organon

A question regarding a particular venue of wealth acquisition, in an ethical context.

339 posts in this topic

I think I might have figured out something. Let’s see if this clarifies some issues.

What is the difference in society between barter and trading with money? When barter is the system of trade, one’s own commodities are directly traded for another’s commodities. For example, I trade my apples for your eggs. In such a society, it is very easy to see what values I created and what values another person created. I exerted effort to plant a tree, water it, fertilize it, and make sure it grew tasty apples. I picked the apples from the tree, packaged them and brought them to market. My effort brought the apples to market so that I could find an individual who had exerted a similar type of effort in bringing the eggs to the market. The value is created by our desire for each other’s product in order to feed ourselves and sustain our lives.

When I exerted the effort in growing sufficient apples to trade on the market, it is not the apples that are a value to me, it is the eggs. I don’t want my apples, I want your eggs. So, when I use the virtue of productiveness in acting to gain and/or keep my values, virtue pertains to my process of growing apples to acquire the value of eggs.

Now let’s jump to a society that uses money as a means of trade. Now my focus is on my productiveness at growing apples in order for me to acquire money, which is an intermediate value. Now I can use the money to buy not just eggs, but any item throughout the entire marketplace within society. And no one needs to know that I produced apples. The fact that I have money means that I have produced something of value to others. So what happens when someone comes along and says, “Hey, Paul. I know someone in California who will sell you his house for $100,000. Would you like to buy it?” Well, I ask myself, have I sold $100,000 worth of apples? I look in my bank account and say, “Yes, I’d like to buy the house.”

Unknown to me, the person who asked me to buy the house had just bought the house for $75,000 from another person who sells eggs. This “speculator” had previously obtained $75,000 from growing oranges in Florida and selling them in the marketplace.

So, let’s summarize. A speculator bought a house for $75,000 and sold it to me for $100,000. Was the speculator productive? What value did the speculator create? Did the speculator exercise productivity? Clearly, the answer is "yes," the speculator created $25,000 worth of monetary profit (value) for himself. This value represents the difference in value between my production of apples (the equivalent value I place on the house) and his production of oranges.

So, in conclusion, it is clear that the speculator was productive ($75,000 worth of oranges) and that he created value ($25,000 worth of profit).

Exactly. The speculator also created (and made known to you) an opportunity to make quick use of your money. You would thus have more free time to productively spend on other interests and pursuits. Productive values multiply.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Obviously, were the world filled only with steel-makers, or any other specialized profession, such as dentists or hair-dressers, they would not live for long. It is rather pointless to say so. Taken seriously and literally, "world filled only with speculators" puts before the advocator's mind (as well as his audience's) something impossible to grasp. It serves no purpose in argumentation and is, therefore, not productive of rational value.

?

The point is, a steelmaker, or dentist, or anyone who creates values, exercises productivity in Miss Rand's sense.

Given the absence of men who create values, life could not be sustained.

It is rather pointless to say so.

?

It serves no purpose in argumentation and is, therefore, not productive of rational value.

See above.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think I might have figured out something. Let’s see if this clarifies some issues.

What is the difference in society between barter and trading with money? When barter is the system of trade, one’s own commodities are directly traded for another’s commodities. For example, I trade my apples for your eggs. In such a society, it is very easy to see what values I created and what values another person created. I exerted effort to plant a tree, water it, fertilize it, and make sure it grew tasty apples. I picked the apples from the tree, packaged them and brought them to market. My effort brought the apples to market so that I could find an individual who had exerted a similar type of effort in bringing the eggs to the market. The value is created by our desire for each other’s product in order to feed ourselves and sustain our lives.

When I exerted the effort in growing sufficient apples to trade on the market, it is not the apples that are a value to me, it is the eggs. I don’t want my apples, I want your eggs. So, when I use the virtue of productiveness in acting to gain and/or keep my values, virtue pertains to my process of growing apples to acquire the value of eggs.

Now let’s jump to a society that uses money as a means of trade. Now my focus is on my productiveness at growing apples in order for me to acquire money, which is an intermediate value. Now I can use the money to buy not just eggs, but any item throughout the entire marketplace within society. And no one needs to know that I produced apples. The fact that I have money means that I have produced something of value to others. So what happens when someone comes along and says, “Hey, Paul. I know someone in California who will sell you his house for $100,000. Would you like to buy it?” Well, I ask myself, have I sold $100,000 worth of apples? I look in my bank account and say, “Yes, I’d like to buy the house.”

