Means-whereby: the reasoned means adopted by which an end (aim, objective) is obtained indirectly.

Adopting the means-whereby approach involves projecting the new directions necessary for maintaining the optimal use of the self in activity. Attending to the means-whereby is also termed an indirect process and a process of prevention.

Means-whereby is frequently used and defined as the opposite of end-gaining.

Alexander defines means-whereby in UoS:

1. The phrase ‘means-whereby’ will be used throughout this book to indicate the reasoned means to the gaining of an end. These means included the inhibition of the habitual use of the mechanisms of the organism, and the conscious projection of new directions necessary to the performance of the different acts involved in a new and more satisfactory use of these mechanisms.[1]

Alexander has a page-long section in UCL, ‘End-Gaining and “Means-Whereby”’, in which he defines the two terms.[2]


‘Means whereby’ first appears in Alexander’s writings in 1908 (although the word ‘means’ is used already in 1903). ‘Means-whereby’ (with hyphen) first appears in CCC (1923). As ‘means’ and ‘ends’ are common words in the English language, Alexander could potentially have been inspired by many sources.

There is a grammatical distinction between ‘means whereby’ and ‘means-whereby’. Both feature in Alexander’s writings.

‘Means-whereby’ is an essential concept in the Alexander Technique, and is widely used in almost all writings on the Technique.

Aldous Huxley was inspired by Alexander’s concept and practice of means-whereby and endgaing, and subsequent to having lessons with Alexander he wrote Ends and Means – An Enquiry into the Nature of Ideals and into the Methods employed for their Realization.[3]

For a selection of F. M. Alexander quotations on means-whereby, see the Mouritz Key Concepts Library.

See also Endgaining.


[1] The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1932) page 27 fn.
[2] The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 11.
[3] Ends and Means – An Enquiry into the Nature of Ideals and into the Methods employed for their Realization by Aldous Huxley (Chatto & Windus, 1938).