|The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet)
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- Big Ayn Rand fan, not so hot on this book
The format of this book is not what I expected. It is basically a set of essays that don't really present one with much information. If you have read the two major novels - The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged (both five stars) - then much of the ideas are repeated in a less effective manner. THere are sections in both of the novels consisting of 50-100 pages that do a much better job presenting the overall Objectivist philosophy. This one isn't really worth the money....more info
- Classic Material
I will never understand why Ayn Rand has always been snubbed by other philosophers. Most philosophers, if asked, will flat out deny that Rand was even a real philosopher. To me this is absurd. She has been called a hypocrite and even a cult leader, but such base ad hominem attacks of course have no bearing on the veracity of her claims. The Virtue of Selfishness is, in my opinion, the best of her publications. The title essay contains one of the most eye-openning and profound arguments I have ever read, which is this: Many people want to believe in immortality. In fact, most Americans DO believe that they are immortal, that death is really just a metamorphasis, that you carry on in another form, etc. If this were actually true, then morality would be of little importance. If we really did live forever then little to nothing could count for or against us. If nothing could count against us then we would have no values. If we had no values we would have no goals. And if we had no values or goals, morality would be irrelevant. Think about it. It's the very fact that life is FINITE that gives it meaning. This is an important lesson--that the immortality that so many hope and pray for would actually be a curse, just as it is to mythical vampires. Also profound are the discussions on selfishness. Selfishness is not a bad thing. Everyone does everything he or she does for selfish reasons. Even if someone appears to be behaving altruistically it is only because doing so makes him feel good about himself. On a sidenote, Nathaniel Branden also has an excellent essay in which he explains typical "party" behavior. We might look at people who love to party and think "Gee, they are such carefree individuals. They must love life and love having fun." Actually, Branden makes clear, they are miserable. They only act that way because of their emptiness as people. They are trying to distract themselves from their deep unhappiness. They try to drown out their lack of self-contentment with alcohol or other drugs, and with loud music and rooms full of loud obnoxious people. It's all a grand self-medicating distraction from the underlying problems at hand, and afterward, when the party is over and they are left alone with their own thoughts again, they are miserable. All of it, the alcohol, drugs, partying, rooms full of dancing and whatnot, is not the creation of happiness, but is merely the orchestrated cessation of unhappiness. ...more info
- An Excellent Collection of Essays on Objectivism
This book contains an excellent collection of essays on Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism and is appropriate for anyone seeking to obtain a deeper understanding of her philosophy beyond reading her novels. A few of the best essays contained within include:
* The Objectivist Ethics -- this is Ayn Rand's presentation of her ethics of rational egoism (i.e., rational self-interest).
* The Ethics of Emergencies -- this is where Ayn Rand discusses how her philosophy applies to many "lifeboat" situations.
* Man's Rights -- in this essay, Ayn Rand discusses what individual rights are and where they come from. Specifically, she argues that rights come from the nature of man (not from divine origin, society or law) and what they mean in practice.
* The Nature of Government -- this essay contains Ayn Rand's view on government's as an agency of force, how the only proper purpose for a government is to safeguard the rights of men, how the only legitimate functions of government are those necessary to preserve individual rights (i.e., police force, army and a court system) and the necessity for a strong, central government to serve as a final arbiter on the use of retaliatory force. This last point is in stark contrast to various anarcho-capitalists such as David Friedman and Murray Rothbard.
* Government Financing in a Free Society -- this essay discusses Ayn Rand's view that in a truly free society, all government financing should be voluntary. However, she does indicate that embracing a system based entirely on voluntary financing would be one of the last steps on transitioning to a truly free (i.e., laissez-faire capitalist) society.
* Racism -- in this essay, Ayn Rand eloquently argues how not only is racism immoral and stupid, but holding racist views is also bad for the holder....more info
- For the Serious Reader and Thinker
This is one of Ms Rand's best non fiction works. It applies her objectivist philosophy to a wide range of practical issues in both publc and private life. This is not light reading--this is pure brain food for the reader in search of humane letters and excellent principles of human relationships....more info
- Ayn Rand's ethics in her own words...
This is a must-have item for anyone seriously interested in pursuing a rational, non-contradictory philosophy that will promote happiness and productiveness in your life. There simply has been no other philosopher who was able to combine all the branches of philosophy in the way Ayn Rand did, to improve and enhance man's existance on Earth.
Ayn Rand's non-fiction writings are the best I have seen in helping to clarify the philosophy she created in her fiction (Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead). You will also want to get her other non-fiction books which are just as eye-opening as this one....more info
- Love is Selfish
Ayn Rand used the term altruism, in its original meaning (as used by philosopher August Comte who coined the term): self-sacrifice.
To Miss Rand, to sacrifice a greater value (say your beloved child), for the sake of a lesser value (some strangers you did not know) was evil. (I agree).
To save your beloved wife from drowning would be selfish--because *you* loved her; to let her die to save some stranger--when you loved your wife--would be unselfish.
Selfish, as Rand uses the term, means to act in ones own long-term *rational* self-interest.
It does not mean that one cannot have friends--only that "friends" who stab you in the back are not really your friends.
In fact, if you think about it: love IS selfish. To paraphrase Rand, before one can say 'I love you', one must first learn to say the word 'I'.
Of course, if one actually read the book, one would know this. If one reads the book, and still holds these distorted views of Rand's work, then one is either stupid or dishonest.
This does not mean one may still not disagree--there are some things I disagree with Rand on; but, one should not stoop to dishonest smears, name-calling, and outright lies about her work....more info
- Truly Changed My Life
I read this book a few years ago when I was a sophomore in college. I hadn't read too many books at that time and it was my first Rand book. From the first page I was absolutely enthralled. It was the most intellectually stimulating experience of my life up to that point.
Some people who read this book will reject it out of hand because they don't like some or all of her conclusions. But she argues everything so clearly and thoroughly starting with basic premises building up to complicated philosophical ideas that it's hard to rationally disagree.
Before I read this book I had only vague conceptions of what I believed or valued. This book gave me a logically consistent foundation for my views on morality, politics, and philosophy.
What Rand is fighting for is the idea that reason is supreme and can be effectively used to optimize life in all its aspects. She uses reason to analyze many big questions such as "What is the purpose of morality?" "How should I decide what moral ideals to choose for my life?" "What is the proper role of government?" and more.
I have now read most all of her work and agree wholeheartedly with almost every detail of her philosophy. But where we do disagree I find it to be insignificant because her entire philosophy I believe can be summed up in this statement: "Use reason without contradiction to guide your life in every way" which I completely agree with.
That statement seems obvious enough but once I understood its significance (through reading her books) I saw that people everywhere all the time are knowingly contradicting themselves in their beliefs and actions. Indeed, without knowing it, they will argue passionately that contradicting yourself is the proper way to act and think. These are the Rand haters.
How can you seriously consider the opinion of someone who says in a debate "You're taking logic too far." Or "Reason is good for some things but not for everything". Or "Your argument makes sense but I'm just being practical". Such people don't seem to grasp what reason is. They might as well be saying "2 plus 2 equals four sometimes and five other times".
