This question is about life.

If we look at the current world, so many people care about money, or power, or fame, or all of the above.

However, if we do believe in reincarnation, or that we'd transform to a different form, such as energy, or thoughts, or some other higher beings, then we really have nothing to worry about and we wouldn't care about money, or power, or fame.

Now, if we don't believe in reincarnation or transformation into other higher beings, then in that case, we pass away, and nothing really matters, and there is nothing to worry about either. So we really have nothing to worry about and we wouldn't care about money, or power, or fame.

That's the logical thinking.

However, since most people still care so much about money, power, or fame, does that mean most people are simply not logical?

  • 2
    No. Logic is indifferent to what one believes, values or cares about, nor does it have anything to say on what we should or should not do or worry about. All of that comes from ethics, not logic . As far as logic is concerned, believing in reincarnation is no more "logical" than caring about money.
    – Conifold
    Feb 11, 2022 at 0:47
  • I also mentioned people who do not believe in reincarnation Feb 11, 2022 at 3:29
  • 1
    People are generally not logical. It takes training and effort to act rationally now and then.
    – tkruse
    Feb 11, 2022 at 3:30
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    Regarding such common cravings the Buddha often hinted the root cause as dark ignorance, upside-down view such as recorded in Shurangma sutra: You are so upside-down that you mistake sound for hearing. No wonder you are so confused that you take what is everlasting for what is annihilated... you now base your knowledge on awareness and perception; but that is fundamental ignorance. The absence of a view regarding awareness and perception is Nirvana - the true purity of no outflows. How could there be anything else in the midst of it? Feb 11, 2022 at 6:33
  • People who dont believe in the afterlife have only this life to live and enjoy. Being constantly in need for money, food, shelter, human relationship is not enjoyable. Getting money, power and fame is a very good way to ensure a steady flow of satisfaction and happiness. It is therefore, not illogical at all for them to pursue what makes them happy.
    – armand
    Feb 11, 2022 at 6:34

4 Answers 4


Money, power, and fame are instrumental goals toward the primary biological imperative of passing on one's genes. For those focused on the material realm, this imperative is the main driving factor. For those looking past the flesh, a different set of goals is usually sought. In both cases, however, she is being driven by motivations of one type or another. Logic is not a source of drive, but rather a way of directing one's energy in a fruitful fashion. Specifically, logic is necessary for battling the complex contingencies life throws at us.

To answer the main question, the issue is not whether a person is acting logically, but rather the direction of a person's motivation. Someone prioritising lineage is likely to care about the instruments of possession. But someone interested in higher purpose is probable to partake in the instruments of wisdom.


Let's suppose someone (a) believes that there is nothing after death, and (b) is driven by logic, not base instincts like greed.

Would such a person care about money, or power, and fame? One day they will die and none of that will matter. But while they live, those things might make their life better.

But suppose the logical person considers this idea: "Everything will ultimately die so nothing really matters, not even my own temporary pleasure." Well, that's an argument for not caring about money, power, and fame. But that's also an argument for not caring about anything: kindness, learning, health, creativity, love, survival, etc. If you don't care at all about anything, you could do anything or nothing and it wouldn't matter to you. But that isn't a useful philosophy.

It's more useful (and perfectly logical) to say, "Everything will ultimately die so we might as well make the best use of the time we have." And it might be easier to achieve something worthwhile with your life when you have money, power and fame...


If you fully pursue "logic" with a complete disregard for emotion and inherent desires (driven by biological needs), you arguably can't justify pursuing any romantic or platonic relationship with anyone, working, doing any recreational activity, eating or even moving at all. Those things are all done in service of emotion and inherent desires, just like pursuing money, power and fame is.

Also, acting logically only makes sense in the context of some goal.

  • If your goal is to accrue money, but you try to achieve this by regularly going to a casino where you just lose money every time, then you seemingly wouldn't be acting logically. But wanting to accrue money in itself has nothing to do with logic (and the same goes for power and fame).

    Believing money will make you happy or satisfy some desires you have is a belief that may or may not be based on sound logical reasoning. This depends on whether or not money will actually make you happy (or, rather, on whether you have good reason to believe it will).

