Paul's Here

Teen girl finishes round-the-world sail in Sydney

75 posts in this topic

Whether or not a young person who wants to be a doctor ought to take an adventurous and memorable vacation depends on a variety of factors. One can have a career and several other serious interests throughout life. Some talented and intelligent professionals have successful 'second' careers in an entirely different area, such as music. Others happily change careers after many years. Not everyone can do that, but those who can are doing nothing wrong in pursuing multiple interests. There is no moral injunction requiring everything one does has to be for one purpose throughout his entire life. That is not what productivity means.

Yes it does. I have not stated that one cannot have multiple purposes in their life nor that they cannot change their purpose. But how will one know which road to follow without choosing one purpose as their central/primary purpose?

You have confused the virtue of productivity with the necessity of priorities and their application. The virtue of productivity arises because we live in a material world and must produce material values in order to live. That says nothing about what kind of production you should delimit yourself to or the connections between various productive endeavors. You disagreed with the statement "To say that productive work is the central purpose of your life does not mean that everything that you do, in order to be productive, must be confined to a single central purpose across your whole life." It is a logical fallacy to say that the moral necessity of "productive work is the central purpose of your life" implies that things you do that are not related to a central purpose are not productive, and second, it is incorrect to say that one must have the same productive purpose at all times in order to have productive work as the central purpose of your life. Holding productive work as such as a central purpose is not the same issue as what kinds of productive work you choose to pursue. A hierarchy of priorities involving multiple major interests, simultaneously or in sequence, is not the same thing as drifting without purpose and does not preclude the kind of development in experience and expertise attained by long term productive effort devoted to any single kind of activity.

A month before he is supposed to leave on his climbing expedition he is informed that his supervisor has been fired and is offered the position which starts right away and that if he accepts he should probably not take any leave within the first six months. What is it that you think will guide his choice if he does not have a central purpose to guide that choice?

None of what I have written has anything to do with condoning choice of vacations made without regard to long term priorities.

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Ewv,

I have not made a mistake, I am not confused nor have I misidentified any part of the subject under discussion. I did not disagree with your quoted statement I disagreed with not having a single purpose at anyone time that would guide a person's choices at that time. I never stated nor did I intend that one should only have one purpose throughout their whole life. I meant and still mean that one needs a primary purpose as a guide (although it may change with time) as it is what guides and focuses one's choices. A person's central purpose is usually tied to their choice of career as being produtive demands a large amount of one's time and choices.

Ayn Rand discussed these ideas many times in her writings and interviews of which I quote one occasion below:

"In order to be in control of your life, you have to have a purpose—a productive purpose . . . A central purpose serves to integrate all the other concerns of a man’s life. It establishes the hierarchy, the relative importance, of his values, it saves him from pointless inner conflicts, it permits him to enjoy life on a wide scale and to carry that enjoyment into any area open to his mind; whereas a man without a purpose is lost in chaos. He does not know what his values are. He does not know how to judge. He cannot tell what is or is not important to him, and, therefore, he drifts helplessly at the mercy of any chance stimulus or any whim of the moment. He can enjoy nothing. He spends his life searching for some value which he will never find." [“Playboy’s Interview with Ayn Rand,” March 1964.]

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Another similar event that happens quite a bit today is when a person states thank you to someone and recieves the return reply "no problem." When a person recognizes another person's efforts as being worthy of commenting on by explicitly stating "thank you" the original person is recognizing the good in the other person. If the person receiving the complement of "thank you" agree with the person's reasons for giving the compliment (which means the virtues) they should accept the compliment with "your welcome" or something similar that gives a recognition of simliar virtues and values. When a person gives the response "no problem" they are denying their efforts as being worthy of praise and denying the virtues needed to achieve values.

I don't think people mean "no problem" in the sense of "What I have just given you has no value," but rather to say "There is no reason for you to be concerned about whether you have earned this gift--you have." Which would pretty much make it a synonym of "You're welcome." At least this is how I have always seen it.

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Another similar event that happens quite a bit today is when a person states thank you to someone and recieves the return reply "no problem." When a person recognizes another person's efforts as being worthy of commenting on by explicitly stating "thank you" the original person is recognizing the good in the other person. If the person receiving the complement of "thank you" agree with the person's reasons for giving the compliment (which means the virtues) they should accept the compliment with "your welcome" or something similar that gives a recognition of simliar virtues and values. When a person gives the response "no problem" they are denying their efforts as being worthy of praise and denying the virtues needed to achieve values.

I don't think people mean "no problem" in the sense of "What I have just given you has no value," but rather to say "There is no reason for you to be concerned about whether you have earned this gift--you have." Which would pretty much make it a synonym of "You're welcome." At least this is how I have always seen it.

If that is what is meant by the statement then I would agree with you. But I am not sure that is the reasoning behind their "no problem" statement and think it is more likely to do with being humble and not accepting the applause.

