The Instigator
Schopenhauer
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
LaughingHyena
Con (against)
Winning
8 Points

Power is not a means, it is an end.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
LaughingHyena
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/13/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,979 times Debate No: 43898
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (3)

 

Schopenhauer

Pro

The point of power is to have power. No trolling, no evidence needed unless citing exact sources. First round is for acceptance, no rebuttals or arguements for the first round.
LaughingHyena

Con

I accept this challenge! Power is a means to and end.
Debate Round No. 1
Schopenhauer

Pro

To me, power is an end. The point of power is to revel in power. If power is used as a means, then the end of the means (wealth, political sucess etc.) will be pointless. All ends besides power seem meanngless to me, all ends except power die and fade away. Power is eternal, and even after someone dies there power will be remembered, were they weak? Were they strong? Eventually all other knowledge of a person fades away into the background and eventually all that is left is their power. For example, take Any leader who conquered and dominated other lands. Their power is what most people remember of them, no one rememebers what their personality was or who they truly were. This shows that power is immortal in comparison to other ends. This has a distinct advantage over power being a means. Power is meant to be reveled in, the power over other things or other beings.
Now i will discuss why the other ends are meaningless. The reason is because in everybody, power is the only thing people desire. Power over others, over life, over death. Take greed for wealth for instance. What does money get? The answer is power. Money is a temporary form of course, because it is man made. But money still gives power. Lust for another is created by the need to procreate, which gives children, ensuring immortality for your genes, ensuring power over your descendants psyche. Gluttony stems from a desire to consume, which in turn fulfills a need for survival, which in turn lets man continue to aquire more power.
No matter how lofty a goal, how lofty an end seems it is only for power. How about doing a good deed? This comes from the want for attention, which comes from the want of love, which comes from the want to control people with their love for you. How about causing a revolution for freedom? The revolutionaries soon become dictators, and the need for power contiues. Lofty goals are lies, the only reason they are used is the continued aquisition of power.
Power as a means, of course, is useful. It is easier to obtain more power when one already has power is it not? But the other ends as i have shown above are useless to strive for, aside from the aquisition of more power. Which means no matter what power is used to gain power. Powes inevitable to be an end.
LaughingHyena

Con

Every human mind is a indelible imprint of atomistic psychological longing and unique subjective preferences. We notice from a casual glace at everyone around us that we all value different things above and beyond all else, whether it be a singly obsessive drive for money, love, fame, sex, respect, security, revenge, knowledge, freedom, or glee to the expense of nearly all the rest. How can it be, though, that in the midst of all of our own specific, all-encompassing monomania for the one single end that will ever truly make us happy and render us complete we all share a similar and equally potent drive (at times superseding) to attain power? It could be reasonable to assume that this is because it is the only thing in existence capable of achieving all aforementioned ends at once.

I do not at all deny that certain people desire power strictly for it's own sake; this is as discernible from empirical observation as every other example mentioned. But it is not exactly the feel on the grip of the gun we wave that motivates us, but the look on our fallen adversary's faces as they bow and grovel at the feet of their new master. It is not the sight the giant globe-destroying robot we have built to obey our every command; it is the imagined reaction of our browbeating father who always claimed we'd never amount to much. It is not the feeling for the power that we have exerted these energies towards, but merely the feeling of the *ends* that tap into our innermost personal desires of what we believe we want and need, no matter what the cost.

It could very well be argued that these ends I've just described--control over your enemies, ownership of the all-powerful gun and robot, the feeling a validation after a lifetime of abuse--are merely components of the abstract entity that we refer to as "power." This is a perfectly acceptable argument to make, but it does not change that these are all disparate components unrelated to the millions of observable and conceivable ends that fulfill everyone else's subjective desires and needs. This is consistent with accounts of notable figures who have achieved the highest ranks of power and prestige, but still remain unhappy, whether it be the fictional Citizen Kane who pined on his deathbed for the Rosebud of his childhood, the conqueror Napoleon pining on his deathbed for his long-lost Josephine, or even the depression-prone super-rich and affluent, the likes of which the world has never seen. A hermit could exult in endless joy for his station of isolation and solitude, despite possessing exactly zero power over his fellow humans; all the power and dominion in the whole world could fail to please a deranged philatelist if it meant separation from his prized stamp collection.

My opponent has argued that all of the varied and innumerable pursuits that billions of humans individually pursue to the exclusion of others can be all be reduced to power. I would counter that this is impossible, as along with the others, the desired end of self-destruction and Thanatos can very commonly be observed in the human race, and destruction and defeat would seem to entail, by definition, a state of powerlessness.

