Social Rhythm and Cyclical Goals: Time and Goals
At the dawn of mankind nature structured the annual recurrence of human goals. The change of seasons set narrow limits of natural and changing conditions within which man's basic needs of food and shelter had to be met. The annual rhythm of those changes dictated a regular, recurring response to the needs. And needs resulted into goals and actions. Goals are at the very nature of things.
Thus the goal sequence we have called horizontal is not the only dynamic structure. Three major types of goals could be distinguished in terms of their dynamic quality: (1) horizontal (in their simple and complex structure), (2) infinite, and (3) cyclical.
Infinite goals are only a variation of horizontal. Their nature presupposes a series of antecedent and attainable goals attached to a set of ends that are fixed neither in time nor in space. They are the moving targets we follow. The infinite goals are ideals of perfection, utopias, what Georges Sorel called "social myths"-- distant, attractive visions. Man does not and cannot achieve an ideal of a perfect state, since by definition what is perfect is always ahead of man, who is not perfect. But utopias of a perfect, ideal state, of a perfect society, of a City of God, appeal to our emotions, generate visions of a perfect future, as well as will an action, and keep us moving in pursuit of an image that is always ahead of us (more about below).
The cyclical goals, unlike the infinite, are concrete targets, which reappear regularly, or almost regularly, after a certain time span with actions they are associated with. They are integrated into our economy, culture, idea systems. Typical are those associated with the daily and seasonal routine and rhythm of time. The seasonal changes in the environment call for similar annual responses to the challenge. Ploughing and harvesting have to be done at definite times, and both activities result in simple goals, such as ploughing a definite acreage