I highly recommend this book and would also say that if you do disagree with Rand on some point don't abandon reason taken to its logical conclusion to support what you are saying. If you do you have already lost the argument. If there are any logical errors in her writing they should be treated as errors and not as an indictment of her philosophy of using reason which is absolutely correct....more info
- perfect for fans; mere LINGUISTIC DRAMATICS for the rest
A perfect book for those who are ALREADY fans of Ayn Rand and her LINGUISTIC RADICALISM.
The basic idea of "not taking altruism to extremes --to the point of MEANINGLESS self-sacrifice-- is one that no SENSIBLE person could possibly argue against.
But Rand takes a word, defines it to an ABSURD EXTREME --thereby PROVOKING A REACTION-- and spends the rest of the book RANTING ENDLESSLY against it. While reading, one is continually bothered by the question: "but who defines it to THIS extreme, but Rand herself and her kind only?".
Ridiculous LINGUISTIC DRAMATICS. Perfect for those who hunger for provocative speech; again, perfect for Ayn Rand's fans. The rest of us who would rather be persuaded by CONTENT, are left wanting....more info
- Is enlightened selfishness really possible?
There seem to be some misunderstandings concerning my example of the soldier who fell presented in an earlier review. It has been suggested that, as long as we're talking about a volunteer army, the soldier who fell on the grenade was acting in his "rational" (or "enlightened") self-interest because he "signed a contract" acknowledging that he might be called upon to give up his life. I am very pleased to learn that rational self-interest does not preclude throwing oneself on a grenade, and I'm sure many hard-core altruists (whom I also criticized in my example) will also be relieved to know this. Unfortunately, this view of the matter entirely misses the point I was trying to make. My point was simply that there exist certain circumstances in which self-interest, whether of an enlightened variety or not, is useless as a guide to action. If all five soldiers took the attitude that throwing themselves on a grenade was merely part of signing up, then why didn't all dive on the device? "To follow through on their own selfish objective, the soldier throws himself on the grenade," we are told. But this involves a misconception of the whole scenario. The act of the soldier is purely spontaneous. It's not premeditated. Moreover, the soldier acts alone. He is not acting on "their...objective," as is suggested. The others have nothing to do with the soldier's decision.
The question is: why would any soldier do such thing? Would he do it out of rational selfishness? Most people innocent of the strange way Objectivists interpret such matters would say, "Of course not." (And if enlightened self interest is all that counts, why would anyone volunteer to be part of an army and go to war in the first place? Wouldn't it be more rational to try to persuade other people to go in one's place? But no, according to Objectivism, someone who is really enlightened about their selfishness will have no qualms about signing up, as long as it was a volunteer army and nobody compelled him to go!)
Unfortunately, in the real world, things don't work that way. Most people interpret selfishness as looking out for number one. That is not an attitude that is compatible with defending a country against its enemies. Randian selfishness is not something that could ever work in real life. Whether we like it or not, any nation, in order to survive, must occasional ask its citizens to perform certain obligations, the most tragic of which is serving in the military during war. No reasonable person likes this fact. Undoubtedly, it would be much better if things weren't that way and we could all follow our rational self-interest without anyone getting hurt. But that's not the way things are. The non-coercive society imagined by Rand is a pipe-dream.
The ethical theories presented in this book could never be followed consistently in the real world. They are, among other problems, far too vague. What does it mean, precisely, to say that life is the standard of value? Doesn't that make survival the summum bonum? But no, not at all; "there is more to life than survival," we are told: we also "desire to live better." But wait a minute. Where did this "desire" come from? I thought morality is supposed to be based on "reason." But, of course, it cannot be based on reason. Desire (or sentiment) has to come in somewhere along the line. But because of the vagueness of the principles, this is rarely noticed. Instead, the Randian goes about his business, naively imagining that he follows certain rational principles in practice when, in point of fact, he merely follows his own private sentiments and desires. This is how Rand behaved in her own life, and it is how her orthodox disciples behave as well. This is how Peikoff behaved when he booted George Riesman out of the Objectivist movement and it is how Ellen Plasil's Objectivist brethren behaved when they ostracized her after she terminated her therapy with her sexually exploitative psychiatrist, Dr. Lonnie Leonard. Such are the fruits of individuals trying to practice enlightened selfishness! But are most human beings really enlightened enough to be selfish? If even Objectivists fail by this standard, what are the chances for the rest of us?...more info
- A Brilliant Conceptual Challenge
"The Virtue of Selfishness" is perhaps one of the most intriguing ethics books I have ever read. It promotes Rand's philosophy of Objectivsm throught ideals that the altruists would consider "selfish".
This book is an excellent read....more info
- An excellent work
In particular; Nathaniel Branden's essay "The Psychology of Pleasure" should be carefully read by male readers....more info
- Rational Selfishness Rules
Ayn goes into a lot of detail to try and explain her way of thinking about selfishness. Most people do not get it or do not want to because selfishness is a 'dirty' word. To me it is much better than helping the ungrateful, lazy, incompetent people. Everyone is selfish, but only the truly great are 'rationally' selfish. Read this to grasp the difference....more info
- The Rational Morality of Selfishness
To some of the people who have written previously striving to stain Ayn Rand and Objectivism with examples of brutal acts, it would be a good idea to at least have the decency to actually read The Virtue of Selfishness so they would know what they are talking about, because as is, they only stand out as examples of people talking about a subject they know nothing about. Even more the posted review from the Library Journal, which heads the page, is a highly prejudicial piece of work that only exhibits the author's emotional feelings and distaste for Ayn Rand and Objectivism. Full of sharply pointed adjectives like "outlandish" and "sadly dated" and "mutant symptoms" the author fails to offer factual evidence to make his claim, and in other instances, such as his claim that Rand advocated "the rights of the individual at the expense of the community" was completely mistaken.
Without a doubt, this is a forum of opinions and one has to expect a wide variety of different views from all types of people. But I would expect Amazon to follow a higher standard when posting comments by media sources such as Library Journal. If you are going to post something from a media source, at least post an articulate and well-informed piece instead of a highly prejudicial post, filled with the author's ungrounded opinions divorced from facts.
In the early sixties, when The Virtue of Selfishness hit the market, it was one of the first book-form expositions of Objectivism. True to form, in the introduction to the book, Ayn Rand defines a new concept of egoism and points out that her definition of selfishness, or rational self-interest, differs radically from the common usage of the term. She does this in order to describe positive character traits, and make it possible to conceptualize the self-reliant, self-respecting independent man or woman, who lives his or her life for their own sake, without sacrifice on anyone's part. She explains how the negative connotation of selfishness serves as a package deal to negate the concept of an independent and talented man or woman living their life for their own sake.
What Ayn Rand set out to do with her revolutionary concept of rational self-interest was to conceptualize the men and women of ability and talent: creators, producers and builders, who live independent lives, without sacrificing others to themselves or themselves to others. One of the best graphic illustrations of this concept is the characterization of Howard Roark in The Fountainhead. Here, one sees in a fictionalized version of the Objectivist view of selfishness: a character in love with life, his work, the act of creation, and the sharing of these values with others of similar mind and personality.
