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Found 7 results

  1. Truth as Disvalue

    Truth as Disvalue Truth as disvalue, evasion as value, a belief system which maximizes life’s value. I have heard it said that nothing which is untrue can ultimately be of value to a rational person and that knowledge of the truth is always a value. When dealing with statements of these kinds, of course one must keep in mind what one means by value, we know for example that truth does not have intrinsic value, as there is no such thing as intrinsic value. So investigating the claim that truth is always a value necessitates an evaluation according to a particular chosen standard of value. Is it true that truth is always a value? Can it ever be a disvalue? I will herein below show that according to certain classes of standards of value, truth can be a disvalue. Moreover, I will illustrate how, in that context, evasion can in fact be a value. I then proceed to show how one can proceed successfully (according to that standard of value) to adopt a belief system which maximizes values according to that standard, and in fact that such a belief system is entailed and required by such a standard. The One Truth Knowledge of reality is incredibly powerful. It is indispensable to action, allows prediction of nature, is the foundation of science, invention, agriculture, architecture, medicine, art, literally everything we know which sustains us and enables happiness is in some way tied with knowledge and rationality. None of these truths which prove useful are to be abandoned or contradicted as they are invaluable. They form a wholeness of knowledge which is at one with the blinding Truth of existence. In this the wholeness though lurks but one black hole… one truth in which sits the opposite of the whole of truth’s promise for life, the very fact of Death itself. After decades of accepting as true, complete oblivion, as the state succeeding life on Earth, I have come to the realization that it is an ugly life draining truth which brings me nothing but horror, fear, and sadness. Resignation to its truth has not assuaged the extreme aversion to physical risk, the morbid thoughts, the nagging sense of death being around every corner, on every highway, hidden in every airplane booking. The reflection that all those living, family and friends will end in the same zero… and that all the daughters and sons of my sons and daughters will, finally, amount to more than the dead matter from which they sprung for their brief lives, ripples unceasingly in my mind. When I was a Deist and believed in an afterlife, I of course did my best to avoid death, I did not entertain unduly risky behavior, because after all, I enjoyed and cherished my life, my family and friends and what I could achieve over my life span, but death itself was seen only as a bump in the road, another transformation, that once traversed, would seem almost inconsequential. Upon death, Life would become some nostalgic memory, no more disturbing than the memories of an adult fondly recalling some childhood haunt or cherished toy. We throw off the trappings of our former selves to become that which we are meant to be, and death was only one step of growth in an existence beyond this one. But the final and true death, of non-being, non-existence, of oblivion, is the black maw of the worst possible monster, literally, as nothing could be worse for me than the negation and destruction of absolutely everything of value to me. It pesters my mind and my soul like some incessant midge from the underworld, and no matter how much I swat at it in a futile attempt to live my life in peace, it always harries me time and again. According to a standard of value which belongs to a class in which the standard of value to the life of man qua man comprises a combination of survival, pleasure, and happiness, the one truth of death IS and always will be a disvalue to me. This I know of myself with unshakable certainty. When I compare my happiness, and daily pleasure at the wonders around me, as they are experienced now, with that ever present darkness in the sky, with my happiness and daily pleasure as one who believed in an afterlife, as I had in the past, I am certain, absolutely certain, that the truth negates a great deal of happiness, pleasure, and peace in my life. As such, according to those certain classes of standards of value, the one truth of death, IS a disvalue to me. Truth indeed can be a disvalue. [For simplicity, “value” hereafter means “value” according to those classes of standard of value to the life of man qua man comprising a combination of survival, pleasure, and happiness] The One Evasion As a Deist, I believed that nature and the beyond (the supernatural) were distinct and sundered. I faithfully held that there was absolutely no connection between them except the traversal (and one way only) upon death. The dead cannot reach the living nor the living reach the dead, and no God nor Omnipotency could affect the natural world of reality. There was only existence, and nothing supernatural there, until death, after which there was nothing but that realm beyond. Maintaining such an evasion was not uncommon to me, nor even unique to my life as a Deist. My former self as a traditional Christian, was very interested in science was very adept at the necessary evasions. Compartmentalization is no mystery to me, and I am all too familiar with it and evasion. I am very cognizant that these are “skills” which I used often and relentlessly. As a person very interested in science, and even after having gone through a few degrees in science, I was capable of all kinds of evasions, but then I did not have the motivation any more. At one point I decided that the truth was more important