On goals

The biggest question we encounter during our lifetimes is "What should I aim for?" It's a question that I expect will plague people till the day they die, because I don't think there are many people out there who have achieved all their goals. There's no reason to live without a goal. Once we're done with a specific goal, maybe we'll make a new one and aim for that. Or maybe there's an ultimate goal that all these tiny goals are stepping stones for. Imagine you reach this goal. You have become everything you've wanted. What will you do next?

There are two types of goals we work for. Instrumental goals and terminal goals. Instrumental goals are those that help us reach a terminal goal. They can range from the smallest of things such as eating food to survive or getting a college degree. It could also include working in your job every day, it all depends on what your terminal goals are. Terminal goals are the end goals, what you think are the ultimate goals to life. Now the problem with terminal goals is that they are always illogical.

Take my terminal goal for example, I want a world where everybody can live happy, live in peace, and make art all the time. All the parts of my goal contain normative statements, statements that carry an implication that things ought to be a certain way. It is logical to want humans to live happy? No, because it carries a bunch of assumptions that will eventually lead to me to saying "it is what it is." Any train of thought that ends in that matter is illogical, cause there's no logical reason for it. "Vegetables have vitamins in them" is a statement that's true, however "you should eat vegetables because they are good for you" is a claim that's unfounded in all that's true.

Wanting humans to live happy makes a claim that happiness is valuable. Wanting world peace make a claim that the death or stress of a human is a bad thing. Wanting them to make art all the time, now that's a more controversial claim that obviously doesn't seem to be based on fact. Art all the time!? Am I crazy!?

Literally every terminal goal will fall apart under this process. Just because your moral framework is obvious and factual to you doesn't mean that it's logical. You're always going to be making an ought claim along the way. People think in different ways, so they'll have different ought claims compared to you. That implies that all humans are living their lives for illogical goals and that nobody is right.

Knowing that my goals aren't any better or more logical than the nihilist in the bar who spends all his money for fun is what really hurts. I obviously don't like it and would rather he spends money on helping other people, but if he thinks the lives of other people aren't as important to him, then damn it, my argument has no more validity than him. This happens for almost every action another person takes. Spending extra on clothes that they like. Spending on a powerful computer they'll never use the full power of. Wasting time on Facebook. I probably mess up sometimes too. I used to think that I was morally superior to them, but that was a long time ago.

Evolution has probably played a role in my goal. I am a human, therefore it seems plausible that my brain is wired in a way that makes me want to help others of my kind. As much as I like dogs and cats, there are very few cases where I'd consider them more important than a human. I also think I have lived my life filled with privilege, so I don't deserve any more pleasure unless everybody on the Earth has had the same chance.

However, other people have other terminal goals, right? Since terminal goals are not based in logic, it seems like convincing others to pursue a certain goal is almost pointless. Terminal goals seem to be unchangeable, atleast by definition. What I find funny about humans is that they are malleable. This might not sound comedic, but you can find news about a Nazi converting into a Muslim! Although we think we know our terminal goal, it's entirely likely that it's hidden in the subconscious and the goal that we think are terminal goal is merely an instrumental goal to achieve that. It is entirely possible that the terminal goal I just stated is not a terminal goal but merely an instrumental goal for a deeper goal I am not aware of. Now that's something probably only others can notice, like a psychologist. Now don't get too Freudian.

Therefore, I think it's possible to convince people to atleast view your terminal goal as an instrumental goal. Like maybe helping other people will make you happier because you'll receive more praise? Or maybe making art will provide your brain will all the stimulation it desires? It's hard to make these arguments. Some of them sound like psychological manipulation and gaslighting, which is why I try to not make too many of them, and feel depressed internally, cause my terminal goal can't be achieved without help from others.

Now going to back to what I mentioned in the first paragraph. Maybe it's not a bad thing that my terminal goal, atleast from what it looks like right now, won't come true during my lifetime. I can't imagine doing anything else but suicide if it did. It's kinda ironic, wishing for a utopia and then voluntarily choosing death after it. All the art I listen to has increased my motivation to fight for the goal. Everything that I do has the goal in mind. It would be like becoming a baby, but with all your memories intact. You just don't know what to do but what you know and believe is useless.

In the unlikely event that my goal is actually achieved, what's more likely is that I'll think "Huh, I want to do this now". My terminal goal would probably reveal itself to not be my terminal goal and just an instrumental one. But who knows what'll happen. Maybe it's a good thing that I found a hard goal.

It's quite a bizarre world out there, and I hope you find the goal that works for you. Or perhaps, adopt my goal...