Thursday 4 November 2021

Effort + Ability (when properly directed) = Achievement. But what when the 'direction' becomes evil?

It is generally appreciated that some combination of both effort and ability is necessary to achieve anything positive and constructive in this world. 

Other versions of the insight are that general intelligence (e.g. as measured relatively by IQ tests) and 'conscientiousness' (the ability to work hard and for sustained periods on a particular task) are the best predictors of success in education and the workplace - and that each has a multiplier effect on the other (without some of both, very little is possible). 

But what is neglected, or mistakenly taken for granted, is that effort and ability need to be properly directed - or else they would be neutral at best, and most likely destructive.

Up until recently it has simply been assumed that human society will be - overall - properly directed; so that a society's functionality will depend on a hard-working and able population. 

That is because human societies of the past were - mostly - directed at their own survival and growth. So the assumption was mostly justified and true. 

But now that we live in a society, a world, where the mainstream motivation is one of self-hatred the direction is destructive - the importance of direction has become of primary concern. 

Indeed, when effort and ability are turned against society - then the more able and industrious societies will be destroyed more rapidly.

When individual persons are no longer motivated by what used to be regarded as common sense - power, survival, security, reproduction etc. - then the more able and industrious will be those who most rapidly destroy their own power, survival, security, reproduction etc.  

This reversal of what was for centuries taken for granted is what has rendered obsolete (and harmful) whole areas of human discourse, in both the social and psychological sciences. 

All of which is why I have so often described the current crisis as one of motivation

Because we are materialists who deny the transcendent and the post-mortal and the spirit; we are weakly motivated hence wide-open to external manipulation. 

Because we are not Christian; our motivations (such as they are) are against that which is Good - which is true, beautiful and virtuous. 

So we, and our societies, are engaged in self-destruction by a kind of feeble and covert suicide. Feeble because we are demotivated; and covert so that we can pretend to our-selves that nothing has 'really' changed and we still pursue the good. 

This social suicide is proceeding progressively, and accelerating. All means (such as effort and ability, innovation and organization) are being turned to that end

Therefore, so long as we neglect the matter of our end, goal, teleology, purpose - our proper direction; all our striving will continue to be counter-productive; and the greater the striving, the faster the damage.


Todd said...

What do you think of the idea that sometimes people suffer depression when they unconsciously know, in their hearts, that they are or were pursuing wrong or evil goals? That the depression is a last-ditch spiritual defense mechanism against engaging in evil goals?

Francis Berger said...

Well put.

"Because we are materialists who deny the transcendent and the post-mortal and the spirit; we are weakly motivated hence wide-open to external manipulation."

This has become painfully obvious over the 18 to months. The more de-spiritualized people become, the more susceptible they are to external factors. At the extreme (where we appear to be now), they relate and respond to nothing but the external.

And if the external is wholly opposed to God? Well . . .

Bruce Charlton said...

@Todd - I'm sure it *can* happen.

Truth to Life said...

This is interesting. Ever since the plannedemic began, I've been wondering if the general population has a subconscious death wish, because as far as we know the "peck" is a lethal injection. When people don't believe in God or anything beyond materialism, there really is no purpose to life.