Unknown to me, the person who asked me to buy the house had just bought the house for $75,000 from another person who sells eggs. This “speculator” had previously obtained $75,000 from growing oranges in Florida and selling them in the marketplace.

So, let’s summarize. A speculator bought a house for $75,000 and sold it to me for $100,000. Was the speculator productive? What value did the speculator create? Did the speculator exercise productivity? Clearly, the answer is "yes," the speculator created $25,000 worth of monetary profit (value) for himself. This value represents the difference in value between my production of apples (the equivalent value I place on the house) and his production of oranges.

So, in conclusion, it is clear that the speculator was productive ($75,000 worth of oranges) and that he created value ($25,000 worth of profit).

Exactly. The speculator also created (and made known to you) an opportunity to make quick use of your money. You would thus have more free time to productively spend on other interests and pursuits. Productive values multiply.

In relation to the oranges he grew and sell, the man (who later invested the money in a speculative venture) was productive -- the $75,000 resulted from productive work.

In relation to the apples he grew and sell, the other man was productive -- the $100,000 resulted from productive work.

In both cases, in their roles as productive men, they created authentic values, and, when they offered values to the marketplace, that other men chose to purchase by means of trade, economic values.

In the case of a man who only has given rise to wealth as a speculator, can he be considered a producer, in the context of Miss Rand's definition?

For example: he develops a futures trading system with a significant return on investment. On the basis of the track record of that system, he secures an investment from a number of investors, which increases substantially; from these profits, he takes a commission of $100k.

In this case, has the man exercised productivity in Miss Rand's sense? Has he himself created any values?

By means of his actions, $100k was generated for himself. But in Rand's sense, the man has not been productive, so far as I can see. Why? Because the word is defined as the creation of values. Not the generation of cash, but the creation of life-sustaining values. He has not himself created any values.

Again, consider the rational gambler. Do his actions generate cash for himself? Yes. Has he created anything of value?

The fact that an individual's actions generate cash, does not necessarily imply productiveness was involved, in Rand's sense.

Absent men of productive ability, men who grow oranges and apples, the wealth obtained via speculation could not be traded for anything. Speculation, in and of itself, is not productive work, so far as I can tell.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Obviously, were the world filled only with steel-makers, or any other specialized profession, such as dentists or hair-dressers, they would not live for long. It is rather pointless to say so. Taken seriously and literally, "world filled only with speculators" puts before the advocator's mind (as well as his audience's) something impossible to grasp. It serves no purpose in argumentation and is, therefore, not productive of rational value.

With all due respect, the issue does not relate to specialized professions -- it relates to professions, if defined as work involving the creation of values.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
--------------

Speculation, in and of itself, is not productive work, so far as I can tell.

Clearly, there is no way to get you to understand, so I will cease to attempt. This exercise has been a good example of how preconceived notions and the inability to challenge one's premises influence one's ability to grasp basic philosophic issues. I have learned a great deal in this thread, but perhaps one should move this thread to the psychology category.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have learned a great deal in this thread, but perhaps one should move this thread to the psychology category.

Indeed, there may be value here in that context, without further elaborating as to the nature and cause of that value.

... so I will cease to attempt.

"Somehow that news fails to disquiet me." (Cyrano de Bergerac (Brian Hooker translation), Bantam, 1988?, p. 127).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Giving a lecture is not normally regarded as being in the same class of productive activity as making physical widgets, which was the very question at hand in regards to use of the term "material".

That is because physical goods (like widgits) are not in the same class as services (like lecturing). The former is a material value and the latter is a spiritual value (a value of consciousness). If either of them is exchanged for money, then it becomes an economic value.

When a man creates values, he is being productive. It doesn't really matter if the particular value is a good, a service, material, spiritual, or economic. They are all values.

How does this square with the definition of the virtue of 'productiveness' identified in OPAR - and the explanation therein? Or is the claim that the definition and explanation are in error?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
(2) Re the seller: the speculator offered the seller a home at 60% of FMV, a price that the seller agreed to. Was there any value creation on the part of the speculator in this process?

Not that I can tell, in either case.

Each man creates his own value in something. I have met many people that would state to me, "look at how much that land is selling for that over-looks the ocean (city, mountains or what ever one values), it did not cost the owner that much. The owner/speculator had the vision to see (which others did not), that people might value a certain piece of property if brought to their attention, the value that was over-looked. The speculator has created value that was not identified before or not even thought of before.

One more example.

