Ends and Means

02008-01-28 | Philosophy | 4 comments

Gaia Community | jhalifax’s Blog
Once we have reached the desired end, we think, we will turn back to purify and consecrate the means. Once the war that we are fighting for peace is won, then the generals will become saints, the burned children will proclaim in the heaven that their suffering is well repaid, the poisoned forests will turn green again. Once we have peace, we say, or abundance or justice or truth, or comfort, everything will be right. Its an old dream.

It’s a vicious illusion. For the discipline of ends is no discipline at all. The end is preserved in the means; a desirable end may forever perish in the wrong means. Hope lives in the means, not in the end. Art does not survive in its revelations, or agriculture in its products, or craftsmanship in its artifacts, or civilization in its monuments, or faith in its relics.
– Wendell Berry

Deep insight.


  1. eric

    the change that consistently persists is really not change at all, it’s just how we view it. it’s the space that’s necessary for time to exist. if man wants to conquer the universe he’ll have to conquer time first.

    by man’s imagination he has been able to conquer and subsequently destroy the cause of time.

  2. Adam Solomon

    Interesting. I’ve always found the ends/means dichotomy a bit fishy – there isn’t just one set “future”, of which the means are not a part. The means are every bit as much ends as what we call “ends” in the first place.

  3. eric

    Right on Adam!

    It seems that man always wants to take credit for the whole of which he is a part of…it also seems that man is going through an identity crisis. How is it that we’ve been given this “life” and how do we operate in it?

  4. Jon

    This begs so many questions. If hope is in the means, which I agree it is, how do we agree on those means? In turn, all questions political, economic even artistic seem to finally come back to the age old question. What is the major malfunction of humanity? Why do we have war, poverty etc. on a planet that could easily support the human family with abundance. ..and why can’t we achieve it. Is it each individuals personal greed? Is that what money regulates? ..our ability to work together to achieve goals for the larger group, outside of the perspective of the individual? Of course the existence of money itself is a double edged sword. On one hand it does regulate our current ability to work together and an agreement on what we value. Ultimately by our choice of what to spend our money on we dictate the values of our society. At the same time the existence of the monetary system itself dictates a world in which heaven and hell will exist side by side. Where some will enjoy an abundance while others experience lack. There can be no economy in a world of financial equals. How can someone be rich without someone else being poor? Where do we go from here? The answer seems to lie everyone’s unanimous agreement on a new system that serves us all, which seems to depend on an expansion of our current consciousness. Unanimous agreement, outside of the financial system, doesn’t seem possible in the current state of human consciousness, mine included. So far the only thing that we (humanity) seem to agree on (in terms of ‘means’) regardless of religious beliefs, political affiliation, race or any other factor, is our collective and individual belief in the almighty dollar.


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