This is the English version of an older - and important - Romanian article : Cauze si scopuri.
- "You're fat."
"How could you say that to me! Are you trying to make me feel bad about myself ?!"
"I don't want anything, it's a factual observation."
This exchange - whether imaginary or not matters little - exposes rather clearly a very significant difference. I have noticed, from my own experience, that any action results either from a certain cause, or towards some sort of purpose. These two are the two sources of any action, and there isn't a third.
Every time they confront a given action, people tend reflexively to seek to understand "to what purpose" it occurs. What is the hidden intent, wherefore is the agent aiming. What do you mean by this, why me, and especially "who set you up to this", like the Romanian politician would say.i
I however am firmly persuaded that acting towards a purpose is at the very least morally suspect (that much I can show, but I'm almost willing to say it's outright rotten) and technically inefficient. Let as look into the matter.
All causes being necessarily in the past, their collection is necessarily finite, and explicitly given. Acting from a cause you can of course err, either through not knowing the cause exactly in all its details, and thus acting inadequately, or through not knowing elements outside of the cause, context as it were, which one way or another fundamentally alter the response adequate to the situation. By example :
John gives Mary 20 dollars, because Mary lent him 20 dollars last Thursday. Inasmuch as John is not mistaken about either the cause or the context, his action is perfectly adequate.
If in fact it wasn't Mary, but her twin sister Mara that lent him the 20 dollars, or if the 20 dollars were not in fact being lent to John, but merely a repayment of an even older loan John had made to Mary, then the action is inadequate, through not having correctly understood the cause. The remedy is directly obvious and necessarily accessible : Mary could point out to him that she's not owed anything for whatever reason, and if that reason gives further cause for action (such as, redirecting the 20 dollars to Mara) that's that. If on the other hand Jane, John's wife, meeting Mary earlier had rendered her the 20 dollars herself, instead of John, John's later repayment is also inadequate, through not correctly understanding the context. Remedy, again, is equally obvious and equally accessible.
If on the other hand John spends 20 dollars to buy bonbons, in order to gift them to Mary in order to get her to pisi stai o tura, his action will be perfectly inadequate for a vast array of possible reasons John can not possibly ever know. For instance, Mary might be alergic to chocolate, inclined towards women, sworn to chastity or simply of the opinion that receiving sweets has absolutely nothing to do with getting laid.
In other words, the vastness of possible purposes, and of the many and varied contexts in which they could find themselves is lost in the darkness of the future, and as such they're not only infinite and uncountable, but even undefined! And necessarily undefined no less, as rightly established by the science of Physics. Both these unhappy considerations make activity with a view to a purpose, whatever it may be, sheer folly, or, if you prefer, windhunting.
So : don't go to school for the purpose of certification. Go, if you go, because you're interested in whatever they study there, and this on a daily basis. If you're not interested, don't go! No matter who gets upset. If it's not a good thing to steal a chicken, don't steal a chicken, no matter what noble purpose stealing the chicken may or might serve in the future. Don't lie, not as a function of what purpose the lie may or may not serve, but by virtue of the simple fact that it's not true. Examples could be had ad libitum, but... to what purpose ?
If you were to start today on the simple doctrine of acting absolutely, strictly and only for a cause, and never towards a purpose, no matter what that purpose may be or who might be proposing it you would gain some absolutely incredible advantages. Among them : no action or inaction further requires laborious evaluations. It's rather simple, and rather quick to come to a determination as to whether there's cause for any proposed action. It is comparatively impossible to establish if there's any purpose, or what kind of purpose would it likely be. The approaches to evaluating purposes are necessarily gross approximations, and through this perfectly open to mendacity and manipulation. Foregoing any purpose, you free yourself from the unwelcome influence of the little rape, which only exists to empty your pockets and keep you working in exchange for nothing in an appealing presentation.
Obviously acting towards poorly defined, barely verbalized and mostly unexamined purposes has the apparent advantage of allowing the stupid man the illusion of control over the future. The simple fact of the matter is that no entity has control over its own future, outside of the regular application of some simple rules that allow for its preservation and perpetuation.
These simple rules are exactly one, which goes like this : act from a cause, and never towards a purpose.
This is the policy that ensures the permanence of the Universe, the eternity of the stars, the apparition of lifeii, the evolution of mankind. How willing are you to go against the whole Universe, on the strength of the verbiage of some "guru" that nobody heard of a second ago, and nobody will hear of in another second ?———
- Romanian public culture is rather primitive and unrefined (sort-of like the US is becoming these days). Politicians however are exactly the reptiles they're everywhere. The intersection of these results in particular fixations, such as this one. [↩]
- That's right : life didn't appear on Earth for a purpose, it appeared because reasons. The difference between the thinking man and the unthinking man is this fundamental. [↩]