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KyaryPamyu

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  1. The following is a "cheat sheet" for the seven objectivist virtues that I have created with consultation from Tara Smith's Normative Ethics book. It assumes a general knowledge of Objectivism, so it focuses exclusively on the "how" of morality - no meta-ethics, detailed explanations, possible exceptions or applications to politics.
    __________________
    OVERVIEW OF THE SEVEN VIRTUES

    • Rationality: In all of our waking hours, life requires of us that we gain new knowledge, choose values, make important decisions and discover how to act. If we are to lead good and happy lives, those decisions and actions must be in harmony with reality, i.e. must first be validated by a process of logic. The start of morality itself is a commitment to flip the switch, a metaphor for going into full mental focus and maintaining it throughout the day. "Mental focus" refers to a readiness to grasp reality (through logic) whenever you consider it to be necessary, not a permanent process of thought. You must never act without knowing exactly what you're doing (or on whim), because all human actions have consequences in reality.
    • Honesty: Never pretend that things are other than they are, either to yourself or to others. Deception is sometimes permitted in dangerous situations. White lies are an especially potent form of poison.
    • Independence: Sustain yourself through your own production, and make your way in the world through your own judgement. Before taking directions and advice from others, make up your own mind wheter to accept them or not (primary orientation to reality).
    • Justice: Judge the people in your life objectively, on grounds of their character and what they mean to your happiness. Give people what they deserve: praise, admiration, respect for people who inspire you or make you happy, and respond to evil people by not sanctioning their evil practices, steering cleer of them, or condemnation. Forgiveness can sometimes be appropriate, but mercy (undeserved leniancy) never is. 
    • Integrity: Loyalty, in the face of pressure, to rational principles (whether moral of any other kind). Do not betray your actual convictions in action - thus faking your consciousness - due to fear of other people's opinions, or because you're not in the mood, or because the required action will feel uncomfortable. To gain confidence and courage you need vision, which means: when needed, remind yourself of the full context.
    • Productiveness: Choose production (a productive career) as your central, most important activity, around which everything else gravitates. Commit to the constant improvement of your work methods, and adapt your work when unexpected circumstances occur. There is no limit to how secure, comfortable and enjoyable to make your life, therefore there is no limit to how productive you should be.
    • Pride: refers to a forward-driving ambition to always act rationaly, to the best of your particular ability and circumstances. This will make you earn a positive self-appraisal of yourself - of being capable of achieving values and worthy of values - which will, in turn, give you more motivation to pursue your happiness. Anything less will give you fair reasons to doubt your worth, which in turn weakens your fire for pursuing happiness.
    • The basic vice: the act of unfocusing your mind, the suspension of your consciousness. The refusal to see and the refusal to know.

    ___________________
    "FRANCISCO D'ANCONIA'S CREDO" - THE SEVEN OBJECTIVIST VIRTUES STATED IN A SINGLE PARAGRAPH

    (Note: this is my own creation, not a quotation from Atlas Shrugged)

    Spend your time in greedy pursuit of material wealth through a career you love, one that makes full use of your mind. Commit to the constant improvement of your work methods, and adapt your work when unexpected circumstances occur. Support yourself only with money you earn yourself. Flip the focus-switch on, so that in any issue, you're ready to understand, decide and act with your brain, not with your heart. Name things as they really are, to yourself or to others, avoiding even white lies. Never betray your rational convictions in action (moral or of any nature) - by believing something but acting against it; if you become afraid, or you're not in the mood, or the right action is uncomfortable to do, summon the full context to your mind and muster the confidence and courage to stick to your true convictions. Make your way in the world exclusively through your own judgement, and whatever advices others give, make up your own mind about them (reality is the final arbitrer). Pay people that you admire, or inspire you, or mean alot to you personally, with praise, rewards, love, friendship. Respond to vile or dangerous people with condemnation, steering clear of them, and refusal to sanction their evil. Gradualy become worthy of praise and esteem in your own eyes, by fashioning yourself into a man capable of achieving values and worthy of values, by means of pushing yourself to always act in your rational self-interest, to the best of your particular circumstances and ability - even when you don't feel like it.

