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Eiuol

Why is life not intrinsically good?

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Life is the only proper standard of value, because living things are always faced with the alternatives of existence and nonexistence. Without life as a standard of value, there would be no way for an entity to act in regards to preserving its existence. Why, then, is it not proper to say life is intrinsically good? I understand that life is only the standard of value if one seeks life. However, isn't life good for all people in all circumstances, regardless of how it relates to an individual, because it is the only thing that enables a living entity to exist? The issue here may be my understanding of what it means for something to be intrinsically good. Since life is a characteristic all people have, I can still say the concept of life is wholly dependent upon a person - and that life is neither "sought for its own sake" nor "good in itself." It is good for a person.

Is my reasoning sound here?

Edited by Eiuol

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Life is the only proper standard of value, because living things are always faced with the alternatives of existence and nonexistence. Without life as a standard of value, there would be no way for an entity to act in regards to preserving its existence. Why, then, is it not proper to say life is intrinsically good? I understand that life is only the standard of value if one seeks life. However, isn't life good for all people in all circumstances, regardless of how it relates to an individual, because it is the only thing that enables a living entity to exist? The issue here may be my understanding of what it means for something to be intrinsically good. Since life is a characteristic all people have, I can still say the concept of life is wholly dependent upon a person - and that life is neither "sought for its own sake" nor "good in itself." It is good for a person.

Is my reasoning sound here?

Lucid, bountiful life, or life qua man, is the only rational standard of value.

But you still have to choose to be rational, and hence appreciate it.

Any man can choose to act against his rational nature, and act like a brute animal, and choose another standard of value.

There is nothing intrinsic in life qua man that gives it its value. It takes a valuer, a free valuer, a rational man, to become a value.

Many men choose pleasure as their standard of value (the hedonists).

Now, regarding biological life, same thing: it has no intrinsec value.

A man can choose to commit suicide because biological life is unbearable and he has no chance of living the flourishing life he wants. So, again, it takes a valuer.

Edited by Hotu Matua

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Lucid, bountiful life, or life qua man, is the only rational standard of value.

But you still have to choose to be rational, and hence appreciate it.

Any man can choose to act against his rational nature, and act like a brute animal.

There is nothing intrinsic in life qua man that gives it its value. It takes a valuer, a free valuer, a rational man, to become a value.

Some men choose pleasure as their standard of value, not life qua man.

Now, regarding biological life, same thing: it has no intrinsec value.

A man can choose to commit suicide because biological life is unbearable and he has no chance of living the flourishing life he wants.

So is the choice to live Life qua Man subjective? Why is it illegitimate for someone to choose non-life?

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So is the choice to live Life qua Man subjective? Why is it illegitimate for someone to choose non-life?

That's the point: it is not illegitimate. A waste, perhaps, but it is a choice. When a person chooses non-life, it doesn't take long to achieve. No further analysis is necessary.

If, on the other hand, a person decides to live, the next questions are, "what sort of life is appropriate to a human being?", and "how can I live such a life"? That is where Objectivist ethics begins.

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So is the choice to live Life qua Man subjective? Why is it illegitimate for someone to choose non-life?

Morality is not outside the realm of daily life.

So, there is no standard "out there" by which someone (God, the State) or something (The Ten Commandments, the Kantian moral imperative) can condemn you for choosing hedonism over reason.

It is reality itself which imposes its veridict.

So, the question "Is it moral to choose to live as a moron?" begs the answer. The answer will always be "No", because what you are really asking is "Is it rational to choose to be irrational?"

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Morality is not outside the realm of daily life.

So, there is no standard "out there" by which someone (God, the State) or something (The Ten Commandments, the Kantian moral imperative) can condemn you for choosing hedonism over reason.

It is reality itself which imposes its veridict.

So, the question "Is it moral to choose to live as a moron?" begs the answer. The answer will always be "No", because what you are really asking is "Is it rational to choose to be irrational?"

Does this leap over the whole is-ought thing by saying "hey, ethics presupposes that you want to live the good life"?

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Does this leap over the whole is-ought thing by saying "hey, ethics presupposes that you want to live the good life"?

I'm not sure what you mean by "leap over the whole is-ought thing", but yes, ethics for man living qua man presumes choosing life. As has been said, if one chooses death, nothing more need be done. If you fail to do anything for a long enough period you will reach the goal of death. The "ethics" of death requires one to cease pursuing life which is still a form of "is-ought" but with a different goal in mind.