A farmer decides to sell his farm animals manure to other local framers, that do not have farm animals, for their crops. The farmer doing the selling makes a huge profit yearly from selling something that I am certain he did not add a thing to. The wealth created from his rational thought on how to survive has generated a huge value for him and his family. But, if I understand you theory, he has not added any value to the substance being sold, so he is not productive.

Hello Ray,

The premises that will inform my response, stated in advance:

Premise 1 - Productiveness (in Rand’s sense) is defined as the creation of values, whether of matter or of service, through the application of one’s own mind and action to the creation of values. To establish productiveness, an individual must be shown to have applied his thought and action to the creation of values, whether of matter or of service.1

Premise 2- The fact that cash was generated by means of an individual’s actions does not necessarily imply productiveness, in Rand’s sense.2

(In general -- and this is stated as a matter of general principle, applicable here and elsewhere -- I will not respond to any post involving the content of this one that indicates no evidence of either a grasp of, or of any attempt to grasp and address, the arguments described below.)

--

The owner/speculator had the vision to see (which others did not), that people might value a certain piece of property if brought to their attention, the value that was over-looked. The speculator has created value that was not identified before or not even thought of before.

Is he productive, purely in his role as a speculator? Has he created anything? In what way?

If he offers the legitimate, valued service of sales, bringing to a man's attention a property that he thinks that man would value (as with a real estate agent, a profession unquestionably valuable 3 ), identifying that man’s desires, identifying the match, presenting the property for his evaluation, this is a valuable service, for which he is paid, given he is right.

But, in the event he simply buys the property via an agent, waits for it to appreciate, then sells it via an agent at the market price, has he been productive in any way?

What value has he created?

He identified a property that, according to his own informed, reasoned, judgment, would very likely increase substantially in value – and he without question deserves credit for this, and is well paid for that judgment. But, in this process, did he create anything? Did he add anything of value to the property, requiring the application of his mind and effort, given that he improved the property in no way whatever?

No, I don’t think so.

Can he be faulted in any way? No. Can he take a degree of pride in that money, on the basis of the virtue of rationality? Yes. But in regard to this venture, he has not been productive in Rand’s sense (footnote 1).

Does this mean that passive investment, not involving the personal creation of values, and likely requiring, if successful in the long run, thorough rationality, is not ethical? Of course not! But it does not involve the creation on his part, by the passive investor, of any values, through the application of his mind and effort.

A farmer decides to sell his farm animals manure to other local framers, that do not have farm animals, for their crops. The farmer doing the selling makes a huge profit yearly from selling something that I am certain he did not add a thing to. The wealth created from his rational thought on how to survive has generated a huge value for him and his family. But, if I understand you theory, he has not added any value to the substance being sold, so he is not productive.

If a man identifies a resource of economic value on the surface of his property -- whether manure, or a valuable fruit, or plant -- and no thought or effort is required to generate or retrieve it, and sells it at the market price via a call to an agent, who comes and picks it up, is there any productivity involved? Has he applied his mind and effort to the creation of values in any regard?

No, I don't see how.

Should he offer (1) the service, requiring thought and effort on his part, of identifying and informing interested parties (i.e., sales), or (2) the service of arranging the transport of that resource to his customers, then there can be unquestionably valuable productive work involved.

A man cannot be faulted in any regard whatever for selling manure, or a valuable fruit, to which he adds nothing, and that he discovered on his own property. But thought, and productive work, are not necessarily involved on his part.

Consider this example:

If oil is discovered beneath a man’s property, and he applies his mind in some way to retrieving it, and does so – in this case, has he been productive? Has he used his mind and effort to create a value that was previously unavailable? Yes, without question. And he can be called productive.

But: If he is contacted by Exxon, and offered $25 million to the rights to oil they identified beneath his property, without any action whatever on his part, has he been productive in Miss Rand’s sense? No. Can he be faulted in any way for accepting this check? No. The property is his own.

And, once again you have not answered my question recognized the vaue of the speculators own life.
...

It seems by your standard that anytime someone does not work in a profession that you consider productive, they are not not productive. Just because you do not like a certain field does not mean the person is not providing for their own survival...

That his life is of value to him, is not in question, assuming this is the case. The question is whether we can consider him, or he can consider himself, productive in Miss Rand's sense (footnote 1).

If the profession does not involve the creation of values (the definition of productiveness, in Rand's sense (footnote 1)), then he is not productive.

Whether the cash he now has, that he previously did not have, involved the virtue of productiveness, requires an examination of the means by which it was achieved.2

--

1. "Productiveness 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 remaking the earth in the images of one's values..." (Ayn Rand, For the New Intellectual, Signet (Penguin Group), date unknown, p. 130).

