There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart’s desire. The other is to get it.—George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

Desires fluctuate. So should we actually trust and act upon desires? I am distinctly aware that things that I on occasion desire above all else are things I desire to get as far away from as possible once I’ve got hold of them, whatever they are.

Central tenet of Buddhism is that desire is bad. Socrates supposedly though the same:

The fewer our wants the more we resemble the gods.[1]

HOWEVER being motivated to always get better is also important. Is this different from desire? If we can make a Kantian story work in which it’s rational to desire, as he would put it, ‘one’s own perfection and the happiness of others’, then this is okay, but if such a story doesn’t work—and few nowadays would such an account convincing I suspect—then my initial gloss is that the idea that desire is generally not so great leads to a conclusion of not doing very much at all.

Humean thoughts about reason being the slave of the passions etc.etc. might work here but I disagree with Hume on that one so not much use to me.

[1] Whether this is the Platonic Socrates or the real one I have no idea