that what I wanted to believe, more important that the comfort or pleasure I might obtain from a falsehood. According to what standard? Why? At this point, not having been exposed to Objectivism, I really did not have any well-reasoned basis, I simply took for granted that what is true is the Truth and that the Truth was more “important” than any falsehood, that indeed Truth was a kind of “intrinsic” good. So over time I was able to escape the trap of mysticism, because of my motivation for truth, and nothing more. I escaped all forms of mysticism and embraced the absolute of reality and Objectivism. As an Objectivist, I understood the vast majority of truths for what they are, a great value to life. Woven into a web of integrated understanding of reality and man, they are the basis for living. Seeing this I dropped evasion as a disvalue. And in all things other than the single dark truth, evasion indeed would be a disvalue. Because all of reality is interconnected no evasion about any single existent which by necessity is related to any and thus every other thing in existence, could be held without some fact of reality being sullied, warped, held in error. Therefor evasion in this regard is inevitably a disvalue and leads to the corruption of the whole. Only now, armed with a proper understanding of the standard of value is it possible to see that blind pursuit of truth is not necessarily a value. Value is defined by and depends upon a standard. A truth which is sad and painful and brings no happiness and which never could be but a stain upon existence and happiness, cannot be a value. Such a truth is clearly a disvalue. But what of the interconnectedness of truths, what of the disvalue of evasion? There is one evasion which does not encounter this problem if surrounded by judiciously held supporting evasions. Clearly a religious person (as I was) is able to hold evasions able to withstand a great deal of reality thrown against it. Using compartmentalization and ignorance and avoidance, I could simultaneously hold truths about reality while believing in the miraculous. But miracles, and intervention by God poses a real problem, the evidence such would leave behind, the absence of which we clearly note. Of course once I became a Deist no such lack of evidence was logically entailed. The belief of that sort of Deism was in an afterlife wholly separate and sundered from reality and for which there would and could be no evidence until death. The One evasion, that there is an afterlife, of a completely unconnected supernatural and everlasting afterlife, although arbitrary is not disproven by the evidence of the senses. Such to be sure is an arbitrary assertion, a groundless maybe…. Not even worth the label “possible”. The onus is on he who asserts the positive… but what reason, by what standard would I hold myself to that onus? The subsidiary evasion then would be the permission of arbitrary assertions… no… the permission of ONE arbitrary assertion. I know I am capable of evasion, I have done so throughout my life, why not employ these evasions, to permit a single arbitrary assertion, and to believe that arbitrary assertion in absence of any evidence? Clearly, Truth in and of itself is not automatically a value. This is clear from the above. Second, the problem of accepting the arbitrary would only be a threat if it invaded into all aspects of knowledge of reality, I am considering to allow it for only one aspect of reality which is (arbitrarily) wholly disconnected from all of existence. Moreover, if I am required to permit the arbitrary and the belief in one single truth through evasion in order to regain the value of life without the constant fear and darkness and morbidity, then by what standard am I to give up the evasions which permits it? Evasion in these aspects only, to permit the arbitrary belief in an afterlife, are a value. The Objectivist Deism Plan In order to maximize my life according to the standard of value I need only engage in minimal evasion to permit a belief of a single falsehood and deny a single truth. With practice and effort I will come to believe it with all my being, because I know it is a value to believe it. I am motivated by my very life to do so. I will not fail in my minimal evasions for the sake of my very life. I will permit myself that one evasion, supported by the subsidiary evasion (from the fact that the arbitrary should be dismissed), in only this one single instance, the one evasion permitting the belief that there is an afterlife. Such brings about a belief system I call Objectivist Deism. Reality is as it is, A is A, but there is another reality, a super-reality for which there is no evidence, and into which I will have an afterlife. This sole major evasion, that I will not die the true and unending dark death, with its subsidiary evasion permitting the acceptance in only a single arbitrary assertion, is my choice, precisely BECAUSE it is of value and my life will be better for it. I will still understand reality as it is with all the rigor of Objectivism and science, but I will live my life, essentially better than I would have, with the added pleasures, and happiness, and the flourishing which accompanies it, with the knowledge that I will not truly die. I will not be JUST AS successful as I would have been but for the evasion, in fact, because of my added pleasure and happiness and zest for life, I will flourish more, I will have lived more, I will have lived a life of more value than I otherwise would have lived. As such, it is not merely an option open to me, it is necessary for me to follow this path. According to the standard of value it IS the moral course of action, I must and will take it and I will benefit all the more throughout my entire life because of it.