2. http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?s...ost&p=59169

3. http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?s...ost&p=59100

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An example of value that comes to mind from Atlas Shrugged is that of Francisco d'Anconia, who, through trading the receipts from his allowance while at Patrick Henry University, obtained the funds by which to buy his own first copper property.

Was he thoroughly virtuous in relation to the means by which this which was earned? Yes.

Was he productive, in Miss Rand's sense? No, and I believe that, while he did without question value the money he gained through his effort in this regard, in the context of the copper mine he gained by means of that money, he would not make stock trading the central purpose of his life.

I think the question posed in this thread is answered to my satisfaction. Should I gain money by means of real estate speculation, it will be a value to me primarily in the context of the productive ends that it will support.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John,

You keep attaching "Rand's sense" to everything that you agree with which I find ridiculous. The quote I gave you is from Ayn Rand, so how can you state that in the "Rand sense" only pertains to what you have to say and not mine?

One of the great things about capitalism is that it allows people to come up with ways to be productive that were not even thought of years ago which the speculator is one of.

I will end by stating that you can keep thinking what you think and I will do the same.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Giving a lecture is not normally regarded as being in the same class of productive activity as making physical widgets, which was the very question at hand in regards to use of the term "material".

That is because physical goods (like widgits) are not in the same class as services (like lecturing). The former is a material value and the latter is a spiritual value (a value of consciousness). If either of them is exchanged for money, then it becomes an economic value.

When a man creates values, he is being productive. It doesn't really matter if the particular value is a good, a service, material, spiritual, or economic. They are all values.

How does this square with the definition of the virtue of 'productiveness' identified in OPAR - and the explanation therein? Or is the claim that the definition and explanation are in error?

Dr. Peikoff defines productiveness as "the process of creating material values, whether goods or services," but in the paragraphs that follow, he is defining "material" very broadly to mean ultimately embodied in, or used in, reality.

All values are gained or kept in reality. All values have a physical nature and/or a physical use. Even an abstract value like happiness is felt -- i.e., is psychosomatic -- and, therefore, has some physical component.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If a man identifies a resource of economic value on the surface of his property -- whether manure, or a valuable fruit, or plant -- and no thought or effort is required to generate or retrieve it, and sells it at the market price via a call to an agent, who comes and picks it up, is there any productivity involved? Has he applied his mind and effort to the creation of values in any regard?

No, I don't see how.

He has, whether anyone is able to see it or not. The fact is that "if a man identifies a resource of economic value" that identification is an application of his mind of the greatest importance. Identification is the basic function of consciousness.

A man cannot be faulted in any regard whatever for selling manure, or a valuable fruit, to which he adds nothing,

... except his act of identification

and that he discovered

... using his mind

on his own property. But thought, and productive work, are not necessarily involved on his part.

Identifying and discovering require thinking. They don't just happen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Identifying and discovering require thinking. They don't just happen.

That identification, and rationality, have been exercised, is not in question -- and, to that degree, he has demonstrated virtue. But on what basis can one argue that he has demonstrated productiveness in Miss Rand's sense, given that he has created no value here I can see, either in matter or in service (if we assume the entire monetary gain was, once the value of the resource was identified, via a call to an agent), given that value creation is essential to productiveness? In what way has he, himself, created value?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
All values are gained or kept in reality. All values have a physical nature and/or a physical use. Even an abstract value like happiness is felt -- i.e., is psychosomatic -- and, therefore, has some physical component.
Can one value a thought - value an idea in one's consciousness? Is there some "physical component" to that thought?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dr. Peikoff defines productiveness as "the process of creating material values, whether goods or services," but in the paragraphs that follow, he is defining "material" very broadly to mean ultimately embodied in, or used in, reality.

All values are gained or kept in reality. All values have a physical nature and/or a physical use. Even an abstract value like happiness is felt -- i.e., is psychosomatic -- and, therefore, has some physical component.

If these statements are true, then the claim here seems to be that there is no difference between the statement 'productiveness is the process of creating material values, whether goods or services' and 'productiveness is the process of creating values, whether goods or services.' That claim would certainly seem to indicate that the definition provided in OPAR is thus in error, since 'material' does not distinguish a particular type of value from ANY other type of value. If it does not serve that purpose, then it does not belong in the definition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
All values are gained or kept in reality. All values have a physical nature and/or a physical use. Even an abstract value like happiness is felt -- i.e., is psychosomatic -- and, therefore, has some physical component.
Can one value a thought - value an idea in one's consciousness? Is there some "physical component" to that thought?