    ---
    [Important note: Objectivism doesn't specifically prescribe that you become a millionaire. It states that you should greedily "squeeze" anything you can rightfully earn from life - the biggest enjoyment and paycheck from the job you love (whether industrialist or school teacher), the best that your money allows you to buy, the best lover that your character can attract. This is different from organizing your life around earning  wealth through a job that turns your days into a living hell (see Roark's discussion with the deen at the beggining of The Fountainhead.]

  2. Update: I think that the whole "CPL" thing is a misunderstanding of Ayn Rand's ethics. I believe that what she really meant was this:

    Living beings can only stay alive through the consumption of survival values. The maintainance and enjoyment of man's life depends on values such as food, shelter, clothing, art and so on. Since man must first produce survival values before he consumes or uses them, saying that "productive work is a man's central purpose" is the same as saying "the sustainance of his life is man's central purpose". People cannot exclusively consume - some of them (idealy everybody) must produce. The alternative to production (and trade) as your central purpose/activity is looting as your central purpose.

    You can choose to be completely self-sufficient by producing everything you consume (amish-style); or, you can choose the division-of-labor route by picking something you love to produce (such as music), specializing in producing it, then trading it for the rest of the values that your life and enjoyment depends on: pies, appartments, books, movies, raising your kids, vacations and so on.

    As far as integration goes, Rand means it in two ways, depending on whether she refers to production of value per-se, or to a specific line of work.

    1. If it's about production itself, then it's the central value within the Objectivist value-triad - Reason, Purpose, and Self-Esteem - the one that integrates the rest. Reason is the precondition of production (but useless without it), and pride is the result.

    2. If she's talking specificaly about a productive purpose (a job, or a career - which can be a progression of jobs), then 'integration' is meant in a different way. A career establishes the relative importance, meaning and hierarchy of your other values, and makes it very easy for you to make decisions in life.

    • A career takes most of your time (university studies, building your skill, working, planning, holding conferences, competition in the market). When doing time management, everything else is of lower relative importance (not intrinsicaly, just planning-wise). For example, you might have to drop a value from your hierarchy if it competes, time-wise, with your career.
    • The money you earn gives you earned acces the rest of your needs: appartment, books, food, drink, vacations, trips. So in a way, your career is the integrator of all your material needs.
    • You might inevitably find yourself spending your time and money on movies, books, friends, clothes, courses and trips that complement your career, e.g. a conductor might spend his pocket money on rare musical scores.
    • Some values can detract from your career, so you might have to remove them altogheter (World of Warcraft, dangerous sports if pianist)
    • Some values can be ends in themselves: you can enjoy painting or stamp-collecting for the pleasure they give you, but they will be secondary to your main purpose.
    • Celebrations and parties usually imply that you're celebrating something. If it's not a birth, marriage or succesful harvest, people usualy celebrate work achievements. To engage in recreation, you must also rest from something.
    • Art and sex are entirely different animals. Though art is an end in itself, it can be a nice source of fuel. Sex, on the other hand, is an expression of your self-esteem and of your admiration for somebody else's virtues; it's not tied to work, but to your character.

    A note about self-esteem: productive work alone will not give you self esteem. It's entirely possible to use work as "an escape" from reality - you might be a rationality-machine in your career, but simply irrational in your choices of lovers, dealings with people, choice of diet and so on. Self esteem is the certainty that you are capable of living (thinking) in general - that you're worthy of living. The only way to gain self-esteem is by a commitment to unbreached rationality (the virtue of pride), which leads to the formation of a moral (efficaceous) character, which leads to its emotional expression: self esteem.  

    PRODUCTIVE PURPOSE

    • productive purpose can be broad. For example, a musician can perform, compose, teach and write books about his art, all of it as part of his "umbrella of expertise". A writer (such as Rand) can write novels, plays, movie/TV scenarios, non-fiction, can lecture on writing etc.
    • Your passion doesn't need to be your "top-most value, ever". For a musician, sex, chocolate, travel and hobbies can obviously be just as valuable and indispensable.
    • A career is a unique kind of pleasure, because every achievement/day spent on it adds up to a sum.
    • A career that fills your life with joy is infinitely preferable to one you hate. Most industrialists don't "love" copper, metal, shower faucets or medicine, what they find exhilarating is running the business itself - like a real life Minecraft game.
    • I've never encountered any writings where Rand referrs to a "central purpose in life" - only to productive work as a rational man's central purpose - i.e. his most crucial activity (without which consumption and survival are not possible), or to a productive purpose (career). She never implied that a productive purpose is some sort of abstract ideal, such as "I want to portray the ideal man". What she realy said (in an article called "The Goal Of My Writing") was that the projection of an ideal man was her ultimate literary goal. This is entirely different from a productive purpose, which, for Rand, was writing.

