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Monday, August 9, 2004 - 2:41pmSanction this postReply
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This fine discussion of Rand's theory of value would have been even more valuable with some direct quotations from Rand so the points could be checked against these.


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Monday, August 9, 2004 - 5:34pmSanction this postReply
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Perhaps I can use this article as a jumping-off point for a question that's been simmering in my head for quite a while now. I'm going to refer directly to this section:

"Each person must form values, hierarchize them, and pursue them. A man must expose himself to many aspects of reality in order to discover the things that he loves (i.e., his values). After a man immerses himself in observational reality he must then choose to delimit them to those that most excite and interest him and ignite his soul. He needs to identify the crucial indispensable values to his life and distinguish them from lesser values and non-values. He requires an explicit value hierarchy and should organize his time, effort, and lifestyle around that hierarchy."

What is the moral status of someone who has difficulty doing this? I'm speaking from experience here... I have many passionate interests, and I've found it excrutiatingly difficult to settle on any one plan for a career.

It seems to me that there is an epidemic of college students (like me) who are "undecided" about their majors. I read recently in _Newsweek_ that there has been a significant increase in the number of students who take more than four years to complete a bachelor's degree because they wait too long to choose a major or change majors after a couple of years. I think it's possible to interpret this as a classic example of evading reality--either putting off the decision or denying that a decision must be made.

What do you all think? Is "undecided" a moral black mark?

Jana Beck

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Monday, August 9, 2004 - 5:35pmSanction this postReply
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Thank you Tibor!

I am happy you liked it.

Yes, I certainly agree that direct quotes from Ayn Rand would have helped. Thanks for the suggestion!

Cheers!

Ed


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Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 5:13amSanction this postReply
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Focusing on prioritizing values early in life can be rather frustrating because (a) one hasn't really become the person who one will be, eventually, so one hasn't got one's individual self sufficiently intact to know what will be best for oneself, and (b) the world now makes so many options available to most people, especially in a place like North America, that the search for what will suit one best will take longer than before (when options were limited). Moreover, some of us are born generalists, good for a life of multi-tasking instead of specialization (the Da Vince syndrome)

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Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 5:41pmSanction this postReply
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Jana, as Tibor comments, you are still young and have more paths to follow before you have to make definite decisions. I think this is the time to explore some of those paths to find out what you value the most. My mistake as a young Objectivist was to withdraw from the world instead of expand into it. Later on, I saw this was a mistake. The world is an open book and the time to discover it, is when you have the opportunity.
 
For example, your values in relationship to people will only become clear to you by a process of trial and error. You may have an intellectual idea of the importance of honesty but only by living will you see the merit of honesty, and how important it is to any healthy relationship.


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Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 6:00amSanction this postReply
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Jana:

I also agree that Professor Machan has given you excellent advice.

Focus involves a person's decision to activate his mind. Each of us can choose to make a self-starting decision to stay open to the positive aspects of reality that enable us to gain and keep life-promoting values. It certainly takes effort to stay in focus by using your free will to mobilize your consciousness and mental resources. Focus, a quality of alertness, is a precondition of awareness of reality and of cognition. It is a person's readiness to direct his attention. When a person is in focus he will discover many reasons to use his cognitive and other abilities. The choice to focus enters both in the formation, of one's ideas, values, and principles and in keeping his values and knowledge active so that they can frame his choice of pursuits and actions.

Focus, experience many aspects of life, and discern what is right for the individual human being that you are. Values, careers, and pursuits are a function of your distinctive resources and potential. They are unique to the individual, require the talent to perform the job or other activity, and are accompanied by the enjoyment and sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and renewed energies that their performance gives to the person.

Such discernment may be difficult but it is not impossible!!!!!

Cheers!!!!

Ed


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Sunday, December 26, 2010 - 5:27pmSanction this postReply
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I have only discovered and looked into Objectivism for about a year or two now. However, I cannot pound in how the Objectivist theory of value is objective at all. I understand that life is the derivative of value but I don't understand, when it comes to individuals valuing certain things, how that is objective rather than subjective. And if it's subjective, I just can't think of Objectivism as a complete objective philosophy.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010 - 7:34pmSanction this postReply
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Tyler, To some extent I'd say its subjective for certain people in certain circumstances. But for the mass majority of men for the majority of circumstances, the same things improve a person's life as improves everyone else's.

Furthermore,"objective" comes from evidence and reason based, vs maybe arbitrarily chosen or faith based.

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Monday, December 27, 2010 - 7:52amSanction this postReply
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Much depends on what is meant by "subjective." Ayn Rand used it in a very narrow way (link). On the other hand, there is the far more common way (link) and the way economists use it (link).
(Edited by Merlin Jetton on 12/27, 7:56am)


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Monday, December 27, 2010 - 8:10amSanction this postReply
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Rand actually said that value derives from life, not the other way around.

Many of our values are indeed subjective and personal and applicable to nobody else.  First, this doesn't entail that the really crucial ones, like survival, acheivement or human company, are subjective.  Second, when we say that personal taste is evidence against the objectivity of value, we're talking at too low a level of abstraction.  Having a favorite color or food, or liking one's own spouse or children better than somebody else's, is indeed personal.  What's objective is that we ought to experience esthetic enjoyment and that we ought to experience long-term personal committments like parenthood or marriage.

