8.06.2005

Exitus Acta Probat


One of America's most famous founding father's (George Washington) family motto echoed the great orator Ovid. It said: exitus acta probat: the ends justify the means. Is it true that the ends justify the means? Many people over many generations and eras have debated the validity of this often reviled or often embraced statement. Like most things, whether or not the ends justify the means comes down to a basic philosophic difference.

  1. The progress of a stronger majority is more important than the continued existence of something not able to protect itself.
  2. The protection of something small, insignificant, weak, defenseless, helpless, and/or pitiable is a greater good than the progress of a majority (for one reason or another).

Option 1 stems from a nihilistic, naturalistic belief system that promotes survival and self-preservation at the expense of others. Naturalist-derivative philosophies can logically have no problem with this. If mankind is the offspring of nothingness in a universe of no purpose, then men must make the most of their time in the way they choose and survival is the logical end.

Option 2 obviously stems from a belief system that believes that the defenseless should be protected. Why? Naturalistic philosophy cannot provide compassion as it teaches the survival of the fittest. Existentialist doctrine is weak in that it provides for communities to determine their own ethics. Some, if not many or most, would rather see their own survival over others'. Eastern philosophy is too focused on the eternal cosmic essence to be preoccupied with individuals. After all, everything returns into everything and into nothing, and so everything is nothing and nothing is everything and individuality is collectivity and so on. Only a theosophic system (say, Christianity?) could provide for this.

Therefore, Christians theology is the only ideology that can logically provide a defense (bye, bye, secular existentialism) for the fact that the end does not justify the means. Everyone else, from Stalin to Saddam, is perfectly logical in believing that the ends provide adequate justification for the means.

1 Comments:

Blogger Iv Libahrt said...

Thanks. My research, more and more extensive, leads me to believe that the proper translation of the Latin "Exitus acta probat" (quote from Ovid's Heroides II, line 85) properly means "The result is the test of the acts," or IOW, the end proves the means, or the result proves the act (was done). There is in interesting story about how this phrase become associated with the Washington's ancestors; am trying to verify. Am researching this to update my book "George Washington's Liberty Key." LibertyKey.US

24/12/19 20:07  

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