A Quesion about the Objectivist Ethics


Recommended Posts

I was wondering whether when Objectivists say that man's life is the standard of morality they mean "man's" in the plural or in the singular sense. I know that Objectivism is not a form of collectivism, but just wanted to clear that up for myself;)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was wondering whether when Objectivists say that man's life is the standard of morality they mean "man's" in the plural or in the singular sense. I know that Objectivism is not a form of collectivism, but just wanted to clear that up for myself;)

How can it be singular? There are over six billion men (i.e. humans). The Man in Man qua Man is Rand's Platonic Man. The phrase Man qua Man can only be understood in a Platonic fashion.

Ba'al Chatzaf (pain in the ass -qua- pain in the ass).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Man is an end in himself is the recognized Objectivist position. This means that man's (singular) job is to exist for his own sake and it is not his obligation to work for any greater good. So when it is said that man's life is the standard, it's singular. It's saying that you measure a man's morality based on his life's achievement, not looking at the common good to justify his existence. (I think my explanation is jumbled, I may come back and try to reword it later.)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Man is an end in himself is the recognized Objectivist position. This means that man's (singular) job is to exist for his own sake and it is not his obligation to work for any greater good. So when it is said that man's life is the standard, it's singular. It's saying that you measure a man's morality based on his life's achievement, not looking at the common good to justify his existence. (I think my explanation is jumbled, I may come back and try to reword it later.)

Hi Jeff

May I play with this question a little? I do sort of see that there could be an issue here.

One interpretation of the view that man is an end in himself might be that we could all make different choices, equally valid for each of us. Thus you might choose to be a captain of industry, and I might choose to be a contemplative hermit. Each of our choices would be our own and so equally valid. Our lives are our own.

Another view (maybe connected with the objectivist virtue of "Productiveness", and the objectivist theory of aesthetics) might be that there are certain things that "objectively" (or in search of "man qua man") we all "ought" to be aiming at, and that individual choices not to aim at them would not be valid. (Does the contemplative and non-heroic and arguably non-productive hermit fit into the objectivist schema?)

If we accept the requirement to earn one's own living and thus not to live on the efforts of others, is there then a further objectivist imperative to be (economically) "productive"? Or, if we each earn our own living, have we the right to do as we choose?

This has puzzled me for some time. I'll be most grateful for thoughts.

Best regards

Adrian

Edited by Adrian
Link to post
Share on other sites

If we earn our own living we can live as we choose. The obligation to economically produce and be a part of the movement of society isn't being an end in ourselves, it's having the movement of society be more important than your own individual wants and is just another form of self-sacrifice. The only moral obligation to produce is to the degree that you need and to not leech off of other people. I myself sort of like being hermitish, not fully though.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 6 months later...
Man is an end in himself is the recognized Objectivist position. This means that man's (singular) job is to exist for his own sake and it is not his obligation to work for any greater good. So when it is said that man's life is the standard, it's singular. It's saying that you measure a man's morality based on his life's achievement, not looking at the common good to justify his existence. (I think my explanation is jumbled, I may come back and try to reword it later.)

Hi Jeff

May I play with this question a little? I do sort of see that there could be an issue here.

One interpretation of the view that man is an end in himself might be that we could all make different choices, equally valid for each of us. Thus you might choose to be a captain of industry, and I might choose to be a contemplative hermit. Each of our choices would be our own and so equally valid. Our lives are our own.

Another view (maybe connected with the objectivist virtue of "Productiveness", and the objectivist theory of aesthetics) might be that there are certain things that "objectively" (or in search of "man qua man") we all "ought" to be aiming at, and that individual choices not to aim at them would not be valid. (Does the contemplative and non-heroic and arguably non-productive hermit fit into the objectivist schema?)

If we accept the requirement to earn one's own living and thus not to live on the efforts of others, is there then a further objectivist imperative to be (economically) "productive"? Or, if we each earn our own living, have we the right to do as we choose?

This has puzzled me for some time. I'll be most grateful for thoughts.

Best regards

Adrian

We all have one thing in common - we are alive. This separates us from everything else. This difference has a name - life. To act properly means to act in accordance with what makes us different. Which means to act in that way which our life requires. Not in that way which others would like us to act.

Notice how since others are different in the same way as we are this requires that their actions are like our actions.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now