Living Life Fully   Leave a comment

Ayn Rand’s philosophy is simple: the purpose of humans is to live fully as humans, pain and pleasure direct us towards life or death, and we must choose life.  I find myself agreeing with her.  “Choose life!” God tells Israel repeatedly through Moses.  Surely life lived to the fullest is God’s design for us, and misery or joy seem to be fairly reliable indicators of what benefits or harms us.  But some caution niggles in the back of our brains: if we avoid pain and pursue pleasure, are we not hedonists?

Rand decries hedonism: “When… the gratification of any and all desires is taken as an ethical goal… men have no choice but to hate, fear and fight one another, because their desires and their interests will necessarily clash.  If  ‘desire’ is the ethical standard, then one man’s desire to produce and another man’s desire to rob him have equal ethical validity….  If so, then man’s only choice is to rob or be robbed, to destroy or be destroyed, to sacrifice others to any desire of his own or to sacrifice himself to any desire of others; then man’s only ethical alternative is to be a sadist or a masochist.  The moral cannibalism  of all hedonist and altruist doctrines lies in the premise that the happiness of one man necessitates the injury of another.”  Hedonism and altruism are alike in this: one person’s well-being must be sacrificed for the sake of another’s.

Rand Is a Rationalist

“The Objectivist ethics,” Rand explains, “holds that human good does not require human sacrifices and cannot be achieved by the sacrifice of anyone to anyone.  It holds that the rational interests of men do not clash.”   She sees a benevolent world in which every person can find genuine, full happiness regardless of the actions of others.  I’m not sure how an atheist such as Rand can be so optimistic, but if the God of all grace rules the world, hope is an inescapable, logical conclusion.  A theist might read her statement “the spiritual or life-giving interests of men do not clash.”  If God is committed to what is best for me, then I fulfill his will by living out this truth.  God must see to it that the choices I make  in pursuing what is best for me do not undermine what is best for another.

 

*Rand is an individualist, so we must still refine her thoughts with the Biblical truths of community and interdependence.

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Posted September 19, 2012 by janathangrace in Reading, thoughts

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