Life, values and the primary character traits.

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I would value your thoughts on this; be well.


The most fundamental concern of any man is that of values. As Ayn Rand writes:

“There is only one fundamental alternative in the universe: existence or non-existence—and it pertains to a single class of entities: to living organisms. The existence of inanimate matter is unconditional, the existence of life is not: it depends on a specific course of action. Matter is indestructible, it changes its forms, but it cannot cease to exist. It is only a living organism that faces a constant alternative: the issue of life or death. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action. If an organism fails in that action, it dies; its chemical elements remain, but its life goes out of existence. It is only the concept of ‘Life’ that makes the concept of ‘Value’ possible. It is only to a living entity that things can be good or evil.” (For the New Intellectual)

For any man who would seek to remain in existence, values are his most important concern. The issue of values is the most important one of a man’s existence, for it is upon them that his life itself depends. It is from this fact that the primary character traits of human beings derive, and they are: Confidence and Insecurity. These are the most fundamental character traits as they relate to the most fundamental issue of man’s life on earth; they are the traits that follow from what makes life possible. And as values are his first and highest concern, his grasp on whether they are secure or not so is the first and highest influence upon his character.

There are five primary areas in which values can be categorized: Environmental, Cognitive, Moral, Procedural, and Social.

Environmental values relate to the safety of a man’s person and property — a rational man thus, for example, values rational government, which provides this to him. Cognitive values relate to a man’s ability to grasp truth, the foundation of all that he is. Moral values relate to a man’s judgment of moral worth, both his own and that of the men who surround him — he thus values rational ethics, and knows especially the importance of grasping his own moral value, the foundation of his motivation to continue life itself.

Procedural values relate to a man’s ability to act successfully — a rational man thus values the knowledge and experience that allows him to do so. Finally, Social values relate to others — friends, love, and confidence of his own value in a social context; a good man grasps that should those around him not grasp his value, the fault is in them, and not in him.

In each of these areas, a man’s grasp of his values may be secure, or not so. In the former case, he experiences confidence — in the latter case, he experiences insecurity.

The emotional corollary of confidence is inner peace -- the physical corollary, calm. The emotional corollary of insecurity is anxiety -- the physical corollary, nervousness. To the extent a man is confident, it is because he is sure of his values in any given area; to the extent he is insecure, he is not so.

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