Objectivist – Part 7 (Ayn Rand)

  • It is only the concept of “life” that makes the concept of “value” possible.
  • Objectivism says that remaining alive is the goal of values and of all proper action.
  • Rationality is the recognition and acceptance of reason as one’s only source of knowledge, one’s only judge of values and one’s only guide to action.
  • Human sacrifice is evil no matter who its beneficiary is, whether you sacrifice yourself to others or others to yourself. Man – every man – is an end in himself.
  • If a person rejects this principle, it makes little difference which of its negation he adopts – whether he says “sacrifice yourself to others” (the ethics of altruism) or “sacrifice others to yourself” (the subjectivist version of egoism). In either case, he holds that human existence requires martyrs; that some men are mere means to the ends of others; that somebody’s throat must be cut.
  • The only question then is: your life for their sake or theirs for yours? This question does not represent a dispute about a moral principle. It is nothing but a haggling over victims by two camps who share the same principle.
  • Objectivism does not share it. We hold that man’s life is incompatible with sacrifice – with sacrifice of anybody to anybody. We reject both the above theories on the same ground.
  • Social existence is an asset to man in the struggle for survival. The two great values to be gained from social existence are: knowledge and trade. Men can transmit from one generation to the next a vast store of knowledge, far more than any individual could gain by himself in a single lifetime. And if men practice the division of labor, an individual can achieve a degree of skill and material return on his effort far greater than he could attain if he lived in solitude.
  • Egoism, accordingly, does not mean that a man should isolate himself from others or remain indifferent to them. On the contrary, a proper view of egoism requires that a man identify the role of others in his own life and then evaluate them appropriately.
  • The Objectivist does not say: “I value only myself.” He says: “If you are a certain kind of person, you become thereby a value to me, in the furtherance of my own life and happiness.”
  • Concepts are aspects of reality in relation to man. That is: concepts designate facts – perceived objects with their similarities and differences – as condensed by human consciousness, in accordance with a rational method (logic). Similarly, the good is an aspect of reality in relation to man. That is: the good designates facts – the requirements of survival – as identified conceptually, and then evaluated by human consciousness in accordance with a rational standard of value (life).
  • The field of ethics itself, including all moral virtues and values, is necessitated by the law of causality. Morality is no more than a means to an end; it defines the causes we must enact if we are to attain a certain effect.
  • Justice is adherence to the trader principle. A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. A man deserves from others that and only that which he earns. Social justice consists in expropriating the creators to reward the noncreators.
  • “Egalitarianism” (not before the law) is a theory that urges the complete repudiation of justice. It means that “equality” supersedes justice.
  • Productive work is the process by which man’s conciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one’s purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one’s values. As this statement makes clear, productiveness, like every virtue, involves two integrated components: consciousness and existence; or thought and action; or knowledge and its material implementation.
  • Knowledge is power. It is an instrument enabling man to support his life. It is a product of consciousness to be applied to reality. Knowledge is a commodity that satisfies a definite practical interest, the interest in survival.
  • An animal does not need self-appraisal; it is unconcerned with moral issues and cannot question its own action. But man, who survive by a volitional process, needs a moral code – and the awareness that he is conforming to it. He needs the knowledge of how to live, and the knowledge that he is living up to this knowledge.