    ____________

    Read more on career and purpose here:

    http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/career.html 

    http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/purpose.html

    http://aynrandlexicon.com/ayn-rand-ideas/the-objectivist-ethics.html

  3. Tara Smith discusses this in her book, Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist. Here are two exerpts; check the book out for an excellent resource on Objectivist ethics.

    Quote

    As I will explain in the next section, productive work must become the central purpose of arational egoist’s life. And by occupying this role, productiveness brings with it further spiritual values. A central productive purpose will serve a person’s need for coherence in his activities, providing a rational basis for choosing and weaving in to an integrated, seamless fabric pursuits that might otherwise be disparate, dangling threads. A commitment to productive work, because of the dominant place it will necessarily assume, establishes what a person’s life is about and thereby lends meaning to his activities, enabling them to add up to a unified, valuable whole. In this way, productiveness will also strengthen a person’s sense of his identity. If a person embraces productive work as his central purpose and devotes the requisite time and energy to it, it will become an integral part of his self-image, refining his sense of what is important to him and of who he is. The embrace of productive work as one’s central purpose will naturally carry ramifications on other of a person’s activities. Other things will be of interest – certain books worth reading, certain people worth meeting, certain events in the news worth following or trying to influence–because of their potential impact on that end. Not only those interests and activities most directly affecting a person’s work, but the value of many of a person’s ancillary ends and activities will be influenced by hiscentral productive purpose. Thus, again, a person’s overall identity and sense of identity can be more deeply and more finely engraved by his exercise of the virtue of productiveness. 

    Quote

    When we say that a person works in order to live, accordingly, this means that he works in order to do still further work. For productive work is the principal activity that sustains a person and normally occupies a person’s days. As such, productive work ideally becomes an end as well as a means. It is an indispensable means of achieving the material values that sustain a person’s existence, but it should also be the activity that a person wishes to engage in further, with the time that his productive effort buys. Although I need the salary that my philosophy work provides in order to pay the mortgage and grocery bills, for example, one of the chief reasons that Iamglad to be able to pay those bills is so that I can continue doing philosophical work. That work is not merely a means to other things that I value; it is itself an activity that I enjoy, that enriches my life and that I would like to pursue even if it did not pay, could I afford to do that. Obviously, many people are not in this enviable position. The point is that this is the ideal; a person should strive to do productive work that provides the greatest spiritual as well as material rewards. Indeed, it is precisely because a person typically needs to devote so much energy to the work that will sustain him that he should try to do work that provides values beyond monetary compensation. For spiritual gratification is itself vital to self-sustaining action.


     

  4. In the introduction of "For the New Intellectual", Ayn Rand stated that Galt's Speech is the shortest summary of Objectivism. She was right, it's a summary in the sense of covering all of the essentials of Objectivism. But she leaves out many technicalities that you don't really need to study unless you're hardcore about learning all of its elements. For example:

    a). In the intro of FTNI she states that Galt's speech barely touches on epistemology, and that she intends to write a treatise on it. She did, and the treatise was called "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology". While Galt briefly covers how reason and logic work, ITOE explores epistemology through her theory of concept-formation (children-friendly lessons on measurement-ommision, abstraction from abstractions etc.) You don't need this unless you're a philosopher, a philosophy student or really interested in Objectivism.

    b). The theory of aeshtetics. You can get a few clues about her aesthetic views from the way she describes the works of art in her novels (e.g. the piece of modern music Dagny hears on the street vs. the music of Richard Halley), but incorporating an explicitly stated aesthetic theory into an actual work of art (novel) would be redundant. In the Romantic Manifesto she covers aesthetics in depth. Again, this is a specialized subject that's not absolutely essential, even though it's important. Obviously, if you're an artist or art lover, it's absolutely crucial.

