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Ends and Means Ends and Means by Aldous Huxley
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Ends and Means Quotes (showing 1-19 of 19)
“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“A democracy which makes or even effectively prepares for modern, scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic. No country can be really well prepared for modern war unless it is governed by a tyrant, at the head of a highly trained and perfectly obedient bureaucracy.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning - the Christian meaning, they insisted - of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“The function of the well-intentioned individual, acting in isolation, is to formulate or disseminate theoretical truths. The function of the well-intentioned individuals in association is to live in accordance with those truths, to demonstrate what happens when theory is translated into practice, to create small-scale working models of the better form of society to which the speculative idealist looks forward.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“Among this bewildering multiplicity of ideals which shall we choose? The answer is that we shall choose none. For it is clear that each one of these contradictory ideals is the fruit of particular social circumstances. To some extent, of course, this is true of every thought and aspiration that has ever been formulated. Some thoughts and aspirations, however, are manifestly less dependent on particular social circumstances than others. And here a significant fact emerges: all the ideals of human behaviour formulated by those who have been most successful in freeing themselves from the prejudices of their time and place are singularly alike. Liberation from prevailing conventions of thought, feeling and behaviour is accomplished most effectively by the practice of disinterested virtues and through direct insight into the real nature of ultimate reality. (Such insight is a gift, inherent in the individual; but, though inherent, it cannot manifest itself completely except where certain conditions are fulfilled. The principal pre-condition of insight is, precisely, the practice of disinterested virtues.) To some extent critical intellect is also a liberating force. But the way in which intellect is used depends upon the will. Where the will is not disinterested, the intellect tends to be used (outside the non-human fields of technology, science or pure mathematics) merely as an instrument for the rationalization of passion and prejudice, the justification of self-interest. That is why so few even of die acutest philosophers have succeeded in liberating themselves completely from the narrow prison of their age and country. It is seldom indeed that they achieve as much freedom as the mystics and the founders of religion. The most nearly free men have always been those who combined virtue with insight.
Now, among these freest of human beings there has been, for the last eighty or ninety generations, substantial agreement in regard to the ideal individual. The enslaved have held up for admiration now this model of a man, now that; but at all times and in all places, the free have spoken with only one voice.
It is difficult to find a single word that will adequately describe the ideal man of the free philosophers, the mystics, the founders of religions. 'Non-attached* is perhaps the best. The ideal man is the non-attached man. Non-attached to his bodily sensations and lusts. Non-attached to his craving for power and possessions. Non-attached to the objects of these various desires. Non-attached to his anger and hatred; non-attached to his exclusive loves.

Non-attached to wealth, fame, social position. Non-attached even to science, art, speculation, philanthropy. Yes, non-attached even to these. For, like patriotism, in Nurse Cavel's phrase, 'they are not enough, Non-attachment to self and to what are called 'the things of this world' has always been associated in the teachings of the philosophers and the founders of religions with attachment to an ultimate reality greater and more significant than the self. Greater and more significant than even the best things that this world has to offer. Of the nature of this ultimate reality I shall speak in the last chapters of this book. All that I need do in this place is to point out that the ethic of non-attachment has always been correlated with cosmologies that affirm the existence of a spiritual reality underlying the phenomenal world and imparting to it whatever value or significance it possesses.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“Our world is in a bad way, and it looks as though it would be impossible to rescue it from its present plight, much less improve it, except by deliberate planning. Admittedly this is only an opinion; but there is every reason to suppose that it is well founded. Meanwhile, however, it is quite certain, because observably a fact, that in the process of trying to save our world or part of it from its present confusion, we run the risk of planning it into the likeness of hell and ultimately into complete destruction. There are cures which are worse than disease.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“It is in the light of our beliefs about the ultimate nature of reality that we formulate our conceptions of right and wrong that we frame our conduct, not only in the relations of private life, but also in the sphere of politics and economics. So far from being irrelevant, our metaphysical beliefs are the finally determining factor in all our actions.