The same goes for values that we agree are objective.  We ought to stay alive under remotely normal circumstances and we ought, for psychological and economic reasons, to engage in productive work.  Conceding this does not fill in the particulars as to how a particular person stays alive or what work he chooses to do.

(Edited by Peter Reidy on 12/27, 2:21pm)


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Monday, December 27, 2010 - 12:41pmSanction this postReply
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Well said, Peter.

Welcome to RoR, Tyler.

A while ago, I asked 8 questions which I believe drive to the heart of your idea about whether values can ever be truly shared among humans (or whether we're all existentially locked-up inside private prisons of value in our minds):

 http://rebirthofreason.com/Forum/ArticleDiscussions/2052.shtml#2

Also, check this out, it goes even further:

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

Any questions?

:-)

Ed


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Monday, December 27, 2010 - 5:15pmSanction this postReply
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They're not prisons - they're vaults... ;-)

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Monday, June 5 - 4:18pmSanction this postReply
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To answer a previous comment:

This theory of value is objective because it is based on the objective criteria that something only has value if it serves the purpose aiding survival.  If the thing serves the purpose of survival, it has value.  If it does not, it does not have value.  The more it serves survival, the more value it will have.

 

Each person must make choices on what things will be valuable to them and to what degree.  No matter what they choose, objective reality will be the final judge and jury on "did this contribute to your survival."



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Saturday, June 17 - 6:48pmSanction this postReply
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I would also like to get a better answer to Tyler's question. I understand that what a person chooses as his/her value is chosen first of all for that person's survival (life). However, survival and happiness must go together. Happiness is derived from a rational joy of doing a certain activity. But is the choice of activity that brings joy subjective (coincidental)?

 

From Fountainhead it was clear that a person can choose a value that is not to person's objective desire (e.g. Peter's choice to pursue architecture instead of art). From the story, a wrong choice of value would destroy a person in the long run (as we saw with Peter). Peter pursued architecture because it was recommended by his mother and the society around him. At one point Roark told Peter that he is already on the wrong path when choosing to work for a prestigious architecture firm or to take a scholarship at a university in France. It is clear, that Peter's fault was to ignore objectivity of his real passion for art and pursue a more prestigious field recommended by others. My question is why Peter's real desire was art? Is it really objective or is it a coincidence of life that one likes one activity over the other? Or does it have to do with one's talent that was formulated by random events in one's life? Thus, do random events dictate what your real desire and what's your value? Where the value is maximized with resources available to a person and the person's talent (ability to convert certain resources to a value). 

 

In the end, I want to understand how one chooses values. Should one choose to be an engineer or a filmmaker, and on which basis? Is it an unreasonable emotional attachment to one career over the other or is it something one to choose based on where one have the most resources and talent, which eventually lead to more value created?



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Monday, June 19 - 2:37amSanction this postReply
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Welcome to RoR, Nikita Ushakov. I’m 68 and these are my impressions.

 

What are one’s likes in production and relationships and leisure are to some extent given in one’s present constitution, depending on one’s past and somewhat open to further development by future choices and new exposures to what is possible. One’s intelligence in the various facets of intelligence, one’s level of aversion or embrace of risk, one’s balance of need for solitude and need for company are also given in one’s constitution and might be open to further development by nature or by conscious cultivation.

 

That some features of one’s constitution were and are limited in their amenability to change by choice, for definite reasons of improved life and happiness, does not diminish their preciousness in one’s constitution. That one has two legs and can run is a perfectly square value and joy even though mostly that’s a part of one’s constitution that was given without one’s much choosing it. That Mallory is hooked on sculpturing rather than on painting or interior designing or engineering or banking would not be by only his choices, but things in him he found at say age 13.

 

I’d like also to mention that although we choose to continue to live and continue to embrace all the organic and psychological organization that entails, the value of those things does not come from our choosing that continuation. Value is already in attendance, although we can become alienated from it, and we do not continue to be in it and be it automatically.

 

Nikita, I’d not contrast the objective with the coincidental. That I have a seizure or that deer are in the yard when I glance out the window would be objective accidental coincidence.

 

On choosing a career, it has seemed to me that one has to venture on one, maybe then another, to find out where is a good fit of ability, love of particular kind of work, and market demands. And it’s good to be able to embrace change in one’s line of work. The path selected at a given point needs some considerable stick-to-it to make a real test of it.

 

There are some ways in which I’m like Rand’s protagonists, such as in always being engaged in creative projects. However, ways in which I or others have differed from them have not necessarily made us morally or psychologically inferior to those protagonists.

 

The fictional characters and their courses of life are composed out of plans drafted by the author. To considerable extent, we real people have our persons and lives contoured by our plans and efforts bent to those plans. But the poetic justice of the fiction writer is not being meted out here in real life. Here are only causal relations and accidental coincidence without a world-bending overseer.

 

Stephen



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