  2. Since this is being discussed in many places and by many persons, I thought I'd start a new thread for discussion using some great free reference material: The Objectivist Ethics by Ayn Rand from the Virtue of Selfishness (VOS) is free to read and listen to on aynrand.org https://campus.aynrand.org/works/1961/01/01/the-objectivist-ethics/page1 https://campus.aynrand.org/works/1961/01/01/the-objectivist-ethics/page2 https://campus.aynrand.org/works/1961/01/01/the-objectivist-ethics/page3 https://campus.aynrand.org/works/1961/01/01/the-objectivist-ethics/page4 https://campus.aynrand.org/works/1961/01/01/the-objectivist-ethics/page5 https://campus.aynrand.org/works/1961/01/01/the-objectivist-ethics/page6 Page one features a radio version read by Ayn herself, and a Q&A session of a separate radio program in which she answered questions on the subject. Once we all have a chance to read and listen to the above as well as listen to the Q&A. I'd like to open the floor with a few questions aimed at a critical analysis of her ethics: Is the Objectivist ethics too "narrow" or "impoverished" due to its standard being man's survival qua man? Would a man necessarily live a lesser life by its adoption? Are there any alternatives to the Objective ethics which also qualify as objective and are also absolutely based on the facts of reality? Should one choose an ethics different from the Objectivist Ethics, and why? (based on what standard or reason)
  3. In my understanding of Objectivism two ideas seem to conflict. Please let me know what you think. When it comes to human sexuality it seems to me that if an individual has the opportunity to have sex and enjoys sexual activity and it makes them happy, they should have sex. Unto itself this seems a simple line of reasoning. Here's my issue. It is also my understanding that when an individual decides to have a child it is because they would value a child or be happy with the parenting experience. That being said just because a person has sex does not mean they want to have a child but a child can occur due to the sexual act. I know that the first two thoughts concerning this are 1. Birth control 2. Have an Abortion For the issue of birth control my only counter point is that no birth control is 100% effective short of the more permanent sterilization techniques. The problem with these is if the person does not want to have children now and may change their mind in the future. In this instance it would seem that the individual must determine what they value more, the temporary enjoyment of sex or not have children until they are ready. Concerning abortion my question lies in the value of human life. I know that life is the ultimate value we as human beings have. Without life nothing else has value. It seems to me that if life is the ultimate value then creating new life would require great consideration since it is of such value. I know the problem with this is that in no way are we required to value other people, only those that we derive value from. What ever your thoughts are the input would be useful. Thanks
  4. Hi all, You can read a post on one of my blogs titled “‘Publish or Perish’ → ‘Life or Death’” where I argue that keeping your own non-personal and non-private knowledge for yourself and thinking it is a good idea to try try to use it as a strategic advantage, is a recipe for stagnation and depression. Someone I talked to, thought that I was advocating publishing everything under an open source/open content etc. licence, but I don't go that far, and just encourage prompt publishing under a usable licence (but possibly a proprietary one). And I also don't encourage publishing too much of too little quality, that appears to have become the norm recently in the academic world, but you should definitely publish. In the post, I mention the United State Government’s so-called National Security Agency (= the NSA) as an organisation that offesnively violates this principle, and later on continued my mission of fighting it in the screenplay Summerschool at the NSA where the “Publish or Perish” meme is a recurent theme there, and you may enjoy it as well (I also reference Atlas Shrugged there and lots of other pieces of old and new culture). As I note in a different post, this is one thing I now dislike about Atlas Shrugged where trade secrets and possibly a fantasy of artists/creators keeping things to themselves - both appear to have received Rand’s approval, and which I now consider as extremely harmful notions. Anyway, comments are welcome, and I'm quoting the abstract to the screenplay here below for your perusal. Best regards, — Shlomi Fish. Summerschool at the NSA Abstract The Hollywood actresses Sarah Michelle Gellar (of Buffy fame) and Summer Glau (of xkcd notability) conspire to kick the ass of the NSA (= the United States government’s National Security Agency), while using special warfare that is completely non-violent. Two attractive, intelligent, and resourceful women against a large, inefficient, federal government organisation whose estimated annual budget is several times their combined worth. Does the NSA actually stands a chance?