Obviously in our society, the Saddam Hussein concept of the selfish brute, who mauls and defiles everything in his path, is very common. However, a cursory knowledge of history would tell one that these horrors, that people often try to slander Objectivism with, are almost always the result of self-sacrificial behavior in the name of a higher cause with an authoritarian leader at the helm. Self-sacrifice and the duty to serve others are at the fundamentals of fascism, Nazism, communism, and every other blight on civilization since the beginning of time.
Saddam Hussein would be a perfect example of this: a man who saw himself as the great Arab leader who would unite the Arab world against the infidels, and in the process, sacrificed anyone and anybody in the name of his higher, mystical cause. Pol Pot was another example. An authoritarian leader armed with his idea of a Marxist agrarian revolution, he had no compunction, under the guise of self-sacrificial service to others, to kill and murder millions of people in order to achieve his perfect, unselfish society.
In contrast to this, on examining Ayn Rand's life, one would see a magnificently benevolent women in love with the mind and efficacious behavior, who by pursuing her rational self-interest, has enlightened the minds of millions of her readers and helped them to pursue a more fruitful and productive life. Her writings on the sorry state of the educational system and its attempt to obliterate reason, reality and individualism are masterpieces of benevolence for those who are trapped in this system, and want to break free from this mind-destroying nightmare.
Rational self-interest is a revolutionary concept that challenges the morality at the very root of our society. If this interests you and you are looking for a different vision of the world, a vision of a better, more rational and productive existence, The Virtue of Selfishness (VOS) may be a book you would want to investigate.
- Powerful Unadulterated Moral Objectivism!
Ayn Rand (AR) makes no apologies for relating the truths behind true success: to love and empower others you must first love and empower yourself!
AR provides the framework for individualistic success knowing that such empowered persons historically have and thus will continue to create the trends and breakthroughs in technology and advances that benefit our society and the world. As such she admonishes the reader in pursuit of such destiny that: "one must never fail to pronounce moral judgment." To do so is to compromise the integrity of ourselves, our society and culture, and ultimately our nation. It becomes thus a moral impediment to individual progress and freedom.
To that end AR believed that the power and goodness of America (The United States of) was grounded in the fact that she (America) did not merely and unjustly "melt men into the gray conformity of a collective," rather "she united them by means of protecting their right to individuality."
Truly one of the most grand moral philosophers of the modern age. I rate this text at five stars for all lovers of freedom and individuality who exist and prosper while offering assistance and leadership to in spite of, not at the expense of, their fellow man.
- The greatest book on ethics ever
This book is indispensible reading for anyone who has read Ayn Rand's novels. It is a great book and in it Ayn Rand did a supurb job of explaining the essentials of the ethics of her philosopy, Objectivism.
Anyone who agrees with the ideas expressed in her novels should read this work next and use their own judgement to decide if Ayn Rand was right or not. They should not accept the opinions of altruist-collectivist reviewers, who still dominate our culture today, and are always ready to smear her. Considering the greatness of Ayn Rand's philosphy, I don't think that such people will continue to do so for long. ...more info
- The unchanging philosophy.
Ayn Rand's ideas aren't original. As she very well explains it in the first chapter, objectivism is philosophy based on LIFE, and what is fundamentally GOOD. Freedom and Rights are the most basic traits of every individual. This is a MUST-READ for every student of philosophy, and the ultimate guide to life....more info
- In True Ayn Rand Fashion
As with all her writing, she's very aggressive in trying to get her point across. Though this was a good read, I would not say that it was profound, as some of the other reviewers have so asserted.
It would serve as a good stepping stone into the field of more contemporary ethics, but in order to really assess her claims and axioms, one must be well learned and read in the enormous literature of classical and contemporary ethical theory--something I am not.
I didn't give this a 5 star review because quite frankly I disagreed with her on various points, points where it seems that her reasonings had committed some form of fallacy or other.
- Hi-Fi Philosophical Ayn - Gem Picks for some
Vaguely I remember some guy telling me to read Ayn Rand and I found my way picking up gem selection like Fountainhead and now this `The Virtue of Selfishness' - The name that arouse interest itself `How can selfishness be a virtue?' The Philosophy of Ayn Rand is a logic, which has a major impact on the intellectual side. This book is a collection of essays appeared in The Objectivist Newsletter, edited and published by Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden, The issues that crop up day-to-day and the problems that arise were sorted by with every chapter. Selfish itself is regarded as `evil' word but Ayn Rand's philosophy regards Objectivist Ethics as a morality of rational self interest. An industrialist who produces a fortune and a gangster who robs a bank are regarded as equally immoral since they both sought wealth for their own selfish benefit. Since nature does not provide man with an automatic form of survival, since he has to support his life by his own effort, he would have to work in self-interest and this is not selfish means. It's like self-supporting with some moral codes and purpose of morality is to define man's proper values and interests and man must be beneficiary of his own moral actions. The Book is a high read and thought provoking. Reviewing is rather brief and so, if one is fond of philosophy, here is a good Choice Read - Ayn Rand's Best New concept of egoism with inputs by NB....more info
- awesome---escape the mindlock
#1 Read the virtue of selfishness
#2 realise that every pseudo-work about rand to discredit her is mere horse puky
#3 realise how no author argues with rands point---they all try n say she is somehow evil by nature----or "wierd"
#4 realise RAnd is right on the money
#5 read the New intellectual----it was my favorite
#6 Read cvapitalism---the unknown ideal---its an awesome read
#7 Realise that USA is unique----and that Rand was heavily read in the Ron Reagan white house-----the top president in 20th century for economy
#8 Realise that when a woman in CA can have sex behind her husbands back, then take her kids to an other country, and demand half his money, ...---this si the result of not haivng private property----the result of having no philosophy!!!
#9 read some ayn rand books and see for yourself----it is amazing that teachers don't expose children to these book earlier in the interest of intelectual reading ......more info
- Misguided At Best
This unconvincing collection of essays touts Rand's "Objectivist" dogma. Though once an adamant believer in Objectivism, upon actually LEARNING about the philosophic issues that Rand addresses (I now have a degree in philosophy), the incredible irrelevance of her work is glaring. She has scarcely a single new thought to add on any topic, though most of her admirers familiarize themselves only with hers. Her angry, blunt style is totally rediculous for someone trying to write coherent philosophy, yet the heavy-handed manner is rather convincing if you don't pay too much attention to detail. Anyone with a reasonable knowledge of Modern Philosophy would find her work insulting in its rash presumptions, and even laughable were it not the case that so many people (who pick up her novels, or who only have read HER *philosophy*) get spellbound by her warped ideas. Look folks: THIS IS NOT PHILOSOPHY. At best, these essays represent a series of rampant, misguided ARGUMENTS that contain only small doses of appeal. If you don't understand the ways that her works fall short of EVER being considered seriously by professional philosophers, then grab anything written by ROBERT NOZICK. His nature of dialect will be broad, precise, and completely honest--a whip-lash of a change from Rand. Ayn Rand's NOVELS sell with relative success purely becasue they have epic qualities that popularily attract. Additional value (beyond entertainment) is difficult to extract, which is not good news for her non-fiction work....more info
- Social Poison?
