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synthesis is not a method to create the best action (this is impossible due to combinatorial
explosion) but a method to create any action (because the number of possible actions is
infinite, in principle). To a certain degree, an alternative to the action constructed by the
ongoing joint synthesis is not another action but rather its absence. Therefore, the idea of
joint synthesis is not hurt by the fact that people are able to imagine, plan, or pursue
completely arbitrary even unachievable goals. Because even when the individual thinks that
there is no method to achieve the goal, nevertheless an inappropriate method is chosen
because the selection of a certain aspect of reality among the infinite number of other
possible aspects occurred.
Second, experience teaches us that one goal can be achieved by various methods, ways (this
is the principle of equifinality (Bertalanffy, 1968)) and that one method can be applied to
achieve various goals. These obvious facts, which underlie one of the two conventional
classes, seem inconsistent with the joint synthesis hypothesis (referred to as the JSH
hereinafter). In my opinion, the idea that goals and means can be constructed separately is
correct at the level of social practice but a psychological illusion at the level of psychological
mechanisms of a particular action.
In order to clear this idea, imagine that one needs to achieve the 35 th floor of a skyscraper.
Firstly, this can be made by means of an elevator. If no elevator can be used (e.g. there is no
voltage), it is possible to go upstairs. Finally, if the staircase is destroyed then one can climb
on the wall using necessary tools. It seems one invariable goal can be combined with various
methods to achieve it. However, the first method is available for everyone because it
requires no concentration of mental recourses. The second one can be accepted when there is
a serious need to reach the goal. In addition, the last one can be used only under extreme
circumstances requiring the strongest concentration of will and energy. In other words, from
the position of internal processes each way requires a certain psychological arrangement
with special goals and this arrangement is acknowledged by any individual as distinctive
from the others. Therefore, a change in the situation results in the alteration of goals at a
particular level of the hierarchy of goals. It is reasonable to assume that the interaction
between goals and means in the process of the construction of a goal-directed activity is a
characteristic of any such activity.
In my opinion, like other psychological illusions, such as, for example, the illusion of the
instantaneous reaction to an external stimulus (the understanding that the reaction is not
instant, occurred in 1823 only (Corsini & Auerbach, 1998)), the illusion of the separate
construction of goals and means results from the fact that it is very difficult to combine the
involvement in a particular activity with the simultaneous introspective monitoring of this
activity. Indeed, when an individual pursues a particular everyday goal (e.g., shopping at
the supermarket) she usually does not pay attention to all variations in the intermediate
goals and means necessary for this multi-stage pursuit. As a result, the complex interplay of
these intermediate processes is reflected by consciousness and memory only partially, while
the success or failure in the achievement of the main goal is usually in the focus of
consciousness. In addition, the detailed awareness of each stage in a multi-staged activity is
merely impossible because this is able to destroy the activity itself. The result of these
circumstances is, in my opinion, a false feeling of the separate formation and change of goals
and means.
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