Ideologies, Goals, and Values

By Feliks Gross | Go to book overview
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Distant Goals

Goal Range and Culture

Cultures and civilizations differ in the nature of their goals or major objectives inspired by religion, political beliefs, or various needs. They differ also in terms of goal ranges, the time span of goals, time and individual as well as collective attention span needed to achieve the objectives, hence they differ in duration of projects and plans. This difference in goals and their time span is an indicator of a historical period or of a civilization, for in those projects and goal-oriented activities not only are expressed needs, but so are ideas, beliefs, will, and organization of effort.

The strength of needs and ideas can be observed in the quantity and quality of human effort, in man's will to construct, to build churches, parliament houses, university campuses, aqueducts, or ancient temples.

Let us begin with simple, even obvious, examples of two sets of different pragmatic goals--directly related to urgency of basic needs: hunting and agriculture. From there we shall continue with complex (ideological and religious) goals.

Hunting requires shorter goal ranges than farming. In hunting societies goals are geared to immediate needs and objectives. Spacing between immediate, intermediate, and consummatory goals is not as far extended in time as in farming. In hunting the time distances could be measured in days, sections of days, or hours, while in farming measurements are made in months, weeks, and days. Farming calls for far more intermediary steps (instrumental goals) than hunting.

Rewards in hunting are almost immediate, once goals are reached. Goal spacing is, of course, short: (1) Decision (usually a group goes hunting); (2) readying cars, rifles; (3) meeting hunting company; (4) action (hunting); (5) if successful, goal (reward or achievement) becomes visible; (6) return home. All this is a


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