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If that is what is meant by the statement then I would agree with you. But I am not sure that is the reasoning behind their "no problem" statement and think it is more likely to do with being humble and not accepting the applause.

...in which case I would completely agree with you. :D

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Whether or not a young person who wants to be a doctor ought to take an adventurous and memorable vacation depends on a variety of factors. One can have a career and several other serious interests throughout life. Some talented and intelligent professionals have successful 'second' careers in an entirely different area, such as music. Others happily change careers after many years. Not everyone can do that, but those who can are doing nothing wrong in pursuing multiple interests. There is no moral injunction requiring everything one does has to be for one purpose throughout his entire life. That is not what productivity means.

Yes it does. I have not stated that one cannot have multiple purposes in their life nor that they cannot change their purpose. But how will one know which road to follow without choosing one purpose as their central/primary purpose?

You have confused the virtue of productivity with the necessity of priorities and their application. The virtue of productivity arises because we live in a material world and must produce material values in order to live. That says nothing about what kind of production you should delimit yourself to or the connections between various productive endeavors. You disagreed with the statement "To say that productive work is the central purpose of your life does not mean that everything that you do, in order to be productive, must be confined to a single central purpose across your whole life." It is a logical fallacy to say that the moral necessity of "productive work is the central purpose of your life" implies that things you do that are not related to a central purpose are not productive, and second, it is incorrect to say that one must have the same productive purpose at all times in order to have productive work as the central purpose of your life. Holding productive work as such as a central purpose is not the same issue as what kinds of productive work you choose to pursue. A hierarchy of priorities involving multiple major interests, simultaneously or in sequence, is not the same thing as drifting without purpose and does not preclude the kind of development in experience and expertise attained by long term productive effort devoted to any single kind of activity.

A month before he is supposed to leave on his climbing expedition he is informed that his supervisor has been fired and is offered the position which starts right away and that if he accepts he should probably not take any leave within the first six months. What is it that you think will guide his choice if he does not have a central purpose to guide that choice?

None of what I have written has anything to do with condoning choice of vacations made without regard to long term priorities.

I have not made a mistake, I am not confused nor have I misidentified any part of the subject under discussion. I did not disagree with your quoted statement I disagreed with not having a single purpose at anyone time that would guide a person's choices at that time. I never stated nor did I intend that one should only have one purpose throughout their whole life. I meant and still mean that one needs a primary purpose as a guide (although it may change with time) as it is what guides and focuses one's choices. A person's central purpose is usually tied to their choice of career as being produtive demands a large amount of one's time and choices.

You did disagree with the quoted statement. This is what you wrote:

What you draw from the quote does not follow. This speaks of one of many applications and it does not mean that it defines productiveness. The quote does not support what you wrongly stated in your previous post.

EWV was absolutely correct stating:

To say that productive work is the central purpose of your life does not mean that everything that you do, in order to be productive, must be confined to a single central purpose across your whole life.

I disagree. But I am willing to await your definition of what you think being productive means and how it relates to one's purpose.

That is a direct disagreement.

This arose because you had previously stated that the girl's sailing around the world was not productive because it was not her central purpose. You had written:

I am not negating the effort that she put forth, but that does not make that effort into productivity
and
In other words, for one to be productive they must engage in the process of creating material values. So, unless she is going to make sailing her central purpose in life, she was doing nothing more than performing a recreational activity just like a recreational fisherman does.

That is not true. A productive action does not have to be a central purpose in order to be "productive". That is not the meaning of "productive". Her long term project and all the effort that went into planning and executing it was not "nothing more than recreation".

Ayn Rand discussed these ideas many times in her writings and interviews of which I quote one occasion below:

"In order to be in control of your life, you have to have a purpose—a productive purpose . . . A central purpose serves to integrate all the other concerns of a man’s life. It establishes the hierarchy, the relative importance, of his values, it saves him from pointless inner conflicts, it permits him to enjoy life on a wide scale and to carry that enjoyment into any area open to his mind; whereas a man without a purpose is lost in chaos. He does not know what his values are. He does not know how to judge. He cannot tell what is or is not important to him, and, therefore, he drifts helplessly at the mercy of any chance stimulus or any whim of the moment. He can enjoy nothing. He spends his life searching for some value which he will never find." [“Playboy’s Interview with Ayn Rand,” March 1964.]

Your quotes from Ayn Rand do not support your stated thesis. No one here is advocating drifting helplessly without regard to a hierarchy of values, which in turn is conceptually incommensurable with the concept of production, being neither the same thing nor an alternative. To live one needs both a hierarchy and productivity, and a lot more.

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Ewv,

First off you take my quote out of it's original context which was meant to state that I disagree with her assessement of my statements in accordance to Dr. Peikoff's quoted statements. Sophia stated "What you draw from the quote does not follow..." which is what I disagreed with. In other words I disagreed with her conclusion of my statements not being logical.

