Actions have value. Like rivers, actions begin at a source and gush down to a mouth. Act are ends of a cause and effect chain. Acts also make up cause and effect chains. Acts are physical; acts are spiritual. Acts are direct as well as indirect. In short, to act is to do.
Whether as an author prescribing his goal, or an actor working towards a goal prescribed by another, individuals measure their successes by the achievement of their goals. This applies regardless of the extent to which the individual is aware of his goal.
Good has had many definitions over the millennia. Some clear cut; others more subjective. Bearing in mind man’s ultimate aim to have happiness, what is good succeeds in contributing to happiness; what is bad fails to contribute to happiness. When we speak of happiness, we speak of an activity of the soul in accordance with perfect virtue; rather than trivial amusements pleasing only to the flesh. Good actions, therefore, are those actions which succeed in bringing about happiness. And these actions, like all natural things, live in the sensible realm. And so, good is something external which is sensed by others, or something internal understood by first principles and causes.
Following the ladder of inference, there are seven steps which make up an action. These are fact, perception, interpretation, assumption, conclusion, belief and the act itself. Let us begin with fact.
A fact is a sensible object, or a first principle or cause. In the former case, any object which is seen, heard, smelt, tasted or touched is a sensible object. This includes a flower in a garden, a key rattling on a table or a lion rolling in dirt. As well as sensible objects, facts come through first principles and causes. These include the essence of King Louis XIV, the principle of non contradiction and the archetype of order and chaos. Together we call these objects and principles and causes facts.
These facts are perceived by those who have the faculties to perceive. And so perception comes from the eye, the ear, the nose, the mouth, the hand or, indeed, any part of the body capable of feeling. As for first principles and causes, these are perceived by reason. Here, immutable rules that are hidden per se are nevertheless understood. For instance, numbers or pattern recognition.
On perceiving facts, interpretation follows. To interpret is to define a fact. Keeping in line with this process of cause and effect, a definition highlights the essence of a fact, and how this essence differs from similar facts. For instance, an Englishman and a Frenchman are European; however, the Englishman differs from the Frenchman in that the former speaks English as his mother tongue, and the latter French. However, in interpreting, some individuals are prone to begin here instead of fact. These individuals assume knowledge of absolute truth. They are commonly referred to, since at least the early 19th century, as ideologists. These include cultural Marxists (who assume the successful need punishment) and feminists (who assume their perception of women have a supernatural precedence in their states). Much of the world’s present strife comes from ideology, and the sooner this is recognised and overcome, the sooner individuals will achieve their happiness.
From these interpretations of perceived fact comes assumption. Assumptions rely on the definition of facts (or ideologies) and are the rational processes that allow man to come to conclusions about facts. For instance, aristocratic government will lead to an educated and virtuous state because the definition of aristocracy is rule by few for the common interest characterised by custom and education in pursuit of its preservation. On the ideological side of things, a Marxist assumption will be because rich persons are evil, it is good to fight them. Therefore, all rich persons must be destroyed; because the end of fighting is victory (and the defeat of another).
The conclusions from the assumptions of interpreted facts perceived leads to beliefs. Beliefs are dispositions from facts built by reasoning. Beliefs are the internalisation of reasoning. Beliefs are the reflex reactions to situations which help men to achieve, without much thought, the stated aim of individuals. Beliefs are beneficial in cutting down time, and so bringing about efficient happiness. However, dependancy on beliefs is foolhardy! Facts change often and so, too, their interpretations and conclusions. Beliefs are as general as they are universal or particular. For instance, the belief that most Englishmen are Anglo Norman, or happiness is the aim of individuals, or Petworth House is in Sussex.
With beliefs settled upon, the final process of an act is the action itself. This is the sensible movement of body or soul that allows a man to achieve his goals. For instance, if a man aims to win a joust, his staying on his horse and, by his actions, his fallen opponent stands testament to his victory. On the other hand, if a man aims for courage, his approach towards danger is a mark to himself that he is courageous.
In understanding what an action is, it is to each man to make his actions good. Good acts come from achieving his goals, and these goals ultimately contribute to his happiness. A happiness bound only by the natural law. Critics argue ideologies take precedence over individual happiness. For instance, Marxists advance unless you agree with their way of thought (that all rich persons should be destroyed) then your actions have no value. Worse so, that your actions are wrong. And that this bleating is more important than following the rules of how things are, or a man’s individual happiness. Ideology is a ghastly doctrine that seduces the weak and lazy minds of those unfamiliar with the natural law: to destroy our politics, culture, economy and religion out of greedy hatred for those who follow nature’s ways. Ideology always leads to a state of nature, as we have seen so often in the Soviet Union, the English Civil War and now see growing in the Western world. The natural law, however, keeps realms strong and confers happiness to their subjects. Look only to Alexander’s Macedonia, Napoleon’s France or Queen Elizabeth I’s England to see the success of the natural law.
To live a happy life, it begins by letting go of ideology. Start by reading one of Aristotle’s works and learn how things actually are. From here, the golden gates of happiness will open for you. And only your ignorance will be your limit.