I observe long-term survival that I may objectively define human flourishing,* and the means to it. I aim at my objective flourishing that I may achieve happiness.
[ * “Flourishing” is fulfilling one’s natural goal as well as possible. For living organisms, this means fulfilling an ideal pattern or mode of life as the type of organism each is. For man, this means choosing to make maximal use of his basic, distinctive means of survival–his conceptual faculty. Rand identifies this as the “survival of man qua man.”]
This is, in my understanding, the most basic summary of Rand’s program in “The Objectivist Ethics,” an essay within The Virtue of Selfishness. I think that keeping these two sentences in mind while reading the essay will help many people understand Rand’s points more fully.