Franz Kafka - The Trial
Kafka tells a story of two men, one is a doorkeeper to the law. The other is a layman who wants access to the law and spends his life waiting to get in. He makes an interesting point that the doorkeeper doesn’t know the law and his function is to keep the seeker out. The doorkeeper’s sole purpose is to limit access. He also makes the point that both men have been duped. The doorkeeper is simpleminded and doesn’t see it. He doesn’t see that he is just being used.
Links can be drawn between this story the argument of CW. Mill. There are gatekeepers of wealth and power to keep the layperson out. Following the argument of Mill, maybe the layman could have adopted the values of the gatekeeper and become the gatekeeper and in that way find dominance in the system.
The system has been setup with no wizard behind a curtain pulling the strings. Law is just a part of the system, but the whole system is just like law in the analogy. There are the guardians of the system who don’t know what they are doing, but enjoy the power of the position. Then there are those people who sit at the door looking in, wanting access. Those people looking in are those who are asking the question of what kind of world we are creating.
What kind of world am I creating by what I am doing with my life? It is a question that has to be asked honestly, and don’t let excuses about the way the system is make us sit at the door for our entire lives. We have agency and if I live my life to change the world into what I want it to be, that is a good life. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about doing everything; it is about living with integrity, picking a hill and dying on it.
Utilitarianism judges the rightness of an act by the degree it brings goodness into the world. To live with a utilitarian ethic is to ask the question, what kind of world do I want to create because our actions create that world.