In a previous post I listed some things I value and talked about some categories of values (basic physical needs, conveniences, and stuff that engages the mind). I also introduced but didn't discuss the topic of happiness as being important to determining what's an important value.
Let's ponder a quote about values and then go back to my list and categories. Here's Ayn Rand with Galt's Speech in Atlas Shrugged:
To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason — Purpose — Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge — Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve — Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living.
Going by reason means you don't put emotions or whims in the driver's seat of your life. You don't ignore your emotions, but you don't blindly follow your emotions and expect to have things come out okay. In order to figure out what to want and achieve your long range plans, you need to act according to reason. So if you want to have a certain kind of job, you have to do what's required (which might involve a certain education) and not just want it and expect to come to you. And if you want to keep the job, you need to do what's involved with that, instead of just not showing up to work because you don't feel like it.
Purpose is important because you need to know what you want in order to know what to do with yourself. Elsewhere (in the Playboy interview) Rand says a man without a purpose "is lost in chaos. He does not know what his values are. He does not know how to judge. He cannot tell what is or is not important to him[.]"
I may talk about self-esteem next time, but for now I want to go back to my values categories. If someone lacks any purpose, or their purpose doesn't involve living, then things like nutritious food or a clean safe home might not mean much to them. For no purpose, you might imagine someone who is extremely depressed and can't even be motivated to eat. For a purpose that doesn't involve living, you might imagine someone on a hunger strike who is willing to die to protest some injustice (or, for a much darker example, a suicide bomber). Food won't mean much to such people. So even "basic" needs are governed by the purpose (or lack thereof) that someone has. But I think that "stuff that engages the mind" isn't the right level of category for sorting out my values. Maybe stuff that engages the mind is a value because it involves reason and serves a purpose? And other stuff (e.g. food) gives me energy to do the higher level stuff and is a value because of that? More next time.