Objectivist – Part 6 (Ayn Rand)

  • “Value” presupposes an answer to the question: of value to whom and for what? It presupposes an entity capable of acting to achieveĀ  a goal in the face of an alternative. Where no alternative exists, no goals and no values are possible. One does not observe desks or pebbles pursuing goals; one does observe men, animals, and plants doing so. Living organisms are the entities that make value possible. They are the entities capable of self-generated, goal-directed action – because they are the conditional entities, which face the alternative of life or death. They are thus the only kind of entities that can (and must) pursue values.
  • To an indestructible entity, no object can be of value. Only an entity capable of being destroyed and able to prevent it, has a need, an interest (if the entity is conscious), a reason to act. The reason is precisely: to prevent its destruction, i.e., to remain in the realm of reality. It is this ultimate goal that makes all other goals possible.
  • Goal-directed entities do not exist in order to pursue values. They pursue values in order to exist. Only self-preservation can be an ultimate goal, which serves no end beyond itself.
  • Philosophically speaking, the essence of self-preservation is: accepting the realm of reality. The “realm of non-existence” is nothing; it isn’t. Since only existence exists, it is the fundamental starting point in every branch of philosophy.
  • Thus, we reach the climax of Ayn Rand’s argument. Only the alternative of life vs. death creates the context for value-oriented action, and it does so only if the entity’s end is to preserve its life. By the very nature of “value”, therefore, any code of values must hold life as the ultimate value. All of the Objectivist ethics and politics rest on this principle. An ultimate value is the end-of-itself which sets the standard by which all lesser goals are evaluated. An organism’s life is its standard of value; that which furthers its life is the good, that which threatens it is the evil.