Endgaining: gaining one’s end, aim or objective, unconsciously, without consideration of the means-whereby. It is a ‘direct approch’ as opposed to an indirect approach to solving a problem or change behaviour.
Endgaining is frequently used in opposition to the process of attending to the means-whereby.
Alexander also refers to ‘end’, and endgaining also appears as two words, e.g.:
The ‘end-gaining’ principle involves a direct procedure on the part of the person endeavouring to gain the desired ‘end’.
Endgaining first appears in MSI. In UCL Alexander describes it:
It will be seen therefore that end-gaining involves the conception and procedure of going direct for an end without consideration as to whether the ‘means-whereby’ to be employed are the best for the purpose, or as to whether there should be substituted for these, new and improved ‘means-whereby’ which, in their employment, would necessarily involve change in the manner of use of the self. This end-gaining plan is one of trial and error, . . .
In MSI, ‘when the end is held in mind’ is the same as ‘end-gaining’:
In effect it will be seen that in this as in all other cases, stress must be laid on the point that it is the means and not the end which must be considered. When the end is held in mind, instinct or long habit will always seek to attain the end by habitual methods. The action is performed below the level of consciousness in its various stages, and only rises to the level of consciousness when the end is being attained by the correct ‘means-whereby.’
Dewey, in his introduction to MSI, called the habit of endgaining ‘probably the most persistent and impeding habit (man) needs to overcome in seeking to make changes in himself or others.’
Dewey discusses means and ends in his Human Nature and Conduct (1922) in the context of habit and behaviour, carefully defining the terms to an extent Alexander never did.
Alexander’s discussion of ends and means inspired Aldous Huxley to write a book, Ends and Means (1937), which considers the methods used for realizing ideals in society, politics and religion.
As ‘means’ and ‘ends’ are common words in the English language, Alexander could potentially have been inspired by many sources. However, since the terms became part of Alexander’s terminology after his meeting with John Dewey, it is not unlikely that he was inspired by Dewey as Dewey had considered ends and means from a philosophical viewpoint. Or that he was influenced by Irene Tasker as consideration of the means is an important aspect of the Montessori approach to education.
For a selection of F. M. Alexander quotations on end-gaining, see the Mouritz Key Concepts Library.
See also Means-whereby.