  5. I'm so disheartened and disappointed. Evolution seems to reject the Objectivist position that life is an end in itself. Isn't our purpose as biological beings to reproduce? After all, why do we have reproductive organs? Someone please explain to me how evolution is compatible with objectivism. I have searched the forum and Peikoff's podcast's but it is taking too long to find an answer. Thank you, Cory
  6. Black Friday Special: The Morality of Profit

    http://www.appliedphilosophyonline.com/black_friday_special.htm Black Friday Special: The Morality of Profit by Thomas M. Miovas, Jr. 11/23/2012 On this “Black Friday” where retailers are expected to make a profit and being attacked for doing so, I thought it would be important to explain why making a profit is moral and necessary – and the root of living life the human way. “Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt gives a good example of this process: If one plants ten potatoes in the ground and only gets ten potatoes out of the ground at harvest time, no profit is made. However, one has exerted energy and thought to plant those potatoes, basically wasting one’s time treading water – and one has not accomplished anything. More broadly speaking, the term “profit” is a teleological concept, as Ayn Rand explains in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, “In regard to the concepts pertaining to evaluation ("value," "emotion," "feeling," "desire," etc.), the hierarchy involved is of a different kind and requires an entirely different type of measurement. It is a type applicable only to the psychological process of evaluation, and may be designated as ‘teleological measurement.’” All things that live require taking action and gaining values to sustain their lives, and if this action takes up more time or energy to accomplish something than what is returned out of the action, then the living being dies due to not making a profit. In other words, if a bird chased down and ate bugs, but didn’t get more out of digesting the bugs than it took for it to chase them down and eat them, then the bird would die. In this regard, the life of the living being is the proper standard of evaluation, and the teleological measurement would be to relate the total action taken to acquire a good versus the extended life made possible by utilizing that good to further one’s own life. Profit is life – to not make a profit is to spend one’s time and energy not sustaining oneself, and in the long-run cannot support one’s life -- and one will suffer or die. By life as the standard of evaluation (a type of teleological measurement), doing this consistently would be anti-life and not of value to those treading water instead of making a profit. The ability to get more out of an action than the effort one put into the action is the very root of the ability to live, and is moral according to the Objectivist Ethics. Hence, earning a profit in the market place is an act of living, and by the proper terms of evaluation, is extremely moral and just. To say that retailers earning a profit are wrong or immoral is to be anti-life, and is based on the premise that death is more important than life. Objectivism rejects this premise and celebrates the fact that a living being, and man in particular, can take the actions necessary to live its life by earning a profit. Some might protest at this point and say, “Yes, that is all good and well for the retailer, but how am I making a profit by purchasing items? If Wal-Mart makes millions of dollars on Black Friday, but I only get that HD TV, how am I profiting? And how is this fair?” To take this attitude is to drop the context as to why one bought the item in the first place. When one works for a living, the profit the worker makes is the savings he can put aside that is above and beyond the immediate needs of the moment, so he can buy things of greater value further down the line. If one is rational, one spends one’s money on those things which further one’s own life; and this can be measured in terms of more time given to live (like eating food) or more enjoyment out of life (which is important since we have free will and must desire to live). So buying that HD TV or that Ipad or that Smart Phone is all good and well for the consumer, given the value of that product to him for the purpose of sustaining or enjoying his life. In other words, both sides benefit if one is a smart retailer or a smart shopper. Such a trade is mutually beneficial and for the life of either side of the trade. This is what makes capitalism good. So, enjoy your Black Friday shopping spree, enjoy your values, and don’t spend all your profits on things that are not of value to you in the heat of the moment. Celebrate that fact that you live in a human society and can purchase things to sustain and to enjoy your life with just the effort of handing over some dollars that you earned by similarly trading value for value at the workplace (your time, effort, and expertise for his dollars).