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So, the question "Is it moral to choose to live as a moron?" begs the answer. The answer will always be "No", because what you are really asking is "Is it rational to choose to be irrational?"

The issue for me is: are we saying life is good because it is life, therefore it is intrinsically good? Again, I may be misapplying the word "intrinsic." Of course it is stupid to choose death, and it would not be possible to lead a moral course of action if one chooses death. Death is bad because it is death. I am not asking if there is an "ethics" of death - the closest thing is altruism after all - but rather, how is life not intrinsically good?

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isn't life good for all people in all circumstances, regardless of how it relates to an individual, because it is the only thing that enables a living entity to exist? The issue here may be my understanding of what it means for something to be intrinsically good. Since life is a characteristic all people have, I can still say the concept of life is wholly dependent upon a person - and that life is neither "sought for its own sake" nor "good in itself." It is good for a person.

Saying that yes, life is good for all people in all circumstances, presupposes that all people have some form of goal or some objective, something that they want to do with their life. This, in turn, presupposes that they have implicitly chosen life. Life is only a value if you have chosen it, in the sense that you have stuff that you'd like to do or accomplish in this life. Life is no good to someone who has not chosen it implicitly in some form, by pursuing some goal or taking some action.

If I take some action, I am illustrating that I prefer one outcome to another, and am trying to bring about the former. However, performing any action requires being alive, so by showing that I value the outcome of some action taken, I have chosen to use, in some respect, the fact that I'm alive. Thus, I've placed some value in the fact that I'm alive. I've chosen life. However, life is not a value for those who take no purposeful action.

Of course, saying that life is a value for all people in the world is a pretty safe bet, because pretty much everyone takes action in pursuit of some goal.

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The issue for me is: are we saying life is good because it is life, therefore it is intrinsically good? Again, I may be misapplying the word "intrinsic." Of course it is stupid to choose death, and it would not be possible to lead a moral course of action if one chooses death. Death is bad because it is death. I am not asking if there is an "ethics" of death - the closest thing is altruism after all - but rather, how is life not intrinsically good?

No, life is not good simply because it is life. Life is only good if you have some value you wish to pursue with your life.

Similarly, death is only bad if you have chosen some values, because death would impede your pursuit of them.

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The issue here may be my understanding of what it means for something to be intrinsically good.

To be intrinsically good means to be a value without reference to any valuer. That is, not good for somebody, but simply good, period. Which makes it an invalid concept, of course.

Life is indeed a goal that is inherent in the nature of every living organism, but this does not make it intrinsic: it is still the organism that values its own life. Thus, you could say that life qua man is a natural value to all men to whom it is possible (noting that it is still up to each man to choose to pursue this natural value, or some other values that conflict with their nature, or perhaps no value at all).

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Saying that yes, life is good for all people in all circumstances, presupposes that all people have some form of goal or some objective, something that they want to do with their life. This, in turn, presupposes that they have implicitly chosen life. Life is only a value if you have chosen it, in the sense that you have stuff that you'd like to do or accomplish in this life. Life is no good to someone who has not chosen it implicitly in some form, by pursuing some goal or taking some action.

If I take some action, I am illustrating that I prefer one outcome to another, and am trying to bring about the former. However, performing any action requires being alive, so by showing that I value the outcome of some action taken, I have chosen to use, in some respect, the fact that I'm alive. Thus, I've placed some value in the fact that I'm alive. I've chosen life. However, life is not a value for those who take no purposeful action.

Of course, saying that life is a value for all people in the world is a pretty safe bet, because pretty much everyone takes action in pursuit of some goal.

Purposeful Action? Action is purposeful behavior. So what is purposeful purposeful behavior?

Also, I am not sure that valuing the fact that one is alive is the same thing as valuing "life". I was always under the impression that Ayn Rand meant life as "the good life".

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Purposeful Action? Action is purposeful behavior. So what is purposeful purposeful behavior?

Also, I am not sure that valuing the fact that one is alive is the same thing as valuing "life". I was always under the impression that Ayn Rand meant life as "the good life".

It is clear that Ayn Rand did not believe that all actions are purposeful. Note that she declared the most depraved person to be "the man without a purpose." She explained this statement by saying that people without a purpose still had to act, but in doing so had to act destructively, to destroy others and their achievements. Think James Taggart from Atlas Shrugged or Adolf Hitler. Purpose, as being used in this context, means a productive, creative purpose, an objective purpose.

