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Objectivism holds that man's self, and serving his own purpose, is all that matters in life. So, should the man who created the angioplasty balloon, and the man who created the whoopie cushion, each consider themselves fulfilled - or does one have a greater claim to greatness, or satisfaction? Is their value, to their own purpose, relative to the worth of their contribution to others in society - or the value of their creation to others in society?

asked Jan 08 '14 at 13:47

MarcMercier's gravatar image

MarcMercier ♦
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edited Jan 08 '14 at 14:37

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦
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Is the value of a man, as perceived by others, relevant in any way?

"Value" to whom and for what? "Relevant" to whom and for what? The "value" and "relevance" of a person depend on who the valuer is and what his standard of value is. It could be a case of a person valuing himself, or being valued by others, or a combination of both, with the valuing of oneself depending on one's own interests and goals, while the valuing by others depends on their interests and goals. A rational person who values himself may also value others at the same time, usually very selectively according to his values and his evaluation of others in relation to himself. He does not value all others equally, but evaluates them according to mutual benefit (potential for trade) and the fundamental virtue of justice.

Objectivism holds that man's self, and serving his own purpose, is all that matters in life.

"Matters" to whom, and whose "life"? Certain others can be of great value to oneself in relation to one's own values, interests, and goals. Objectivism does not rule out the possibility of lovers, friends, and a great many other kinds of cooperative "trade" relationships, with "trade" understood as including spiritual values as well as material values. ("Spiritual" in Objectivism means pertaining to one's consciousness.)

...should the man who created the angioplasty balloon, and the man who created the whoopie cushion, each consider themselves fulfilled....

Certainly, if that was their goal and they achieved it. Both achievements can be of great value to others, too -- angioplasty for medical health and well being, and a unique type of cushion for general comfort and enjoyment of life.

...does one [achiever] have a greater claim to greatness, or satisfaction?

"Claim" against whom? "Greatness" judged by whom? "Satisfaction" of what kind, and for whom? Certainly some challenges are more demanding than others, and one may indeed experience a far greater sense of personal accomplishment in overcoming a greater challenge. "Greatness" as judged by others depends on their values, just as one's own greatness, as judged by oneself, depends on one's own values. In an objective view of values, "greatness" of character comes from pursuing and achieving rational values across the span of a lifetime. Ayn Rand once explained, "if you ask me, what is greatness? -- I will answer, it is the capacity to live by the three fundamental values of John Galt: reason, purpose, self-esteem." (From Ayn Rand's March 1964 interview in Playboy magazine, at the end of the article.)

Is their value, to their own purpose, relative to the worth of their contribution to others in society - or the value of their creation to others in society?

Objectivism views relationships with others not just in terms of "contribution to them," but in terms of trade, both material and non-material. Trade is a mutual exchange for mutual benefit. Ayn Rand also discusses the issue of philosophically objective value versus socially objective value (such as a microscope or a lipstick) in CUI Chapter 1. In Galt's Speech, she also wrote (near the beginning):

For centuries, the battle of morality was fought between those who claimed that your life belongs to God and those who claimed that it belongs to your neighbors—between those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of ghosts in heaven and those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of incompetents on earth. And no one came to say that your life belongs to you and that the good is to live it.

answered Jan 10 '14 at 00:14

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦
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Asked: Jan 08 '14 at 13:47

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Last updated: Jan 10 '14 at 00:14