Secondly, after rtg24 brought up the facts of what she had done and accomplished before she even went on the trip, I admitted that I was wrong in stating that it was nothing more than recreation. What I originally stated was that she was not procutive in an "Objective sense" not that she was not productive. And I have already explained what I meant by that earlier statement. Which leads us to your next statements, which you once again drop the context of my statements. I never stated that every productive action has to be one's central purpose. I stated that unless her intention was to become a professional sailor that her efforts were of a recreational manner. But as I stated earlier, that was because I did not know that she had created material values before she left on her expedtion.

Finally, my quotes from Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff do support my thesis, but you keep taking little aspects of my statements out of context while trying to conclude what it is I am stating which is the opposite or not fully what I am stating. I would offer that you reread my full amount of post, but I am almost certain that you will still think I am wrong, of which I do not think I am wrong. My thesis was and is that a person needs a central purpose in life (although it can change) to act as their guide and integrater of their choices and actions. Hence, the reason it is called a "central purpose" is because it lies at the center of one's values choices and allows one to set a rational hierarchy of other values and how one should go about achieveing those other values.

For those that have a concern I recommend Tara Smith's lecture "The Value of Purpose" and the sub-chapter in Leonard Peikoff's OPAR on productivity that starts on page 292 and is titled "Productiveness as the Adjustment of Nature to Man."

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Ewv,

First off you take my quote out of it's original context which was meant to state that I disagree with her assessement of my statements in accordance to Dr. Peikoff's quoted statements. Sophia stated "What you draw from the quote does not follow..." which is what I disagreed with. In other words I disagreed with her conclusion of my statements not being logical.

I quoted in full context your statements that I responded to. You can of course change your position or the formulation of what you say you meant if you want to. I responded to what you wrote.

Secondly, after rtg24 brought up the facts of what she had done and accomplished before she even went on the trip, I admitted that I was wrong in stating that it was nothing more than recreation. What I originally stated was that she was not procutive in an "Objective sense" not that she was not productive. And I have already explained what I meant by that earlier statement.

The "Objectivist sense" of productivity is not that an action isn't productive unless it is part of your central purpose. That is why I said you were confusing the concept of productivity with a hierarchy of priorities. The virtue of productivity is not a definition of productivity and neither does it define an "Objectivist sense" of productivity further limiting the concept.

Which leads us to your next statements, which you once again drop the context of my statements. I never stated that every productive action has to be one's central purpose. I stated that unless her intention was to become a professional sailor that her efforts were of a recreational manner. But as I stated earlier, that was because I did not know that she had created material values before she left on her expedtion.

I quoted in full context your statement as written that I responded to.

Finally, my quotes from Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff do support my thesis, but you keep taking little aspects of my statements out of context while trying to conclude what it is I am stating which is the opposite or not fully what I am stating. I would offer that you reread my full amount of post, but I am almost certain that you will still think I am wrong, of which I do not think I am wrong. My thesis was and is that a person needs a central purpose in life (although it can change) to act as their guide and integrater of their choices and actions. Hence, the reason it is called a "central purpose" is because it lies at the center of one's values choices and allows one to set a rational hierarchy of other values and how one should go about achieveing those other values.

What you have said you support has changed as you wrote it in your evolving posts. At least one of them, as actually written, contradicted itself. Many of your actual statements were not supported by the quotes from Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff.

Also, some of your posts made arguments with comparisons with choices of when to take vacations that had nothing to do with what anyone here had stated.

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Ewv, I will respond to your statements when I have the tiime. Right now I have to go and be productive as my central purpose guides me in choosing what is more important.

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virtue of productivity is not a definition of productivity and neither does it define an "Objectivist sense" of productivity further limiting the concept.

To be precise, the Objectivist virtue is "productiveness" and not "productivity."

Productiveness is your acceptance of morality, your recognition of the fact that you choose to live—that productive work is the process by which man's consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one's purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one's values—that all work is creative work if done by a thinking mind, and no work is creative if done by a blank who repeats in uncritical stupor a routine he has learned from others—that your work is yours to choose, and the choice is as wide as your mind, that nothing more is possible to you and nothing less is human—that to cheat your way into a job bigger than your mind can handle is to become a fear-corroded ape on borrowed motions and borrowed time, and to settle down into a job that requires less than your mind's full capacity is to cut your motor and sentence yourself to another kind of motion: decay—that your work is the process of achieving your values, and to lose your ambition for values is to lose your ambition to live—that your body is a machine, but your mind is its driver, and you must drive as far as your mind will take you, with achievement as the goal of your road—that the man who has no purpose is a machine that coasts downhill at the mercy of any boulder to crash in the first chance ditch, that the man who stifles his mind is a stalled machine slowly going to rust, that the man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap, and the man who makes another man his goal is a hitchhiker no driver should ever pick up—that your work is the purpose of your life, .and you must speed past any killer who assumes the right to stop you, that any value you might find outside your work, any other loyalty or love, can be only travelers you choose to share your journey and must be travelers going on their own power in the same direction.

