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Help finding a particular Ayn Rand quote?

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You might be thinking of the following (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Ch-4 "Concepts of Consciousness") [It's almost in the middle of that chapter]:


The same kind of measurement guides man's actions in the wider realm of moral or spiritual values. (By "spiritual" I mean "pertaining to consciousness." I say "wider" because  it is man's hierarchy of values in this realm that determines his hierarchy of values in the material or economic realm.) But the currency or medium of exchange is different. In the spiritual realm, the currency—which exists in limited quantity and must be teleologically measured in the pursuit of any value—is time, i.e., one's life.


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Oh I know what you're referring to. The oil producer (forget his name) in Atlas Shrugged says that time is a currency best spent on growing one's life, and he says it to Dagny in Galt's Gultch when she questions why he's working in the Gultch and not back at his old factory.

I'll try to look it up here in a sec.

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Wyatt: And that's what I'm doing: I'm manufacturing time."

Dagny: "What do you mean?"

Wyatt: "I'm producing everything I need, I'm working to improve my methods, and every hour I save is an hour added to my life. It used to take me five hours to fill that tank. It now takes three. The two I saved are mine—as pricelessly mine as if I moved my grave two further hours away from every five I've got. It's two hours released from one task, to be invested in another—two more hours in which to work, to grow, to move forward. That's the savings account I'm hoarding. Is there any sort of safety vault that could protect this account in the outside world?"

Given the context thus far . . . pg. 666


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That brings to mind the an antithesis to the question:

Do you believe in God, Andrei? No. Neither do I. But that's a favorite question of mine. An upside-down question, you know. What do you mean? Well, if I asked people whether they believed in life, they'd never understand what I meant. It's a bad question. It can mean so much that it really means nothing. So I ask them if they believe in God. And if they say they do--then, I know they don't believe in life. Why? Because, you see, God--whatever anyone chooses to call God--is one's highest conception of the highest possible. And whoever places his highest conception above his own possibility thinks very little of himself and his life. It's a rare gift, you know, to feel reverence for your own life and to want the best, the greatest, the highest possible, here, now, for your very own.

Somewhat odd questions indeed. What does it mean to own your own life? What does it mean to spend it on growing?

Edited by dream_weaver
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  • 1 month later...
On 4/7/2016 at 3:17 AM, dream_weaver said:

...  Somewhat odd questions indeed. What does it mean to own your own life? What does it mean to spend it on growing?

To own your own life is to accept responsibility.

To spend it (your life) on growing is to pursue knowledge.


The concept life presumes a finite existence, i.e. mortal life.  So time (to live) as currency implies a fixed amount of capital with which every moment spent cannot be recovered... tick... tick... tick... death.

A proper capitalist cannot extend life in a mortal context, but can exchange moments for efficiency such that whatever capital remains is more enjoyable (less wasteful).  Knowledge is what makes living efficiently possible, therefore time spent pursuing knowledge is an investment of capital that returns happiness.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
further reflection
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