I already recognize and accept that life is the highest value from which all other values are derived. However, since we have a choice to choose life or not choose life, does this make it subjective?
Perhaps a source of my confusion may lay in the differences between objective vs. subjective.
The essential claim of Objectivist ethics is that "life" is the fundamental root of 'value'; "life" makes the concept "value" possible to form and grasp, and specific values possible to pursue. Non-life means non-action and non-existence in living, value-dependent, value-seeking form. No other standard of value is objectively possible, since life is what makes possible the concept (and fact) of "value" itself.
Man has no choice about the nature of "value." His only choice is to accept that fact or evade it. If he evades it, his choice will diminish his life and potentially end it. He is already alive if he is capable of making such a choice; he would not be able to choose life (i.e., choose to continue living) if he has died or was never alive at all. The values that man's life requires are not determined by whether or not he chooses to recognize and pursue them.
If one demands some other, more fundamental reason or purpose for wanting to remain alive, one is demanding something outside of reality, which is mysticism, and that is hardly objective. And any such alleged alternative still raises the question of why one ought to care about the consequences (to himself and/or others) of defying it.
Some readers may find the following formulation in Galt's Speech particularly confusing in regard to life as the standard of value:
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.
Without man's life, there would be no basis or need for such an abstraction as "morality." But man does have a choice about it. In his mind, he is not compelled against his will to accept any moral code, Objectivist or not, nor any other fact of reality. But he will need the moral code of reason and individualism, independently for himself or through others who accept it, if he wants to remain alive. The code is what it is (and is why it is) regardless of any particular person's choice to adhere to it and live, or not.
Objectivism does not say that everyone must want to go on living. There are those who do, and sometimes a few who perhaps do not (along with a far greater number who want to live, but without using reason as their basic means of survival). Objectivism provides moral guidance for those who wish to live. Those who do not are free to die peacefully (or die more swiftly if they attack life-seeking others).
answered Dec 28 '14 at 02:12
Ideas for Life ♦