The concept of character has had a pervasive effect in the history of human relationships, and has led to the twin myths of royalty and race.
To posit “character” as something that underlies behavior, or causing it, is worse than mythical, for the consequences of such assumptions leads to essentializing character as something stable, solid, a determinate nature underlying one’s existence. This “mystification” is perhaps the main reason why people convince themselves that a person cannot act other than what s/he did, and that they are resigned to supposing that one is forced to act out the “hidden” self.
Therefore, the conception of character merely disguises, or conceals the fundamental nature of man’s existence as freely choosing and self-aware beings.
As long the term “character” denotes a provisional empirical generalization of behavior, then this will not lead us into the bad faith of postulating an “essence” of a person, of which the actions are merely the “appearance” and derivative of the “real” character of the person.
To use a concrete example, a person who has behaved like an asshole up till now can be legitimately called a “asshole” but once he chooses to act friendly, he is no longer an asshole, and ceases “being” one.
Ergo, there are no such thing as “motives” behind actions, or motives causing the person to act, because that leaves out the all too subtle moment of choice. It is the choice that turns a potentially motivating factor into an actual motivation.