Rebirth of Reason

Post to this threadMark all messages in this thread as readMark all messages in this thread as unread

Sanction: 12, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 12, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 12, No Sanction: 0
Post 0

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - 10:08amSanction this postReply

Ayn Rand identifies purpose (along with reason and self-esteem) as a cardinal value in life. She writes,


My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists -- and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these. To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason -- purpose -- Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge -- Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve -- Self-esteem, as is inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living. These three values imply and require all of man's virtues, and all of his virtues pertain to the relation of existence and consciousness: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride. (The Ayn Rand Lexicon, p. 523).


Now check this out!


A new study has found that apart from medication and adopting a healthy lifestyle, having a sense of purpose in life reduces the risk of heart diseases and stroke. The study conducted by researchers at Mount Sinai St. Luke's and Mount Sinai Roosevelt, defined this purpose as a passion for life. It is when one has a sense of meaning and direction and he feels that life is worth living, the researchers stated in the press release.  [This reminds me of Rand's statement in "The Objectivist Ethics":  The maintenance of  life and the pursuit of happiness are not two separate issues.  To hold one's own life as one's ultimate value, and one's own happiness as one's highest purpose are two aspects of the same achievement.  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 ther 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 Virtue of Selfishness, p. 29)]


Previous research has proven that having a goal in life is extremely beneficial to psychological well being but the new research by the Mount Sinai researchers has shown that a purpose in life can benefit heart health as well. Lead author Randy Cohen, MD, a preventive cardiologist at Mount Sinai St. Luke's and Mount Sinai Roosevelt explains the relationship between having a goal and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Cohen states that just having a purpose can be life saving and there is a strong relationship between the two. He suggests that everyone should begin asking themselves as to what the purpose of their life is and in the circumstance of one finding that he has no goal or purpose, one should develop it. He states, “You need to work toward the important goal of obtaining one for your overall well-being."


The study found that having a purpose in life reduces the risk of death from any cause by 23 percent and reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke or the need for coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) or a cardiac stenting procedure by 19 percent.


For the research data collected from 137,000 people across 10 studies was taken into account and the relationship between having a purpose in life and cardiovascular health was analysed. They found that those with no purpose in life were at a higher probability of developing a cardiovascular disease and were at a risk of dying early. Whereas with those with a purpose, the analysis found the opposite to be true.


Alan Rozanski, MD, study co-author and Director of Wellness and Prevention Programs for Mount Sinai Heart at the Mount Sinai Health System stated that this isn’t the first research to bring to light the impact positive emotions have on the heart. Previous research, he points also states that negative feelings of anxiety and depression contribute to heart diseases and positive factors such as optimism and social support benefits heart health. "Based on our findings, future research should now further assess the importance of life purpose as a determinant of health and well-being and assess the impact of strategies designed to improve individuals' sense of life purpose," he states.


The study was presented at the American Heart Association's EPI/Lifestyle 2015 Scientific Sessions in Baltimore on March 6.



Post 1

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - 12:40pmSanction this postReply

Excellent post, Bill!


Purpose is far more fundamental in its nature than most people realize.  Purpose is essential to the very process of living.  It wouldn't matter how rational your thoughts were or how cogent your value structures, until they are connected to the process of continual, on-going actions via purpose, it would be like a car with engine but no transmission.  Purpose is the connector between the values held and the actions taken to achieve them. The heart of being human is 'choosing' and the theme of choices made lives in a hierarchy of purposes.  A string of actions is unified in our understanding under the theme of their purpose.  No wonder that people with a strong sense of purpose in their life live longer!


Purpose is critical to success in an endeavor since it is a focus on actions relative to the goals sought.  Failure is often no more than the product of not being purposeful in our choices and actions - or being "at cross purposes."  Purpose informs us as to the measure of success that we can hold a series of actions against.


"A teleology is an account of a given thing's purpose. For example, a teleological explanation of why forks have prongs is that this design helps humans eat certain foods; stabbing food to help humans eat is what forks are for." [Wikipedia]


Furthermore, purpose is critical to a person's self-esteem. It is one of Branden's 6 pillars: Living Purposefully. In addition, assertiveness, another of pillar of self-esteem presupposes purposeful behavior. And you can't live responsibly, another pillar, without being purposeful. Living with integrity is itself an ethical/psychological purpose.


In clinical psychology even the defensive behaviors that are harmful were purposefully chosen.  The therapist asks what is the purpose being served by this denial, or repression, or avoidance, etc.  And the purpose of the theraputic effort is to let the client find ways to substitute healthy purposes in place of the defenses.


At a deeper level, there is purpose as a context in the epistemological makeup of all concepts. No concept lives out there in nature, independent of human beings or independent of other concepts. There is a purpose implied in each concept. A question each concept answers is "What is the purpose of this concept?" This purpose is a part of the bridge between humans and the concept's meaning. We can take a concept and discuss what its purpose is in the hierarchy of knowledge - like what purpose the concept of justice plays for humans (the widest context). But even if we don't explicitly discuss that purpose, we can't take it out of the concept. There are no purposeless concepts. Justice, as a concept, is incomplete without purpose being within it - as a part of its overall context. If you ever want to create a floating abstraction, just discuss some concept in a way that is devoid of human purpose... that'll do it.


I've always loved the way Rand never wavered from this sense of concepts serving human purposes, as opposed to a kind of academic impression of concepts as things that aren't connected that firmly to an absolute reality, and that are somewhat arbitrary in their relationship to humans - as if they were some kind of lego blocks you played with in your mind as a game and no more.


Joe wrote a recent article on the virtue of productivity. In an ethical context of rational egoism, that is a discussion of purposeful actions. Purpose is required to achieve productivity. Productivity is always a form of purposeful action. Some purposes are going to be univeral - like life - but they all get exercised individually. Even if the purpose were to improve society or help someone else, the choices, the actions, the understandings, the motivations and the purposes will all come out of the individual.

Post 2

Sunday, April 26, 2015 - 9:40pmSanction this postReply

I'm very glad to see medicine is quantifying with statistics the effect upon health that purpose has. For about 5 years now I've been studying genetics sciences apprehension of a relatively new aspect called "epigenetics". I'm certain that eventually this beneficial health effect of a human holding a purpose closely in day to day living is going to be attributed to epigenetics. Epigenetics is the switching of cell production from various genes by the conditions organisms experience in life. The unconscious human mind is what registers the meanings of events or the purpose they have.

The unconscious is the interface for phylogenetic instinct and in direct communication with neurological events that register our feelings. Accordingly the nature of the purpose will have its effect also. We we very likely have genes controlling the production of brain cells which could be fairly drastically effected over time given different purposes or thoughts and feelings associated with them. There could actually be quite a few we do not even know exist which could have profound accumulative effects on our thoughts and feelings over some time of having them.

Post to this thread

User ID Password or create a free account.