  • If you believe in some afterlife, and your goal is to achieve a beneficial afterlife, trying to achieve this by acting in a way contrary to that wouldn't be very logical (threatening priests in order to get into heaven probably wouldn't be very logical).

Note my use of "trying to achieve this by". You can have the goal of accruing money, spend all your money at a casino and still not be illogical (and the same goes for acting in ways that won't get you into the afterlife). Just because you have some goal doesn't mean it's illogical to do anything that's contrary to that goal. You can have different goals at the same time, and act in ways that furthers some goals but sets you back with respect to other goals.

The only criterion to act logically is to have a reasonable expectation of the outcomes of your actions, based on your experience.

It just arguably wouldn't be very rational to have a goal that's important to you while not acting to further that goal.


After giving it more thoughts, I think I have a simple but plausible answer:

They care about that because it is their short term goal.

It is often said that, right before a person dies, they become a pure or perfect person, because they don't care about any of these short term goals any more: money, power, or fame.

It is their short term goal because they need to pay all the bills, or buy that house that is $12 million when his manager or director bought one for $18 million. Or they just got bullied so badly that they want more power, so that they can bully some people back. It is all short term.

So it is no different from a person who can throw some ball into a nest or hit some ball with a bat and make millions of dollars and therefore decide to go on with his life throwing some ball or hitting some ball for the rest of his life.

Or somebody who takes some drugs because there is some instant gratification.

Because even if the long term goal isn't pointing at that, the short term goal is, and that's all they care.

I recalled there is a rule out of the 10 Principles of Economics by Gregory Mankiw from Harvard:

Rational people think at the margin

(although I don't know if it is really "rational". I think if it is "short-sighted people think at the margin", that makes more sense).

It talks about if they find hitting a tennis ball can make them 10 million dollars, they will just skip school and dedicate his life at tennis because "that's the thinking right at the margin".

  • You bring a fair point about early or excessive success being a hinder to far-sight. A question arises whether failure or hardship is necessary for intellectual growth. If too much work makes Jack a dull boy, perhaps too much fun makes him blind. I agree that many pursuits of higher purpose begin with an inquiry of the long run. Perhaps equally important in finding wisdom is an inquiry beyond oneself. Thought must traverse both time and space to see the folly of common view.
    – Michael
    Feb 11, 2022 at 4:16
  • You can have the goal of slowly working your way up in a company to accrue wealth over the course of years. You can have the goal of becoming president in 10 years to gain power. You can have the goal of slowly gaining recognition within Hollywood to become famous in a few years. It doesn't seem reasonable to call something which can take years or decades "short-term" goals. Money, power and fame seems like they would almost always be medium- to long-term goals (if one is rational), given that they take too long to achieve in the short term. But maybe you mean something else by "short term".
    – NotThatGuy
    Feb 12, 2022 at 9:38
  • "It is often said that, right before a person dies, they become a pure or perfect person, because they don't care about any of these short term goals any more: money, power, or fame" - I don't think I've ever heard something like that. Caring about money, power or fame would only be "impure" or "imperfect" is within the context of some moral or religious framework. Nothing is inherently impure or imperfect. One key reason people might stop caring about those things right before dying is because generally nothing means anything after death (but that's a whole other question).
    – NotThatGuy
    Feb 12, 2022 at 9:46
  • It seems like you're looking for a rationalisation for the belief that people who care about money, power, or fame are inferior. I don't care much about those things, but the way you presented it here seems quite derogatory and offensive, i.e.: That people would only want money because of jealousy, instead of, say, just wanting to live comfortably. That people who want power were bullied and want to bully, instead of it not having anything to do with bullying. That people who play professional sports do so only because of money (also, "so what?" if they do), instead of because they enjoy it.
    – NotThatGuy
    Feb 12, 2022 at 10:19
  • it is not me who said money is the root of all evil or that people want to be "filthy rich". True, they can want money because they want to live comfortably, but to amass 10 or 15 million USD while the contractor or the supposedly lower class worker should earn scrap? (and they know the software contractors are doing real work while they just "plan" and "think" or "talk"). Apr 22, 2022 at 18:46

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