When first exposed to the notion that altruism was not a good thing, I strongly disagreed. I have read The Virtue of Selfishness 3 times and am beginning to understand the substance of this premise.
Many readers, like S. Curtis, struggle with the bad connotation of the word selfish and miss the distinction between rational self-interest and whimsical self indulgence. Rational self-interest begins with defining one's values and not subordinating those values to some externally mandated priorities. As offensive and extreme as some of her conclusions may be to some, it is difficult to see any flaws in her reasoning.
History has shown, when something other than rational self-interest becomes the priority, it is only a question of time before individual rights suffer. The notion that the wealthy have no incentive to help others in the absence of praise for the altruist, is a fallacy. People should do what they can to help others, not because altruism is a higher calling, but because it makes for a more productive, humane society. I dont think Bill Gates became one of the most generous philanthropists in history because he believes in altruism.
I wish there were a happy medium on the individualist / collectivist continuum, but until we return to the garden of eden and thereby satisfy each person's needs and wants with unlimited resources, I would rather count on the individual to realize that rational self interest involves more than self-indulgence than to pray that the current dictator of social priorities hasn't forgotten about freedom and liberty. It is ironic that the Pope recently urged catholics to be less selfish, while the vatican is spending billions of dollars on the legal consequences of a collectivist ideal that we should all be like Mother Teresa. This book helped me realize that self-denial and guilt do not lead to happiness and that selfishness and kindness are not mutually exclusive.
To those who find the theory of objectivism unoriginal and solipsistic, I would respectfully suggest that they read the many examples of how this philosophy changed the way people think and feel in the preceeding customer reviews. I would recommend Pekoff's book Objectivism: the philosophy of Ayn Rand to anyone seeking an in deapth analysis of Objectivism. Because I can not think of any philosophy that had a bigger impact on the way I view myself and the world around me, I have found the philosophy of Objectivism startlingly original, and brilliant in its simlicity....more info
- "Selfishness" is not what you thinl it is
This book is a collection of articles that appeared in the "Objectivist" in the early 1960s. Most were written by Rand but a few were written by her then, "intellectual heir" Nathaniel Branden. Barnden, who was 25 years younger than Rand had a torrid affair with her and when they broke it off, Rand added an interesting postcript to the introduction of this book that the two were no longer associated with each other. OK, enough of my gossip ... getting back to the point; this book is a clear cut introduction to Rand's philosophy. "Selfishness" does not mean a self centeredness where you act as though the world revolves around you. Rather, you do not ask anyone to sacrifice himself/herself to you but you ask that no one expect that you sacrifice yourself either. Rand views most governmental programs as asking one group to sacrifice for others. Selfishness is not brutishness if we act rationally. Rather, it causes each of us to act in our rational self interest while expecting others to do the same. In a free society, we all can do this, in a collectivist society we cannot. Rand forsaw the concept of "affirmative action" and therefore was one of the minority who opposed the 1964 civil rights act even though she abhorred rascism. However, she did not believe a curbing of our freedoms was the remedy to rascism. Each of these articles are illuminating and are as applicable today as they were nearly 40 years ago....more info
- Adolescent, juvenile philosophy
Objectism appeals to an adolescent mind. An individual who has thought about self, non-self, life, meaning, spirituality, materialism ... in any meaningful way cannot but come to the realization that Rand's philosophy is woefully superficial and juvenile. Or so one might hope...
People who are ardent devotees of Rand always seem to impress me as a bit odd. Their personalities and characters seem shallow, robotic, cold, underdeveloped but at the same time they appear smug and self-satisfied.
It is ironic that most Rand followers are intelligent, but not really. It truly does take an intelligent mind to convulute what is intuitive truth and combined with the ruse of so-called logic and rational thinking, build an artifice only a clever but misguided child might.
Rand's raison detre is the concept of "self". But what is the "self"? Rand superficially believes the self begins with one's personal mind or consciousness. And from there, all her "selfish" ethics follow. In her world, everything begins and ends with "self". In other words, the small little world encased in her tiny head.
To be sure, the "self" is the individual. This is not false. And therefore, it is logical that ethics should stem from this source and fountain.
But it's also not all true, either.
This is why Rand appeals to the adolescent. An adolescent is one who is yet maturing from childhood, growing into an adult individual. And this growing into his own is exciting. He is enthralled with his growing independence. His growing awareness of his individuality is exhilerating. To him, his little self is the beginning and end to all things.
But as adolescents grows older, most realize at some level that the "self" is not binary. As the ancient philosophers, mystics and sages before us have realized, the "self" is really a continuum. There are no clear lines. There is no beginning or end. No real boundaries; just those you create.
True wisdom comes when one is able to transcend the conventional, narrow definition of "self" that Rand defines and limits one's self to being.
Does a wider conception of self entail a politics and society empty of individual rights, liberties and freedoms? Of course not. Only a child would come to such a conclusion.
Contrary to Rand, a society that respects individual rights and liberties is possible concomitantly with a culture/philosophy that realizes that the "self" can be and is larger than the individual flesh and bones that encases our egos. It can be a society that respects not only individuals but peoples, nature and everything in the world... to fulfill and seek out their happiness in their own unique way while at the same time, helping each other without the need or expectation of "self interested benefit" in the narrowest sense.
Indeed, unlike Rand, whose ethics are driven by "self-interest"; the ethics of a "larger self" are driven by love and charity. But unlike Rand, the latter would realize that the two are really the same thing inasmuch as love is the enlargement of the self to include others in that idea of self, until ultimately, the binary notion of self disappears altogether.
Logically, then, loving others is really loving one's self inasmuch as one comes to realize that "I" am "you" and "you" are "me".
This realization however comes not by logic alone but intuitively. But it should not be dismissed because of that. All knowledge is first intuitive, until it is rationalized, categorized and logically made sense of by the conscious mind. However, what is intuitively obvious is sometimes mashed up into something else entirely by clever but juvenile minds.
Should self-interest in the Randian sense then play no part in our ethics? No. But in moderation.
If self is a continuum, then our ethics should reflect this. What I do, I do for myself, my family, my friends, my neighbor, for mankind and for the world in general. The mature individual realizes that ethics cannot be constructed based on the narowest definition of self alone. But neither can it be defined based solely on any one particular definition of self as well -- whether that be family, friends, tribe or nation. The mature, rational individual should keep all things in balance; and in this balance, his ethics follow.
I am "self" in the narrowest sense; but my "self" also exists in the widest sense that includes "you" and "everything" else. And when this is realized, "self-interest" = "your-interest" = "our interest" = "all interests" = love = transcendence....more info
- philosophical heritage
I must have absorbed Rand's philosophy of Individualism through reading her fiction novels and the imprint she left on the Libertarian Party. I was unable to put a definitive name on it, though, until I picked up one of her non-fiction books and read the first chapter: "Objectivist Ethics". I now understand the debt I owe her for my philosophical heritage. I highly recommend this book to fans of her fictional works and to libertarians....more info
- Gratitude for the American Dream
One woman's manifesto testament of gratitude to the quintessential virtues of the American Dream - industry, enterprise, and entrepreneurialism. Ayn Rand arrived in New York City a 21-year-old Russian refugee who struggled with English. Yet in her lifetime, Ayn Rand became the most read philosopher of the 20th century for her writing in an adopted land and language. Unabashed in her pro-American sentiment, the publication of The Virtue of Selfishness could put many a Republican policy maker to shame.
