When someone asks, “What is your goal?” this often means the same as “to what is your end?” For example, if someone asked me, “What is your goal this semester as you go through your classes?’ I could take this to be synonymous with, “To what end do you purpose yourself toward as you progress through your classes?” I could answer saying that it is to make all A’s, or just A’s and B’s. Or I could just say, “to simply survive.”
The reason I come to ponder this is because I often forget how profoundly my central goal or end effects the outcome of what I am presently doing.
In the Republic book 1, Socrates too seems to forget. After dismantling Thrasymachus as to the nature of justice, Socrates notices that he has become distracted. He says,
“I am just like the gluttons who grab at whatever is set before them to get a taste of it, before they have in proper measure enjoyed what went before.”
Socrates has forgotten the point of the original conversation. He has forgotten that the entire point of understanding justice is to better understand what it means to flourish as a man. He has begun to pursue the nature of justice for the end of not flourishing but for the sake of justice, which ironically is not just. He became content with Thrasymachus only being his puppet. He became greedy for philosophy so philosophy vanished.
In the realm of learning, especially in the Christain community, too often the love of learning and of knowledge became of the end. The desire to have something to say, to have the right answers, to be the one in the know, become the way in which one gains status, and thus power.
Yet, in seeking to learn in this way often you walk away from books, and learning with dry, and dull answers. This is because the first step has been skipped, we have, like Socrates, become gluttons. We want the rewards of learning, or the rewards of righteousness yet we use the wrong method.
Earlier today, as we discussed this in my class, it was asked, “If we don’t read for the sake of having something to say, or for the sake of knowledge, how are we then to read?”
My teacher’s reply, “For the Love of Wisdom..”