Here at Puritanical Libertarianism we aim to understand (we say). I have just put forward the first apriori element of human action, that of its goal-directedness. I would now like to comment. This is a bit of a diversion. But there is a sense in which I think this distinction is also apriori. I am going to go for it.
That the human is an active being, performing action, presupposes directed directedness. The waves in a sense are directed up onto the sand. But they do not hold for themselves the direction of their direction. Without moving forward any further in waxing poetic I want to assert a distinction in the notion of the good which is the category employed for research into ends. What we have noted in the human animal is that truth is sometimes a good. In fact the truth of what is good is a plausible framing.
The human animal is capable of a kind of action that separates it from the activity of the pig, the dog, as cool as they are. This is the action of research and investigation. It is the research of the active learner. It is the action performed by he who not only wants to get what he desires but desires that his desires be themselves in good order. Human action should not be characterized as a pursuing unless it is the pursuit of a thing that has weighed, measured, calculated and found reason to look further.
All of this gesturing is meant to set up the fundamental distinction between earthly good and spiritual/moral good. I do not make claim here to what ultimately is either. But, I want to make claim to the necessity of the difference for he who has goals that are the result of choice based in research…the director of direction…the desirer of the quality of desire.
What more can be said? Well, either these two ultimate categories of good are equal in value or one is hierarchically better than the other. You know, dear reader, that I assert the latter. He who has goals must put as the first goal the condition of the goal chooser. Only then can the quality of that which is ultimately pursued be worth anything.
I am out of my depth. I do not want to pursue the moral right now. I merely want to say that if there is human action that presupposes ends, and those ends are to be understood as directed directions, than the field is open to research in the area of the quality of he who directs.
The sages gesture at a kind of deep reality that is worth grasping for human action to stand a chance of reaching anything like rest. Much of their recommendations involve putting the director in good condition such that the goal directed behavior would stand a chance. Whether they were right or wrong is beyond my present purpose to pursue. I merely want to hold out that all this pursuing and purpose and goal-directed behavior can turn in on itself and make itself its own goal. This I take to be the essence of the spiritual or moral activity. But at this point I offer it as merely a goal. It is one among many, and when I examine the goals of this particular human animal I find much that competes with it.
On to the next element: the means.