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It is clear that Ayn Rand did not believe that all actions are purposeful. Note that she declared the most depraved person to be "the man without a purpose." She explained this statement by saying that people without a purpose still had to act, but in doing so had to act destructively, to destroy others and their achievements. Think James Taggart from Atlas Shrugged or Adolf Hitler. Purpose, as being used in this context, means a productive, creative purpose, an objective purpose.

Yeah I understand that. It is just that the word purpose has many different meanings.

All behavior is purposeful, goal oriented.

Not all behavior purposeful, value oriented.

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Life is the only proper standard of value, because living things are always faced with the alternatives of existence and nonexistence. Without life as a standard of value, there would be no way for an entity to act in regards to preserving its existence. Why, then, is it not proper to say life is intrinsically good? I understand that life is only the standard of value if one seeks life. However, isn't life good for all people in all circumstances, regardless of how it relates to an individual, because it is the only thing that enables a living entity to exist? The issue here may be my understanding of what it means for something to be intrinsically good. Since life is a characteristic all people have, I can still say the concept of life is wholly dependent upon a person - and that life is neither "sought for its own sake" nor "good in itself." It is good for a person.

Is my reasoning sound here?

The units that possess life, generally, as part of their nature seek to preserve it. Thus life is 'intrinsically' good to a living thing because that is the quality of its makeup that causes it to have and sustain life.

Consider that in contrast to the idea that life is good if you want life, but no good if you don't. That is, life is a standard of value after the choice to pursue life. I'm taking it a step further by saying that almost inevitably a living thing would have in its nature the need to pursue life - so even the choice itself is intrinsic.

So you don't really need to say -' if you want to live '- because as a functional human your entire system is inclined to pursue life. Death only occurs as contradictions are pursued and one attempts to seek the values of life from a source beyond life. You know what I mean?

What I've done is include an idea necessary to mention: that our nature defines our ethics. Fundamental to our nature is that we are alive, intrinsic to it is that we pursue life. Life is not 'good in itself', then. But life generally - even non-human life - can have some relative value to humans, because of our nature as living rational beings. So life can have value in the abstract sense beyond our individual lives, but only because our individual lives are in fact valuable to us.

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The units that possess life, generally, as part of their nature seek to preserve it. Thus life is 'intrinsically' good to a living thing because that is the quality of its makeup that causes it to have and sustain life.

What I've done is include an idea necessary to mention: that our nature defines our ethics. Fundamental to our nature is that we are alive, intrinsic to it is that we pursue life.

I understand what you mean, but the use of the word "intrinsic" here can still be misleading to the author of the question.

Our nature does not condemn us to be good and seek flourishing life as our standard of value.

It is also in our nature the ability to choose, including to choose acting against our nature, acting as if we could fake reality.

A horse cannot choose to live according to a different standard of "good". A horse can only act according to its nature. They pursue the value dictated bby their nature. They are in harmony with their reality.

Man, in contrast, has to choose to be good. He has to choose to think, to set goals, to discover reality, to draw up projects that will take him to his goals based on that reality.

It is because he can choose to be rational or irrational, to think or to evade thinking, to be moral or to be immoral, that we need ethics.

Edited by Hotu Matua

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The units that possess life, generally, as part of their nature seek to preserve it. Thus life is 'intrinsically' good to a living thing because that is the quality of its makeup that causes it to have and sustain life.

The use of intrinsic in quotes is exactly my reason for making the topic. I knew there knew there was no such thing as an intrinsic value, but life seemed to be of intrinsic value. CapitalismForever's post clarified and resolved my issue. Life can only be good for a particular person. Life is not good for its own sake, and even though life actually is good for all people, it is good for a particular reason in relation to a particular kind of entity. Sure, life is the basis of morality, but it is still a basis that has relation to humans. To say that life is an intrinsic value would be say that life is valuable regardless of if there is anyone to even value life. If we were to analyze life separate from being human, it would not be possible to say either that life is good or even a value. It would be context dropping.

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Eiuol "Why, then, is it not proper to say life is intrinsically good?"

It is proper. "In Valuable values" Tara Smith asks the same question: "The exact status of life in this account of value's foundations may seem ambiguous. At times, it's sounds as if life is itself a value...yet at other at other times ... life seems to be that what gives rise to value. Which is it? Is life a value or is life the source of value? The answer is, both." (pg 104). Only concept of life makes concept of value meaningful. But life itself is a value since one has to act in order to sustain it.

Edited by Leonid

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It is NOT proper to say that life has instrinsic value and Tara Smith, in the same book (Viable Values) explains it.