- Rand's ethics without her epistemology?
"[F]ortunately, her epistemological theories are not required to be the foundation of her ethical and political ideas (despite many allegations to the contrary)."
One of those allegations is mine, and actually Rand herself was the one who made the original allegation on which mine was based. She always maintained that anyone who rejected her epistemology had to reject the rest of her philosophy too. She was not, she said, _primarily_ an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and not _primarily_ an advocate of egoism, but of reason. And to this day, the boys at the Ayn Rand Institute insist that libertarians are whim-worshippers because they think they can keep "her" political ideas (they're not) without keeping her epistemological theories too.
In _For The New Intellectual_ she castigated "modern" philosophers for having failed to solve the "problem of universals" and therefore having left the world helpless against the onslaught of the forces of unreason. Her _Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology_ was her attempt to solve that problem (and she failed; she didn't even state the problem correctly, let alone stick consistently to her own proposed "solution").
But it was from her epistemology, and in particular its famous trichotomy -- "intrinsicism" vs. "subjectivism" vs. "objectivism" -- that her philosophy took its name. That trichotomy is supposed to apply to values just as surely as to concepts, and it fails in ethical theory just as it fails in epistemology.
One reason (not by any means the only one) is that Rand maintained roundly that _all_ one's moral "obligations" are hypothetical imperatives in the service of one's _own_ life, strictly dependent on one's own "choice to live," a pre- and a-moral decision about which Objectivism can give no ethical guidance at all. In strict consistency, that means that if you are committing suicide by driving into a brick wall, you are under no moral obligation whatsoever to swerve in order to miss the little girl who wanders out in front of your car. That an ethical theory with this consequence has been able to pass itself off as "objective" is more than a little strange.
Anyway, in some ways this is one of Rand's better books. As I mentioned in one of my earlier reviews, I've deducted some stars since I examined her arguments more closely; in particular, her odd attempt to define immoral people as literally _subhuman_ doesn't exactly strike me as a great advance. But on the whole this is probably her second-best book, _Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal_ being the best (and, thankfully, least original)....more info
- At last, an honest atheist!
I chose the title for this review carefully. I have had numerous discussions with atheists. I have noticed a common inconsistency about them: they roundly criticize Christian doctrines such as the Incarnation, Resurrection, etc. But at the same time they affirm much of Christian morality, such as concern for the poor, the need to subjugate one's personal ambitions to the good of "society," etc. But they never build a case for why these "virtues" are of any use in a Universe without God, where a brutal system of survival of the fittest is directly responsible for what progress the world has enjoyed. When I confront them with this error in their thinking they either go into a glassy-eyed stare of start shouting slogans.
Rand is a refreshing change from these pseudo-intellectual morons. She starts with the premises that Man is the highest form of life in the Universe and that naturalistic evolution is true, and develops a moral code consistent with those beliefs. Her conclusion: that a society based on self interest will lead to the elimination of the weak and the development of better, smarter and prettier human beings. Now THAT is an ethical code consistent with a godless, materialistic Universe where the strong survive and the weak - well, screw them! I applaud Ms. Rand for having the courage her fellow unbelievers lack: to think out the true implications of their worldview. Bravo! ...more info
- Secret questions, pointedly answered.
Spinning your wheels trying to understand existence? Maybe you have accepted some mad premises. Madness is resultant of refusing to think. Reality if fundamentally and irredeemably natural and therefore subject to causality, and therefor subject to human reasoning. The devil is in the details, and in this light, she has fought the devil himself. No mystic can say as much....more info
freedom form taxes is freedom
this books shows people why being free from other people is freedom
hong kong had 15% flat tax and grew faster than any economy in history besides america
1% flat tax would do even better
every law is a tax
regualtions are laws
1% flat tax would be awesome
this ayn rand book is great
understand that democracy withotu individuals rights is communism
and doesn't exist
hsitory shows a minority always has control
capitalism put that controll back into the smallest minoirty the individual
all concept such as racism are moot
racism mean one is mroe racist that an ohter this is not true
everything capitalism does is good
the medical financial and insurance insdustries and educaiton are 4 area where regualtion, essentially taxes they are the same---have created ruinous ssytems
capitalism si the cure
1% flat tax is all we need
read this book
ignore the frenzied attempots by commies to make u ignore this or tell you its wrong
they are wrong...more info
- A Treatise on Avoiding Sociological Shell Games
The Virtue of Selfishness by the revolutionary free thinker, Ayn Rand, espouses the value of establishing one's self awareness in life. Though this work was written well over forty years ago, many of the ideas hold firmly even to this day.
Because it was written long ago, contemporary critics who have read but not really looked at the heart of the matter in the book have too quickly dismissed the views of Rand, not just in The Virtue of Selfishness but also in her other nonfiction works such as Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, as obsolete. Why too quickly? From just one key standpoint, like Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin, Rand repeatedly affirmed one's right to pursue happiness and that this pursuit could not meet its goal without taking into account one's own self interests and being aware of his/her own interactions with nature and society and thus developing a refined understanding of the pleasure and pain principles that exist in our daily lives.
Though I do not regard myself as an absolutist, I do not think that you have to be one to delve into the principles of Rand's Objectivism. I think that those who attempt to completely discredit Rand for refusing to incorporate shades of gray elements into her writings are prone to play the Devil's advocate without analyzing what were her, or anyone else's, underlying themes.
Essentially, Rand was stating that pride (though not of the condescending variety), the pursuit of happiness, self-awareness, and the refusal to let others make their decisions at mere whims are key ingredients to enable one to live life to its fullest.
It is true that extenuating circumstances can appear so as to make one wonder if Objectivism can be applied in daily life. My response to this dilemma is that if you look at the bigger picture, that is, perceive what occurs not only from a philosophical standpoint but also from the views of a historian or mathematician, especially a game theorist, you will be able to constitute or reconstitute how the attainment of both short-term and long-term joy can be interconnected so as to endure or how they should be valued or sought after, especially when the two are mutually exclusive.
I have heard one say that life is a word problem. To me, such a statement is, by and large, true, except that life is oftentimes more complicated than that. Nonetheless, the ability to understand word problem type situations frequently can and will equip one to tackle any added difficulties that lie ahead. For instance, changes in regulations in terms of how banks are operated or how money is transferred might somewhat circumvent one's understanding of the accumulation of simple and compound interest, but it does not totally nullify the potential future value of money or the acquired, even if not entirely complete, understanding of it through textbook readings and pencil and paper percentage problems.
Indeed, if outside parameters that might just happen to exist as infinitesimal counterexamples to what has been held as true are brought to the forefront or to the center stage, then every ounce of attained human knowledge and every printed page since Guttenberg might as well be thrown out the window.
