Monday, 13 March 2006

The gulf between means and ends

“Before we can take the right way we must know what it is. Before we can mobilise our forces to put justice into action we must know what we ought to want. The specific malady of our age, as compared with earlier ages, is groping in the dark and confusion of thought. At the very time when people have means of realising their aims such as they never had before, they are utterly at a loss as to what those aims should be. In their preoccupation with discovering and devising those means they have forgotten even how to inquire into their aims. The way in which the gigantic forces of technology, formerly unknown, have been harnessed to the purpose of destruction in war is the perfect expression of the gulf between the means and the end of intention. The condition of the world at the end of this war [i.e. World War II] will provide the dreadful proof ... of the primacy of ends over means.”

—Emil Brunner, Justice and the Social Order (London: Lutterworth, 1945), p. 227.


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