There is always a physical component to thought in that perception of some objects were required to formulate the thought. A thought can be considered a value in the context of recognizing the effort of thinking required to formulate the thought; or of recognizing that the the thought is a guide to action in reality. But the thought itself, inside my mind and abstracted from these factors, as a property of consciousness (I think, therefore, I am?) cannot be considered a value, in my opinion. The thought is only a thought of something that ultimately reduces to external reality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
All values are gained or kept in reality. All values have a physical nature and/or a physical use. Even an abstract value like happiness is felt -- i.e., is psychosomatic -- and, therefore, has some physical component.
Can one value a thought - value an idea in one's consciousness?

Certainly. That's why people buy books, go to school, have conversations, hang out on THE FORUM, etc. They want to gain and/or keep ideas.

Is there some "physical component" to that thought?

Most thoughts have an emotional (psychosomatic) component or consequence and most thinking is ultimately for the purpose of initiating or directing physical action.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Certainly. That's why people buy books, go to school, have conversations, hang out on THE FORUM, etc. They want to gain and/or keep ideas.
Let me provide an example, just so I am very clear as to your meaning here. Can a person value a particular idea which he has created - a particular act of cognition - by himself and unto himself? In other words, can he value something like a poem he only mentally creates or a formula he only mentally devises - but neither of which he manifests outside his consciousness (ie never writes it down, never reveals it in a conversation, etc)?
Is there some "physical component" to that thought?
Most thoughts have an emotional (psychosomatic) component or consequence and most thinking is ultimately for the purpose of initiating or directing physical action.
"Most thoughts..." "...most thinking...". This indicates there are some thoughts which do not fall into these categories. What are some such thoughts? And do they have no "physical component"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That claim would certainly seem to indicate that the definition provided in OPAR is thus in error, since 'material' does not distinguish a particular type of value from ANY other type of value. If it does not serve that purpose, then it does not belong in the definition.

I don't think Peikoff's "'Productiveness' is the process of creating material values" is an error, but it is somewhat redundant. In the context of Peikoff's discussion of the virtues, however, the redundancy makes sense as a point of emphasis. Observe that Peikoff's discussion of each virtue consists of showing how each involves a particular relationship between existence and consciousness. When discussing productiveness, he emphasizes the mind's control of existence by focusing on the materiality of existence.

Also, I don't think this was meant as a definition. A few paragraphs down he gives Ayn Rand's definition of productiveness from Galt's speech ("Productive work, writes Ayn Rand, "is the process by which man's consciousness controls his existence.")

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Certainly. That's why people buy books, go to school, have conversations, hang out on THE FORUM, etc. They want to gain and/or keep ideas.
Let me provide an example, just so I am very clear as to your meaning here. Can a person value a particular idea which he has created - a particular act of cognition - by himself and unto himself? In other words, can he value something like a poem he only mentally creates or a formula he only mentally devises - but neither of which he manifests outside his consciousness (ie never writes it down, never reveals it in a conversation, etc)?

Definitely. If he does, then he may feel all warm and and tingly inside just repeating his poem to himself in his own mind. That feeling comes from unleashed endorphins and other chemicals inside his own body. The reason he repeats the poem to himself is precisely for the purpose of achieving that physical/chemical effect.

Is there some "physical component" to that thought?
Most thoughts have an emotional (psychosomatic) component or consequence and most thinking is ultimately for the purpose of initiating or directing physical action.
"Most thoughts..." "...most thinking...". This indicates there are some thoughts which do not fall into these categories. What are some such thoughts? And do they have no "physical component"?

Such thoughts would include contradictions which cannot be implemented in reality. Then there are idle thoughts that the thinker doesn't care about and never means to implement in reality, but I can't say I have any first-hand experience with such purposeless mental activity. I just observe that some people seem to do it, don't care about it, and it leads nowhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Certainly. That's why people buy books, go to school, have conversations, hang out on THE FORUM, etc. They want to gain and/or keep ideas.
Let me provide an example, just so I am very clear as to your meaning here. Can a person value a particular idea which he has created - a particular act of cognition - by himself and unto himself? In other words, can he value something like a poem he only mentally creates or a formula he only mentally devises - but neither of which he manifests outside his consciousness (ie never writes it down, never reveals it in a conversation, etc)?