Jessica's consciousness controlled her existence, she acquired knowledge, shaped matter to fit her purpose, translated her ideas into physical form, making the earth -- and the sea -- in the image of her values. She did the work she chose and it was a job that required her mind's full capacity. She was purposeful and had a driving ambition that took her completely around the world.

I think she exemplified the Objectivist virtue of productiveness very well indeed.

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virtue of productivity is not a definition of productivity and neither does it define an "Objectivist sense" of productivity further limiting the concept.

To be precise, the Objectivist virtue is "productiveness" and not "productivity."

I didn't intend a distinction. Aside from the fact that "productiveness" is in fact the exact form she used, do you intend a distinction between the two forms of the word?

Productiveness is your acceptance of morality, your recognition of the fact that you choose to live—that productive work is the process by which man's consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one's purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one's values—that all work is creative work if done by a thinking mind, and no work is creative if done by a blank who repeats in uncritical stupor a routine he has learned from others—that your work is yours to choose, and the choice is as wide as your mind, that nothing more is possible to you and nothing less is human—that to cheat your way into a job bigger than your mind can handle is to become a fear-corroded ape on borrowed motions and borrowed time, and to settle down into a job that requires less than your mind's full capacity is to cut your motor and sentence yourself to another kind of motion: decay—that your work is the process of achieving your values, and to lose your ambition for values is to lose your ambition to live—that your body is a machine, but your mind is its driver, and you must drive as far as your mind will take you, with achievement as the goal of your road—that the man who has no purpose is a machine that coasts downhill at the mercy of any boulder to crash in the first chance ditch, that the man who stifles his mind is a stalled machine slowly going to rust, that the man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap, and the man who makes another man his goal is a hitchhiker no driver should ever pick up—that your work is the purpose of your life, .and you must speed past any killer who assumes the right to stop you, that any value you might find outside your work, any other loyalty or love, can be only travelers you choose to share your journey and must be travelers going on their own power in the same direction.

Jessica's consciousness controlled her existence, she acquired knowledge, shaped matter to fit her purpose, translated her ideas into physical form, making the earth -- and the sea -- in the image of her values. She did the work she chose and it was a job that required her mind's full capacity. She was purposeful and had a driving ambition that took her completely around the world.

I think she exemplified the Objectivist virtue of productiveness very well indeed.

I agree, and "productivity", too :-)

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I think she exemplified the Objectivist virtue of productiveness very well indeed.

I agree, and "productivity", too :-)

The reason I make the distinction between "productiveness" and "productivity" is that the latter is also a basic concept in economics and that may have lead to some of the confusion and disagreements on this thread. "Productivity" is a characteristic of activities in which economic values are used to create greater economic values as measured in units of money.

Jessica's achievement was an example of the Objectivist virtue of "productiveness" but not necessarily of "productivity" in the economic sense.

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I think she exemplified the Objectivist virtue of productiveness very well indeed.

I agree, and "productivity", too :-)

The reason I make the distinction between "productiveness" and "productivity" is that the latter is also a basic concept in economics and that may have lead to some of the confusion and disagreements on this thread. "Productivity" is a characteristic of activities in which economic values are used to create greater economic values as measured in units of money.

Jessica's achievement was an example of the Objectivist virtue of "productiveness" but not necessarily of "productivity" in the economic sense.

It may have led to confusion in discussions concerning what she produced in posts where such a conceptual distinction is explicit, but does not logically explain the rest of it.

'Productivity' is customarily used in economics and industrial psychology as output per unit labor input, but that is not the subject being discussed here. Dictionaries, which describe common usage, make no such distinction, specifying 'productiveness' and 'productivity' as equivalent, synonymous noun forms of 'productive'. 'Productiveness' is less used in general; 'Productivity' is in the word usage frequency statistics here; 'Productiveness' does not appear there at all.

Ayn Rand used both forms. A quick search through Phil's CD shows that she used 'productivity' more often, though not in the form of 'virtue of productivity'. Whatever the reasons for her choice of 'virtue of productiveness', perhaps from a dictionary from the 1930s(?) she had at the time, she did not discuss a distinction between the two forms as far as I know. She did use 'productiveness' to refer to degrees of material values produced and the corresponding degree of economic reward, as in

And when men live by trade—with reason, not force, as their final arbiter—it is the best product that wins, the best performance, the man of best judgment and highest ability—and the degree of a man's productiveness is the degree of his reward. This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money.

