Benjamin Udell wrote:
Brent, list

Your explication seems to turn on a pun.  "End" as something of value
doesn't imply a beginning.

To the contrary an end or goal or terminus generally entails a beginning. A
person interested in this subject from a theoretical viewpoint does have to
confront that. It may help to have some acquaintance with past thought on the

OK, I'll bite. I sometimes consider having something to eat a value. What beginning does that entail?

Sure, people care about (value) all kinds of things; even the words used to
describe things - see recent debate over "theology" vs "metaphysics" - some
inherently, some instrumentally, and some mixed.  But I'm not sure I'd call
those "powers" - I guess you mean something like "motivations".

I mean like power, control, force, things that make things happen or not
happen, things that decide what happens. People want to decide and determine
things, not just be means to things or to be the ends, Pygmalions or prey, of

OK, they value autonomy - I guess that's why some get so exercised over the compatibilist view of "free will".

They care about their relationship, such as they believe it to be, their
relationship to the power of the universe itself.

The power of the universe itself"?  What would that be?  Are you going all
mystical on me?

I'm talking about religious people and people who at least have religious
tendencies. Religion is a common phenomenon with a lot of history to it.

These are sources, beginnings, leaderships, principles, (Greek)
_/arches/_. This is not mere instrumentality. Deciding and determining is
not a mere means, the decider employs means to ends. The decider in that
sense is the beginning, the leader.

Not if no one follows.

The leader of one's own process. As in, being in charge, in situations where
being in charge is not a given. This situation includes basic aspects of
one's life.

That seems to be a dualist position in which YOU are something apart from your processes. Or do you mean aspiring to power over others - which some find very gratifying?

_/Arches kai mesa/_, beginnings/leadings, and means. It's the difference
between (a) **will & character** and (b) **ability & competence**.
Aristotle wrote his ethical treatises about character in a broader sense
than exclusively that of morality, and character in that broader sense is
what it's about. It's a shame that Aristotle didn't also write treatises
about ability and competence, _/hikanoteta/_. Now, a carpenter, for
instance, is not simply a means to carpentry, a means for carpented
things to actualize themselves.

Has anyone every suggested such a thing?

You have commited yourself to that view in dividing everything into means and
ends ("instrumental value" and "inherent value"). Since you hold that view,
you must say that the carpenter's decision to do a job is a means to that job
or the end of that job.

No, that's not exactly my view. As I said, things can have both instrumental and inherent value. So a carpenter might decide to do a job because he needs the money and because he enjoys doing capentery. I didn't divide *everything* into "ends" and "means". I noted that *values* can be of two kinds or have two dimensions: instrumental and inherent. Some things aren't values at all - a decision is not usually a value for example.

Yet it is plain that the carpenter's decision is the
carpenter's means and it is plain that the job is not a means for the
carpenter to decide to do the job. This shows the inadequacy of means-ends as
a dichotomy, a division of a whole into two.

It is not plain to me that the carpenter's decision is the capenter's means. If his decision is make a doorway, then his means are a series of actions. Of course making a door is not a means to decide to make a door. But what are the "means to decide"? I'd say they are consideration of the consequences of making a door and how they comport with the carpenter's values.

The carpenter tries and deliberates, pursues, chooses or accepts (or
rejects), and adheres to (or renounces) his/her underlying decisions even
to do the work at all, throughout the process. Is all this volition a

No - I don't insist on *everything* being a means or an end. Somethings are neither, e.g. "volition". My view is that volition is a feeling that the brain attaches to decisions to mark them as internal - as opposed to, for example, perceptions which are external and not voluntary.

Somebody else's means, perhaps; the market's means perhaps, and
so on. But it isn't the carpenter's means, it's the carpenter's leading,
deciding, etc. which, by means, tools, resources, s/he carries out. This
striving and deciding is most clearly seen as no mere means in contexts
where control is truly at stake.

I would suppose that a carpenter has pride of workmanship and so there is
inherent pleasure in doing his job well.  His choice of this tool or that
is partly instrumental relative to that pleasure.  But he also does
carpentry as a means to food, shelter, etc.

So what? You're confusing the decision-making with the goals and values and
feelings, as if, given a set of goals, the decisions were already made, or
get made automatically, and as if people's decision-making were a trivial

I'm not sure what you mean by "trivial"? How do you know they aren't? Are you aware of the experiments of Libet and Grey Walter.

But goals and values and feelings sometimes conflict, in
multifarious ways. Sometimes there is no clear answer and one has to decide

So what? It is usually uncertain what all the consequences of an action may be. Also people often have values that are not transitive, i.e. they prefer A to B and B to C and C to A; particularly when A, B, and C may be in different mental categories.

In the carpenter's sawing, hammering, etc., the exercise of skills and
abilities, control is not really at stake. But in the carpenter's will
and decision-making, control of the situation among various factors in
the carpenter is at stake.

I think I understand the words, but the sentence leaves me blank.

The carpenter may be of more than one mind on what to do. I don't mean that
the carpenter has a multiple personality. I mean that the carpenter may be of
more than one mind in just the sense that "more than one mind" is commnly
used. Some element in the carpenter's mind will have to gain the upper hand.
This will embody certain interests and efforts rather than others by the
carpenter in his/her life. Or maybe the carpenter will solve diverse problems
together with creative solution.

But whatever choice he makes it is his choice - his control wasn't at stake?

Now, one is free to devise an epicycle-filled "anthropo-nomy" in order to
describe intelligent beings while classing volition and decision-making
as mere means, but it's not particularly useful.

It's the basis of a whole branch of mathematics called decision theory, a
branch which is widely *used*.
They can use it all they like, that won't stop the terminology from being
inferior. Since we're talking about mathematicians, in whom eloquence is
rarer than speech in goldfish, my safe guess is that they're just using words
like "means" or "instrumentality" in sub-optimal ways. Economists talk about
the inherent value which people ascribe to things but they call it "utility
value." Unfortunately I can't recommend contemporary lit. depts. as any sort
of remedy.

I'd recommend contemporary lit depts as sources of disease. :-)

Anyway, I see no reason to take such terminologies seriously --
it's useless and counterproductive when the purpose is understanding.

One way of understanding the mind is to create an artificial one. People who do that find the terminology useful. See for example John McCarthy's writings on robots and self-awareness.

Another way to see this is by a set of examples comprising an exhaustive
set of a certain kind of combinations of the two.

What two - you seem to introduce a lot more than two things below?

1. Choice and decision-making. 2. Means, methods, practices.

Then I combine those two things in four ways.

Oh, OK. So choice about means is economics - but isn't it also engineering? And don't generals choose the means the means to attack or defend? I guess "with regard to" seems very vague to me.

Or maybe a lot of categories we've invented for the work.

Politics & martial affairs; business; management & compliance; skills of
labor & cooperation -- "invented categories"? That's not a serious remark.

Why not? I could also categorize the same actions as communication, calculation, and physical labor? All categories are invented. My point was that simply classifying something according to a lot attributes doesn't make that something any bigger (or smaller).

I'm always suspicious of schemes with "Levels".  Sometimes the schemer
invents the levels to put his opinions at the highest (and implicity, the
best) level.

I was talking about Tegmark's Levels and correlations thereto, as I mentioned
that I thought I should try to bring the discussion "back to the Everything,"
I'm not aware of high-low valuations among those Levels.


Brent Meeker

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