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“Good ends, as I have frequently to point out, can be achieved only by the employment of appropriate means. The end cannot justify the means, for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determine the nature of the ends produced.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“It is the unco-ordinated activity of large-scale production that leads to those periodical crises and depressions which inflict such untold hardship upon the working masses of the people in industrialized countries. Small-scale production carried on by individuals who own the instruments with which they personally work is not subject to periodical slumps. Furthermore, the ownership of the means of small-scale, personal production has none of the disastrous political, economic and psychological consequences of large-scale production-loss of independence, enslavement to an employer, insecurity of the tenure of employment.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“If, then, we wish to make large-scale reforms which will not stultify themselves in the process of application, we must choose our measures in such a way that no violence or, at the worst, very little violence will be needed to enforce them. (It is worth noting in this context that reforms carried out under the stimulus of the fear of violence from foreign neighbours and with the aim of using violence more efficiently in future international wars are just as likely to be self-stultifying in the long run as reforms which cannot be enforced except by a domestic terror. The dictators have made many large-scale changes in the structure of societies they govern without having had to resort to terrorism. The population gave consent to these changes because it had been persuaded by means of intensive propaganda that they were necessary to make the country safe against "foreign aggression." Some of these changes have been in the nature of desirable reforms; but in so far as they were calculated to make the country more efficient as a war-machine, they tended to provoke other countries to increase their military efficiency and so to make the coming of war more profitable. But the nature of modern was is such that it is unlikely that any desirable reform will survive the catastrophe. Thus it will be seen that intrinsically desirable reforms, accepted without opposition, may yet be self-stultifying if the community is persuaded to accept them by means of propaganda that plays upon its fear of future violence on the part of others, or stresses the glory of future violence on the part of others, or stresses the glory of future violence when successfully used by itself.) Returning to our main theme, which is the need for avoiding domestic violence during the application of reforms, we see that a reform may be intrinsically desirable, but so irrelevant to the existing historical circumstances as to be practically useless. This does not mean that we should make the enormous mistake committed by Hegel and gleefully repeated by every modern tyrant with crimes to justify and follies to rationalize-the mistake that consists in affirming that the real is the rational, that the historical is the same as the ideal. The real is not the rational; and whatever is, is not right. At any given moment of history, the real, as we know it, contains certain elements of the rational, laboriously incorporated into its structure by patient human effort; among the things that are, some are righter than others.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“Such is Fascist planning-the planning of those who reject the ideal postulates of Christian civilization and of the older Asiatic civilization which preceded ti and from which it derived-the planning of men whose intentions are avowedly bad. Let us now consider examples of planning by political leaders who accept the ideal postulates, whose intentions are good. The first thing to notice is that none of these men accepts the ideal postulates whole-heartedly. All believe that desirable ends can be achieved by undesirable means. Aiming to reach goals diametrically opposed to those of Fascism, they yet persist in taking the same roads as are taken by the Duces and Fuehrers. They are pacifists, but pacifists who act on the theory that peace can be achieved by means of war; they are reformers and revolutionaries, but reformers who imagine that unfair and arbitrary acts can produce social justice, revolutionaries who persuade themselves that the centralization of power and the enslavement of the masses can result in liberty for all. Revolutionary Russia has the largest army in the world; a secret police, that for ruthless efficiency rivals the German or the Italian; a rigid press censorship; a system of education that, since Stalin "reformed" it, is as authoritarian as Hitler's; an all-embracing system of military training that is applied to women and children as well as men; a dictator as slavishly adored as the man-gods of Rome and Berlin; a bureaucracy, solidly entrenched as the new ruling class and employing the powers of the state to preserve its privileges and protect its vested interests; an oligarchical party which dominates the entire country and within which there is no freedom even for faithful members. (Most ruling castes are democracies so far as their own members are concerned. Not so the