    There are many non-essentials that she covered implicitly (i.e. concretized and dramatized) in her novels, but were only made explicit later in her non-fiction works. In OPAR, Peikoff covers absolutely all the intricacies and technicalities, and he orders them hierarchically. He even includes things from his telephone conversations with Rand that she never got to write or publish. 

    In a nutshell:
    Galt's speech is all of the essentials of Objectivism.
    OPAR is a comprehensive and scholarly study of ALL of its elements - essentials and technicalities alike - from all of her written works and private philosophical conversations. The structure of Galt's Speech was dictated by the context of the novel (which is why it took Rand 2 years to figure out how to structure it so that it's perfectly integrated to the novel), OPAR is a systematic and logically ordered study.

  5. softwareNerd,

    Very thoughtful questions. I very much doubt that a Chinese worker could consider his repetitious routine to be his CPL. Productive work, for Ayn Rand, involves  constant thinking about new ways to improve your field of work. So, mechanical work can't truly be a worthy purpose. If circumstances force people into that kind of labor, I guess the only workaround for them would be to support their real passion with the money they earn, and eventually build a better life for themselves. That, if they aren't already completely disillusioned with life on earth. I wonder: if in the future, all manual work of this type will be taken over by machinery, how would that translate to jobs? It's possible that Yaron Brook covered this in his books, but I am not acquianted with either of his works.

    Regarding holding the same CPL for your entire lifetime, Ayn Rand's had the following to say about motherhood: it's a proper central purpose, if  it's approached as a career that requires the full use of your mind (in order to discover ways of doing it as well as possible), and as long as the woman knows that at some point she'll be forced to undertake a new purpose. Obviously, when all of her kids will grow, her 'career' will obviously become outdated. 

    My take is that, if you switch your career and start achieving things within the new career, you should be equally fulfulled, if you tie your achievements to your new career/purpose. But I have to say this, while it's possible to switch, I think it's very uncommon. True mastery in any field can take a whole lifetime. You either love your field or not. 

    If you look at the lives of great musicians such as Mozart, Beethoven or The Beatles, you'll see that many of them very quickly reached the plateau of what was possible in their genres. But instead of ditching music altogheter, they started to explore new possibilities within their chosen field. Mozart started incorporating counterpoint into his music, a musical technique that originated with the Baroque Period but was forgotten after the Classical period took over. This made his own music very unique. He then made very daring innovations to opera music, and this achievement is what really turned him into a staple of classical music programmes. Beethoven single-handledy made the transition from the Classical to the Early Romantic era through his innovations. The Beatles' recording career lasted for about 10 years (not counting their previous musical activity), yet they covered just about any genre that was popular at the time: Elvis-type rock&roll, 19th century music hall, blues, psychedelic rock, baroque pop, indian music, the first heavy metal song in history (Helter Skelter), ballads, avant-garde and many more. 

    Many artists reached their real creative maturity and peak tens of years into their careers. For them, their earlier works were like the pages of a photo-book that documented their creative lives. So I don't really believe in the concept of a 'plateau'; if there's nothing else to do in your current endeavor, plenty of related possibilities should be open to you. For example, Hank Rearden of Atlas Shrugged started as a laborer in various mines while he made his way into owning his own mills. Then he created Rearden Metal, which took 10 years. The he began researching how his new alloy could be applied to various industries: airplanes, train diesels and so on. But if your career doesn't provide lots of possibilities and variety, then it's entirely normal to get bored and change your field.

    Had those artists lived 100+ years, I have no idea if they would've eventually ditched their main love for another. But for the current life expectancy, I think one passion is enough, especally since some careers (arts and technology are the perfect example) couldn't exhaust their possibilities even if you lived forever.

  6. softwareNerd,

    Since I am in the process of decoding this myself, all I can say is that, within the context of the novel, all of Dagny's work and productiveness is devoted to her central purpose, which is Taggart Transcontinental. For Francisco, it's D'Anconia Copper, for Hank Rearden it's his mines.

