The Root of the Root

All values come from business. Heresy, right? Think again. It’s true. It’s Uncommon Sense.

Are you taken aback? Understandable. Do you understand what values are? To an extent, I’ll grant you. You probably do–to an extent.

Do you understand what business is? No, probably not, at least not in the widest, metaphysical sense of the concept.

Languish about. One in 10,000 might get it. …And that’s good enough for me–for now.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Kyle Bennett on April 19, 2005 at 20:41

    I'll take a stab at it. Business: busy-ness, productivity. Values are anything that a person seeks, that he values and wants to acheive or aquire. All values must be produced, either by one's self, or by others.

    Even on an otherwise desert island, the lonely inhabitant's business is the production of food, shelter, etc. A college student is producing knowledge (no, he is not receiving it). The value he seeks is education, and he produces it for himself. A political activist, or a volunteer of some sort, is producing a social context conducive to his goals (assuming the work he does is actually pursuant to that context). In a market society, business includes the exchange of values; business is not the exchange itself, it is the management of the production. But it is also the management of the exchanges, which is in itself another form of productivity, as the ability to exchange is in itself a value.

    You're apparently rejecting the notion of values as synonomous with moral beliefs. Or, to put it another way, the defintion of "value" as the act of valuing. Technically, that is correct, but I don't see a problem with using it that way in ordinary conversation, except for the fact that it obscures the meaning I give above, which is, I think, the meaning you intend.

  2. Billy Beck on April 20, 2005 at 13:29

    Gentlemen: discussion of values and their implications here.

  3. Vulture 6 on April 20, 2005 at 07:37

    I beg to differ, my values come from the doctrine of my Faith, the examples of my Father and ancesters, and men of good moral character.

  4. Aurorealis on April 20, 2005 at 16:53

    Why must I be among the retarded 9,999? 🙁

  5. Kyle Bennett on April 20, 2005 at 15:08


    "Once you see values as an exchange…"

    Do you mean that the exchange and the value are synonymous, or that values are exchanged? If you mean the former, you've got me really confused.

  6. Richard Nikoley on April 20, 2005 at 09:41


    Yea, basically, that's it, though I could add a lot more, and probably will in another entry soon. Even things like moral beliefs and such have to be produced. They aren't just floating out there. Someone puts in the _human_ effort to create these values.

    All values must be produced by human beings. Producing values is business. The _purpose_ of all values is _not_ money-making, and that's where people get caught up–in the assumption that business is _only_ about making money and having to do primarily with material values. Business is just a human process that subsumes rationality and intelligence in the realm of value production. It has metaphysical implications in the same way mathematics and physics do.

  7. Richard Nikoley on April 20, 2005 at 09:45

    Vulture 6:

    And I suppose all those values were just floating around somewhere. Nobody lifted a finger to create them. No one pointed them out. No one tried to convince or persuade you that they were worth adopting. Nobody guards and protects them. You were just born, and lo & behold, you realized you had "values."

  8. Kyle Bennett on April 20, 2005 at 17:48


    "Once you see the essential _purpose_ of values as for exchange…"

    OK, that clears it up. But now I have to disagree with you. The essential purpose of values is for your own life. The purpose of exchange – the *only* purpose for exchange – is to acquire values.

  9. Kyle Bennett on April 20, 2005 at 19:23


    Reality, in the metaphysical meaning, is unchagable. Metaphysics is, by definition, the part of reality that is not subject to change by human beings or by any other *part* of reality. It would be the same if there were no humans, and it *was* the same before there were humans.

    I get what your saying about the dynamic nature of what is colloquially called "reality" – the poltical environment, even up to things like the shape or even existence of galaxies. But that isn't reality at the metaphysical level. It is a given, from a human perspective, and theoretically changeable by humans, but it is at some philosphical level in the hierarchy below the metaphysical.

    Your larger point is valid, and useful, and you're right that business is not just something we do, but it rises to the level of something we *are*. But humans and their activities – in all the present and potential greatness therin – is a part of reality, not synonymous with it.

  10. Kyle Bennett on April 20, 2005 at 19:28


    "the part of reality that is not subject to change by human beings or by any other *part* of reality"

    That should read "the _fundamental_ reality that is not subject to change by human being or _any part_ of reality."

    Metaphysics is not *part* of reality, it *is* reality, at the highest level.

  11. Richard Nikoley on April 20, 2005 at 13:38


    Yea, I generally agree with Kim, except for the voting part, of course. And this goes also to what I'm saying about values coming from business. Business is about exchange. Once you see values as an exchange (not just give to get, but the whole 3-dimensional, billions of combinations thing), it's all open-ended, man. All open ended.

  12. Kyle Bennett on April 20, 2005 at 20:45


    This sounds like a conversation that really ought te be had over beers. But for now…

    First, classical and conventional doesn't mean wrong.

