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Recently I found myself needing to explain that when an Objectivist uses the term spiritual they don't mean something mystical. I then tried to explain what the term was referring to and found that all I could say about it was that it refers to non-physical things. I checked The Ayn Rand Lexicon expecting to see an entry dedicated to that topic and did not. I did search the online lexicon and the only relevant reference I found was from ITOE.

The same kind of measurement guides man’s actions in the wider realm of moral or spiritual values. (By “spiritual” I mean “pertaining to consciousness."

Can someone fill me in on where Ayn Rand explains, reduces and defines that concept?

asked May 14 '13 at 10:11

CarGuy's gravatar image


edited May 30 '13 at 20:58

Andrew%20Dalton's gravatar image

Andrew Dalton ♦

Maybe the complete quote will help:

«The same kind of measurement guides man’s actions in the wider realm of moral or spiritual values. (By “spiritual” I mean “pertaining to consciousness.” I say “wider” because it is man’s hierarchy of values in this realm that determines his hierarchy of values in the material or economic realm.) But the currency or medium of exchange is different. In the spiritual realm, the currency—which exists in limited quantity and must be teleologically measured in the pursuit of any value—is time, i.e., one’s life.»

Spiritual: the realm of production of ideas?

(May 14 '13 at 15:08) Juan Diego dAnconia Juan%20Diego%20dAnconia's gravatar image

I remembered that Peikoff defined this a little bit better in one of his podcasts.
Episode 67 - June 22, 2009 00:44 Is the beginning of the question. 01:26 You will hear

"Spiritual designates ... the human conceptual faculty [consciousness] and the values it has concluded."

The brackets are my addition.

(May 14 '13 at 16:47) CarGuy CarGuy's gravatar image

The statement, "By 'spiritual' I mean 'pertaining to consciousness," seems clear enough, as well as quite concise and comprehensive. Ayn Rand offered it in the context of a discussion in which her use of the term might have been presumed to include mystical aspects, which she rejects, but which she does not elaborate further in that particular discussion. Her clarification nicely delimits her intended reference: "spiritual" pertains to consciousness -- without implying that consciousness includes any mystical connotations. Ayn Rand's complete statement also sugggests an unstated premise that there are no mystical elements in man's consciousness. It is not the Objectivist definition of "spiritual" that rejects or invalidates mystical elements or connotations. The issue of whether or not there are mystical elements in man's consciousness is a separate topic in itself, apart from what one intends to designate by the term "spiritual." Objectivism does, indeed, differ from other philosophies in delimiting the term "spiritual" in this manner.

I am not aware of any more definitive explanation of "spiritual" in the literature of Objectivism. But if the actual issue is whether or not man's consciousness (or the consciousness of any other type of animal) includes mystical elements, or whether some form of consciousness can exist independently of a living, earthly organism, the definition of "spiritual" or "spirit" is not the place to look to resolve that issue. To understand the full scope of Ayn Rand's view of consciousness, the topic of "consciousness" is the term that should be searched out in the literature of Objectivism. (Refer also to the topics of "Mysticism" and related variations in The Ayn Rand Lexicon.)

The ITOE excerpt specifically refers to "moral or spiritual values." Objectivism does make a distinction between moral values and other kinds of values. Air, for example, is a value for man and other animals, but it is not a moral value. Air is something that animals and man act to gain and/or keep, but it is not normally something that man must choose to identify and uphold as a value. Objectivism identifies morality as "a code of values accepted by choice." Moral values refer to values that are part of a code of values that man has accepted by choice. "Spiritual" values apparently are intended to mean "moral values," but with greater emphasis on the effect of moral values on one's consciousness or "spirit" (including one's self-esteem). The expressioin, "sense of life," also emphasizes one's conscious or "spiritual" well being, i.e., the well being of one's consciousness or "spirit." (Ayn Rand also discusses "metaphysical values" and metaphysical value-judgments, as well as sense of life, in connection with art.)

answered May 15 '13 at 00:42

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

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Asked: May 14 '13 at 10:11

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Last updated: May 30 '13 at 20:58