    I was listening to a Peikoff course yesterday where he casually mentioned that for Francisco, Dagny was the expression of his love for D'Anconia Copper, so this seems to be a prevailing Objectivist theme. As to which way sex is tied to your one purpose, I am still in the process of figuring it out. Some historical geniuses were passionate enough to be polymaths, but they were/are few and far inbetween. A lot of people prefer choosing just one purpose and growing it as much as they can.

  7. Nicky,

    Quote

    "Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values." - Ayn Rand

    I think that should solve the misunderstanding: happiness is not a value, or an emotion for that matter. It's the state of having achieved one's values/purpose. In other words, "I'm happy" is just a shorter way to say "I've achieved my ultimate values."

    This is an incorrect understanding of her definition. Rand makes the distinction between value and ultimate value:

    "An ultimate value is that final goal or end to which all lesser goals are the means—and it sets the standard by which all lesser goals are evaluated. An organism’s life is its standard of value [...] It is only an ultimate goal, an end in itself, that makes the existence of values possible." (The Objectivist Ethics)

    All values are merely the means of achieving and enjoying your ultimate value. You enjoy it by means of the resulting emotions; happiness is definitely an emotional state:

    "Existentially, the activity of pursuing rational goals is the activity of maintaining one’s life; psychologically, its result, reward and concomitant is an emotional state of happiness. [...] And when one experiences the kind of pure happiness that is an end in itself—the kind that makes one think: “This is worth living for”—what one is greeting and affirming in emotional terms is the metaphysical fact that life is an end in itself." (The Objectivist Ethics)

    In other words, when you enjoy sex or ice-cream, the actual thing you're enjoying is your life.

    Laughlin states that the CPL is your most important value (source of happiness) but not the only one.
    Your reformulation is that happiness (the tent) is itself the CPL, and the poles are the means to that, whatever those might be.

    But the term happiness is too over-arching and doesn't tell you which specific forms of happiness (values) are right for you.

    To quote Eiuol from this tread: 
    "CPL isn't a tent - it's the blueprint to make a tent. CPL isn't a pole of the tent at all. As Rand says, CPL serves a function to establish one's value hierarchy. Then you can assemble the tent because you'll know which things to build it with and their level of importance. If a CPL integrates all concerns of a man's life, then it's not going to be an incomplete collection of values - it won't leave out leisure or relationships. Furthermore, it'd be a way to know if you achieved your values."

    Ayn Rand described her CPL as fiction writing, but writing books wasn't all there was to it. To her, writing fiction was her means of creating the world she liked.

    Here's an exerpt from her journals, where she explains how creating Objectivism was secondary, and integrated to her actual CPL.

    "I seem to be both a theoretical philosopher and a fiction writer. but it is the last that interests me most; the first is only the means to the last; the absolutely necesarry means, but only the means; the fiction story is the end. Without an understanding and statement of the right philosophical principle, I cannot create the right story; but the discovery of the principle interests me only as the discovery of the proper knowledge to be used for my life purpose; and my life purpose is the creation of the kind of world (people and events) that I like-that is, represents human perfection

    Philosophical knowledge is necessary in order to define human perfection. But I do not care to stop at the definition. I want to use it, to apply it-in my work (in my personal life too-but the core, center and purpose of my personal life, of my whole life, is my work)."

    Ayn Rand spent most of her time writing, not because she wanted to make money, but because it was her favorite form of enjoyment, her form of "liquor". While she recognized the importance of love and leisure, those cannot exist without work. Here's a quote from Atlas Shrugged regarding work and sex:

    "There was some unbreakable link between her love for her work and the desire of her body; as if one gave her the right to the other, the right and the meaning; as if one were the completion of the other – and the desire would never be satisfied, except by a being of equal greatness."

    Without a CPL, any achievement would feel utterly meaningless, because you wouldn't know by what standard those achievements were worth pursuing or not worth pursuing. And 'life' and 'happiness' don't cut it as a central purpose. You need a specific  form of happiness that is unique to you. 

  8. I found some references to this principle in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I think Rand's novels are much more satisfying if you can tie everything to the abstract principles she was concretizing, but it can be tricky to discover them if you don't learn the abstract theory first.