(I apologize if this entry is too long, and let me know if you would like me to make my posts shorter in the future!)
Debate Round No. 2
Schopenhauer

Pro

I would like to in advance thank LaughingHyena for making his debate interesting to read. I would also like to state that I still, do in fact believe that power is always the core end.
To do this I present the twelve examples That were posted as various ends.
1. Money- comes from a desire to have power, but it is temporary of course.
2. Love- comes from a desire to procreate to ensure your genes immortality thus ensuring the future garnerng of more power. From a motherly point it ensures protection of the continuation of your gene pool. From a foster parent love ensures that your ideas will pe passed on, thus ensuring some sembleance of your personality, thus ensuring the garnering of more power.
3. Fame- people desire to be admired so than not only will their ideas be spread to a much wider audience, they will have a form of power over their fan base.
4. Sex- see love above.
5. Respect- if people respect you then they will listen to you, if they listen to you you are giving them your ideas, which in turn gives you power over them.
6. Security- guarantees security for yourself thus guranteeing security in your aquisition for power.
7. Revenge- someone has taken part of your power, and revenge stems from the idea that vengeance will get it back.
8. Knowledge- knowledge IS power.
9. Freedom- freedom guarantees the ability to pursue more power.
10. Glee- glee gives off to many the same emotion of having power.
Core idea- of corse anyone could come up with quite literally the millions of drives and goals that are desire for an end, but take this into account, a person who enjoys killing, whether they have taboos such as who, what, or how they kill still, at their core, enjoys killing. In this we see that the taboos are examples of the ends we believe to epdesire (sex, prestige, wealth etc) while the fact that at their cores killers enjoy killing is the same as how at our own cores the sole end we desire is power. Also, it is true that power encompasses all desires.
Rebuttals...
"How can it be, though, that in the midst of all of our own specific, all-encompassing monomania for the one single end that will ever truly make us happy and render us complete we all share a similar and equally potent drive (at times superseding) to attain power?"
As I have illustrated above, despite the fact that in our minds we might all desire something aside from power, in practice that is the only end we desire to reach. Of course the desire for power is superseding, because as you yourself said, power encompasses all other drives (or ends).
"This is consistent with accounts of notable figures who have achieved the highest ranks of power and prestige, but still remain unhappy, "
Recent studies have shown that 50% of our own happiness is genetic, while ten percent derives from external sources (such as power) even if this study is false, our own happiness is irrelevant to the pursuit and drive to obtain power. For example, fear is a powerful genetic emotion, but very few enjoy it accept for those who need to recieve it artificially, and even then they know secretly that they are safe so the fear is artificial.
"A hermit could exult in endless joy for his station of isolation and solitude, despite possessing exactly zero power over his fellow humans; all the power and dominion in the whole world could fail to please a deranged philatelist if it meant separation from his prized stamp collection."
I might ask the fact that very few hermits actually exist. In some ways, they are the mentally ill of the human race because kf their lack of desire for power. They are few and far between, because when it comes to power, they are like the mentally ill. We do not expect the mentally ill to experience human emotion in the same way the masses do do we? ( of course this does nkt mean there is anything inherently wrong with hermits, they are simply different.) Philatelist stem from the same vine as hoarders, hoarders to desire things, but in this way they believe by doing this they amass power. A philatelist might be the same way. Even if they arent, there are always a small fraction of people who are different, like the mentally ill. ( one more I remind people there is nothing inherently wrong with philatelists.)
"the desired end of self-destruction and Thanatos can very commonly be observed in the human race, and destruction and defeat would seem to entail, by definition, a state of powerlessness."
It does entail a state of powerlessness. But, a person cannot resist their most primal drives, no matter how hard they trie. A person who is violent naturally cannot resist their compulsion for long, in the same way that someone who knows there tendedncies will lead them to death, (heroin addict leading to overdose) cannot stave off their addiction for long just like how the desire for power, unless through a abnormality, cannot be staved off for long.
Thank you very much for this debate, I have found it both insightful and thought provoking. By the way make your debates as long as you please, I don not mind and enjoy reading them.
Sources: http://thehappinesscoach.biz...
LaughingHyena

Con

Thank you for your responses, Schopenhauer. Here are my counter-arguments:

1. Money is of course a means acquire the power of wealth, although it can also be a means to get anything else, one of those ends being security. Hoarders, as previously mentioned, fit this description well; their money isn't spent or invested in ways to generate power over their fellow humans. Instead, it is essentially buried in holes and under mattresses, where it creates nothing but the pleasurable feeling of security that is its own end. One could argue that this feeling of security is a form of power"power over danger and the like"but overlooks that natural dichotomies between multivariate human psychologies.

