The most important step

I have a pen­chant for the sto­ries of the old, in the era be­fore the Bayesian En­light­ment and be­fore the Singers and Can­tors sur­faced, the days when the stu­dents of the Art of Ra­tion­al­ity met un­der­ground, away from pry­ing eyes.

Without the Sa­cred Texts to guide them, the dis­ci­ples of Ra­tion­al­ity spent long times dis­cussing and re­fin­ing the Art. ’Twas an ar­du­ous task, yet they per­se­vered, guided by the promise of Light and Truth, the glimpse of Po­laris that de­cided their course.

In this story in par­tic­u­lar, two dis­ci­ples of the Tem­ple of the Bay dis­cussed about the most im­por­tant step in a quest.

-Surely—said one of them—the most im­por­tant step must be first; for no quest has come to fruition with­out go­ing through the first step.

-But you for­get—said the other—the same rea­son­ing ap­plies to the last. No quest is com­plete with­out its last step.

-What about the value of the jour­ney? It is in­finitely more valuable to get halfway through a sa­cred quest, and then fail the last step, than to never have em­barked upon it to be­gin with.

-In the Art, all that mat­ters is vic­tory. We do not em­bark in the path of Ra­tion­al­ity to try, but to reach that which re­ally mat­ters. One does not get points for effort. Only con­clu­sions mat­ter.

-How can you even talk about the last step? In the quests that re­ally mat­ter, we should not see the end. Those quests, like the pur­sue of the Art, are pow­er­ful, al­ive things. To seek to end them is to mean their death.

Both kept ar­gu­ing about both things for ten days and ten nights, un­til the mas­ter of the Tem­ple came back from a jour­ney of sa­cred med­i­ta­tion, to find both her dis­ci­ples in heated con­ver­sa­tion.

-Silence! - said the mas­ter—You both have brought dishonor to this sa­cred house! You have unat­tended your tasks while talk­ing about ab­stract things, and thus you have lost sight of the Enemy.

-But mas­ter—protested one dis­ci­ple—this is im­por­tant the­ory to be crafted! Our quests must wait, for as you taught us, a strike with­out pur­pose is a wasted mo­tion.

-Had you re­ally un­der­stood the les­son—said the mas­ter—you would clearly see how to dis­solve this silly ques­tion. No step, nor the first one nor the last, is as im­por­tant as the next one!

And the stu­dents were En­light­ened.