The trouble of the many and various aims of mortal men bring them much care, and herein they go forward by different paths but strive to reach one end, which is happiness. And that good is that, to which if any man attain, he can desire nothing further... Happiness is a state which is made perfect by the union of all good things. This end all men seek to reach, as I said, though by different paths. For there is implanted by nature in the minds of men a desire for the true good; but error leads them astray towards false goods by wrong paths.
Ethics is the vital principle of Judaism. Its religion aims to be, and is, moral doctrine. Love of God is knowledge of God, and that is knowledge of the ultimate moral purpose of mankind.
Nature I believe in. True art aims to represent men and women, not as my little self would have them, but as they appear. My heroes and heroines I want not extreme types, all good or all bad; but human, mortal—partly good, partly bad. Realism I need. Pure mental abstractions have no significance for me.
Egotism erects its center in itself: love places it out of itself in the axis of the universal whole. Love aims at unity, egotism at solitude. Love is the citizen ruler of a flourishing public, egotism is a despot in a devastated creation. Egotism sows for gratitude, love for the ungrateful. Love gives, egotism lends; and love does this before the throne of judicial truth, indifferent if for the enjoyment of the following moment, or with the view of a martyr’s crown - indifferent whether the reward is tin this life or in the next.
We narratively represent our selves in part in order to answer certain questions of identity. It is useful to distinguish two different aims of self-representation that in the end are deeply intertwined. First, there is self-representation for the sake of self-understanding. This is the story we tell ourselves to understand ourselves for who we are. The ideal here is convergence between self-representation and an acceptable version of the story of our actual identity. Second, there is self-representation for public dissemination, whose aim is underwriting successful social interaction.
The player of the inner game comes to value the art of relaxed concentration above all other skills; he discovers a true basis for self-confidence; and he learns that the secret to winning any game lies in not trying too hard. He aims at the kind of spontaneous performance which occurs only when the mind is calm and seems at one with the body, which finds its own surprising ways to surpass its own limits again and again.
In summary, goals or end-states are not intrinsically valuable, even though they direct and explain action. Although having aims or goals is an important and unavoidable aspect of life, it is a mistake to confuse those goals with non-instrumental value because this would imply that activities are merely instrumentally valuable. It is the goals of our activities that are instrumentally valuable; they are valuable to achieve because they lead to further worthwhile activities.
Evolution is not necessarily a reductive theory: it does not explain away or reduce meaningfulness and value, any more than it explains away or reduces mathematics, economics, or even sociobiology itself. It aims to provide a naturalistic explanation of biological characteristics, including the capacities that enable us to recognize value and meaning. Giving a causal explanation of the origin of capacities is not the same as giving an account of the relevant meaning or content.
Goodness must be denied a place among the aims of art. For Goodness is a qualification belonging to the constitution of reality, which in any of its individual actualizations is better or worse. Good and evil lie in depths and distances below and beyond appearance. They solely concern inter-relations within the real world. The real world is good when it is beautiful. Art has essentially to do with perfections attainable by purposeful adaptation of appearance.
We must grasp the number of aims entertained by those who argue as competitors, and rivals to the death. These are five in number, refutation, fallacy, paradox, solecism, and fifthly to reduce the opponent in the discussion to babbling - i.e. to constrain him to repeat himself a number of times; or it is to produce the appearance of each of these things without the reality.