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18 - Goal Engagement, Life, and Death

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Charles S. Carver
Affiliation:
University of Miami
Michael F. Scheier
Affiliation:
Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania
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Summary

Hope makes us live.

(Haitian proverb)

It is wonderful to have a plan. A plan can make the whole future rosy. … To have a plan is like having a little canoe and even the fiercest rapids can be negotiated.

(Stephen Dobyns, The Wrestler's Cruel Study)

He is not busy being born is busy dying.

(Bob Dylan, It's Alright Ma [I'm Only Bleeding])

This book has focused on a particular way of thinking about how people live their lives. Although a few complexities came up along the way, the underlying idea is pretty simple: People live life by identifying goals and moving toward them, and by identifying anti-goals and staying away from them. Some goals reflect biological programming; others stem from conscious weighing of alternatives; others arise from dreams and fantasies and even from a self-organizing process of bootstrapping. Whatever their origins, these values are the constellations people use to guide their journey through life.

In this closing chapter we extend this way of thinking a step further, with the assertion that goal engagement is a necessity of life. There must be goals, striving toward one end or another, for life to continue. Without goal engagement, life ceases. As has been true more than once in this book, this assertion follows a path blazed by Miller, Galanter, and Pribram (1960).

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1998

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