I have long wondered what really divides preference from imperative. How do we distinguish between needs and desires? Why are morals so often at apparent odds with economics, or pragmatism? Even more importantly, do excellence and beauty embody what is really important? If not, I’d better find a new guiding principle. If so why don’t I espouse my views to others more forcefully?
The answer is of course, (and I kind of feel silly saying this) that in the end, morality, economics, excellence, preference, and desire are all just synonyms. If one extends the view to eternity, and one’s knowledge to omniscience, they are all talking about The Good.
Everyone wants what they think is good for them (desire). They develop their desires based on experience (preference), and embody their ideals in their views of excellence. Economics seeks to achieve these goals with the minimum cost (more broadly described as “the least pain”). Finally, what economics seeks, morality claims to provide, that is, the best way to obtain what everyone desires.
Clearly this is an idealistic portrait, and the extent to which anyone adequately follows their moral or logical imperatives (consciously or otherwise) is dubious. Nevertheless, if we begin dealing with eternity and perfection (what we all are looking forward to, I trust…) these all combine. Indeed, even in our temporal and ignorant existence, there is fundamentally only the Good and the Evil (Once you believe that we live forever that is). The beautiful, and the grotesque. The excellent, worthy of praise and useful in everything, and the garbage, “useful only for consuming resources.”
Will you help me take out the garbage?