Every action is for an end. The end is is that which the action is aimed at. There is no action without an end. That human action presupposes an end tells us everything and nothing. For one has to look at the particular direction of THAT action in order to discover its direction. But, we learn much about the agent action under the presupposition that his action is goal-directed behavior.
The formal term employed to name the end is good. We do not learn, about the agent acting, what the good is in any final or objective sense. What we learn by observing an agent’s action is what he takes the good to be. For human action is always toward the good, necessarily.
Stated most unproblematically the good has been defined as rest. What in particular is recommended is a matter of individual aiming and assessment. We are told we should rest in the god, rest in insecurity, rest in this chemical, rest in this relationship. The ends are infinite it seems. But wherever there is human action there is directed activity, and that activity is directed activity.
Another effort to describe most unproblematically the good is as a state of no dissatisfaction. One can say, universally, that the human aims to eliminate dissatisfaction, and so what one learns by watching a human act, is that there is dissatisfaction and that the aim of the action is an indication of what the end is that the agent takes to be the satisfier.
We say little here and now about what is actually good, or what should be our goals. That is for another time. We simply note that such questions do not arise for the waves. Questions about what we should do only are appropriate for beings who can control the direction of the changes that they choose. Human action is directed directedness. It is chosen goal. But we wander into another element almost without trying: choice. We will save it.
Human action presupposes that something is missing. It is off somewhere else in time and place. Human action presupposes distance between the here and now and the good conceived by the agent. There is much that can be learned about the sedentary or active life of an individual. There is much that can be learned about where the active life is directed. The sedentary one has decided something. What has been decided is that the present here and now is better than that which could be had through moving elsewhere.
We have said nothing yet on why or how individuals that are acting come to act in the directions they do. For instance, if you have read Puritanical Libertarianism for long you know that your writer thinks the meta-conditions of thuggery have much to do with holding out alterations in the value of various ends. We will get there. All we note now is that the end is always there in action.
For now, human action presupposes ends, goals. It is impossible to understand without them. Next, a small side note on some broad considerations from the empirical. Then, movement to other elements. One wants to stop and reflect on how government subsidy of sugar alters the value of calorie intake to the sugar lover or how the minimum wage alters the pursuit of employment to those who could otherwise outbid the favored workers. But we would digress. All of that analysis assumes that human action is directed at ends. Accepting the end directedness of human action begins to unlock the possibility of such analysis.