Definitely. If he does, then he may feel all warm and and tingly inside just repeating his poem to himself in his own mind. That feeling comes from unleashed endorphins and other chemicals inside his own body. The reason he repeats the poem to himself is precisely for the purpose of achieving that physical/chemical effect.

And that creation is therefore properly identified as 'productive work'?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry - pushed the add rather than preview button. The whole question was meant to read:

And that creation is therefore properly identified as 'productive work' - as meeting the standards of the virtue of productiveness?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If he does, then he may feel all warm and and tingly inside just repeating his poem to himself in his own mind. That feeling comes from unleashed endorphins and other chemicals inside his own body. The reason he repeats the poem to himself is precisely for the purpose of achieving that physical/chemical effect.
And that creation is therefore properly identified as 'productive work'?

It definitely is productive since it produces the desired physical effect. How productive it is and whether it is "work" is not all that obvious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If he does, then he may feel all warm and and tingly inside just repeating his poem to himself in his own mind. That feeling comes from unleashed endorphins and other chemicals inside his own body. The reason he repeats the poem to himself is precisely for the purpose of achieving that physical/chemical effect.
And that creation is therefore properly identified as 'productive work'?

It definitely is productive since it produces the desired physical effect. How productive it is and whether it is "work" is not all that obvious.

I once created a piece of glorious symphonic music in my mind which was so powerfully inspirational that it caused me to leap out of my chair. It was definitely productive, just as much as hearing the performance of a great symphony would be. It took work to achieve, in the sense that I had to severely focus my mind and call up the different orchestral sounds. But, obviously, it did not result in a marketable value, nor even in one merely to share with others. Yet, that I made it and remember it gives added joyous meaning to my conscious life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
---------------

In the case of a man who only has given rise to wealth as a speculator, can he be considered a producer, in the context of Miss Rand's definition?

-------------------

In this case, has the man exercised productivity in Miss Rand's sense? Has he himself created any values?

By means of his actions, $100k was generated for himself. But in Rand's sense, the man has not been productive, so far as I can see. Why? Because the word is defined as the creation of values. Not the generation of cash, but the creation of life-sustaining values. He has not himself created any values.

------------------

The fact that an individual's actions generate cash, does not necessarily imply productiveness was involved, in Rand's sense.

Absent men of productive ability, men who grow oranges and apples, the wealth obtained via speculation could not be traded for anything. Speculation, in and of itself, is not productive work, so far as I can tell.

The phrases “in Rand’s sense” and “in the context of Miss Rand’s definition” have been thrown about in this thread as support for specific conclusions about the lack of productiveness of speculators, or individuals whose actions “generate cash.”

Let us examine Miss Rand’s conception of productiveness.

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.

Thus, it is the best product, best performance, and best judgment and highest ability that are a measure of productiveness, with man’s reward as a direct indicator of that.

NOTE: I have itemized the quotations below for easy consideration of each element of productivness.

1. Productiveness is your acceptance of morality

2. Productive work is the process by which man's consciousness controls his existence

3. 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

4. All work is creative work if done by a thinking mind

5. That your work is yours to choose, and the choice is as wide as your mind

6. Your work is the process of achieving your values

7. Your work is the purpose of your life

Which one item here does the occupation of speculator not fit under? Clearly, he fits under all of them, “in Rand’s sense.”

[P]roductiveness is defined as the creation of material values. The discovery of knowledge is the first step. But the purpose of the knowledge is to make possible an existential value, such as a new type of machine, a new method of transportation, or a new method of living.

A new way of trading products is certainly a new method of living. To be able to find someone who can find a value for you without you having to search the entire marketplace as one would in a barter system is certainly the function that a speculator fulfills. The speculator is using his knowledge of the marketplace of material values to create a material value for himself: money. He has done much more than just “generate cash.” He has created an entirely new form of marketplace where people trade existential values. Hence, he is productive.

No rational field may be pitted against any other as "spiritual" vs. "material." All proper fields require thought and action. All exemplify the integration of mind and body.

The speculator is just as rational as the industrialist. Both require thought and action. Both represent integration of mind and body. The speculator is productive.

The fundamental validation of productiveness is man's need of material values.

Is there any doubt that the speculator, (or realtor when it comes to buying a house across the country or around the corner) fulfills that requirement of productivity? He trades values for money, just like an apple producer. He uses his judgment of the value of the products he is trading to determine the price he gets, just like the apple producer would adjust prices if is apples were overripe. There is no dichotomy.

Conclusion: The rational speculator exhibits the virtue of productivity in Rand’s sense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites