What motivates me?
I investigate big questions about life, learning, evolution, cognition and love.
I am motivated to do the work I do in at least two ways:
The science I enjoy looks at things in new ways and challenges conventions. I have a particular fondness for showing that something somebody said was impossible is due just to a failure of imagination, and for reconciling 'apparently incompatible' views. For example, Richard Dawkins has explicitly stated the widely-held view that, aside from evolution by natural selection, no other naturally occurring mechanism of adaptation could possibly exist anywhere in the universe (hence Universal Darwinism). But I’ve shown that there is at least one other mechanism, 'natural induction', that is quite different, does not need natural selection, and can produce adaptation at least as good as natural selection. My intellectual side just likes an interesting problem - and the new ways of seeing that are revealed by solving it.
2. Things that really matter:
Reconciling irreconcilable differences is not just an intellectual exercise...
The prevailing scientific (traditionally Western) worldview sees self-interest and competition as natural and logical. 'Natural' because it is supported by evolutionary theory ("survival of the fittest") and 'logical' because it is supported by rational individualism ("the only logical action for me is to do what’s best for me"). This worldview creates isolation, greed and unsustainable exploitation that is harmful to us as individuals, harmful to us as a society and global community, and harmful to other living things and the biosphere. But what to do? If working together requires that we are perpetually swimming against the current - fighting what is natural and logical - what hope is there? Maybe we should just give-in to selfishness - isolate ourselves and stop caring...
Or,... maybe there is a different worldview, and a scientific context where it makes sense...
A Scientific worldview where self-interest is not the prime mover.
(a.k.a. An antidote to Universal Darwinism, or 'Whats love got to do with it?')
For more on worldviews, their impact, historical context and alternatives see Jeremey Lent