One of my friends is taking a course at a local community college, and in that course she had to interview someone about their thoughts on various activities as far as they related to the working world. This person, who is slightly older than me, clearly has a lot of working experience, as most people my age would have, and the questions that were asked all tended to have a fairly repetitive set of answers that revolved around whether or not a given activity or a given use of time affected the bottom line or not. When one reflects on the issue of work, over and over again one needs to recognize the key importance of serving the interests of the bottom line.
It is surprisingly easy for people to forget this matter. When people seemingly behave in what appears to be an irrational manner, it is worth examining what in fact is their bottom line. Making a profit is not always the bottom line for a business. At times, a business would be content to alienate customers if those customers were not the sort of people that the business wanted to appeal to. This is something that is commonly done by contemporary companies, and it is something that was regularly done in the Jim Crow days by companies that did not want black people as customers, regardless of whether they were able to pay for the goods and services in question and wanted in fact to be served by the company. Frequently people are willing to sacrifice financial blessing in order to meet what they consider to be more important needs, such as focusing their efforts and attention on those they consider the right kind of people, whether or not those kind of people are the right kind of people or not.
We may define the bottom line as being the most important priority. When we find out what is most important to people, what their priorities are, we can then gain some understanding of how they are going to behave and what interests they consider the most vital to serve and protect. People may not always be aware of what they consider to be the most important. They may claim to have one set of ultimate principles but end up in practice to have other principles instead. We may either reason from the principles out or from the behavior in, but however we do it, we can find much greater soundness when we consider that people do not always act perfectly but often act according to some sort of logic. The issue is figuring out what kind of logic people are operating based on, as it may often be defective but is at least some system of thinking.
Questions of purpose are of considerable and enduring importance. They are of importance because they demonstrate the importance of mind. Actions are taken to further some goal, and that goal may be a worthwhile one or it may end up in some sort of RICO trial. Materials are collected and used to accomplish some task that has been conceived and is then executed. Not all tasks are created equal, not all of them are good, but they can all serve as purposes for behavior. Like detectives at the scene of a crime, we must frequently infer the purpose and motive of people from the actions that are taken. We see the repercussions of what is done and seek to puzzle through the clues in order to determine what makes sense, what explains the pattern of evidence that we see. We cannot help ourselves but seek to understand what serves at the base of our own thinking and behavior and that of those around us.