All in all, I recommend that just as Newton's laws of physics were limited in scope but are still heavily vital to the understanding of today's rocket science, The Virtue of Selfishness should be upheld as a primary bedrock upon which other meaningful works concerning the achievement of a rewarding life were built upon and without which these latter publications could not be so well understood....more info
- Amazing book!!!!!
After hearing bad opinions of Ayn Rand's philosophy I was not to optimistic about this book, but it was wonderful. Its's easy to understand and makes sense in the worls today. I suggest reading Atlas Shrugged after it....more info
- Altruism needs Capitalism and Capitalism needs Altruism
Despite my love for Miss Rand's views on society, I must profess that her total disregard for kindness in its entirety is somewhat distressing. I think what Miss Rand misses is not that capitalism is rigt or wrong but that it is through the enate compassion of humanity in which capitalism works finest....more info
- Rand's Wisdom is Far Ahead of Its Time
Ayn Rand is a woman of almost unfathomable genius. I would encourage readers to disregard anything negative that other reviewers have to say about this book. For the small price that you have to pay Rand presents her vision of individual freedom that, even with its holes and shortcomings, is so far ahead of its time, it's difficult to imagine. It was far out ahead of its time when she published this book more than 40 years ago. Sadly, her vision is still WAY out ahead of the current state of the world even today.
Even if you don't agree with her, you will still have the freedom to use your own rational mind to challenge or discard anything that she says. Anyone who approaches Rand with an open mind, however, will have to admit that she had an uncanny understanding of how the value that each individual places on his own life impacts the course of history and the progress of man. She clearly describes how the cult of self-sacrifice is a logical and immoral progression from mysticism and how the resulting psychological, political and economic processes undermine individual liberty, man's pursuit of happiness, the general quality of life for all men, and the advancement of civilization.
The selfless and self-sacrificing among you can take comfort in the fact that when Rand's vision of laizzez-faire capitalism and individual freedom is finally realized (reason always wins in the end), you will still have compete and total freedom to live irrational, mystical, irresponsible lives. No one will have the right to prevent you from sacrificing your own life, mind or values to any person, state, religion, or collectivist ideals. No one will force you to achieve your full potential as a human being. It will still be your life and you will have complete freedom to sacrifice your own value in the service of lesser values.
The big change will be that you will no longer be permitted to force other men to sacrifice their own rational, life-sustaining, self-interest to your own. That is the virtue of your fellow man's selfishness. You will not be able to destroy him or deprive him of his liberty. You will no longer have the "right" to place liens on the success of others, or to force individuals to give up objective reality for subjective or collective delusions. Irrational, angry mobs will no longer have the "right" to enslave rational individuals and force them to sacrifice themselves to what is not rational and of their own choosing. You will not be entitled to legally force the efficient, intelligent producers to support the inefficient, the mediocre, or the parasites, be they rich or poor. All men will be free to use their own rational minds to seek their own values and happiness as long as it doesn't deprive others of individual liberty. All men will be free to learn and create, and trade freely with whomever they choose, which by default elevates the status of all men.
Rand's hyperbole sometimes made me laugh, but this book clearly articulated so many of my own perceptions and thoughts. It also made me see possibilities I never imagined before. This book and Rand's other writings are a must-read for anybody interested in the real meaning of liberty. Everything she talks about in this book is happening all around me....more info
- It's All in the Title
Look at that title! Who else would dare use such a confrontational title? And justify it by saying she used it "for the reason that makes you afraid of it." I found it shocking when I first encountered it when I was about 20 years old. And freeing.
It initiated an important rite-of-passage -- a questioning of the mores I acquired from the prevailing culture. A questioning, in particular, of the importance of altruism.
Ayn Rand's writing has the potential to free many more people -- with her fiction -- and with her non-fiction collections such as this, with their little self-contained chapters on various philosophical issues. She seems to write for the popular audience. But she doesn't want to stray from logical rigor. So the reader must exercise his intellect and meet her halfway.
Afterwards, at the very least, the reader will gain a better understanding of her fiction where the characters (especially the heroes) are animated by more than emotions. But, if the reader is lucky, he will gain a whole new perspective on his life, whether he fully agrees with Rand or not....more info
- The Selfish Objectivism of Rand's Detractors
If you're not selfish and objective, you'll never be enough of a person to help a single soul, including yourself.
This is a daring seminal work in one of the core controversies of human history: individualism versus forced altruistic collectivism.
The problem for those poor raging anti-Randians ( who lust to scold the rest of us) is that they necessarily assume Rand's rationalistic self-interest doctrine in the process of criticizing it.
Preachers of universal unselfishness want you to help any self in the world---AS LONG AS IT'S NOT *YOU*.
Forced love, from body or paycheck, is rape. And it will always produce hate and misery....more info
- A New Moral Philosophy
Ayn Rand's " The Virtue of Selfishness" is truly a new moral philosophy. Her essays in this book are profound. In this volume, Rand rejects the idea of self sacrifice and metaphysics and embraces rational self interest. Rational self interest is the philosophy that your life belongs to YOU, it does not belong to anyone else. YOU are responsible for your life, feelings and actions. Rand lays out the argument that self sacrifice, and altruism, have denigrated man's sense of self and caused mankind innumerable centuries of suffering. Man was only liberated by the Western Enlightenment and the use of his reason through science and capitalist economics. Where the Dark Ages end, progress and freedom begin.
Rand is an unabashed fan of America and our Founding Fathers. She is absolutely correct in affirming the fact that they founded the American Republic on the Enlightenment ideas of liberty, freethought,individual rights, amd scientific progress. Rand obliterates the view of the Religious Right that American was founded as a "Christian Nation" and the view of the Left that America was founded as a "conservative" nation. She points out that the Declaration of Independence was a radical document affirming the rights of all men as individuals. As a consequence of the American Revolution, capitalism unleashed nearly a century of classical liberalism, freedom from government, and individualism never before seen in any nation or age. Rand shows that the American Republic was the first nation to ever proclaim man as a rational being with inherent and unalienable rights.
The basic thrust that Rand is attempting to get across to the reader is that altruism and the concept of living for others is not only immoral, but fatal to the maintenance of an enlightened republic. Altruism is the root of all the other "isms" that afflict the world. Communism, Fascism, conservatism, liberalism, socialism, all promote the idea of the tribe where the individual is submerged and drowned out by voices degrading him with notions of original sin, "common good","public welfare", mankind's "depravity", and obligation to others. If you want a philosophy of life, liberty and one to truly pursue your happiness with, Ms. Rand's "Virtue of Selfishness" will help guide the way....more info
- Rational Selfishness
The Virtue of Selfishness is a collection of essays offering a shockingly new morality based on man's nature. In the essay entitled "The Objectivist Ethics," novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand explains the basics of her revolutionary ethical system. The essays are vibrantly refreshing. They offer for the first time in history an ethical system proper to man's nature qua man. The ethics of rational selfishness is a not a morality of sacrifice, but a morality of productivity. It is not a morality of need, but a morality of achievement. It is not a morality of suffering but a morality of joy. Miss Rand's ethics is a morality for living---not as a cog in a vast collective, not as a slave to the needs of others---but as a sovereign and autonomous being capable of dealing with reality and achieving his own happiness.