    A quote about Hank Rearden:
    "He had moved toward his goal, sweeping aside everything that did not pertain to it in the world and in himself. His dedication to his work was like one of the fires he dealt with, a fire that burned every lesser element, every impurity out of the white stream of a single metal. He was incapable of halfway concerns."

    and a quote from The Fountainhead:
    "Nothing can be reasonable or beautiful unless it's made by one central idea, and the idea sets every detail. A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one single theme, and to serve its own single purpose. A man doesn't borrow pieces of his body. A building doesn't borrow hunks of its soul. Its maker gives it the soul and every wall, window and stairway to express it."

  9. softwareNerd,

    You make a very good point about distinguishing direct integration from compatibility-adjustment. It's uncertain to me wheter Rand meant integration in the true sense, or a mixture of complementarity and direct integration, or merely establishing "the hierarchy, the relative imortance, of your values" in relation to the CPL. 

    In my mind, it seems as if Rand is refering to both integration and complementarity. Peikoff, in OPAR, seems to agree with this view of integration:

    A central purpose is the long-range goal that constitutes the primary claimant on a man’s time, energy, and resources. All his other goals, however worthwhile, are secondary and must be integrated to this purpose. The others are to be pursued only when such pursuit complements the primary, rather than detracting from it.

    I personaly find that assesing the relationship between my CPL and my other values can lead to better mental organization and makes my life feel like an integrated whole. For example, I can see cricket not merely as a fun activity, but as a way of recharging my creative batteries for when I get back to my work projects. 

    I also agree that being an artist or physicist need not drive one's choices of movies and art, but I think it's useful to consciously do so, from the perspective of integration or complementarity. If you carefully choose what you consume, you can deliberately turn your art consumption into a source of creative ideas, career inspiration, a renewed sense of life.

    Since I covered the idea of consciously relating your goals to your CPL, I want to cover another aspect: people's passions or "life themes" can unconsciously affect their choices in surprizing ways. This being said, I want to cover what you said about love. I've found, through personal observation, that the like-attracts-like maxim holds true more often than not. It goes beyond mere common interests - many lovers have similar careers and music tastes, they look strangely alike (also applies to dogs and their owners), they even like to 'mirror' eachother's movements. I don't doubt that, once in a while, a physicist will kick it off with a painter, but I think it's (statistically) less likely than the cases where both lovers share at least a marginal interest and technical knowledge of their lover's craft. It has to do with a feeling of rapport and connection. It's not mandatory, but better.

    So is conscious integration of every single thing you do crucial? I still can't say. It does make choices a lot clearer though.

    Edit: I realized that "complementary to" is not the same thing as "compatible with". I have analysed Peikoff's statement, and my current understanding of it is this:

    Everything you do must somehow be complementary to your central purpose. How something complements your CPL is up to you to figure out. If you see sports as mental rest, art as emotional fuel for achieving your goals, and love as two people sharing the same values and inspiring eachoter, then I guess they're complementary and integrated to the CPL, not merely separate-yet-compatible.

    KyaryPamyu

  10. For those interested, Kelley covers this in a sub-chapter of his Logical Structure of Objectivism (page 166). His interpretation is as follows:

    Because one’s basic purpose is the maintenance of one’s life, and productive work is the principal means of achieving that end, one’s productive work deserves a high priority among one’s various purposes. Both Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff have emphasized this point by arguing that productive work is the sole, “central value” upon which all others depend.

    (bolded words mine)

    He then claims that the concept of a CPL is flawed and that it's based on faulty logic.

    This is a core tenet of Objectivism, so it surprises me that there are different interpretations among Objectivists. 

    My take on it is different from Kelley's. Yes, the goal of all human action is furthering one's life (the emotional concommitent being happiness). However, Life and Happiness are extremely abstract terms. They open up an infinite amount of choices, but they don't provide any standard of discriminating between them, according to your own unique interests and individual characteristics. What is their hierarchy of importance? Which movies or books should you choose? Love is also closely tied to our values. When we choose a romantic partner, "virtue" is obviously not enough to fall in love with them - otherwise we couldn't take any pick.

    For Rand, a creative purpose wasn't only a means of 'material production, it was the primary way in which people enjoy their ultimate value (life). If your central purpose isn't financially fruitful (e.g. poetry), Objectivists often point out that you can pick a side-job to support your passion. Doing something you love is superior to making a lot of money but spending most of your days doing stuff you hate.

