A ética objetivista

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The Ayn Rand Institute: The Objectivist Ethics, by Ayn Rand

27/10/11 16:09

Paper delivered by Ayn Rand at the University of Wisconsin Symposium on “Ethics in Our Time” in Madison, Wisconsin, on February 9, 1961. Since I am to speak on the Objectivist Ethics, I shall begin by quoting its best representative—John Galt, in Atlas Shrugged: “Through centuriesof scourges and disasters, brought about by your code of morality, you have cried that your code had been broken, that the scourges were punishment for breaking it, that men were too weak and too selfish to spill all the blood it required. You damned man, you damned existence, you damned this earth, but never dared to question your code. . . . You went on crying that your code was noble, but humannature was not good enough to practice it. And no one rose to ask the question: Good?—by what standard? “You wanted to know John Galt’s identity. I am the man who has asked that question. “Yes, this is an age of moral crisis. . . . Your moral code has reached its climax, the blind alley at the end of its course. And if you wish to go on living, what you now need is not to return to morality . . .but to discover it.” 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. The first question that has to be answered, as a precondition of any attempt to define, to judge or to accept any specific system of ethics,is: Why does man need a code of values? Let me stress this. The first question is not: What particular code of values should man accept? The first question is: Does man need values at all— and why? Is the concept of value, of “good or evil” an arbitrary human invention, unrelated to, underived from and unsupported by any facts of reality—or ishttp://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ari_ayn_rand_the_objectivist_ethics Page 1 of 25

The Ayn Rand Institute: The Objectivist Ethics, by Ayn Rand

27/10/11 16:09

it based on a metaphysical fact, on an unalterable condition of man’s existence? (I use the word “metaphysical” to mean: that which pertains to reality, to the nature of things, to existence.) Does an arbitrary human convention, a mere custom, decree that man must guidehis actions by a set of principles—or is there a fact of reality that demands it? Is ethics the province of whims: of personal emotions, social edicts and mystic revelations—or is it the province of reason? Is ethics a subjective luxury— or an objective necessity? In the sorry record of the history of mankind’s ethics—with a few rare, and unsuccessful, exceptions—moralists have regarded ethics asthe province of whims, that is: of the irrational. Some of them did so explicitly, by intention—others implicitly, by default. A “whim” is a desire experienced by a person who does not know and does not care to discover its cause. No philosopher has given a rational, objectively demonstrable, scientific answer to the question of why man needs a code of values. So long as that question remainedunanswered, no rational, scientific, objective code of ethics could be discovered or defined. The greatest of all philosophers, Aristotle, did not regard ethics as an exact science; he based his ethical system on observations of what the noble and wise men of his time chose to do, leaving unanswered the questions of: why they chose to do it and why he evaluated them as noble and wise. Mostphilosophers took the existence of ethics for granted, as the given, as a historical fact, and were not concerned with discovering its metaphysical cause or objective validation. Many of them attempted to break the traditional monopoly of mysticism in the field of ethics and, allegedly, to define a rational, scientific, nonreligious morality. But their attempts consisted of trying to justify them on...
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