"To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason, Purpose, Self-esteem."
Morality is the recognition of the fact that as mortal beings with a rational, volitional consciousness, we need to adopt and practice certain principles in order to live.
Like all living organisms, man can be distinguished from non-living matter by the fact that in order to remain alive, he must act to attain the values needed for his survival (such as food, water, shelter, clothes.) For animals, which operate entirely on the perceptual level, this guidance comes automatically through their facility of instinct. Man does not have any automatic means of attaining the values needed for his life. He may have urges (hunger, thirst, etc) â€" but he has no automatic means of fulfilling them. Unlike animals, human beings lack any kind of innate ideas or instinct - we learn our values and ideas from your experience of reality. We are the creators of our own mental nature - but we have no power over our metaphysical nature - we can refuse to recognize that we need food to live - but that does not change the fact that we are mortal beings who need food to live.
As a conceptual being, his survival depends on correctly using reason to identify and attain the values necessary for his life. As a volitional being, his thinking is neither automatic nor infallible, but is an active process that requires a constant focus on correctly identifying the facts of reality and applying them to achieve the values needed for his well-being. Unlike the automatic function of animal instinct, man must choose to think, â€" and his thoughts will determine his actions, his values, his emotions, and his character. The primary choice of every individual â€" to think or notâ€" corresponds to his primary alternative â€" to live or not. His own life is the primary moral value of each individualâ€" whether he chooses to accept it or not.
Rational self-interest, or egoism is therefore the proper morality each man must adopt if he wishes to live â€" the application of his reason to achieve the values needed for his survival. A man may choose not to think or to reject his life, but to the extent he does so, he chooses to act towards
Purpose (Needs to be categorized)
We can begin the analysis by asking, â€œWhy does the question of purpose arise for human beings?â€ The issue is not universal to all entities. A stone, for example, does not have a purpose. It is created by some process, exists for some time, and then is destroyed by some other process. At no point does the question â€œWhat am I here for?â€ arise for the rock, since rocks are inorganic entities lacking a consciousness. Some would argue that it is applicable to man-made objects, such as a table, but in such cases, the purpose exists only because a conscious being such as a man created it to achieve some value. Man might also decide to use a rock, a tree, or a field for some end, but these things only have a purpose insofar as they serve achieve some value by a conscious being, and not one inherent in themselves.
Living beings clearly act to achieve particular values by particular means. Their actions are aimed at specific ends â€" namely, their survival and reproduction. But the question of purpose does not arise for them either because their actions are automatic, determined by instinct. They cannot choose, as men do, to live by one means or another, to be carnivores or herbivores, to live or die. Unlike non-living entities, they have various values, such as food, reproduction, and shelter, but they have no means to choose which values to achieve or which course of action to take to achieve them beyond their immediate environment.
Human beings are unique in being a living being without an automatic guide to actions and values. We alone must choose which values we want to achieve, and the means we take to achieve them. Like animals, our survival is still conditional â€" we must take a particular course of action in order to remain alive, but the means to achieve the values necessary for our survival are not automatically given to us by instinct. We have some basic urges â€" to eat, or to reproduce, but no means to achieve them without conscious action. In place of instinct, nature has equipped man with the facility of reason â€" the use of his senses and his rational faculty to gain knowledge of reality and then act on it. If an animalâ€™s instinct fails to provide the values it needs in a given environment, it will die â€" but a man has the capacity to adapt to almost any environment he finds, as the proliferation of humanity on every corner of the earth demonstrates. The basic question every man faces as a living being is therefore â€œto live or not to live,â€ and since reason is his only means of survival, his basic choice is â€œto think or not to think.â€ Every value we enjoy in our civilized, comfortable, existence is the product of the application of manâ€™s mind to reality. The food we eat, the cars we drive, the entertainment we enjoy are all products of some manâ€™s mind. The difference between our comfortable lives and the short, dangerous, and miserable existence that our ancestors eked out in trees, caves, huts, and caverns not so long ago was created â€" and is continually made possible by application of the reason to the problem of manâ€™s survival.