The bold is mine

"When it comes to human beings and moral value, however, it is important to understand that life is the standard of value
if
a person seeks life. Having rejected the idea of intrinsec value in chapter three,
we cannot treat life as intrinsically valuable
. Rather, the existence of value is conditional; value arises for those who seek to maintain their lives. It is
only for people who wish to live
that we can intelligibly distinguish things as good for them and bad for them relative to that purpose" (page 94, last paragraph)

The paragraph Leonid has quoted has nothing to do with the claim about the intrinsic value of life. It only states that life is both a value and a source of all other values, in the same sense that rationality is both a virtue and a source of all other virtues. What Leonid's quotation presents is the primacy of life among all other values, not its intrinsic value.

Notwithstanding its primacy, life still needs valuers to be a value.

Edited by Hotu Matua

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It is NOT proper to say that life has instrinsic value and Tara Smith, in the same book (Viable Values) explains it.

The bold is mine

"When it comes to human beings and moral value, however, it is important to understand that life is the standard of value
if
a person seeks life. Having rejected the idea of intrinsec value in chapter three,
we cannot treat life as intrinsically valuable
. Rather, the existence of value is conditional; value arises for those who seek to maintain their lives. It is
only for people who wish to live
that we can intelligibly distinguish things as good for them and bad for them relative to that purpose" (page 94, last paragraph)

The paragraph Leonid has quoted has nothing to do with the claim about the intrinsic value of life. It only states that life is both a value and a source of all other values, in the same sense that rationality is both a virtue and a source of all other virtues. What Leonid's quotation presents is the primacy of life among all other values, not its intrinsic value.

Notwithstanding its primacy, life still needs valuers to be a value.

There is no life without valuers. These two concepts cannot be separated. Life is identical with valuers and therefore life is the only thing which has intrinsic value for them as long as they alive. If they reject life as value and source of value then they cannot value anything.

Edited by Leonid

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There is no life without valuers. These two concepts cannot be separated. Life is identical with valuers and therefore life is the only thing which has intrinsic value for them as long as they alive. If they reject life as value and source of value then they cannot value anything.

The point is, this is exactly why you can't say life is of intrinsic value. There is no value to life if one doesn't choose life.

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Hi Leonid

You cannot say "intrinsic" and then "for them" without incurring in a contradiction.

If something is valuable for some people, then it has no intrinsic value.

Life qua man has no intrinsic value.

Hitler, for example, valued Arian race superiority, valued loyalty to the State over loyalty to one's mind, etc.

All these were values, since he made an effort to gain them and keep them. (Values are those things that you strive to gain or keep).

All these values led inevitablely to death, though. These values were consistent with the goal he had set for his path: death and destruction.

Indeed, by following Hitler's actions, we can be sure that he loved death very dearly.

That's why he personally enjoyed so much the sacrifice of everyone of his fellowmen to the cause of the State. His vision of a State was that of a suicidal State. Inded, his personal suicide in the bunker was the ultimate proof of his death-driven mind around which he aligned all his other values.

The existence of people like Hitler demostrates that life has no intrinsic value.

History of humankind is the story of a war between life-lovers and death-lovers. Since death entails a condition of no-man, we also call them anti-man.

All death-lovers in the end yearn for a situation in which the life of a man dissolves in the middle of the collective (called God, the church, Motherland, the State, the society, the brotherhood of all men, etc.) and therefore strive to gain and keep values consistent to that vision of the future of man. That's their choice.

Again, their existence proves that life has no intrinsic value.

Edited by Hotu Matua

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The point is, this is exactly why you can't say life is of intrinsic value. There is no value to life if one doesn't choose life.

If one doesn't choose life, then he chooses death. But in any case, choice’s precondition is life. Dead people don't make any choices. That exactly why life has intrinsic value-one has to be alive in order to negate life and to act toward this purpose. The value of life is inescapable even for suicide bomber.

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But life is not a value just because you happen to have it.

Life is not a value just because it fell on your lap as a gift from your parents.

A value is a value because you choose to pursue it, to gain it or, having gained it, to keep it.

That life you are referring to, which is a precondition, a metaphysically given, is not a value unless man turns it into a value. There has to be a volitional exercise of man's mind, expressed in concrete actions: "I choose life, and I am doing this for my love to it"

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While one does not act to gain one's own like (it is given by your parents) one does act to keep it, and therefore it is possible for life to have intrinsic value. also, in objectivism life is used as the standard of all of man's other values.. how could something be used as a standard of value without being intrinsically valuable in and of itself?

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