an obession with first principles

Myth of Arrival

Posted: Wednesday Sep 26th | Author: JohnO | Filed under: Philosophising | View Comments

I fear that my writing will become more philosophical; the Lady and I have been watching _The Good Place_ in the evening. My post here is inspired by this reflection on Huxley’s _A Brave New World_ by Harry J. Stead.

There are real world problems with the notion of “having a teleological end”. Much has been written about abuser/victim complexes within Christianity. These are allowed to exist because of Christianity’s teleological end vis-a-vis “Heaven” or the Kingdom of God. The eternal reward the believer expects allows themselves to suffer through to any treatment in this world. But this becomes quite literally abuse when this punishment is meted out by the hand of their husband, pastor, etc.

Huxley’s classic novel uses this concept of the teleological end in his narrative, but instead of placing it into the far distant future, he places it within the achievable now—if only we have the political will to do so. In this case the ends are happiness and comfort. And their civilization is willing to give up freedom, love, and excitement, banishing them medically with a drug “soma” (a perfect word choice; it is the ancient Greek word for fleshly body).

While we don’t (yet) live in dystopia, we often make this some days of our lives. We chase happiness, placing it as a teleological end. Rather than realizing happiness is a momentary state which we pass through. We cannot, could not, stay there, forever. It is not altogether virtuous. And anger is not altogether a vice (when properly directed). Our lives cannot operate focusing on an end, only. The arrival of the teleological end is a myth. It never arrives. Any orientation that presupposes its arrival as a conclusion to justify the means is specious.

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.” — Seneca