Rationality - Back to Basics ...

A rational process is a moral process. 
You may make an error at any step of it, 
with nothing to protect you but your own severity, 
or you may try to cheat, 
to fake the evidence and evade the effort of the quest
but if devotion to truth is the hallmark of morality,  
then there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than 
the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.

Rationality is man’s basic virtue, 
the source of all his other virtues. 
Man’s basic vice, the source of all his evils, 
is the act of unfocusing his mind,  
the suspension of his consciousness, 
which is not blindness,  
but the refusal to see, 
not ignorance, 
but the refusal to know.  
Irrationality is the rejection of man’s means of survival and, therefore,  
a commitment to a course of blind destruction; that which is anti-mind, is anti-life.

The virtue of Rationality means 
the recognition and acceptance of reason 
as one’s only source of knowledge, 
one’s only judge of values 
and one’s only guide to action. 

It means one’s total commitment to 
a state of full, conscious awareness
to the maintenance of a full mental focus 
in all issues, in all choices, in all of one’s waking hours. 

It means a commitment to 
the fullest perception of reality within one’s power 
and to the constant, active expansion of one’s perception, i.e., of one’s knowledge
It means a commitment to 
the reality of one’s own existence
i.e., to the principle that all of one’s goals, values and actions take place in reality and, therefore, 
that one must never place any value or consideration whatsoever 
above one’s perception of reality. 

It means a commitment to the principle tha
all of one’s convictions, values, goals, desires and actions must be based on, derived from, chosen and validated by 
a process of thought— 
a precise and scrupulous process of thought, 
directed by as ruthlessly strict application of logic,  
as one’s fullest capacity permits. 
It means one’s acceptance of the responsibility 
of forming one’s own judgments 
and of living by the work of one’s own mind 
(which is the virtue of Independence). 

It means that one must never sacrifice one’s convictions to the opinions or wishes of others (which is the virtue of Integrity)
that one must never attempt to fake reality in any manner  
(which is the virtue of Honesty)
that one must never seek or grant the unearned and undeserved, neither in matter nor in spirit (which is the virtue of Justice). 

It means that one must  
never desire effects without causes, and that one must 
never enact a cause without assuming full responsibility for its effects 
that one must never act like a zombie
i.e., without knowing one’s own purposes and motives 
that one must never make any decisions, form any convictions or seek any values out of context, 
i.e., apart from or against the total, integrated sum of one’s knowledge 
and, above all, that one must  
never seek to get away with contradictions. 

It means the rejection of any form of mysticism
i.e., any claim to some nonsensory, nonrational, nondefinable, supernatural source of knowledge. 
It means a commitment to reason,  
not in sporadic fits or on selected issues 
or in special emergencies,  
but as a permanent way of life.
To the extent to which a man is rational, 
life is the premise directing his actions. 
To the extent to which he is irrational, the premise directing his actions is death.

 excerpts - Ayn Rand : For the New Intellectual