Relationships as Means and Ends

Random musings on a Wednesday night where I have so much I have to do and so little I want to do....

As I was eating my microwaveable dinner tonight, my mind was pondering relationships and where they fall on the means/end spectrum. (Why this was, I couldn't tell ya.) Now, we all know of course that God created humans to be in relationships, both with Him and with other people, and so all relationships have inherent value and could, from one point of view, be construed as ends in themselves. But we also know that life in the real world is not so cut-and-dried. So, I humbly submit my musings to you, hoping desperately that someone still reads anything that I write on this blog, much less cares about it.

We could quickly classify several examples of relationships which are means rather than ends in practice (if not in theory). For example, the grocer at your local Stater Bros., Ralphs, Vons, etc. Even if you frequent the store enough to know one of the grocers, if you don't see him outside of that context, your relationship with him is a means to an end--the means by which your groceries are rung up at the cash register so you can pay for them, take them home and subsist on them (a valuable end, to be sure). Another example would be the professor of a GE class at school (i.e. one that you will only know for one semester). Even if you make an effort to stand out to the teacher so she will learn who you are--by making a point to introduce yourself, or just speaking up in class enough for her to get to know you--it's most likely a means to getting a good grade in the class (which is another valuable end).

But the particular case that I was pondering was the case of an engaged couple. (And NO, NO ONE is allowed to comment with anything regarding the dubious personage we know by the letters R-A-E.) A couple who are boyfriend and girlfriend would most likely classify their relationship as one that is at least primarily an end in itself, just like a close friendship. In my friendship with Jessica, we're not seeking to gain something by the relationship or get to some higher goal because of it; it's an end in itself. And a couple who are going out (I assume) would be the same situation. However, the case of an engaged couple is slightly different. We would certainly all agree that marriage, if any, would be the one relationship that is an end in itself, or at least should be. Now. (If one wanted to get very technical and argumentative, one could bring up the economic, political and social factors of marriage, which make it most definitely a means to an end, but these things are largely ideas of the past and today most people would agree that marriage should be a relationship founded on mutual love which is an end in itself.) But an engaged couple is definitely headed towards marriage without being there yet. Certainly the relationship would retain the characteristics of friendship and mutual love which made it an end in itself before; but now there is another element of looking ahead to the marriage which could redefine it. Technically, engagement is a means to the end of marriage. So that stage of a relationship is, in some senses, a means to an end rather than an end in itself. So the relationship must revert back to the seemingly inferior stage of being a means in order to become the relationship which is the ultimate relationship in the end.

Forgive me if this post was more pointless than it had to be. My mind is so maxed out between school, finding a job for the summer and finding a place to live next semester that perhaps I am forced to contemplate minutiae to restore balance. So comment and tell me whether I just wasted a half hour or not.


Narisilme said...

1. I still read this blog and care about what's on it.

2. Knitting is a good way to restore balance.

I hope the job and roommate search is going well. You are in my prayers, bro.

Darth_Harbison said...

I, too, still read your blog (although CARING might be a stretch . . .), but my computer hasn't been letting me comment lately.

I am, however, able to comment at the moment, and therefore I shall! Actually, I'm sitting next to you in Ontario Mills at the moment. What fun!

Anyway, I'm not sure I ENTIRELY agree with everything there. I don't know if I'd say that a boyfriend/girlfriend un-engaged relationship is necessarily an end. I think that dating relationships (prior to engagement) would fall into one of two categories:
1) "Dating for fun," which would be an end, and is really somewhat pointless in my opinion. Basically, it's a relationship requiring next to no commitment and emotional investment. "Just for fun" and all that.
2) "Dating for" . . . uh . . . I was trying to come up with some cool F-word that would convey what I wanted to say, but I failed. Anyway, this is the kind of dating involving the search for "the one" (not Keanu Reeves, Jet Li, or Hayden Christiansen, though). This type of relationship is clearly a means to an end, that end being engagement, which is in turn a means to the end of marriage.

I, therefore, believe it can be both. And there you have it.

Cormack McKinney said...

What are you asking?

Rae said...

ACHEM... its me, R-A-E.
I am catching up on a semesters worth of blogs (and its not too hard, seems as though I'm not the only one who pooped out on the practice this past semester). However I FEAR even clicking on your brothers link.

I have only one thing of importance to say: I am NOT a person of questionable character!
It would seem as though you might qualify for this "dubious" profile, seeing as you were dumped by your fiance before your first date! Whos dubious now?

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