For those interested in a presentation of Miss Rand's ethics within the framework of her entire philosophy, Objectivism, I also highly recommend Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.
- Enter At Your Own Risk
This may be one of the great works of all time. It is not for everyone.
Ayn Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness is a powerful statement of part of her philosophy, Objectivism. Specifically, it is a collection of essays dealing with the Ethics of her philosophy. She advocates "rational selfishness" as being opposed to selflessness or altruism. She advocates that people act to make themselves healthy and happy--that this is good, and not something for which people should suffer guilt. She argues that people should not feel compelled to make sacrifices for others, which stands in direct opposition to most mainstream ethical systems, such as Christianity (which is based upon a sacrifice, after all).
It is controversial and in-your-face. Rand holds nothing back. She does not pretend to have sympathy for other points of view. She says that what she has to say is true, and then attempts to prove it. Whether you finally agree with her or not, one of the most refreshing aspects of reading Rand is her honesty. She does not try to hide her opinions. Everything is clearly laid out. The writing is concise, using words neither larger than necessary nor smaller. She defines her terms as she goes, aiming for complete understanding. You will never read a writer (and especially in philosophy) who displays more respect for her reader. She dares you to disagree--to prove her wrong.
On the other hand, as I say, Rand is not for everyone, and for precisely the same reasons that make her such a compelling read. If you have any sacred cows going in, they will likely be butchered. It can be quite uncomfortable to have your most basic beliefs threatned and attacked outright, and thus a little introspection prior to reading this may be best.
This book is designed for: people who are comfortable in debate-type situations; people who are earnestly interested in "truth", even if said truth hurts; people who believe in the power of logic, and follow it to its conclusions; people who respect candor and honest argumentation; people who are used to challenging conventional wisdom and questioning everything.
I picked up this book because I knew of Rand's basic assertions and I thought she was dead wrong. I wanted to read her reasoning and tear it apart.... It didn't work out that way. :) She convinced me through the raw power of her arguments, evidence and logic. As my title states, Enter At Your Own Risk. The Virtue of Selfishness is a powerful little tome....more info
- Why Argue?
Some find it strange that, while I am a strong believer in free markets, trade and the "Chicago School" of economics, I despise Ayn Rand. There are two reason - first, Rand is no philosopher, and second, I am a pragmatist (i.e., I don't see the need for an abstract moral philosophy to justify things).
In this book, Rand violates one of the most important philosophical laws: David Hume's statement that "No 'is' implies an 'ought.'" Just because an organism has a tendency to survive does not mean it has a moral right to.
Capitalism has transformed the world and raised the standards of living. This is the true (and pragmatic) virtue of capitalism and self-interest. This virtue rests not on some abstract philosophy, but in the lives of billions of people on this planet.
All Rand has done is create a straw-man for the socialists and communists who despise capitalism to attack, for her arguments cannot be logically defended, and she is too extreme. Let capitalism speak for itself....more info
- No worse than any other philosophy
I haven't read the whole book, but I get the gist. What this book advocates is survival of the fittest. It's hard to disagree with her train of thought. Rand will offend people who dwell on the afterlife or put their will in the hands of an invisible force that controls the world. As she should. We're here now. Concentrate on now. She also draws fire for correctly pointing out that we are selfish creatures who do things for our own happiness, even if that means giving selflessly. It takes guts to be this honest. She probably got sick of seeing people skate by in a socialist economy and embraced capitalism for that reason alone. In a capitalist society, its usually true that those that work the hardest at their career reap the greatest rewards. Don't blame her for pointing out the truth. It should be obvious....more info
- How Selfish
I find myself again reviewing a book by Ayn Rand that I quite liked. I am not a philosophy major so I won't be arguing about the soundness of her metaphysics or epistemology. I will simply say that while I don't agree with everything she has to say (few would) she makes very interesting observations. Her essay on the concept of human rights as a way to subjugate rulers to moral law is spot on. Her definition of sacrifice is also more logical than another one proposed in another review. Her idea that capitalism is the only free economic system borders on tautological and her support of property rights is a rarity amongst modern "thinkers". Again, while I don't support everything she said (I am still debating the idea of absolute morality, as if morality was something we can discover like the laws of physics) I think she makes strong arguments for personal freedom and the proper relation between a government and its governed....more info
- Hierarchy of Values
I don't want to turn this into a discussion forum on Greg Nyquist's "soldier dilemma", but I feel a response is warranted.
Objectivist ethics are based on one's hierarchy of values. It is only evil to sacrifice a greater value for a lesser one, Or a value for a non-value. For instance, if I give up my life to save my son's, that is not a sacrifice. I hold his life to be a higher value than my continued existence without him.
Therefore, in the soldier example, an objectivist soldier would throw himself on the grenade if 1), he had become friends with the other soldiers, and held them in very high value and did not want to continue his existence without them or 2) he believed that by doing this he was serving the cause of the greater war effort of freedom, and did not want to live his life in serfdom.
It can even be argued that it is not evil to give up one's life for a stranger, since it is your life that is at stake, and your life is yours to do with what you please. It IS evil, however to expect or require that someone else do so....more info
- A treasure
I have an emotional connection to this book, and by consequence to Rand, because it is Rand's work that motivated me into becoming a full-fledged libertarian. Rand, in it, offers a wonderful collection of essays, and in particular a theory of individual rights rooted in Aristotlean ethics. Were more people to read this chef d'oeuvre by Ms Rand, they would rid themselves of any ignorance on what she actually advocated (too many "critics" of Objectivism haven't the faintest idea.) Ms Rand was, in my opinion, too averse to reading and understanding her intellectual opponents and did not succeed in fully developing her system of philosophy, but she nonetheless provided the groundworks for future Objectivists (e.g. David Kelley) to build on. For anyone seriously interested in Ayn Rand and Objectivism, this is where to start....more info
- A life changing book
I read this book more than 40 years ago. At the time, I was searching for a rational basis for ethics in a world where everyone believed that only dogmatic religion could supply the basis for an ethical life.
Read this book and think for yourself....more info
- Selfishness does not diminish Responsibility
Unfortunately for Ayn Rand and her followers the concept of INDIVIDUAL rational selfishness cannot be divorced form the interconectedness of social life. And although many refuse to accept the seemingly inconsequential effects of even the most common of actions the collective accumulation of such actions have a profound influence on the lives of ALL. Therefore, the idea of acting in one's own self interest in fundamentally flawed if it is put forth, as Rand does, on the assumption that one's actions are innocuous to the well-being of others. For example every piece of garbage one throws away, puff of car exhaust that spews from our cars, pair of Nikes that we buy, affect, often with terrible consequences for many, people in parts of the world we CHOOSE to ignore. The problem with this line of thinking is that it presents itself as a means of rescuing society from the evils of egalitarianism through the deification of free market capitalism( which has never existed as evidenced by endless corporate subsidies and bailouts antithetical to Rand's purported program when applied to individuals), which is built upon the same types of unquestionable idealogies as Communism and Fascism. The fact is wherever there is suffering, injustice and inequality in the world one also finds selfishness as one of the main contributing factors. I also find it intweresting that many of the same people who sing the praises of Rand's misguided ideas are those who have never worked or created anything on their own. Randian philosophy is therefore the philosophy of the trust fund, the inheritance recipient, the person who runs back to mommy and daddy for help when their personal form of "rational selfishness" becomes inconvienent. In its most insidious form Rand's ideas represent nothing more than a reapplication of the tenents of social darwinism, which is inextractibly rooted in racism, sexism and EUROCENTRISM in a declintionist view of historical progress....more info
- A mix of legitimate points and very flawed rethorics.
