The “Is”-“Ought” Dichotomy

The fact that a living entity is, determines what it ought to do.” –Ayn Rand

 

Existence exists. Even as I write this sentence I am getting the green underline that indicates a grammar mistake, which further proves my point. It is redundant to say it and that’s what makes it self-evident. I have discussed this idea in one of my first videos, “Aristotle’s Metaphysics.” It is the simple law of identity. It states that: “each thing is the same with itself and different from another”: “A is A and not ~(not)A.”

 

Existence is the height of objective essence, so if existence is objective then why would ethics be subjective?  If we are living in a universe of rules then why wouldn’t we play by the rules? Constantly fighting the rules of metaphysics is similar to fighting the rules of physics. You can spend your life fighting gravity or you can embrace the law and work with it.

 

It is the same with ethics. Our society is perpetuating the ideas of altruism and collectivism, when it goes against our very nature. We are self-sustaining individuals. To work within a group mentality is like fighting gravity, it is asking to fall flat on our face instead of fly. We are born as individuals, we are not born attached to another person’s life. So when we think as individuals we have the ability to achieve our highest potential, because we are not denying reality, but using it to get what we want.

 

Ayn Rand states that man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

 

A man who does what makes him happy will produce more efficiently and will yield a better product. Just imagine a whole society of happy producers and laborers. If we do what we love, we will never go hungry, because we use productive achievement as our noblest activity. When we produce the things that will make our lives happier and more efficient we create a better society for us to live in and this fulfills our virtue of the pursuit of happiness as our highest goal.

 

Finally, we do all of this by using reason as our absolute. Reason is man’s only means of grasping reality and of acquiring knowledge. As I’ve said before, denying reality can never bring us happiness and productive achievement. True knowledge and understanding of our abilities and limitations allows us to lower our limitations and raise our abilities through learning. A happy man is one that gathers knowledge and uses this knowledge for productive achievement.

 

But remember: “[Reason] is a faculty that man has to exercise by choice. Thinking is not an automatic function. In any hour and issue of his life, man is free to think or to evade that effort.” –Ayn Rand

5 Responses so far.

  1. Luke says:

    I am going to try and play devil’s advocate here. Enjoy!

    “Existence exists. Even as I write this sentence I am getting the green underline that indicates a grammar mistake, which further proves my point. It is redundant to say it and that’s what makes it self-evident. I have discussed this idea in one of my first videos, “Aristotle’s Metaphysics.” It is the simple law of identity. It states that: “each thing is the same with itself and different from another”: “A is A and not ~(not)A.” ‘

    When considering the proposition “A is A”, there is a spatiotemporal distinction between the A’s. That is, the “A” before the “is” is different from the “A” after the “is” through the fact that they occur at different times and places in the writing or speaking of “A is A”. More-over, wouldn’t we call the first A the subject and the second A the object in the proposition “A is A”? Subjects and objects are not the same thing either. One could attempt to drop the “is” and the latter “A” of the proposition in order to establish the law of identity by simply stating “A”, but there is nothing to identify with when making this statement. Does this mean that the law of identity is false?

    “Existence is the height of objective essence, so if existence is objective then why would ethics be subjective? If we are living in a universe of rules then why wouldn’t we play by the rules? Constantly fighting the rules of metaphysics is similar to fighting the rules of physics. You can spend your life fighting gravity or you can embrace the law and work with it. “

    What do you mean by “objective” and “subjective” here? I use objective to mean “mind-independent” and subjective to mean “mind-dependent”, but perhaps you are not using them the same way? I might have a counter here, but it really depends on how you use objective and subjective.

    “Finally, we do all of this by using reason as our absolute. Reason is man’s only means of grasping reality and of acquiring knowledge. As I’ve said before, denying reality can never bring us happiness and productive achievement. True knowledge and understanding of our abilities and limitations allows us to lower our limitations and raise our abilities through learning. A happy man is one that gathers knowledge and uses this knowledge for productive achievement. “

    Reason is the only means of grasping reality and acquiring knowledge? What about language? Think of language as more than just sounds from the mouth or scribbles from the hand. Think of it also as paths which are interwoven, that touch upon your reason and lead outward to those uses. To argue that we only use reason to grasp reality and acquire knowledge is to take one of those paths while ignoring, and even denying, the path one just took to deny all else but the use of reason to grasp reality and acquire knowledge. To recognize that you dwell on those paths and take a path before speaking or writing anything in response to me here is to recognize that there is more than just reason involved in grasping reality and acquiring knowledge. There is also language.

  2. mike says:

    > we are not born attached to another person’s life

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umbilical_cord

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