No doubt about it: thinking takes effort. There's the effort to start with observations, so you don't just copy thoughts from others. There's the effort to identify what you see and relate it to what you know before you evaluate it. Holding off on that evaluation can take a lot of effort. Checking out the evidence before you reach a conclusion can be a lot of trouble. And you still might get it wrong! What's the use?
It's not just thinking that takes skill, it's living in general that takes skill. You cannot just want to earn a living, you have to know how to earn a living. You cannot just want to have friends, you have to be worthy of having friends. You cannot just want to get your way, you must learn methods of advancing your way. Every aspect of living requires skill and effort. And even then it won't always succeed! What's the use?
After all, if you don't make any effort, if you drift at random, if you follow whims and indulge impulses—then government or charity or relatives will probably take care of you anyway. If you avoid that, if you don't live moment by moment, but make the effort to plan long range, then some stroke of bad luck could still throw you back on government or charity or relatives. So what's the use?
To see the use, ask one question: what is the difference between effort and living?
Life is self-generated and self-sustaining action. Effort is self-willed and self-regulated action. That is, effort is life viewed in relation to will. To hate effort is to hate life. To avoid effort is to avoid living. One who asks, "What's the use?" is asking: "What's the use of living?"
One might as well ask, "What's the use of breathing?" To stop living is to stop asking questions. A better question would be: "Why do I experience life as so painful and difficult?"
If humans survive by using reason, then the answer is: because my use of reason is painful and difficult. I have put too much of my life effort into complaining, and too little into learning the skills of reasoning.
It is never too late. By making use of Ayn Rand's epistemological discoveries, anyone can learn thinking skills that change life from an ordeal into an adventure. People whose lives are blighted by self-contempt can, by learning to think, build self-respect instead.
It is strange that, while many ask what use is there to living, few ask what use is there to dying. To die is to end all effort of any kind. But the dead do not know that. So what's the use? If you give up on life, but stick around to know that you have given up on life, then you pretend to be dead while you live. What's the use? In other words, what's the use of saying what's the use?
If it's an excuse, you don't need it. Your life is unique and rightfully yours. If it is a plea, Ayn Rand has answered it. Her novels demonstrate how splendid your life can be. If it is a complaint, it is wasted. Others are busy with their lives, and expect you to be busy with yours.
If there are people who live splendid lives, then it can be done. If it can be done, what is the use of not doing it?
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