What ever is of ultimate importance

is useless.

I forget where I picked up this idea from, but its proof is very easy.

Something is useful if it is useful for purpose X. For instance, sleep is useful to maintain our health. But this means that maintaining our health is what is truly important here, while sleep derives its importance from that goal.

Therefore, it follows that whatever is of ultimate importance cannot be useful, because that would mean it derived its importance from something else for which it was used, which would mean it is not of ultimate importance after all.


  1. Gene.... that is absolutely incredible. I don't know what to say: I'm a little astounded. Was this in Experience and It's Modes...? I don't recall it!

    Wow. Just... wow. Unbelievable. I'm a little speechless here. I recall a definition of religion as "the thing of ultimate importance", and I'm thinking of some folks definition of God as the "thing of ultimate importance".

    Again, my mind is racing. Unreal! Just... wow.

  2. Gene, I think that this is actually from Aristotle, if I recall correctly! He traces a sort of "hierarchy" of things by asking us why we do certain actions. Eventually, we reach a thing that we want just for itself.

    Thank you for jogging my memory! I think I see now where Oakeshott and Gasset were saying! =)

    1. Ortega y Gasset cites Aristotle in the passage I quoted.


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