If Ayn Rand intended a distinction in usage, perhaps something like an implied emphasis on the the quality itself versus its uniformity or repeatability (e.g. in industry), or in the case of the 'virtue' to deliberately avoid a connotation of a strictly economic concept, even though there is no distinction now in common use, it is very subtle. (Maybe there should be such a verbal distinction. The lack of one may be due to the general lack of identifying productiveness as a moral virtue outside of vague references to "the work ethic".)

Such subtleties or other economic connotations, let alone linguistic analysis and the choice of synonyms, does not explain a conceptual confusion that is so fundamental as to exclude the girl's accomplishment as in "she was not productive in the sense Objectivist hold", especially when the confusions in application, denials and consistency mostly used the terms "productiveness" and "productive" themselves, while insisting on Objectivism as the standard, not economics. The posts equivocated on and confused a variety of factors, including economic production, trade, hierarchy of priorities, and the "virtue of productivess" versus the concept of productive. I wouldn't speculate on potential implicit verbal influences suggested as causing such confusion, as opposed to addressing what is actually written as the objective expression of the ideas.

Whether one acknowledges the achievement of the girl who sailed around the world for her 'productivity' or 'productiveness', she was productive in the best sense, as your post above quoting and then directly applying Ayn Rand's conception nicely summarized:

...

Jessica's consciousness controlled her existence, she acquired knowledge, shaped matter to fit her purpose, translated her ideas into physical form, making the earth -- and the sea -- in the image of her values. She did the work she chose and it was a job that required her mind's full capacity. She was purposeful and had a driving ambition that took her completely around the world.

I think she exemplified the Objectivist virtue of productiveness very well indeed.

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[...]

If Ayn Rand intended a distinction in usage, perhaps something like an implied emphasis on the the quality itself versus its uniformity or repeatability (e.g. in industry), or in the case of the 'virtue' to deliberately avoid a connotation of a strictly economic concept, even though there is no distinction now in common use, it is very subtle. (Maybe there should be such a verbal distinction. The lack of one may be due to the general lack of identifying productiveness as a moral virtue outside of vague references to "the work ethic".)

Such subtleties or other economic connotations, let alone linguistic analysis and the choice of synonyms, does not explain a conceptual confusion that is so fundamental as to exclude the girl's accomplishment as in "she was not productive in the sense Objectivist hold", especially when the confusions in application, denials and consistency mostly used the terms "productiveness" and "productive" themselves, while insisting on Objectivism as the standard, not economics. The posts equivocated on and confused a variety of factors, including economic production, trade, hierarchy of priorities, and the "virtue of productivess" versus the concept of productive. I wouldn't speculate on potential implicit verbal influences suggested as causing such confusion, as opposed to addressing what is actually written as the objective expression of the ideas.

[...]

I'd always taken productiveness to mean a "state of producing", i.e., the set of facts leading to the conclusion that one is being productive. Productivity is what I take to be a measure of how much is being produced.

Can these definitions be considered accurate?

But I understand your statement regarding the conceptual confusion you refer to as the bigger issue. Would it be correct to state that in achieving some value one is always being productive, even if there are no material things being produced (as in providing a service)?

Also, does being productive necessarily mean some action has to take place in physical reality? If one sits still and arrives at a solution in her head to some problem, could she be described as being productive?

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Can these definitions be considered accurate?

No. I looked through several online dictionaries and three printed dictionaries for the common use of the words and found them all described as identical synonyms as the noun form of 'productive', defined as or similar to 'capacity for producing'. There were the usual variations in alternate usage of 'productive' that dictionaries tend to provide for almost any word, including specifically a meaning in economics involving monetary value, but 'productivity' and 'productiveness' always meant the same thing given the meaning of 'productive'.

If you hunt far enough maybe you could come up with some current or historical subtle difference, but in common use they are the same. My Oxford English Dictionary (the really big one) does not run on XP and my NT PC is not currently set up so I couldn't check that one. If you search on the two terms in Phil's CD on Objectivism you will detect a pattern of subtle distinction in Ayn Rand's writing, as I alluded to and attempted to describe, but no explicit differentiation.

There is of course a conceptual distinction between capacity or state of producing versus a measurement of some particular productivity, as you indicated, but that does not differentiate the common usage of the words 'productivity' and 'productiveness'. You still have to specify an amount of productivity, how much of what that you regard as productivity.

As Betsy pointed out, the term 'productivity' rather than 'productiveness' seems as a matter of practice to be exclusively used as the technical term in economics (and in industrial psychology on efficiency, etc.). In that context, 'the productivity' of a factory, an industry, a nation, etc. generally refers to the output per unit input of labor in some process that is uniform and repeatable enough to be consistently compared and therefore measured numerically (whether in units of dollars or some direct measure of objects produced). Then you would often be speaking of some level or degree of productivity in absolute units or comparatively (as in 'higher productivity'). But you still have to specify a quantity of such production in addition to the concept of productivity as such and what is being produced (and you can also compare degrees of 'productiveness').