    I'll tentatively go along with you to see where this leads, but I'm pretty skeptical. I don't think it can be said that human nature is metaphysical. It's not unchangable, though it is not changable by individual humans themselves.

    However, what I think you are saying is that *rational* nature is metaphysical. Is that right? In the same way that any two particles with mass, anywhere in the universe, will attract each other gravitationally with the same force (i.e in the same proportion to their masses and distance from one another anywhere and anywhen in the universe), any two entities with rational conciousness will seek values in the same fundamental ways.

    The conclusion being that the nature of rational conciounsess – at its most fundamental level, regardless of superficial differences – is fixed, constant. That rational nature is not a class of concepts, but a single concept – there's just *one* rational nature.

    And further, that the means of seeking and exchanging values are fundamentally the same everywhere and everywhen. That exchange of values is a given, a necessary consequence of rational conciousness, which is itself a necessary consequence of certain conditions (a range of possible conditions, actually) being present.

    It's an intriguing line of thought. I've said before that markets are a given, a law of nature every bit as absolute as 2 + 2 or the law of gravity. So you're saying that its deeper than that, that markets are just one manifestation of a broader absolute, a broader metaphysically given?

    Yikes! It's going to take a bit to wrap my head around that one.

    We'd better make it tequila.

  13. Richard Nikoley on April 20, 2005 at 15:34

    I probably should have said it something like:

    "Once you see the essential _purpose_ of values as for exchange…"

  14. Richard Nikoley on April 20, 2005 at 18:05


    Of course, that's true, but the metaphysical nature of human beings is as social animals. Living alone on an island is not the _reality_. It's just a hypothetical (and silly) game we [all] engage in. If we weren't social, at all, then eveyone would have to produce their own values (all of them). Division of labor (business, really) is not just a good idea, it's how we behave naturally. It's our nature. Business _is_ metaphysical. I'd argue that it's the widest scope, most integrative description of metaphysics in the context of describing human beings in nature.

    Notice that it subsumes _reality_, Rand's _static_, one-word-essence summation of metaphysics.

    Incidentally, I have no qualms with that, so long as we're talking static reality. But who and where are we locked into a static reality? In fact, the very nature of reality is that's it's dynamic. Everything is always changing. Business is how humans _best_ deal with it (the dynamic nature of it)–and what good is a one-word summation that doesn't involve the _ideal_ human behavior?

  15. John Lopez on April 20, 2005 at 19:21

    DuToit's emotional rejection of facts is not unexpected.

  16. Richard Nikoley on April 20, 2005 at 19:36

    John, yea, I get what you're saying, from an individualist perspective, but I get the _essence_ of what Kim is getting at too–which is simply an unwillingness to take on any real responsibility in life. An individual's choice of responsibilities may differ, but it seems obvious to me that without taking on anything really important and huge, one is going to feel empty regardless of outward signs of "success."

  17. Richard Nikoley on April 20, 2005 at 19:55

    Kyle, I understand all you're saying. It's classical and conventional. But it's also dead end.

    I consider human beings to be a metaphysical part of reality. That is, they are no more consciously created and designed than is reality itself, and so are simply an integral part of it anywhere conditions exist for them to exist. That necessarily includes their natural attributes. So, _what_ they create is not metaphysical (it's man made–willed into existence), but _how_ they create is, and _how_ they create is business.

    Creating competitive, rational values has metaphysical proportions. What's created, and to what extent (or whether to create at all), it the proivince of free will. But then, free will is also metaphysical. The product of free will is not.

    What I'm saying is that the demarcation isn't really between the metaphysical and the man made, but between the metaphysical and free will.

  18. Kyle Bennett on April 21, 2005 at 10:11


    Well, religion and the state seek to, but they fail miserably. Business is the only one that does it in a way that it suffers for failing, and is rewarded for success, and therefore naturally selects for success. So that leaves only two that matter: family and business. And that pair sounds like a Yin-Yang thing… Opposites, yet a piece of each in the other.

    Are there other institutions that matter? How does this integrate into the metaphysical given of a rational nature?

    Still skeptical, but we'll see.

    Oy, I need another shot of Cuervo.

  19. Richard Nikoley on April 21, 2005 at 08:33

    Kyle, with minor and insignificant quibbles, I think you've gone a long way to nail down what I'm getting at (I don't always know, for sure, what I'm gettting at when I get going off on something). So, I think this has led to a fine place thus far. Got to give it some more thought. Headed up to the cabin this weekend, and I see a Saturday morning round-up entry coming on.

    I was thinking this morning of different "institutions" of human creation or involvement: family, religion, the state, and business. Of all of those, which is the only one that seeks to apply and integrate _all_ of reality, i.e., love or money–or both–facts, science, technology, mathematics, emotion, reason, values, choice, freedom, etc., etc. What's more, business does not dead-end itself by insisting upon absolute certainty. _Net_ value is good enough, and then you build.

    …Anyway, more later.

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