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"You Can Leave Your Hat On"

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That song by Randy Newman includes the line “You give me reason to live.” As the reader knows, the song is the expression of one in the throes of a sexual romance. 

Ayn Rand writes “My morality, the morality of reason, is contained on a single axiom: existence exists—and in a single choice: to live” (AS 1018). The moral is correct value that is chosen and understood, in Rand’s view.

Animal consciousness has the function of preserving life of that sort of animal. For humans the feature of rationality in consciousness has the function of preserving human life.

It would make as little sense to speak of a goodness preceding the occurrence of life in the universe as to speak, in general metaphysics, of any features at all beyond existence. That said, the makeup of existence by its traits differs from the makeup of life by its ends-seeking traits. The unity of ends-seeking parts to the whole that is a living thing is unity of a different order than unity of sodium and chlorine in salt. Among ends-seeking traits of a living thing are an ensemble of them necessary for making up that particular species of life and its individuals. Paramount among such traits for human life is rational consciousness.

We can have rationality before knowing what it is and knowing we have it and that one can modulate it. We can experience sexiness in human life before knowing about reproduction and psychological cravings for sexual romance and biological function(s) of those cravings. We can be choosing life and rationality before knowing much about what they are and much of why they are good to choose. Before knowing one could and should not remove one’s living activity that is rationality. Before knowing one has been making life continue and directing choices to that end. Including dancing in celebration, inspiration, and worship of that end.

Coming to know one can choose to end life, one comes also to know one can choose to continue life, along with its requirements, as one has been doing heretofore less consciously. Now one is four-square in choice to live or die as a moral choice, that is, choice with understanding. In some circumstances, choosing to end life is the morally right choice. Decision for that alternative will have in mind also the other alternative, and its requirements, as precedent and surround in that human life.

In choosing that there be life, we can have rationally chosen that there be value, a value-occasion, but not what are the requirements of value, which is something not open to our choice (to borrow from Nozick 1981).

Edited by Boydstun
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The question of what can be a reason to choose to live had a forerunner in the Medieval question of what reason(s) God might have for choosing to create the world. The obvious problem is that since God lacks nothing, It could have no reason to alter Its situation. God is described as a living being by many a writer. I think that ascription of life is due to an unconscious knowing that (as Rand pulled into consciousness) value has to be based in living things, that intelligence requires a living-existence, and that human relationship to an inanimate thing is not much in comparison to living things, especially persons. But God's essence is its existence; It cannot not exist. That is an enormous difference between the living existence of God and the living existence of a human.

There are Biblical texts saying or implying that God created the world to show its glory. To stay self-consistent, it should not be thought that God was in need of a display of its glory. Perhaps a better idea is that God accidentally created the world, one that displays its glory and naturally elicits human praise. It seems, however, that God should not have accidental activities, for that seems an imperfection. It's fine that we have accidents in the course of our living existence, but God is not a being with our limited knowledge and power.

We should notice that Howard Roark creates buildings that show his glory, and he is in love with them, but the glory lies in his integration of a building's function and its beautiful form. There is a function giving him reason to design the particular building. It's hard to see how God could have any function outside Its own necessary living- and knowing-existence. One might think God would be bored since all that is to be known—Itself and, by the lights of Newton, co-eternal space—is already known to It. But God is something of an eternal instant, which ameliorates such problems (or fogs them over). And time gets going only upon creation of the world. Moreover, God could not have such an imperfection as boredom.  

Aquinas has it that God created the world on account of God's perfection, eternity, and love. God cannot sing along with the Beatles "I need someone to love." But God—what with Its living, intelligence, and perfection—could have the great out-flowing sort of love and choose to open that gate, creating others (us) with active intellect, with saturation in love, and having free will, making them (us) genuine companions. And creating a world for them to be.

All actual living-existence is aside the alternative of death. A necessary eternal living-existence is a contradiction. All living intelligence is fallible. Infallibility and omniscience are nought. But the human out-flowing of love for living things, including self, and the out-flowing of creative intelligence are conditions of our lives (out-flowingness in anything living was discerned by Guyau in his 1885). Having reasons for choosing continuation of one's life is under one's out-flowing living nature and the circumstance that life worth choosing is life having its own justification, a wholeness, a completeness. In choosing suicide literally, one is judging that one's best-made life ends now. In choosing any irrationality in one's life, one is departing from human life that is best.

Edited by Boydstun
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