In this delimited technical sense, as Betsy suggested, you would not speak of the economic productivity of the girl who sailed around the world even though funds had to be raised and spent, people paid her, etc., but she certainly was productive. You might be able to find finer technical distinctions in economics books, but it wouldn't pertain to the conceptual issues in this situation.

But I understand your statement regarding the conceptual confusion you refer to as the bigger issue. Would it be correct to state that in achieving some value one is always being productive, even if there are no material things being produced (as in providing a service)?

No, in both common usage and in Objectivism it must involve a material value. (AS: "Productiveness is your acceptance of morality, your recognition of the fact that you choose to live—that productive work is the process by which man's consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one's purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one's values—...").

The concept arises because we live in a material reality, not as 'ghosts' or 'spirits'; we must produce physical values in the world in order to live. (Objectivist Ethics: "The virtue of Productiveness is the recognition of the fact that productive work is the process by which man’s mind sustains his life, the process that sets man free of the necessity to adjust himself to his background, as all animals do, and gives him the power to adjust his background to himself...."). It does not refer to physical or mental effort as such, although both are required. And it does not refer to spiritual values (like 'happiness') apart from some material aspect. If you write a book, it has to be expressed in physical form as a book; if you raise a child, you have to act in physical reality with a physical child, etc. I think Leonard Peikoff once discussed this in one of his podcasts but I don't know which one or what he said.

Also, does being productive necessarily mean some action has to take place in physical reality? If one sits still and arrives at a solution in her head to some problem, could she be described as being productive?

In accordance with the previous, 1. yes and 2. no. You don't have a 'product' until there is some physical result: writing it down, communicating it, implementing it, etc. (and it has to be organized and purposeful, not just random physical results of effort). That is not to demean or downplay the effort, which may represent the vast majority of the process; it's just a matter of what the concept refers to. As a partial analogy, if you think about something but never translate it into some physical form it is no more 'productive' than doing a lot of work on building a house but never completing the goal to some useful degree (even though it is all physical).

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Can these definitions be considered accurate?

No. I looked through several online dictionaries and three printed dictionaries [...]

Your reply as usual is impeccable, but more than that, astonishing in being so unexpectedly detailed. Thank you. How you manage your time while doing this remains a mystery.

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Ayn Rand defines production as the application of reason to the problem of survival. In that context I think all, or at least most, here would agree that Jessica Watson used reason during her travels. But if we look for a purpose to why she traveled we will find (at least if all we do is read the linked article) is that she vaguely states that her goal was to sail around the world to prove to people what she is capable of. To be able to define a rational purpose Jessica Watson (along with everyone else) needs a rational moral code to guide her actions, an Objective code of ethics.

"What is morality, or ethics? It is a code of values to guide man’s choices and actions—the choices and actions that determine the purpose and the course of his life. Ethics, as a science, deals with discovering and defining such a code." [Ayn Rand, “The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 13.]

"In order to be in control of your life, you have to have a purpose—a productive purpose . . . A central purpose serves to integrate all the other concerns of a man’s life. It establishes the hierarchy, the relative importance, of his values, it saves him from pointless inner conflicts, it permits him to enjoy life on a wide scale and to carry that enjoyment into any area open to his mind; whereas a man without a purpose is lost in chaos. He does not know what his values are. He does not know how to judge. He cannot tell what is or is not important to him, and, therefore, he drifts helplessly at the mercy of any chance stimulus or any whim of the moment. He can enjoy nothing. He spends his life searching for some value which he will never find." [Ayn Rand, “Playboy’s Interview with Ayn Rand,” March 1964.]

"Productive work is the central purpose of a rational man’s life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values. Reason is the source, the precondition of his productive work—pride is the result." [Ayn Rand, “The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 25.]

“Productive work” does not mean the blind performance of the motions of some job. It means the conscious, rational pursuit of a productive career. In popular usage, the term “career” is applied only to the more ambitious types of work; but, in fact, it applies to all work: it denotes a man’s attitude toward his work." [Ayn Rand, “From My ‘Future File,’”The Ayn Rand Letter, III; 26, 3.]

So was Jessica Watson productive? In a certain limited context we can answer, yes, as she did apply reason to the problem of her survival while achieving her short term purpose/goal which was to sail around the world to prove to people what she is capable of. But in another context she was not productive as her efforts and purpose (sailing around the world to prove to other people what she is capable of) were not tied to a rationally selfish, central productive purpose that would have worked to integrate all her concerns. To do the things I mentioned Jessica would have to have had a rational code of ethics. An Objectivist code of ethics where she recognizes that the standard of her ethical system is her own life and that she is the beneficiary of her efforts where the purpose of her life is the achievement of her own happiness, which can only come as a secondary consequence from the achievement of non-contradictory goals/values. And here is the crux of the problem, was she productive in an "Objective sense" and in accordance to Objectivist ethics? I still answer no, not fully as her purpose was not primarily for her benefit which means it was not a rationally selfish purpose/goal which means it was not consistent with Objectivist ethics.

