Goals are the aspirations that drive us forward in life. They may be grand or humble, immediate or distant, but they all share a common thread: they are the manifestation of our dreams and desires for the future. Yet why does the feeling of discontent haunt us, as we race across the finishing line? Suddenly the future looks bleak, like stormy weather in summer, drenched in the recurring smell of disappointment. Life seems meaningless after all. The eye caught sight of apples once, but now apples have gone extinct. When failure strikes, one must be ready to hammer at the foundations of belief. To raise questions, to be skeptical towards even our deep-rooted convictions constitutes the zenith of reason. Therefore, we must question the notion of goals.
Goals are the path toward a meaningful life. This accurately represents the public view. It is undeniable that humans strive for meaning. Yet, we must acknowledge the contradictory, almost nihilistic, emptiness following the achievement. Maybe meaning doesn’t stem from goals alone.
Nature of Meaning
Throughout history, the meaning of human life has been getting to the True World 1. Meaning has always been predicated on achievement, the result of the actions. However, this contradicts objectivity, as the meaning perishes upon the outcome. Hence, the justified contempt towards consequentialism2.
If meaning exists independent of consequences, it must exist in the act. The pursuit of a goal would be meaningful alone. The significance of the goal remains to lay the ground for the act. Success and failure are mere afterthoughts. Akin to Kant’s Formula of Humanity3
In other words, means act as means and ends at the same time.
Premise 1: Every act seeks meaning
Premise 2: Objective meaning is independent of consequences, therefore existing in the becoming of it.
Premise 3: To act, one must have a clear end i.e telos
Conclusion: The telos of the goal, is to create foundations for action. The achievement of the goal remains secondary.
- Niranjan Krishna. (2022, November 29). The theory of true worlds. Niranjan Krishna. Retrieved December 18, 2022, from https://niranjankrishna.in/2022/11/29/the-theory-of-true-worlds/
- Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (2019, June 3). Consequentialism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved December 18, 2022, from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/consequentialism/
- Johnson, R., & Cureton, A. (2022, January 21). Kant’s moral philosophy. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved December 18, 2022, from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-moral/#HumFor