  7. My first thread made me realize my mistake : I thought my own sense of morality was consistent with Objectivism. I just discovered that there is a fundamental difference between my own morality and Rand's and it just made me realize how much of a Potter fan I am. (I'll be quoting Dumbledore , Rowling's equivalent of Galt, here). The post is sufficiently long. Anyone who does not want to consider even the possibility that my argument can be true can move along. So, the fundamental problem I have with Rand's philosophy is the assumption that survival is the ultimate purpose of a living being and the sole measure of the worth of existence. The problem is that an individual's survival is impossible given a long enough time frame. Every living thing (and consequently all species including us) must cease to exist at some time in the very distant future due to the increasing entropy of the Universe ("Thermal death" or "Heat death" of the Universe), assuming some "Big Crunch" hasn't happened already. So the point is : life cannot exist for eternity. So I asked myself the question : 'If I am going to die anyway, why don't I [or any body] just kill myself [or themselves] and be done with it?'. The answer came as quickly as I had asked it [a testament to how much I used to like the Potter series] : 'The question is not about how long you live, but what you did while you where alive'. There is a simple analogy to computers ; Someone may ask : 'If I am going to shut down down my computer anyway, why should I switch it on in the first place'. The conclusion is similar : 'The purpose of switching on a computer is not to shut it down, but to do whatever you want with it, although it must necessarily to come to an end'. The effect of these simple questions made me realize the root cause of my disparity [Yes, everything I said in the previous thread was ultimately a derivative of these ideas. Simple difference, really, but far-fetching consequences] with the Objectivist philosophy [although there is much in common]. Basically, morality is not based on a question of life and death. Survival is not a fundamental. The question is not about how long you survive [as even the most moral person must die], but what you do so long as you are alive (such as aquiring knowledge 'additionally' as a matter of curiosity rather than as a means for survival. It is this additional part that matters. Knowledge used for survival is only like the electricity used to run a computer. Both are only the pemises, not the main feast). Rand's morality is based on an unachievable dream [survival], finally giving no incentive to the practitioner [DD : " Time is making fools of us again " & "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live"]. A hint of such existence where survival is the only concern is hinted at in the third HP book, probably the only reason for introducing the dementors : ["You can exist without your soul, you know, as long as your brain and heart are still working. But you'll have no sense of self anymore, no memory, no ... anything. There's no chance at all of recovery. You'll just exist. As an empty shell. And your soul is gone forever ... lost" -Lupin]. Before I state more, I shall say : Survival is important. But it is only a premise to achieving something else : positive emotions. There, I said it [a crime, isn't it?]. This was also the moral foundation for the Harry Potter series - this was something that Voldemort ignored : he went in search of immortality while he slighted the importance of love [positive emotion] and the message is this : the preference goes to positive emotions over survival . Voldemort had additional evils, which where shared by many characters, such as Dumbledore himself and countless others. But it was only he who despised love [so don't go assuming his problems lie elsewhere]. Harry's mother sacrificed herself out of love for Harry. Harry sacrificed himself out of love for everybody. Even Rand said something about self-sacrifice for a loved one [superiority of positive emotions, which might have lead me to believe that our beliefs overlapped]. Basically employing reason is a means to achieve survival, a premise for achieving positive emotions [knowledge, love, curiosity, even sadness, what are poems for?]