Question: Ayn Rand said that a "value" is "that which we act to gain and/or keep." Does this mean that something is a value only if one attempts to own or possess it? For example, suppose that there is a painting in a museum that I like very much. Seeing this painting gives me inspiration and "emotional fuel." However, I make no attempt to purchase and own the painting. Since I am not attempting to own the painting, is it therefore not a value to me according to Objectivist philosophy?

Answer: First, be clear that Ayn Rand characterizes but does not define "value" by "that which one acts to gain and/or keep." Her point is that one of the conditions for considering something as a value to you is how you act towards it. A mere idle wish does not a value make.
It does not mean that values are only those things one attempts to own or possess. Values are those things one acts to gain benefit from. In the case of the painting, you travel to the museum to see it, and you probably contribute a donation or admission fee to pay for the experience. In doing so, you are acting to gain a value. That value is not the painting as such, but the aesthetic experience that the painting gives you.
Similarly, one does not own one's friends, yet one does not value a friendship one will not work at or give time to.
So, if they are your values, go and get them, or the enjoyment of them.


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