This, like many of Ayn Rand's works, seems to be one of those "love it or hate it" books that has a very loyal following as well as many opponents. I don't think it's that easy because this is a very mixed collection of essays.
Much of the ideas presented in the first few essays are good and should be truly thought provoking for most readers. I have come to regard selfishness (though I prefer the term "egosim") in a new light, which has been good for me.
But here are also many flaws. Most of these are due to the utopian ideas in the essays. There seems to be no place for sick and unable people in Rand's perfect society. Based on my own self interest, I want a society that takes care of their sick and poor, because I would like to be helped if I got in that situation.
Rand's worldview is an oversimplified version of reality. She seems to believe in the libertairian myth that all men have equal chances in life to pursue their ambitions. She writes that one can only achieve one's goals through one's own effort. Never mind that some people (such as the heroes Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden in her novel "Atlas Shrugged") are born wealthy while some people have to work full time just to feed themselves, not leaving much spare time to pursue their true ambitions.
Rand is so rabidly opposed to all forms of altruism she goes to the extremes to demonize it. This is another proof of her oversimplified worldview which leads me to the next point, how proudly she declares that she's an extremist. This is the essay titled "The Cult of Moral Grayness", in which she explains that it is evil to combine ideas from different philosophies and that the world must only be viewed in black and white, in terms of absolute good and absolute evil, with no shades of gray. My only interpretation of this is that Rand - Objectivism being the only rational philosophy - is always right about everything and if you disagree with her on any issue you are morally corrupt and evil. Thus, you must accept all of her teachings without questioning. In reality this means you are not allowed to think for yourself and evaluate them critically. This blind obedience is not compatible with rationalism and individualism. On the contrary, this demands you to stop think for yourself, out of fear that you may reach some "incorrect" conclusion that only a corrupt and evil person could do, which is exactly the sort of rethorics she opposes in the essay titled "The Argument from Intimidation".
It is quite sad that some of the essays express a very old fashioned and uninformed attitude towards homosexuality.
Although I found much of the rethorics flawed, I am glad I read the book, first of all because I did find good ideas in the first three essays, and secondly for the simple reason that it gave me a good insight of Rand's way of thinking, and it's always valuable to get exposed to different ideas in order to keep an open mind. Only after you've read something can you decide whether you agree with it or not. For these reasons I recommend this book. If you read it with a critical mind, it has some good ideas to offer, but don't automatically swallow the whole package just becase you agree with some of it. Be rational. ...more info
- Life As It Should Be Lived
Another masterpiece by Rand. In order to enjoy life you first need to understand it, and as always Rand helps us do this better than anyone else.
No longer will you be inhibited by the negative connotation associated with the word "selfish." Life is about taking care of yourself and that means being selfish, but in a good way....more info
- Excellent read
I really enjoyed this book by Ayn Rand, a genius of our time....more info
- What's in a Word?
"Selfishness." Nearly everyone cringes when they either hear that term or scream in horror when accused of being it. Why? Miss Rand points out, in this book and in her novels, just how corrupted this term has become and how its accepted meaning is the exact opposite today.
It is precisely this term that should be revered by all who want to live a moral life. Yet we are smothered by 'selflessness.' In reality, to be selfish, means to possess self-esteem. To live by reason, accepting no substitute for the judgement of your rational mind.
All the acts of true selflessness: drunk driving, drug abuse, dictatorship's and dictator's, I could go on--the list is quite long--are falsely ascribed as 'being selfish' when in fact, they are acts of those who lack a self. Consider: are men who lust for power, who want to rule others "selfish?"Think about it. Men who are self-possessed seek neither to rule or be ruled, but to live free to achieve whatever their level of abilities can attain for them. Think about it....more info
- Best work of non-fiction
If i were to suggest to someone an introduction of Ayn Rand's writing it would be ANTHEM and THE FOUNTAINHEAD. But if I were to suggest an introduction to her philosophy, it would be THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS.
While all of her philosophy doesn't really stand in terms of personal happiness, and some of her views against things like Environmentalism really just are not well-considered, I think her moral basis for capitalism is the most important and pressing matter of her philosophy, and something that people in American society could really benefit from an understanding of.
Highly recommended....more info
- ...realistic, workable, and ultimately, matchlessly effective...
Sift through the pseudo-intellectual scribblings in this Amazon review page and you will find the polarizing effect of Rand's boldness and brashness, and the fear of those who disagree with her, without attempting to engage her philosophy in their own lives.
The truth of the matter is that Rand's philosophy, Objectivism, and its espousal through this book "The Virtue of Selfishness" is realistic, workable, and ultimately, matchlessly effective in the world as it exists. Many find her too forthright, too controversial, and fear that she may be right. At the core, the test of a particular philosophy's precision is how closely it parallels reality and how adherence leads to effectiveness in life. I challenge you to purchase the book, read it with an open mind (no matter your philosophic bent) and with verve and passion, put it to use in your own life.
If you have the pluck necessary, you will be all the happier, and your actions will inspire an echoing awe within yourself and have a resounding effect in the reality in which we all find ourselves.
- The most important of Rand's nonfiction works
I'm giving this 4 stars because if you want any of Rand's nonfiction works, you want this one. Also, if you are at all interested in Rand's ideas outside of fiction, this is probably the collection of her essays that gets to the point fastest.
This book contains, in an essay called The Objectvist Ethics, Rand's "main ethical argument". In discussion forums about Rand's ideas, people talk about this central argument alot: Rand's justification for egoism, Rand's unique usage of the word "selfish", and so on. Well, this is the book where Rand actually states these views, and makes her arguments. If you want to read the original, this is it.
If it matters, I think this book is also important for anyone curious about Rand's philosophy, because her main ethical argument, in the essay I mentioned, is very bad. The entire thing hinges on abusing the heck out of the word "value" and tossing around forceful rhetoric about "life and death". I read it when I was younger, and never could tell what the point was, so I told myself I would read it again later. Well, I finally got around to it a few months ago, and it was very disappointing. In over 25 pages of essay, there are only one to two pages of real philosophic argument. Moreover, I've since learned that the essay, Rand's main ethical argument, was originally a speech and has simply been transcribed into essay form!
It is very disappointing, especially for an author so well-regarded for her fiction, and especially for all the hype that surrounds her on the Internet. The vision of life Rand presents with the heroes in her novels sure feels nobel, but when she tries to sit down and do philosophy, it comes out worse than mediocre. This is the nonfiction Rand book that makes these flaws most obvious. Her other nonfiction works are mainly political....more info
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