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Written by Professor Quigley in the hopes of assisting a troubled colleague.


1. Some things are important, but most things are only necessary.

2. Necessary things are only important when you do not have them and are generally ignored when they are amply supplied. These include oxygen, food, drink. shelter, and all physical needs.

3. Important things are important all the time whether you have them or not, whether you realize it or not.

4. People who regard necessary things as important are unhappy and frustrated even when they get them and even if they are quite unaware that the important things exist.

5. Important things are those which can be made ends in themselves, worth seeking and worth having. Necessary things, since they are not important for their own sakes, should never made ends in themselves, but must be permitted only to be means to important ends. Thus, material wealth, power, popularity, and prestige should never be ends but only means to ends, because however necessary they may be they are never important.

6. THE ONLY THING WHICH IS IMPORTANT IS TRUTH -- that is the total structure of reality. The meaning of anything arises from its relationship to that total structure. The reason that material things are not important is because of the subordinate position they hold in that total structure.

7. From this point of view, important things may exist on any level of reality. For example, physical health, exercise. and coordination are important on the physical level, but are not as important as things on higher levels, even though they can be made ends in themselves.

8. On the higher levels are such things as feelings. and intellectual awareness.

9. The important things are those concerned with the realization of the potentialities of an individual because such realization brings the individual in closer contact with the total structure of reality -- that is, with TRUTH.

10. Each individual is so inadequate that there are only a few things he can do to help realize his potentialities. Among these few are will - the desire to do this and the determination to do it.

11. Because of the inadequacy of the individual -- that is, his basic need for other persons and his inability to direct his efforts unless he has recognition of his relationships with the rest of reality, the individual can achieve nothing by seeking to obtain things for himself, because this makes him the center of the universe, which he is not. Thus, selfishness achieves nothing.

12. Thus the chief immediate aim in life of each individual must be to help others realize their potentialities. This is what Kant meant when he said that others must never be treated as means to be used, but always as ends in themselves. It is basic in human experience that those things a person seeks for himself directly are never obtained. They are only obtained indirectly as a by-product of an effort to obtain them for others. Thus the man who seeks only wealth for himself never feels rich, as the man who seeks power never feels secure, and the man who seeks pleasure never feels satisfied. But the man who seeks important things for others often feels rich, secure, and satisfied.

13. The need for others is present on all levels, the physical. emotional, and intellectual. Indeed, every relationship has in it all three aspects. The desire to help others experience these things and to grow as a result of such experiences is called love. Such love is the real motivating force of the universe and is, in its ultimate nature. a manifestation of the love of God. Because while God is pure Reason and man' s ultimate goal is Reason, it can not be reached directly and must always be approached step by step, not alone but in companionship with others, and thus through love. Thus love of others, ultimately love of God, are the steps by which man develops reason and slowly approaches pure Reason.

Carroll Quigley, August 1967


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