Purpose

(redirected from Functional Areas)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal.

Purpose

 

or end, that element of human behavior and conscious activity which represents the mentally anticipated result of an action and ways of achieving that result. Purpose is a means of integrating individual human actions—fitting them into a certain sequence or system. The assumption that activity is goal-directed implies a demonstrable discrepancy between life situations and purposes. Eliminating the discrepancy means realizing one’s purpose.

Among the ancient philosophers’ doctrines regarding purpose, the most important was the one developed by Aristotle, who interpreted purpose as “that for the sake of which” something exists. Extending to nature the concept of purpose characteristic of human activity, Aristotle viewed purpose as the ultimate cause of existence (causa finalis). In medieval philosophy the true purpose of existence was identified with the purpose of eternal divine reason. In the prevailing teleological interpretation, history and nature were regarded as realizing the divine purpose.

The modern age was marked by the rationalistic treatment of human activity as directed toward a goal, or purpose. I. Kant associated purpose with the sphere of practical reason—man’s free moral activity. He identified three different kinds of purposes: (1) technical purposes, relating to ability, (2) pragmatic purposes, relating to the goodness and content of actions, and (3) the categorical imperative, relating to the universal obligatory principle of human actions.

In the philosophy of F. von Schelling and G. Hegel, purpose was held to be an objective teleological concept. Hegel, who considered purpose to be a form of objectivization of the spirit, treated nature and history as the means by which the “absolute spirit” was realized on earth; Hegel’s teleology, in other words, was connected with theology. At the same time, it was within the framework of objective idealism that Hegel sought to discover the dialectics of purpose and of the means and results of activity, advancing the idea of “the cunning of reason,” or the lack of correspondence between the purposes and the results of activity.

The crisis of bourgeois ideology was reflected in the criticism of the concept of purpose—that is, criticism of the rationalistic treatment of human existence—and in the attempts to redefine its content. In 20th-century bourgeois philosophy, the integrative function of the concept of purpose is rejected, exclusive emphasis being placed on the disparity between purposes and results (W. Wundt); the accepted basis for the study of human behavior is not purposeful change but adaptation to the environment; and finally, alternative means are proposed for the integration of human activity, such as the concept of value in neo-Kantianism. The juxtaposition of causality and purpose led bourgeois philosophy to indeterminism and to the denial (especially marked in existentialism) of the objectively conditional nature of the purpose of human activity.

Perceiving purposes, or ends, as a factor in human activity and in the transformation of the environment, Marxism stresses their objective conditionality: “men’s ends are engendered by the objective world and presuppose it” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 29, p. 171). Marxism interprets purpose as the reflection of objective needs; in Marx’ words, it is “an ideal, internally motivating stimulus of production” (see K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 12, p. 717). Purpose is seen as a law that determines the methods and the nature of men’s actions (see K. Marx, ibid., vol. 23, p. 188); it is a specific mechanism whereby individual actions form an integrated system of ends, means, and results. Purpose is the plan of action that determines the nature of various acts and operations and their proper order in the system.

The dialectics of ends, means, and results are examined as a specific instance of the dialectics of the material and the ideal; thus purpose can be regarded as the conceptual anticipation of the result of activity, and activity as the complex process whereby purpose is realized—the process of selecting the best of all available means and planning the activity. A specifically Marxist typology has been proposed, distinguishing between individual and social purposes, between strategic and tactical goals, and between an actual, or concrete, end and an ideal.

Marxism emphatically rejects the fallacious thesis that “the end justifies the means.” History shows that the use of antihumanitarian means to achieve humanitarian ends leads to dehumanization of the ends themselves and results in their being replaced by false goals. To quote Marx, “an end for which unjust means are required is not the right end” (ibid., vol. 1, p. 65).

In modern science, the concept of purpose has been examined in cybernetics research (where the principle of feedback is applied), in studies of the physiology of functional activities, and in the context of the theory of systems—particularly of purposeful systems.

REFERENCES

Marx, K. Nishcheta filosofii. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 4.
Marx, K. Ekonomichesko-filosofskie rukopisi 1844 g. Ibid., vol. 42.
Lenin, V. I. Filosofskie tetradi. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 29.
Trubnikov, N. N. O kategoriiakh “tsel’,” “sredstvo,” “rezul’tat.” Moscow, 1968.
Ackoff, R. L., and F. E. Emery. O tseleustremlennykh sistemakh. Moscow, 1974. (Translated from English.)
“Metodologicheskie problemy issledovaniia deiatel’nosti.” Tr. Vses. n.-i. in-ta tekhnicheskoi estetiki: Ergonomika, 1976, no. 10.
Makarov, M. G. Kategoriia “tsel’” v marksistskoi filosofii i kritika teleologii. Leningrad, 1977.
Luhmann, N. Zweckbegriff und Systemrationalität. Tübingen, 1968.
Taylor, R. Action and Purpose. New York, 1973.

A. P. OGURTSOV

References in periodicals archive ?
from the company who reaps a more knowledgeable employee to the attendee's department that benefits from new functional area understanding, to the attendee themselves, who will walk away with an improved skill set for personal growth," said O'Shaughnessy.
Subject matter experts were assigned to each functional area.
This gives the neurosurgeon a reliable prognosis concerning where the incision in the brain should be made and which safety margins should be chosen to avoid harming nerve tracts and irreversibly damaging important functional areas.
In a new professional engineer functional area, officers would earn professional accreditation with the support of the Army, much as Army doctors, nurses, and lawyers earn.
On Monday, the venue owners and CoCom members made presentations in six functional areas -- Games venue, venue operations, Games Village, Games Village operations, broadcasting and press operations.
Prior to 1995, several independent projects were underway to leverage the rapid growth in Internet-related technologies and develop systems that improve command and control capabilities in several battlefield functional areas.
If the organization can agree on a high-level taxonomy or classification approach for content, there is a much better chance that documents will be managed in a similar fashion across functional areas, introducing consistency and control to file management.
In fact, Krenz's prior experience had involved him in more than finance; he had daily contact with EDS's customers and other functional areas, such as marketing and customer service.
This book provides an overview of critical components of neuropsychological information and the use of this information in vocational planning; examples of functional areas of cognition and neuropsychological assessment; the linkages between cognitive and behavioral impairments; the different categories of assistive technology; psychotherapy and behavioral interventions and successful vocational interventions; and models of work access, including methods of supported employment, the development of a tailored job coaching program, and the specifics of utilizing natural supports.
This is where most organizations seeking IMC begin, and focus is on functional areas including advertising, promotion, direct response, public relations and special events.
Even with the early introduction of automation relative to other functional areas within libraries, staffing levels within circulation have remained largely stable across time.
The Institute also made recommendations for future reports and activities of the Taxpayer Advocate, including the use of IRS Policy Statements to measure the Service's performance in functional areas, the development of measurement standards other than IRS Policy Statements, and the preparation of comparative reports of performance for functional areas over a period of time using these two sets of standards.

Full browser ?