In the 1970’s two psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan investigated Aristotle’s version of human nature. Aristotle based his ethics on a psychological theory of human nature, insisting that we are naturally virtuous, rational, social and happiness-seeking. Deci and Ryan found that humans are not the profit-motivated creatures that liberal economics believed. The series of experiments run by Deci and Ryan suggested that humans will actually work harder on projects for less money, or even no money, if they find the projects to be meaningful, challenging, socially engaging and fun. Humans want to believe in something and to serve it – corresponding to the life of an academic, perhaps?!
This theory is the reason so many are prepared to spend time and effort on projects, writing paper and/or blogs, which don’t necessarily make profit – we’re not killing time, we’re making meaning. Yes the academic papers and publications may help to climb the academic ladder, but often they don’t. As Aristotle predicted, we are seeking ways to fulfil the higher drives of our nature for meaning, mastery, engagement and fun! (tho I can think of alternative fun too! 😉