Sunday, November 06, 2016

The Virtue of Selfishnesss

  • man should not live for the collective
  • man should live for his own sake and by his own mind (his perception of reality, his understanding, his judgment, refuse to sacrifice to the unproved assertions of others, fact-centered, intellectual independence)
  • men who reject the responsbility of thoughts and reason, can exist only as parasites on the thinking of others
  • I believe it because I see in reason that it is true
  • man should not sacrifices himself to others, nor sacrifices others to himself
  • man deals with other men as a trader, as a producer
  • independence 
  • self-reliance
  • when one enters any intellectual battle, one can't seek, desire, or expect the enemy's sanction. Truth or falsehood must be one's sole concern and sole criterion of judgment, not anyone's approval or disapproval
  • Ethics is an objective necessity of man’s survival.
  • Objectivist ethics advocates and upholds rational selfishness—which means: the values required for human survival—not the values produced by the desires, the feelings, the whims or the needs of irrational brutes, who have never outgrown the primordial practice of human sacrifices.
  • ethics of rational self-interest challenges the altruist-collectivist fashions--the underlying theme of her famous novels. 
  • selfishness only means: concern with one’s own interests --- which is fine
  • concern with his own interests is the essence of a moral existence, and that man must be the beneficiary of his own moral actions
  • Since all values have to be gained and/or kept by men’s actions, any breach between actor and beneficiary necessitates an injustice: the sacrifice of some men to others, of the actors to the nonactors, of the moral to the immoral. Nothing could ever justify such a breach, and no one ever has.
  • actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest
  •  a rational, objectively demonstrated and validated code of moral principles which define and determine his actual self-interest, not a license “to do as he pleases”; man’s self-interest cannot be determined by blind desires or random whims, but must be discovered and achieved by the guidance of rational principles. This is why the Objectivist ethics is a morality of rational self-interest—or of rational selfishness
  • The standard by which one judges what is good or evil—is man’s life, or: that which is required for man’s survival qua man.
  • man’s life as the standard of value—and his own life as the ethical purpose of every individual man.  the life he has to live is his own
  • Man must choose his actions, values and goals by the standard of that which is proper to man—in order to achieve, maintain, fulfill and enjoy that ultimate value, that end in itself, which is his own life.
  • 3 values,the means to and the realization of one’s ultimate value, one’s own life—Reason, Purpose, Self-Esteem, with their three corresponding virtues: Rationality, Productiveness, Pride 
  • Productive work is the central purpose of a rational man’s life. Reason is the source, the precondition of his productive work—pride is the result.
  • Rationality is man’s basic virtue, the source of all his other virtues. Man’s basic vice, the source of all his evils, is the act of unfocusing his mind, the suspension of his consciousness, which is not blindness, but the refusal to see, not ignorance, but the refusal to know. 
  • life is an end in itself, so every living human being is an end in himself, not the means to the ends or the welfare of others
  • man must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself
  • To live for his own sake means that the achievement of his own happiness is man’s highest moral purpose.
  • Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values. If a man values productive work, his happiness is the measure of his success in the service of his life.
  • It is only by accepting “man’s life” as one’s primary and by pursuing the rational values it requires that one can achieve happiness—not by taking “happiness” as some undefined, irreducible primary and then attempting to live by its guidance. 
  • If you achieve that which is the good by a rational standard of value, it will necessarily make you happy; but that which makes you happy, by some undefined emotional standard, is not necessarily the good. To take “whatever makes one happy” as a guide to action means: to be guided by nothing but one’s emotional whims.  
  • The task of ethics is to define man’s proper code of values and thus to give him the means of achieving happiness. 

