September 30th, 2011
I have received questions from the curious few who wonder what exactly objectivism has to do with what I choose to eat. The answer is that it has to do with every action I choose to take as well as every aspect of my life.
Objectivism is a philosophy by Ayn Rand that holds these basic tenants to be true (to quote Ayn Rand):
1. Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.
2. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
3. Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
4. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.
On a very basic level, human beings (along with all other conscious beings) are driven by the “pleasure-pain mechanism”. Basically, that which gives us pleasure, we pursue and is the correct choice. However, that which gives us pain is indicative of a dangerous path and should be avoided.
Pleasure and pain should be looked at from a long-term perspective, considering the consequences of your actions down the road and not just in the moment. (i.e. excessive drinking can lead to liver failure and death, drug usage can put you in jail, both can harm your relationships. So the pleasure you receive in the short term is outweighed by the pain you feel in the long-term). The ability to consider the consequences of your actions derives from a higher level of perception, or consciousness. The conscious human can apply reason to his choices and determine which is the best in long run.