Ayn Rand identified seven main virtues—i.e. long-term actions every human should enact in order to live a fruitful, bountiful, joyful, and meaningful life.
Six of these virtues—productivity, integrity, honesty, independence, justice, and pride—are all ultimately different aspects of the primary virtue of rationality.
Let’s play a fun game by comparing these other six virtues to the attributes of colors. Just like all the colors ultimately meld together to express pure, white light—all the Objectivist virtues meld together to express rationality, the adherence to reason in every facet and issue in one’s life.
So, let’s begin:
Productivity is the red color within the spectrum of rationality. Like the warmth and energy of red light, productivity drives individuals to create value and make the most of their time and resources. It is the vigor and dynamism that propels a rational person to be industrious, nurturing their passions and skills to bring their unique contributions to the world. Just as red light is essential for photosynthesis in plants, productivity is the lifeblood of rationality, energizing individuals to achieve their highest potential.
Integrity is the orange hue in the rationality spectrum, akin to the steadfastness and resilience it represents. Like the reliable glow of a setting sun, integrity demands consistency between one’s thoughts, beliefs, and actions. It is the unwavering commitment to uphold one’s principles, irrespective of the circumstances. Integrity anchors individuals in the face of adversity, ensuring they stay true to their values, much like the orange light that steadfastly lingers on the horizon even as night approaches.
Honesty, the yellow component of the spectrum, is the illuminating force of rationality. Like the bright and revealing nature of yellow light, honesty enlightens the mind by promoting clear thinking and unobstructed communication. It is the willingness to confront the truth, both within oneself and in relation to others, without distortion or deception. Honesty illuminates the path to self-awareness and genuine relationships, casting a warm and welcoming glow upon the landscape of life.
Independence is the green color in the spectrum of rationality, resonating with the spirit of self-sufficiency and growth. Just as green is associated with nature’s ability to regenerate and flourish, independence is the capacity to think and act autonomously, without relying on external validation or the whims of others. It is the ability to cultivate one’s intellectual and emotional resources, drawing sustenance from within. Independence is the verdant field that nurtures the seeds of self-reliance and self-discovery.
Justice, as the blue element, embodies the calming and stabilizing properties of the color. Like the soothing and steadfast presence of the sky, justice is the rational individual’s commitment to fairness and equal treatment towards himself and other people. It is the ability to objectively evaluate people’s actions and intentions, offering appropriate rewards or punishments in accordance with merit. Justice is the serene and balanced backdrop against which life’s complexities unfold, ensuring that equity and reason prevail.
Lastly, pride is the violet hue of the rationality spectrum, exuding the qualities of nobility and self-esteem. Like the regal and dignified essence of violet light, pride is the affirmation of one’s self-worth and the acknowledgment of personal accomplishments. It is the recognition of one’s own moral character and the cultivation of a healthy sense of self-respect. Pride is the crowning jewel that adorns the tapestry of virtues, signifying the fulfillment of a life lived in accordance with reason.
These six virtues of Ayn Rand’s moral philosophy all function as distinct aspects of rationality, much like the different colors that form the spectrum of white light. Together, these virtues create a harmonious and cohesive framework for living a purposeful, moral, and fulfilling life. Each virtue, like the colors of the spectrum, contributes its unique qualities and characteristics, ultimately shaping the radiant tapestry of rationality.