|First of all, I would like to apologize for resurrecting a somewhat dead thread. That always seemed impolite to me.|
Second, I would like to apologize for showing up, receiving a bunch of excellent answers and warm welcomes, and then just leaving for half a year. I decided to myself, "Gee, these people talk about this "Atlas Shrugged" book like it's good or something. Maybe I should actually read it instead of just reading these Objectivist websites." So I went and attained a copy of that thousand-page behemoth. I read it, and pondered, and questioned, and thought.
Now that my understanding of Objectivism has somewhat matured (I don't think it's fully grown yet though, it's in those terrible teen years) I now have a better understanding of why life is the ultimate value. My understanding is in there, intuitive, but I've had trouble putting it in a rational, logical articulation.
After quite a bit of thinking, I have come up with the following "proof":
I’m going to use the definition of value as “A statement that one seeks to make true.” So if I value statement X then I will act to make statement X true. However, some values take priority over others. Therefore, if statement X and Y contradict each other, and I value X more, then I shall forego Y for the sake of X. As humans, it is inevitable that we will value something. It is impossible not to. Even if one tries not to value something, he is trying to make the statement “I have no values” true. Therefore, the individual is in a state of valuing. Valuing is action, because it means one is acting to make a statement true. After making a statement true, we must then act to make another statement true, because we are constantly in a state of valuing. Therefore we are constantly in a process of continually valuing. As I said before, humans always value. In order to value, we must be capable of valuing. Since we automatically value, the rational thing to do in order to meet our values is to make the statement “I am capable of valuing” true. In making that statement true, we are valuing it. Therefore, we are valuing the act of valuing. Valuing is action, which must be performed by oneself. If someone else acts to make a statement true, one did not value it because valuing requires one to act, not allow others to act. Therefore, valuing is self generated, self continuing action. If we value our valuing, then we value in order to value in order to value etc in a continual process. Therefore, we act in order to act in order to act etc in a continual process. Since this action is self generated and self continuing, it is a process of self generated, self continuing action, or life. Therefore, if one values (and we all do) then one must value their valuing in a process. Therefore, if one values, then one must value life. I said near the beginning that we can forgo lesser values for the sake of stronger ones. Life is the prerequisite to valuing, because one must be capable of valuing in order to value. Therefore, life is always the more important value, or the ultimate value. We must let go of a value if it interferes with the value of life. If one chooses the weaker value, one loses one’s value of valuing, and therefore becomes incapable of valuing. This individual is, in a sense, dead, because all living creatures value. Life is the ultimate value. We must value life because of the existence of the other values, but the value of life allows the other values to even exist, because it allows us to be able to value. By valuing one’s life, one also values one’s values, one’s self, and perhaps everything else. It’s beautiful.
Any constructive criticisms of it will help. I'd like to use it to spread Objectivism around here a bit (although I live in the bible belt).