Thoughts on: Causes and purposes

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I do believe (and have experienced) that following a doctrine aligned absolutely to a cause provides advantages. However, this also introduces its own brand of complications. For eg, ‘Under no circumstance will I speak ill of somebody behind their back’ – this may be a work ethic based on a ‘commendable’ cause, but even so it hinders a social connection, especially with people who do not passionately care about the consistency of the words and opinions spewing out of their mouth, but are yet not incompetent or stupid. Culture (company / country / region etc) is also a factor in encountering and dealing with this. One person getting upset is not something that can’t be dealt with – but what about the entire floor you work on (over time)? It’s not easy being a wolf in a flock of sheep. i.e the wolf needs to be disguised (at times) to lubricate the social machinery the wolf is (forced to?) play in. Though a fictional story, Jack London’s Whitefang was a captivating read for me and also illustrates this point.

To engage with a complex social environment – it appears that one has to be willing to make concessions or workarounds based on context and cause. The context could include your boss, or a friend you feel obligations towards. One can stick to principles, come what may and thus empower himself to make unbiased, logical decisions that are consistent in terms of philosophy. However, this works perfectly if you are Absolutely unaffected by anybody getting upset, and only care about ‘the truth’, and not the next promotion. This being said, I think that most people in hindsight, appreciate professionals who stick to their ethics no matter what. This is especially relevant in functions like Purchase and Sales in companies.

No matter how well a cause is identified and the purpose purged from consideration, I think that the purpose will still hover around – with an indirect or even possibly miserably lucid influence, depending on the level of cognizance, and perhaps imagination.

Let’s say I want to practice the doctrine ‘I will neither borrow nor lend money. If I do borrow money under dire circumstance – I will do all I can to repay it immediately’. A friend in ‘urgent need’ asks me for a substantial loan. It is my hard-earned money, but I want to help. I fully accept that there is no guarantee we will be friends forever, whether I lend him the money or not. However, do I want to risk whatever extant friendship becoming sour over ‘some money’ that may not be returned? One solution is to set aside the absolute minimum amount of money that I can spare without damaging my finances, and firmly assume the loan will never be returned. If the proposed charity is ‘returned’ – good. The dark, unknown future is (mostly?) left unprobed and the current ’cause’ has been dealt with, with everybody concerned getting something, but not all that is desired. However, a possible part of that unknown future (whether my friend will return the loan or not) is still being considered, and though the solution appears driven by cause rather than purpose – I am still trying to ‘control’ or influence the unknown future.

Perhaps, atleast a minute presence of purpose is necessary – as a part of the entire approximation driving the decision?

5 responses on “Thoughts on: Causes and purposes”

  1. A “wolf” who is “forced to” is not a wolf, no matter what he might imagine. And the best “pretense” changes the pretender, there is no convenient separation like that “oh, I do it just for X but otherwise I’m still the same I was before/ whatever I imagine”. It’s the old “oh, I wait tables by day but in fact I’m not a waiter, no,no, I’m a great writer/painter/hacker/superman.”

    Your main point above seems to be essentially that acting strictly from causes is “difficult” in current society (mainly in the sense of unapproved of/unsupported by) or in other words that the group-pressure is opposite. Sure, it is and from clear causes too but so what of it, did anyone promise you somewhere that anything worth doing is going to be easy or what?

    1. Being ‘forced to’ – is also dependent by the wolfs job description and circumstance and other obligations – beyond the wolf’s ‘desire’ / stance to explicitly pursue a cause that ‘differentiates him as a wolf.

      Do you mean : ‘I am a wolf – I am defined by X, Y, Z principles/causes/traits (whatever)’, and since I did not do X, I am no longer a wolf, and in fact, all of it was an illusion? Or that I did a modified version of Y and therefore, I should be banished to sheep land?

      Does a deviation from a doctrine or even a fundamentally intrinsic nature explicitly mean this ‘wolf’ was actually Never a wolf and henceforth the ‘wolfishness’ in his nature (and any reference to it) should be wiped out like a stain on the ultimate truth or classification – he was always a sheep (or jellyfish or whatever) just pretending to be a wolf?

      Can a salesman explicitly follow the principle/cause ‘I will not lie’? To then become a great sales man, is it necessary that he discard said cause as being ‘unworthy’, and become a full fledged liar instead?

      Furthermore, it is not always clear that ‘something worth doing’ also translates to a willingness to endure pain from another direction, particularly one that is unforeseen (as it often is), and whose nature is not acceptable i.e the ’cause’ can change, or get refined, or transform into something else, and the ‘purpose’ can still be an influence there.

      A wolf can be forced to become/do something ‘not conventionally wolfish’, and yet not become one of the sheep. This doesn’t (necessarily) kill the wolf in him. If you mean there is a cost – yes. Every decision taken against ‘wolfishness’ probably drives the wolf into the sheep zone. However, the extent and permanence of the change is largely controlled by the wolf, and still does not mean the wolf can/should not strive to revert back to a nature he desires, or better yet – expand his horizon from the ‘known’ definition of a wolf. We can call that Mutant-Wolf if you like, presuming it is important to de-classify the wolf, and explicitly name a possibly transient state that still has ample presence of the wolf characteristics.

      Well – nobody promised me *anything*. My point is that I did lend money, as a deviation from my cause of ‘no borrowing or lending…’. Not only did I deviate, I finally came up with an ‘optimisation’ that was still influenced by traces of an attempt to control the future. It wasn’t just ‘difficult’ – it was not possible to explicitly make a decision based on the cause.

    2. I was also trying to say that the influence of purpose cannot be eliminated, and was questioning whether it (purpose) need not be eliminated, and needs to be a part of the “grand approximation”

  2. You are fighting some strawmen (aka of your own doing rather than of my own saying) in there. Note for instance that in one breath you say “can be forced to” and in the next “is largely controlled by the wolf” – this is not only a direct contradiction (that you don’t quite want to see, sure) but essentially the lie that one tells oneself so that it hurts less/they can go on with it.

    Note that pure natures are just that (if you are familiar with it, platonic concept) – no real life/object is or can be the actual ideal. To put this is directly usable form: everyone is *lacking* by comparison with *any* ideal concept so it’s not a matter of “one deviation means you’re struck from x” but it IS a matter of degree and of looking at what is rather than avoiding it because it’s unpleasant.

    You (and anyone) certainly *can* act solely from causes with total disregard for purposes/outcomes. It’s quite liberating in the proper meaning of “freedom”. Then again, for one thing freedom is not exactly what people make it to be nor is it really something most can endure. So yes, you’ll probably find your way but the important thing is to be aware and clear about where you are exactly and not pretend it’s “not possible” otherwise or any other such nonsense.

    It does seem though that this struck a deeper chord and it might take longer/various discussions to disentangle the various threads in there. There’s no hurry.

  3. I’ll just say that I also don’t perceive any relation between this article and the Trilema piece it references. Perhaps some might be intended ; but I don’t discern that intention bore any fruit.

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