Ethics, Values
  • What is morality, or ethics? It is a code of values to guide man’s choices and actions—the choices and actions that determine the purpose and the course of his life. Ethics, as a science, deals with discovering and defining such a code. 
  •  In ethics, one must begin by asking: What are values? Why does man need them?
  • “Value” is that which one acts to gain and/or keep. The concept “value” is not a primary; it presupposes an answer to the question: of value to whom and for what? It presupposes an entity capable of acting to achieve a goal in the face of an alternative. Where no alternative exists, no goals and no values are possible.
  • Value is that which one acts to gain and/or keep—virtue is the act by which one gains and/or keeps it.
  • It is only an ultimate goal (Life), an end in itself, that makes the existence of values possible. 
  • living entities exist and function necessitates the existence of values and of an ultimate value which for any given living entity is its own life
  • The fact that a living entity is, determines what it ought to do. Who/What you are detemines what you ought to do. 
Values, Conceptualization, Reason
  • Man’s actions and survival require the guidance of conceptual values derived from conceptual knowledge. But conceptual knowledge cannot be acquired automatically.
  • the process of integrating percepts into concepts—the process of abstraction and of concept-formation—is not automatic, as animals
  • The process of concept-formation consists of a method of using one’s consciousness, best designated by the term “conceptualizing.” The faculty that directs this process, the faculty that works by means of concepts, is: reason.  The process is thinking.
  • Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses. It is a faculty that man has to exercise by choice. Thinking is not an automatic function. In any hour and issue of his life, man is free to think or to evade that effort. Thinking requires a state of full, focused awareness.
  • a focused mind is conscious-- a consciousness which is aware of reality and able to deal with it, a consciousness able to direct the actions and provide for the survival of a human being
  •  For man, the basic means of survival is reason.
  • Man has to initiate a process of thought, to sustain it and to bear responsibility for its results. He has to discover how to tell what is true or false and how to correct his own errors; he has to discover how to validate his concepts, his conclusions, his knowledge; he has to discover the rules of thought, the laws of logic, to direct his thinking. 
  • Everything he needs or desires has to be learned, discovered and produced by him—by his own choice, by his own effort, by his own mind.
  • He is free to evade reality, he is free to unfocus his mind and stumble blindly down any road he pleases, but not free to avoid the abyss he refuses to see.
  • Man is free to choose not to be conscious, but not free to escape the penalty of unconsciousness: destruction.
  • What, then, are the right goals for man to pursue? What are the values his survival requires? That is the question to be answered by the science of ethics. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why man needs a code of ethics.
  •  Ethics is an objective, metaphysical necessity of man’s survival—not by the grace of the supernatural nor of your neighbors nor of your whims, but by the grace of reality and the nature of life.
  • A code of values accepted by choice is a code of morality.
  • The standard by which one judges what is good or evil—is man’s life, or: that which is required for man’s survival qua man.
  • Everything man needs has to be discovered by his own mind and produced by his own effort, the two essentials of the method of survival proper to a rational being are: thinking and productive work.
  • mental parasites --- Some men do not choose to think, but survive by imitating and repeating sth they learned from others, never making an effort to do their own work; these parasites' survival is made possible only by those who did choose to think and to the real work. These parasites' survival depends on blind chance; their unfocused minds are unable to know whom to imitate, who is safe to follow. These parasite are the men who march into the abyss, trailing after any destroyer who promises these parasites to assume the responsibility these parasites evade: the responsibility of being conscious.
  • If some men attempt to survive by means of brute force or fraud, by looting, robbing, cheating or enslaving the men who produce, it still remains true that their survival is made possible only by their victims, only by the men who choose to think and to produce the goods which the looters are seizing. Such looters are parasites incapable of survival, who exist by destroying those who are capable, those who are pursuing a course of action proper to man.
  • Looters/parasites reject reason and count on productive men to serve as their prey. Such looters may achieve their goals for the range of a moment, at the price of destruction: the destruction of their victims and their own. --- as any criminal or any dictatorship; However, Man cannot survive by acting on the range of the moment.
altruism--its weakness 
  • For a view of the nature of altruism, its consequences and the enormity of the moral corruption it perpetrates, I shall refer you to Atlas Shrugged—or to any of today’s newspaper headlines
  • ethics of altruism has created the image of the brute, as its answer, in order to make men accept two inhuman tenets: (a) that any concern with one’s own interests is evil, regardless of what these interests might be, and (b) that the brute’s activities are in fact to one’s own interest (which altruism enjoins man to renounce for the sake of his neighbors)
  • altruism lumps together into one “package-deal”: (1) What are values? (2) Who should be the beneficiary of values? Altruism substitutes the second for the first; it evades the task of defining a code of moral values, thus leaving man, in fact, without moral guidance
  • Altruism declares that any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one’s own benefit is evil. Thus the beneficiary of an action is the only criterion of moral value—and so long as that beneficiary is anybody other than oneself, anything goes.
  • Hence the appalling immorality, the chronic injustice, the grotesque double standards, the insoluble conflicts and contradictions that have characterized human relationships and human societies throughout history, under all the variants of the altruist ethics.
  • The evil of a robber does not lie in the fact that he pursues his own interests, but in what he regards as to his own interest; not in the fact that he pursues his values, but in what he chose to value; not in the fact that he wants to live, but in the fact that he wants to live on a subhuman level. 
  •  “selfless” service to the whims of others (such as the ethics of Bentham, Mill, Comte and of all social hedonists, whether they allowed man to include his own whims among the millions of others or advised him to turn himself into a totally selfless “shmoo” that seeks to be eaten by others).
  •  if civilization is to survive, it is the altruist morality that men have to reject.
Rationality, the virtue of Rationality means
  • 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. 
  • total commitment to a state of full, conscious awareness, to the maintenance of a full mental focus in all issues, in all choices, in all of one’s waking hours. 
  • commitment to the fullest perception of reality within one’s power and to the constant, active expansion of one’s perception, i.e., of one’s knowledge
  • commitment to the reality of one’s own existence, i.e., to the principle that all of one’s goals, values and actions take place in reality and, therefore, that one must never place any value or consideration whatsoever above one’s perception of reality
  • commitment to the principle that all of one’s convictions, values, goals, desires and actions must be based on, derived from, chosen and validated by a process of thought—as precise and scrupulous a process of thought, directed by as ruthlessly strict an application of logic, as one’s fullest capacity permits. 
  • acceptance of the responsibility of forming one’s own judgments and of living by the work of one’s own mind (which is the virtue of Independence)
  • never sacrifice one’s convictions to the opinions or wishes of others (which is the virtue of Integrity)
  • never attempt to fake reality in any manner (which is the virtue of Honesty)
  • never seek or grant the unearned and undeserved, neither in matter nor in spirit (which is the virtue of Justice)
  • never desire effects without causes, and that one must never enact a cause without assuming full responsibility for its effects
  • never act like a zombie, i.e., without knowing one’s own purposes and motives
  • never make any decisions, form any convictions or seek any values out of context, i.e., apart from or against the total, integrated sum of one’s knowledge
  • never seek to get away with contradictions
  • rejection of any form of mysticism, i.e., any claim to some nonsensory, nonrational, nondefinable, supernatural source of knowledge. 
  • commitment to reason, not in sporadic fits or on selected issues or in special emergencies, but as a permanent way of life
Productive work