The study of man is the study of conflicts that spring varying interests: the aggressor who promotes violence for its own sake, the victim who desires power as defense against the aggression, the predator and prey, oppressor and oppressed, etc. This paradoxical relationship exists in nature, in every level of society, in all creatures; the motivations and behavior of the creatures are not the same"without the need for power on the part of the attacker, there would be no need for defensive power on the part of the attacked.

2. Love can certainly be used as a method of psychological control or power over others"no argument here! However, it can just as easily be argued that this does not constitute "true love," what the Greeks called "agape," or "compassionate love." It doesn't take into account a universal love of mankind for those unrelated to you (this altruistic drive has been studies in the brain activity of certain individuals, but not necessarily all: http://www.sciencedaily.com...). An act of generosity to a stranger you'll never meet has no direct benefit to yourself, but can be explained as logical attachment to a personal ideal (a drive other than, and at times opposed to, personal gain.)

3. I think we can agree that sex is only done for the purpose of procreation rather than the pleasurable feeling in a more limited number of instances. If it were the case that people only had sex strictly from a desire to procreate, then there would be no need of birth control and abortion.

4. Knowledge is only power if it's applied. I think we can also agree that the vast stockpile of theoretical knowledge accumulated over a lifetime does not match this description.

5. Power supersedes other ends as an aim only as the best strategic means to achieve those ends.

6. Mental illness is an illness according to whom? This seems to prove the point about subjective, individual motivations and desires. If we believe that the motivations of hermits, obsessive philatelists, or other crazies are "wrong" or in some way intrinsically different from our own, then we have accepted that primary, driving motivations vary from person to person, and we can't therefore impose a single universal constant of a simple urge for power on all humans.

One can argue that the mentally ill *should* desire or seek power, but this of course would be a conflation of an Is and an Ought in the Humeian sense, and the question we are currently debating is whether power *is* the end, not whether it *should* be.

7. Finally, while I believe that money can occasionally buy happiness, it has been noted that many people in wealthier and more powerful countries sometimes exhibit higher rates of depression and unhappiness (http://articles.latimes.com...), when by all accounts they should be happier, given broad-based superiority in all avenues of power, and increased likelihood of achieving it. Attaining the sole purpose of our desires is what creates fulfillment and long-term happiness, and if it's true that all purpose can be reduced to power, then people with less of it should by no means be more fulfilled.

The fact remains that whether due to genetic or environmental forces, humanity is different, and primal drives change, mutate, and evolve (http://www.newsweek.com...) (http://www.livescience.com...)
Debate Round No. 3
Schopenhauer

Pro

Thank you for your responses LaughingHyena,
Now I will finish up rebuttals, and I will close with a finishing arguement.
"One could argue that this feeling of security is a form of power"power over danger and the like"but overlooks that natural dichotomies between multivariate human psychologies."
I would argue that all people are the same. We are driven by primal instincts, to survive, to pass on our genes, etc. why would it be so strange to assume that a consumptive drive for power is not a drive of the inner most instincts of the human body? Perhaps because we have evolved beyond other creatures, and need something greater to aspire to, maybe this is why we could develop a need to obtain power.
"An act of generosity to a stranger you'll never meet has no direct benefit to yourself, but can be explained as logical attachment to a personal ideal (a drive other than, and at times opposed to, personal gain.)"
Even this is driven by a need for power, but just a different kind. Everyone wants to be remembered for their kindness dont they? If they are, then they are filling a need to be guaranteed immortality of a sort through the memories of others. Even if this is untrue, consider another end of power. Power for ones species, this guarantees that your own species will survive and thrive, therefore guaranteeing your species power and immortality as a collective. This is similiar to nationalists, who guarantee power as a collective nation.
"If it were the case that people only had sex strictly from a desire to procreate, then there would be no need of birth control and abortion."
But the pleasure comes from the primal need to procreate. The only reason pleasure exists in sex is so that we have more of an attraction to each other and have sex more often. As I explained in earlier debates, I said how the need for procreation results in power as an end.
"I think we can also agree that the vast stockpile of theoretical knowledge accumulated over a lifetime does not match this description."
Actually, I have a different idea anout theoretical knowledge. it is simply like a gold mine that may or may not actually contain gold, but if it does the person becomes rich. In this way theoretical knowledge, and the drive to obtain it, is driven by a desire for power. In this way, theoretical knowledge if proven would be as powerful if not more as practical knowledge.
"and we can't therefore impose a single universal constant of a simple urge for power on all humans."
People exist who starve themselves for various reasons, despite this people still say that humans have a desire to eat and survive.
"7. Finally, while I believe that money can occasionally buy happiness, it has been noted that many people in wealthier and more powerful countries sometimes exhibit higher rates of depression and unhappiness (http://articles.latimes.com......), when by all accounts they should be happier, given broad-based superiority in all avenues of power, and increased likelihood of achieving it. Attaining the sole purpose of our desires is what creates fulfillment and long-term happiness, and if it's true that all purpose can be reduced to power, then people with less of it should by no means be more fulfilled."
Whether a person is happy or not when obtaining power is irrelevant, they still have the drive to get power. Whether this fulfills them or not I dont knkw, but it is a primeval urge, and one that people strive for.
Now I will begin my closing arguement. Every human is not different. Our own genetics are what controls us, and we all still share a drive for aspirations, and in my case I was arguing that power is one of these. So this means that power is a drive, like sleeping, and eating, that is ingrained in ourselves. People truly arent very different, you just have to see that we are simply the sum of our urges, desires, and lusts.
Hank you for this debate, it has been a pleasure.
LaughingHyena

