Question: What's wrong with thinking about the virtues as duties? My parents taught me ethics in terms of "duties." So being honest and just was a duty, along with "sharing" and "selflessness." They were simply "the right way to be," period. Now, I tend to think of the Objectivist virtues – rationality, productiveness, honesty, justice, independence, integrity, and pride – as duties. I have a duty to myself to act in these ways. Is that right or is that a mistake?
Question: How can I make better progress on my long-term goals? I have the curious affliction of stagnating, often for very long periods of time, on long term goals. That happens even when those goals pertain to pursuits I enjoy. This pattern has me confused and somewhat alarmed, because I know that these long term goals I have set for myself will be the most meaningful for me to accomplish. Although I see the great value in skill-building for a new career, learning to play the piano, learning a new language, and so on, I cannot seem to get myself to take the daily, repeated action required for more than a week or two. That happens, despite my applying GTD and breaking down the larger task into manageable pieces. My neophile personality simply takes interest in something else, and I miss a day (then two, then three) of taking action, preventing me from ever establishing an activity as a habit. How can I break this cycle of mediocrity, so that I can really start making progress on long term goals?
Question: Should a person without other options accept welfare from the government? I've had generalized anxiety disorder for as long as I can remember. I live in Sweden, and my government has so many labor regulations that no business can hire me, and charities don't exist to help me. Is it wrong, in such a case, to accept government assistance? I don't have any savings, and it seems like my only other options are criminal activity and suicide.
Summary: Getting Things Done (or GTD) is an organizational system developed by David Allen during his 20-plus years of consulting with business professionals and executives. Its primary virtue is its sound epistemological approach and its concrete advice on how to apply that approach to daily activities. The end result of using it is that you are able to handle many more projects simultaneously with little or no stress.
Question: Doesn't everyone need to be a part of something greater than themselves? Most people want to be involved with some cause greater than themselves – whether God, their community, the state, the environment. Doesn't everyone need that to help steer them in life? Or do you think that's unnecessary or even wrong?
Question: Can parenting be a central purpose in life? Many people think that only a career can serve as a person's central purpose. They think that a central purpose must be remunerative, and that it can't be merely temporary. Is that right? Can parenting be a person's central purpose, even if only for a few years?
Question: Does life have a purpose or meaning? Religious people say that God gives their lives meaning, purpose, and direction. Other people find meaning in doing good for others or society as a whole. As an atheist and egoist, what do you think the purpose of life is? Does it have any inherent meaning – or should a person arbitrarily decide its meaning? And shouldn't a person think that something is more important than himself and his own petty concerns?
Summary: Do you want to accomplish more? Do you find yourself spinning your wheels or procrastinating on your projects?
Question: How can I encourage my friends to be more purposeful and passionate? I have been certain about my life's purpose – in terms of what career and personal creative works I'd like to pursue – from a young age. I've had friends who are above-average in their academic and career work, and who explore various hobbies, but they do not pursue those activities with eager passion. They say that they "do not know what they want out of life" and have not "found their calling." What is at the root of uncertainty about one's purpose? Is there a moral breach involved? How can I motivate, encourage, and inspire my friends?
Question: Can and should a person try to cultivate his own "good luck"? For example, a construction worker might leave his business card with neighbors in case they or anyone they might know happens to need his services in the future. Similarly, an investor might look to buy stock in companies with promising patents pending or forthcoming products. Is pursuing these kinds of uncertain opportunities a means of cultivating good luck?
Question: How can I manage my projects better? Too often, I'm overwhelmed by the sheer volume of projects on my agenda. Because I'm overcommitted, I'll miss important deadlines or allow some projects to be delayed into oblivion. Other times, my work is rushed and sloppy. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that I become paralyzed, and then I don't get any work done. What can I do to manage my various work and home projects better, so that I keep making progress on what really matters to me?
Question: I've been thinking about my central purpose in life (CPL) quite a bit lately. A common thread in my current and former passions is art, and I used to love drawing with pencil and coloring with oil pastels. This week I purchased some inexpensive art supplies and I've been experimenting. It's made me feel pretty darn happy. My hesitation with this though is not subsiding. I don't want to be a starving artist and I can't imagine giving up my career in financial planning, which leaves me with little time for art. Can you perform your CPL "on the side" in your spare time and still feel fulfilled, or must it be what you do full-time? For what it's worth, I eventually want to have a child and home-school, which I think will be tremendously fulfilling. Can my CPL be more than one thing? Do you have any recommendations for further reading on CPL?
Question: Ought non-income generating activities such as child rearing, dancing, making friends, etc., be properly considered an exercise of the Objectivist virtue of productivity? In response to my question in an OAC class, Dr. Ghate stated that he interprets Rand's writings to mean that such activities, while rational, ought not be considered "productive" by her definition of the term. Upon further research, I agree with Ghate's interpretation of Rand, but I think I disagree with Rand here. Is it not unusual that someone who chooses motherhood as a career, for instance, is disqualified from practicing the virtue of productivity (assuming she does no other work for pay)? None of the other virtues exclude any rationally acting adult from practicing them. If productivity need to be redefined, would you have an alternate definition to suggest?