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Ayn Rand defines production as the application of reason to the problem of survival. In that context I think all, or at least most, here would agree that Jessica Watson used reason during her travels. But if we look for a purpose to why she traveled we will find (at least if all we do is read the linked article) is that she vaguely states that her goal was to sail around the world to prove to people what she is capable of. To be able to define a rational purpose Jessica Watson (along with everyone else) needs a rational moral code to guide her actions, an Objective code of ethics.

"What is morality, or ethics? It is a code of values to guide man’s choices and actions—the choices and actions that determine the purpose and the course of his life. Ethics, as a science, deals with discovering and defining such a code." [Ayn Rand, “The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 13.]

"In order to be in control of your life, you have to have a purpose—a productive purpose . . . A central purpose serves to integrate all the other concerns of a man’s life. It establishes the hierarchy, the relative importance, of his values, it saves him from pointless inner conflicts, it permits him to enjoy life on a wide scale and to carry that enjoyment into any area open to his mind; whereas a man without a purpose is lost in chaos. He does not know what his values are. He does not know how to judge. He cannot tell what is or is not important to him, and, therefore, he drifts helplessly at the mercy of any chance stimulus or any whim of the moment. He can enjoy nothing. He spends his life searching for some value which he will never find." [Ayn Rand, “Playboy’s Interview with Ayn Rand,” March 1964.]

"Productive work is the central purpose of a rational man’s life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values. Reason is the source, the precondition of his productive work—pride is the result." [Ayn Rand, “The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 25.]

“Productive work” does not mean the blind performance of the motions of some job. It means the conscious, rational pursuit of a productive career. In popular usage, the term “career” is applied only to the more ambitious types of work; but, in fact, it applies to all work: it denotes a man’s attitude toward his work." [Ayn Rand, “From My ‘Future File,’”The Ayn Rand Letter, III; 26, 3.]

So was Jessica Watson productive? In a certain limited context we can answer, yes, as she did apply reason to the problem of her survival while achieving her short term purpose/goal which was to sail around the world to prove to people what she is capable of. But in another context she was not productive as her efforts and purpose (sailing around the world to prove to other people what she is capable of) were not tied to a rationally selfish, central productive purpose that would have worked to integrate all her concerns. To do the things I mentioned Jessica would have to have had a rational code of ethics. An Objectivist code of ethics where she recognizes that the standard of her ethical system is her own life and that she is the beneficiary of her efforts where the purpose of her life is the achievement of her own happiness, which can only come as a secondary consequence from the achievement of non-contradictory goals/values. And here is the crux of the problem, was she productive in an "Objective sense" and in accordance to Objectivist ethics? I still answer no, not fully as her purpose was not primarily for her benefit which means it was not a rationally selfish purpose/goal which means it was not consistent with Objectivist ethics.

Nowhere in the initial linked article does Jessica say that her goal was to prove to people what she was capable of. She did say that that others told her she couldn't do it, but not that proving them wrong was her goal.

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So was Jessica Watson productive? In a certain limited context we can answer, yes, as she did apply reason to the problem of her survival while achieving her short term purpose/goal which was to sail around the world to prove to people what she is capable of. But in another context she was not productive as her efforts and purpose (sailing around the world to prove to other people what she is capable of) were not tied to a rationally selfish, central productive purpose that would have worked to integrate all her concerns.

I disagree. It is an extraordinary person who is as purposeful and focused on a goal as Jessica at any age. Even Francisco didn't take on a task of that scale -- his first copper company -- until he was in his LATE teens.

To do the things I mentioned Jessica would have to have had a rational code of ethics.

I think she did -- implicitly.

An Objectivist code of ethics where she recognizes that the standard of her ethical system is her own life and that she is the beneficiary of her efforts where the purpose of her life is the achievement of her own happiness, which can only come as a secondary consequence from the achievement of non-contradictory goals/values.

Mostly, she would need enough life experiences and maturity that are pretty near impossible for a thirteen year-old to have. As for having the Objectivist Ethics, a 13 year-old is too young for explicit philosophy. Dr. Peikoff wouldn't even let his daughter read The Fountainhead until she was in her late teens.

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Nowhere in the initial linked article does Jessica say that her goal was to prove to people what she was capable of. She did say that that others told her she couldn't do it, but not that proving them wrong was her goal.

You are right and that is why I said that if one looks for the purpose of her trip they will find that she vaguely states what her goal was.

Jessica Watson stated: "People don't think you're capable of these things — they don't realize what young people, what 16-year-olds and girls are capable of," she told the crowd."

And a couple of paragraphs later her mother stated: "She said she'd sail around the world, and she has..."

But that is not my main point.