Con

I found the debate interesting as well. Here are some quick counter-arguments and my conclusions:

1. We might have the same primal desires, but we have observably different genetics and behavior, which along with instincts are the product of evolution. One result of our evolution is the capacity to reason, which has the capacity to subvert our primal instincts (for example, it seems illogical that one could make the conscious decision to not have children and still be driven primarily by the desire to procreate at the exact same time).

2. I agree that immortality or legacy can be a form of power, but kindness to a stranger is anonymous, and anonymous donation can largely be explained as attachment to a logical or moral ideal. Or it could be explained as a desire to improve the world around you, and this can sometimes compromise your own personal power.

3. Power for the species or collective can be a basic drive, but this can also run at odds with your own personal, individual power, and also ignores the existence of the self-destructive death impulse.

4. I agree that much theoretical knowledge has the potential to be applied, but I think many people like to enjoy knowledge for its own sake, while consciously aware they will never apply it. For example, someone might enjoy reading sci-fi novels, while perfectly aware that they will never write a sci-fi novel or become a scientist.

5. According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, having your basic or fundamental needs met will result in greater levels of happiness (http://en.wikipedia.org...), so people with their fundamental or basic need power more satisfied should be statistically happier.

My conclusions:

I believe that I have demonstrated through various observable examples and rational analysis that human beings possess subjective, mutable, and varying motivations and interests, and therefore can't all be reduced to a single universal urge for power. This doesn't mean that man might usually desire power, but just that it is not always the case. I'd support my argument with these main points:

1. Man is had acquired through evolution the capacity to reason, which might at times run contrary to your original instincts (for example, contrary to the urge for violence or procreation). The existence of any new traits through mutated or evolved genetics would seem to indicate diversity among human drives.

2. Attachment to a moral or logical ideal achieved through reason can supersede an attachment to personal, real power (I could be the perfect example this, as I might like see the total abolition of all forms and systems of power if for no other reason than it fulfills my aesthetic ideals).

3. The urge for power does not explain why the Freudian death impulse can be observed to exist, if thousands of years of self-destructive behavior by humanity is any indication.

4. Some people with greater levels of personal power have been observed to be less happy than others with less.

5. Dichotomous relationships between aggressor and non-aggressor observed in nature seem to support that the fundamental drives between different creatures equally interested in survival are not always the same.

6. My opponent agrees that the mentally ill are in some way "different" in motivation, which seems to illustrate the disparity in subjective human interests.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by MyDinosaurHands 3 years ago
MyDinosaurHands
I feel like there should've been an 'always' in the resolution.
Posted by Kreakin 3 years ago
Kreakin
Please define "means" and "end" - Thanks
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by eagertowin 3 years ago
eagertowin
SchopenhauerLaughingHyenaTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Both sides argued well, but Con had better grammar and used more sources.
Vote Placed by Kreakin 3 years ago
Kreakin
SchopenhauerLaughingHyenaTied
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Reasons for voting decision: A very interesting debate. To my mind Pro has put forwards a persuasive argument that the quest for power is indeed driven by attaining power in it's self. It seems that the point of power is indeed to have power. Grammar goes to Con. Sources go toPro for not using wikipedia.
Vote Placed by Wylted 3 years ago
Wylted
SchopenhauerLaughingHyenaTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con gave good arguments for why peoples drives differ. Power and control are not synonymous. The will to control May be a better argument then the will to power it would at least explain things such as the hermit better. However the altruistic drives people have failed to be fully explained and refuted by pro. Also pro had some obvious spelling mistakes.