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Ayn Rand said in her interview with Playboy Magazine: A central purpose serves to integrate all the other concerns of a man's life.

When I think of "central purpose", the best analogy that comes to mind is something Dr. Hurd wrote in regards to a purpose being like a planet and goals being the moons orbiting the planet.

My question is: Can you have more than one planet in your life? In other words, does this mean that everything in one's life is really a goal moving towards the central purpose?

Also, as a related note, regardless of the answer to the first question, how could one's goals or purpose relating to "relationships" (for example) integrate into one's central purpose in life of, say, "to teach music" (I'm making up a central purpose just to provide an example, but really my question pertains to "central purpose" in general), or one's diet goals (or purpose), etc.?

asked Dec 04 '10 at 15:43

David%20Lewis's gravatar image

David Lewis ♦

For a fuller description of the value of "purpose," including a larger excerpt from which the Playboy reference in the question was taken, refer to The Ayn Rand Lexicon, under the topic of "Purpose." Dr. Hurd's brief article, linked in the question, also provides a key insight:

Purpose does not always involve making money. Sometimes people choose a job to pay the bills and feed their purpose, while their particular purpose might not make money (at least right away). This is especially true of people in the arts, or people starting a new business with no guarantee of making a profit any time soon.

I think it comes down to the question: what do you really want to do in life, and how will you endeavor to accomplish it? I do not see how "two purposes" could add up to much more than zero; they would clash and distract from each other. If they don't clash, i.e., if they can be integrated together, then that (the integration) would be one's "central purpose."

answered Dec 07 '10 at 15:57

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

I think it is important to think of Rand's emphasis of a central purpose as falling on the idea of "central" rather than "a."

It wouldn't mean much to say that men must have purposes in life. To mark the issue of one's being integrated, rather than drifting, some idea such as "a central purpose" is needed. A central purpose is necessarily a long-range choice and involves one's deepest values.

Psychologically, it may be valid to say that where there is a choice on a matter of significance, there will be some degree of preference for one alternative over another, but I don't think that is the issue here. If a person has two things he loves and can't bear to side-line one of them, I cannot see any grounds to claim that it is improper to pursue both, assuming he is facing facts about how doing so affects his prospects.

The critical issue is that these purposes represent profoundly important goals. It is from that that they derive their capacity to organize many of a person's lesser choices and decisions, and from that that they obtain their endurance.

answered Dec 14 '10 at 21:22

Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

Mindy Newton ♦

edited Dec 14 '10 at 21:27

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Asked: Dec 04 '10 at 15:43

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Last updated: Dec 14 '10 at 21:27