    Rand seems to see the central purpose as an objective guide to choice. Our time on earth is limited, and context-less whim and instinct are not objective, "scientific" approaches to making the right choices. A central productive purpose is a filter that:

    serves to integrate all the other concerns of a man’s life. It establishes the hierarchy, the relative importance, of his values, it saves him from pointless inner conflicts, it permits him to enjoy life on a wide scale and to carry that enjoyment into any area open to his mind;
    (Ayn Rand's Playboy interview)

    A central purpose can give you a much-needed clarity of choice in every field, including romance and leisure activities. If you're a pianist, will you connect better with a physicist or with an artist? What will you even talk to them about if you don't have a mission in life? Will you choose the movies you watch on whim, or according to the purpose you have chosen for yourself? You'll obviously want to watch artsy movies, read books that deal with creativity or music or art. You'll seek leisure activities that aren't dangerous for your hands. You'll pick clothes that fit your identity. In short, all of your choices will follow a central, concrete standard that eliminates confusion and prevents you from making bad/time-wasting choices, or from miscalculating the priority of your chosen values.

    This is my guess on Rand's meaning. Either way, before following any Objectivist tennet we must actually understand it first. Otherwise, we'll just follow stuff as dogma, without understanding what we're doing.

  11. epistemologue,

    To me, Rand and Laughlin seem to provide contradictory accounts.

    Here's what Ayn Rand said on this matter. The first quote is from The Objectivist Ethics, the other ones are from Atlas Shrugged (author page and Galt's speech). 

    Quote

    Productive work is the central purpose of a rational man’s life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values.

    and:

    Quote

    “I decided to be a writer at the age of nine, and everything I have done was integrated to that purpose.

    and:

    Quote

    your work is the purpose of your life, [...] any value you might find outside your work, any other loyalty or love, can be only travelers you choose to share your journey and must be travelers going on their own power in the same direction.

    Laughlin, on the other hand, states that happiness (the ultimate value) is like a tent, supported mainly by your central purpose, but also separately by relationships and leisure - the other tent poles. He integrates examples to each of the three categories of values (work, relationships, leisure), then he further integrates those to the ultimate purpose (happiness). On the other hand, Rand seems to insist that love and leisure are part of the CPL, that your life should follow a single theme, the same way a a Roark building or Rand novel does.

  12. This is a puzzling one for me. According to Ayn Rand, your chosen central life purpose (career) is your highest value; every other value you might have is integrated to this central purpose, their hierarchy and importance is decided relative to the central life purpose.

    As I understand, a central purpose is something that you love to do and that you can turn into a life-long carrer that satisfies your need of continued growth, achievement, challenges, problem solving, earning a feeling of self-efficacity and mastery over life and existence (self esteem). Time is limited, and being a jack-of-all-trades would prevent us from rising very far in either of our endeavors.

    But is love and sex a standalone value, or is it also integrated to work? Peikoff and Rand repeatedly stated that achievement and romantic love are the topmost values, and that removing either of them can make life not worth living. If the integration thing still holds for love, then love is integrated as: an expression of the self-esteem you gain from your achievements - two people sharing the same values, connecting deeply over them, celebrating their achievements in various forms including sexual pleasure.

    As far as leisure goes, it seems obvious. Tennis, reading, hiking, parties, movies, socializing etc. are great, but only if they're seen as a form of rest and recreation from work. Taken standalone they're not wholesome sources of satisfaction, unless you turn them into life-long careers.

    From this perspective, integrating love and leisure to work (the central purpose) makes sense. However, I've read an article on this matter where the author claims that his top values (work, socializing and leisure) are separate, and integration occurs within each of them (see his first comment in the comment section). For example, he states that work only integrates the sub-steps and goals required for work. Leisure, taken separately, integrates his hobbies (reading, walking, bycicling).

    Also, this specific issue has been criticized by Kelley in the Logical Structure of Objectivism book. He says that work as the sole integrating value doesn't make sense, but in the framework presented above it kind of does. So what's the catch? I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.

    Cheers,
    KyaryPamyu

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