. The desire to survive ceases immediately when it is to be achieved at the cost of positive emotions [which happens often, if you apply the principle to everything you come across], taking "surival" off the pedestal as a fundamental. Do not confuse positive emotions with Rand's concepts of "happiness" & "love", which are basically physical manifestations of the mind's pursuit of survival [which can never be achieved, but only a false assurance] and which gives a sense of selfishness [in case of pleasure], or productivity [drinking, smoking, etc - they used to hint productivity]. My case of morality is where positive emotions are a fundamental and although survival is necessary to achieve it [you can't feel anything if you're dead], our survival upto now has no effect on it [the same reason why every living person, although obviously surviving, experience different emotions], making positive emotions more fundamental than survival itself [even Rand's evil characters had negative emotions while the good characters had positive emotions]. These are achievable while survival is not. Before people start bashing, try to see from this perspective [and allow a few days to get used to it]. And don't assume I am one of the "altruists", just because I am not an objectivist. Actually I hate altruists more than anything [another thing that convinced me that my morality may be similar to Rand's]. You will see that the Harry Potter series retains some of the best aspects of Objectivism : Rational self-interest [Harry, Hermione], fight against altruists [in the form of slytherins], individualism [Dumbledore, Hermione], free will [courage is emphisised as a means to make individual choices; for gryffindors], second chances [which death does not give], protection of minorities [house elves] and majorities [muggles] through reasoning, rejection of mysticism [divination] etc. Sure, both philosophies deal with death. But Rowling accepts that death is inevitable and trying to conquer it is an unrealistic motivation, which must end sooner or later. Young people are more prone to the convicton that death can be somehow overcome, through power, popularity, etc (DD - "Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels, but old men are guilty, if they forget what it was to be young.") Rand claimed that emotions are not reality. Well, negative emotions are not a reality [it does not allow any kind of suvival, which is a premise to experiencing positive emotions]. Long term survival is also unrealistic, a foolish motive to base your life on if you ask me. Consider a similar analogy to reproduction: Sure food is important, but it is foolish to consider food more fundamental than reproduction. Food is only the premise to achieve reproduction, the ultimate aim : this is also because group survival is more attainable than individual survival. [but survival of any type is unattainable. What I presented is only an analogy]. One of the things that Objectivism allows is power [see my previous thread]. Although it allows survival [strictly because the kind of power I am speaking of does not involve force, but rather the lack of it, which is actually quite dangerous], it stifles up positive emotions. Some DD quotes: “We both know there are other ways of destroying a man, Tom,…Merely taking your life would not satisfy me, I admit—” “There is nothing worse than death, Dumbledore!” (voldemort) “You are quite wrong,…Indeed, your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness—” “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (meaning, death is inevitable. Although death is contradictory to our will to survive, there is no way around it. So by accepting death, by accepting the fact that it is impossible for you to survive, you shall have conquered death - a major theme in the book) "You are the true master of death, because the true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying" "Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him." (emotions can be used as a means to pretend that survival can be achieved, although it cannot be truly achieved) “Its our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” (suggesting that there are non-altruists, who have the ability, but go out of their way to achieve an unattainable ideal - survival). "It's the unknown we fear when looking upon death and darkness. Nothing more" "Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it." (Putting all your energy on survival can numb the pain for a while, but death is inevitable) I have one theory why Rand considered survival so important (and this influence can't be neglected) : her experience with Russia. She could have had a great fear for death, basically convincing her of the existence of only two entities : survival vs. death; intelligence vs. stupidity; selfishness vs. altruism; America vs. Russia. She then constructed an entire philosophy based on this assumption and made a crude mistake : she forgot that electricity is not merely enough to justify the existence of a computer. Survival is not merely enough to justify the existence of life. I'll reply when someone actually considers/understands my argument [that survival is not fundamental] objectively and then replies. If anyone intends to quote Rand, justify how it relates to the topic and the basic argument [as I have already considered that Rand if fundamentally wrong, you should attempt to directly tackle the fundamental problem. Avoid using derivatives of her philosophy which are based on this fundamental assumption. Using derivatives of an argument to prove the original argument is a flaw in logic].