Of means and ends

Immanuel_Kant_(painted_portrait)I often use the terms “means” and “ends” in my writing, this is a concept that I borrowed from a formulation of the categorical imperative by Immanuel Kant, which is as follows:

Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.” Immanuel Kant (Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals)

In Kant’s formulation, he is stating that in order to treat people in a humane and ethical manner, you must view the interaction with their person as a goal in itself, not merely as a method to achieve a goal. I touched on this in my post on means, motive and opportunity, which is a breakdown of the three different concepts and these are complimentary and overlapping principles. Means is the equivalent in both cases, and the result of the combination of means, motive and opportunity results in the end. You can never have an end without a method to achieve that end, a motivation for achieving that end and the opportunity to pursue that end. However, a major stumbling block many people face is that they become preoccupied with creating means, without taking the opportunity when it presents itself.

“I will go for that promotion once I have another year of experience and finish my night classes”

“I will go after this women I’m lusting after once I read another 4 books on game”

“I will renew my wardrobe once I lose another 15 lbs”

In all the above scenarios the person is putting off action, and taking risks under the guise of “not being ready” in essence they are creating creating a situation whereby failing to achieve one goal, will result in failing another goal as well. Put in another way, they are telling themselves “I will neglect to take opportunities presented to me until I have achieved another end“. I’m a major proponent of sequential-tasking and parallel tasking, however, if you line up your life as a series of milestones, with hard dependencies, you will not be capable of achieving maximum results in a time-frame. Continue reading