  • the road of man’s unlimited achievement and calls upon the highest attributes of his character: his creative ability, his ambitiousness, his self-assertiveness, his refusal to bear uncontested disasters, his dedication to the goal of reshaping the earth in the image of his values
  • “Productive work” does not mean the unfocused performance of the motions of some job. It means the consciously chosen pursuit of a productive career, in any line of rational endeavor, great or modest, on any level of ability. It is not the degree of a man’s ability nor the scale of his work that is ethically relevant here, but the fullest and most purposeful use of his mind.
Pride

  • man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul.
  • never accepting any code of irrational virtues impossible to practice
  • never failing to practice the virtues one knows to be rational
  • never accepting an unearned guilt 
  • never resigning oneself passively to any flaws in one’s character
  • never placing any concern, wish, fear or mood of the moment above the reality of one’s own self-esteem
  • reject the role of a sacrificial animal
Trade, Justice
  • human good does not require human sacrifices and cannot be achieved by the sacrifice of anyone to anyone. It holds that the rational interests of men do not clash—that there is no conflict of interests among men who do not desire the unearned, who do not make sacrifices nor accept them, who deal with one another as traders, giving value for value
  • The principle of trade is the only rational ethical principle for all human relationships, personal and social, private and public, spiritual and material. It is the principle of justice.
  • A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. He does not treat men as masters or slaves, but as independent equals. He deals with men by means of a free, voluntary, unforced, uncoerced exchangean exchange which benefits both parties by their own independent judgment. A trader does not expect to be paid for his defaults, only for his achievements. He does not switch to others the burden of his failures, and he does not mortgage his life into bondage to the failures of others.
  • A trader is a man who does not seek to be loved for his weaknesses or flaws, only for his virtues, and who does not grant his love to the weaknesses or the flaws of others, only to their virtues
  • division of labor: it enables a man to devote his effort to a particular field of work and to trade with others who specialize in other fields. 
  • Parasites, moochers, looters, brutes and thugs can be of no value to a human being (the productive worker)—nor can productive worker gain any benefit from living in a society geared to parasites' needs, demands and protection (welfare society), a society that treats productive worker as a sacrificial animal and penalizes him for his virtues in order to reward parasites for their vices, which means: a society based on the ethics of altruism. No society can be of value to man’s life if the price is the surrender of his right to his life.
Government
  • The only proper, moral purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence—to protect his right to his own life, to his own liberty, to his own property and to the pursuit of his own happiness. Without property rights, no other rights are possible.
Capitalism
  • a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism—with a separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church. A pure system of capitalism has never yet existed, not even in America; various degrees of government control had been undercutting and distorting it from the start. Capitalism is not the system of the past; it is the system of the future—if mankind is to have a future.

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