Russian Communist Party, in which the Central Executive Committee acting through the Political Department, can override or altogether liquidate any district organization whatsoever.) No opposition is permitted in Russia. But where opposition is made illegal, it automatically goes underground and becomes conspiracy. Hence the treason trials and purges of 1936 and 1937. Large-scale manipulations of the social structure are pushed through against the wishes of the people concerned and with the utmost ruthlessness. (Several million peasants were deliberately starved to death in 1933 by the Soviet planners.) Ruthlessness begets resentment; resentment must be kept down by force. As usual the chief result of violence is the necessity to use more violence. Such then is Soviet planning-well-intentioned, but making use of evil means that are producing results utterly unlike those which the original makers of the revolution intended to produce.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“The most nearly free men have always been those who combined virtue with insight.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“And yet our personal experience and the study of history make it abundantly clear that the means whereby we try to achieve something are at least as important as the end we wish to attain. Indeed they are even more important. For the means employed inevitably determine the nature of the result achieved; whereas, however good the end aimed at may be, its goodness is powerless to counteract the effects of the bad means we use to reach it.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“In the bourgeois democratic countries the need for using intrinsically good means to achieve desirable ends is more clearly realized than in Russia. But even in these countries enormous mistakes have been made in the past and still greater, still more dangerous mistakes are in process of being committed today. Most of these mistakes are due to the fact that, though professing belief in our ideal postulates, the rulers and people of these countries are, to some extent and quite incompatibly, also militarists and nationalists. The English and the French, it is true, are sated militarists whose chief desire is to live a quiet life, holding fast to what they seized in their unregenerate days of imperial highway-robbery. Confronted by rivals who want to do now what they were doing from the beginning of the eighteenth to the end of the nineteenth century, they profess and doubtless genuinely feel a profound moral indignation. Meanwhile, they have begun to address themselves, reluctantly but with determination, to the task of beating the Fascist powers at their own game. Like the Fascist states, they are preparing for war. but modern war cannot be waged or even prepared except by a highly centralized executive wielding absolute power over a docile people. Most of the planning which is going on in the democratic countries is planning designed to transform these countries into the likeness of totalitarian communities organized for slaughter and rapine. Hitherto this transformation has proceeded fairly slowly. Belief in our idea postulates has acted as a brake on fascization, which has had to advance gradually and behind a smoke screen. But if war is declared, or even if the threat of war becomes more serious than at present, the process will become open and rapid. "The defence of democracy against Fascism" entails inevitably the transformation of democracy into Fascism.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“Liberation from prevailing conventions of thought, feeling and behaviour is accomplished most effectively by the practice of disinterested virtues and through direct insight into the real nature of ultimate reality. (Such insight is a gift, inherent in the individual; but, though inherent, it can not manifest itself completely except where certain conditions are fulfilled. The principle pre-condition of insight is, precisely, the practice of disinterested virtues.)”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“It is in the light of our beliefs about the ultimate nature of reality that we formulate our conceptions of right and wrong; and it is in the light of our conceptions of right and wrong that we frame our conduct, not only in the relations of private life, but also in the sphere of politics and economics. So far from being irrelevant, our metaphysical beliefs are the finally determining factor in all our actions.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“Reformers should aim at delivering men from the temptations of sloth no less than from the temptations of ambition, avarice and the lust for power and position. Conversely, no reform which leaves the masses of the people wallowing in the slothful irresponsibility of passive obedience to authority can be counted as genuine change for the better.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
“Some kind of deliberate planning is necessary. But which kind and how much? We cannot answer these questions, cannot pass judgment on any given scheme, except by constantly referring back to our ideal postulates. In considering any plan we must ask whether it will help to transform the society to which it is applied into a just, peaceable, morally and intellectually progressive community of non-attached and responsible men and women. If so, we can say that the plan is a good one. If not, we must pronounce it to be bad.”
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means