging in any conscious process. To have an inclination would be to be more habitually disposed one way or the other, so that I have a default position based on some kind of rationale. Maybe I’ve said to myself, “Anybody who really wants a job can find one, so I’m not going to give money to deadbeats”, or “It’s not my responsibility how they spend the money. It’s just better to give when asked”.

Having a predisposition like this is based on some cognitive process, but it’s really a way of getting out of having to construct a decision from the ground up, examining all the nuances of each situation. It’s a shortcut that conserves mental and emotional energy.

These inclinations are necessarily based on generalities, and so they often miss important particularities. The economy of energy is gained at the price of accuracy. Morality would dictate that we do due diligence in looking at all of the particulars of each situation, but all of us fall short in this. We just find that overly demanding.

zenvelo's avatar

I no nothing on Kantian ethics. But an inclination is a leaning that is set prior to a question, not a reaction to a question or situation.

marinelife's avatar

Inclinations are made up of a number of factors including genetics, parental inclinations, environment. I do not think that they are impulses. I think that they could inspire impulses.

Bill1939's avatar

Are inclinations mere habits of emotion, thought or action? Is an inclination stronger or weaker than an impulse, or are they comparable? How are predilection and inclination different? While it may be say to assume that impulses arise in the body, do they also arise in the mind or are they sent there, after the fact, by the body? It seems to me that we all have a predilection to minimize the amount of work our minds do, inclining us to leave most of it to automatic processes.

zensky's avatar


It’s not even dawn yet, Friend,
and the trees, strangely silent,
scan the sky for signs of the sun’s
itinerary. One strong oak has
stumbled into the branches of
the beech beside it, weeping
over the futility of roots.
Whole treetops scattered flat
in the dell try to remember
the sky’s expanse. They don’t
want answers, and i can’t
give them, but when i lean into
the trunk of this white pine,
inscrutable gold light flows
up through its veins, as if
the horizon could not
press us down much longer.

—Patricia Campbell Carlson

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