I have been looking into “meaning in life” as Ayn Rand would define it. Several questions arise, and I need some feedback from those who know Rand well. It’s difficult to conclude what “meaning” she finds in life other than staying alive.
According to Rand, the meaning of life is to live. That is the chief end of man. But, it’s not as austere as all that. There is no higher value than my own life, because without my life, I cannot assess or understand values. But survival is not enough. It’s not just living that drives us as humans, but living well. The real end in life, the highest purpose, is to live well. And that means flourishing. That is, living to the maximum human potential. And what is flourishing? A flourishing life is a good and proper life, a truly human life based on potentialities or capacities that are intrinsic to our nature. A plant is flourishing when it is strong, healthy, and capable of living. Health and strength not only stave off death in the moment, but raise the chances of survival into the future. So, “flourishing” is not less than survival, it is a continuation. It’s enhanced survival. A human being is flourishing when the individual is leading a good life. What is the good life? A life that sustains itself, and enhances its own vitality.
When we flourish, we fulfill the purpose of our existence. To flourish, we need to produce values that will enhance our life. So to the extent that we are rich in production of that which sustains our life, we fulfill the meaning and purpose of our life according to Ayn Rand. Not just material values are included in this definition of what sustains and enhances our life, but non-material values as well.
So, the end, the purpose, what keeps me going is sustaining my own life. So, the degree to which I produce and accumulate that which will sustain my own life, I have achieved the meaning of my life.
Have I captured it? What am I missing?