My main point is that one cannot seperate values, purpose and productiveness from ethics. Ethics is a code of values to guide man's choices and actions, the choice and actions that determine the purpose and course of one's life. When a person chooses their actions and goals, they face an immense amount of alternatives. In order to choose between all those alternatives a person requires a standard of value, a purpose which their actions are to serve or strive to attain. Without an ethical code and purpose to judge one's actions/productivity against one cannot judge if that person's actions/productivity is moral/consistent or not.

A lot of religious people in history can be considered productive in a limited context as those people have used reason to solve the problem of survival. But I would not consider their actions to be integrated, through the use of reason, toward a purpose and or benefit - in accordance to the nature of existence and man - in this world. So their standard of value, their ethical code, which guides their choices/motives is different than Objectivist. So, even if she was productive in a limited context, one cannot drop that her choices/motives and her ethical code that drives her choices/motives is not the same as Objectivist.

All of this still does not take away the fact that she was, in a certain context, heroic in the achievement of her goals although she does not think so. And her reason for denying her heroism could possiblly be tied to an ethical code of altruism, but that is just a simple thought as I do not know enough about her to determine that.

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So was Jessica Watson productive? In a certain limited context we can answer, yes, as she did apply reason to the problem of her survival while achieving her short term purpose/goal which was to sail around the world to prove to people what she is capable of. But in another context she was not productive as her efforts and purpose (sailing around the world to prove to other people what she is capable of) were not tied to a rationally selfish, central productive purpose that would have worked to integrate all her concerns.

I disagree. It is an extraordinary person who is as purposeful and focused on a goal as Jessica at any age. Even Francisco didn't take on a task of that scale -- his first copper company -- until he was in his LATE teens.

To do the things I mentioned Jessica would have to have had a rational code of ethics.

I think she did -- implicitly.

An Objectivist code of ethics where she recognizes that the standard of her ethical system is her own life and that she is the beneficiary of her efforts where the purpose of her life is the achievement of her own happiness, which can only come as a secondary consequence from the achievement of non-contradictory goals/values.

Mostly, she would need enough life experiences and maturity that are pretty near impossible for a thirteen year-old to have. As for having the Objectivist Ethics, a 13 year-old is too young for explicit philosophy. Dr. Peikoff wouldn't even let his daughter read The Fountainhead until she was in her late teens.

Okay, you bring to my attention things that I did not think about, but have some personal experience with. In my youth I did not know a single thing about Objectivism, but I knew that setting and achieving my own goals was very important. In my youth I fell for the idea that morality came from god and when people called me selfish and immoral I would retaliate with "if chasing down one's own goals is immoral and selfish than I am immoral and selfish." In my youth I could not take it beyond that point, but I sure used that statement quite often.

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Ayn Rand defines production as the application of reason to the problem of survival.

By survival Ayn Rand did not mean raw survival maintaining a heartbeat and breathing. She meant human survival, pursuing values and attaining happiness. The girl who sailed around the world certainly qualifies.

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Can these definitions be considered accurate?

No. I looked through several online dictionaries and three printed dictionaries [...]

Your reply as usual is impeccable, but more than that, astonishing in being so unexpectedly detailed. Thank you. How you manage your time while doing this remains a mystery.

Thanks L. As for the question of solving the 'mystery', I don't -- I have a big backlog of serious posts and some PMs that I have started to answer but haven't been able to complete with the all the other things I have to do. Besides, time keeps speeding up. :-)

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Okay, you bring to my attention things that I did not think about, but have some personal experience with. In my youth I did not know a single thing about Objectivism, but I knew that setting and achieving my own goals was very important. In my youth I fell for the idea that morality came from god and when people called me selfish and immoral I would retaliate with "if chasing down one's own goals is immoral and selfish than I am immoral and selfish." In my youth I could not take it beyond that point, but I sure used that statement quite often.

Many of us had the same experience, except in my case I was encouraged to pursue goals with pride to the best of my ability. Some things were denounced as 'selfish', regarded as not moral, but the pursuit of personal values wasn't regarded as immoral. Morality was understood to pertain to relations with others, with the usual injunctions and connotations like 'don't be selfish, share your toys' (but not give them away), but also including some good ones like honesty and respect for others' good and accomplishments. The concept of morality as applying to one's own personal choices and values didn't exist. Honesty with oneself and responsibly doing what I was supposed to -- school work, for example -- were regarded as good, but not in an explicitly moral sense. It was as if there were two kinds of good behavior and choices out of 'duty', with only one of them in the realm of the moral. It could have been a lot worse.

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Ayn Rand defines production as the application of reason to the problem of survival.

By survival Ayn Rand did not mean raw survival maintaining a heartbeat and breathing. She meant human survival, pursuing values and attaining happiness. The girl who sailed around the world certainly qualifies.

I agree with you as I did not mean the other way either.

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