The title, The Virtue of Selfishness, is purposefully provocative. Don't allow the title to keep you from reading this gem of rational essays making the case for capitalism, individualism, and individual rights. While Rand is clearly critical of religion (my only real quibble with her philosophy of objectivism) this collection should be considered the antidote to the progressive/liberal playbook, Olinsky's "Rules for Radicals." Timely and full of the soul of the nation's founders.
I first read "The Virtue of Selfishness" way back in the 1960,s or maybe the 70"s. does not matter, listening to it now as I walk alone in the darkness each morning brings the truth back to me clearly. It is Number one on my list of great books I have listened to.
This is not a book with characters. It is about personal growth and being a "REAL" capitalist or as some liberal might put it dirty MONEY. Money is never dirty the people are dirty.
There were no characters, however she is a great narrator.
It should be on every teachers required reading list from 6th grade to a Ph.D.
I read this some time ago and found it interesting, but unsettling. After reading a lot of other philosophers, developing an independent view of my own, and coming back to it, I appreciated it much, much more. The problem with Rand is her dogmatism toward her views. My own belief is that ethical frameworks are like solutions to problems, some are better than others, but we can theoretically test for fitness of solutions, in the midst of practical difficulties. She is certain that her view is 'correct', rather than superior to the other views she criticizes, and this turns people off. So you have to look past that. The thing is, I happen to think her ethical framework is an exceptionally good solution, which I appreciate more after reviewing the solutions of many other philosophers. The other thing she does is make rambling inferences along the lines of: altruism is self-loathing, self-loathing is destruction, destruction is murder (sorry I can't remember a real one). Some I agreed with, and some I didn't, but the very mechanism is just sloppy intellectualism, and she can do better. These sound very critical for a 5 star review, but the point is to understand this bathwater so that you don't throw out the baby.
Very thought provoking. Better to read on paper. She is either way smarter than me, or has a hard time putting her thoughts together in a million words or less. I chose this book because I wanted to read something by Ayn. This was among the thinnest. I liked it, but I thought it was a bit pretentious. I'm sure Ayn was great fun at parties.
I'm a corporate training consultant and adjunct professor who loves to read! I'm always looking for the next big thing.
The Virtue of Selfishness is a collection of essays that Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden wrote as part of The Objectivist Newsletter in the 1960s. To this day, it boggles my mind that the Objectivist philosophy hasn't swept the nation--even the world. It seems to align with what so many people seem to want most in life: the pursuit of happiness, productive achievement, and reason. In my opinion, these are the tenants on which I base my own personal philosophy. As such, this book resonated strongly with me. To begin, I was instantly drawn to the title. How could selfishness be virtuous? In current society, selfishness is looked down upon. What makes this book so interesting is that Rand defines selfishness is a much more simplistic manner by stating that selfishness is nothing more than a concern for one's own interests. This is her new concept of egoism. Several of the essays expand upon this concept. These essays lead to further essays regarding the destructive nature of altruism and collectivism.
It is during these subsequent essays that I am struck by the reason the Objectivist philosophy has not swept the world. We are taught from a very young age that we need to care for others around us without expecting anything in return. Sharing is more important than selfishness. Meeting the needs of the collective are far, far more important than meeting the needs of the individual. This being Rand's book, all of these arguments (which seem to have their own validity) are completely invalidated. It would seem that there are too many people who want to pursue happiness, yet they do not want to be productive achievers or rely on logical reasoning.
If everyone would pursue their own personal happiness through productive achievement and reason, it seems reasonable that everyone would attain it. Wouldn't you agree? Read this book and tell me what you think.
I picked up this audiobook in hopes of broadening my world view as I'd never read Rand before. I found her theoretical writing to be thoughtful and enlightening when applied to how individuals should conduct their own lives according to their personal values. I was troubled, however, with the sections dealing with public policy (or lack thereof) and public life. Rand seems to have a fundamental misunderstanding of human nature, of the value of culture, and of the sustainability of widespread systems.
I will say that the reader, C. M. Hernert, is excellent.
So much of what is presented here means to tear down the ethical standards accepted by generations upon generations and thrust forth a new ethical framework. What rubbed me the wrong way with these lectures is that the new framework offered has the same type inconsistencies and hypocrisies as the old. It is no more practical.
What is offered is that we should reject the idea that moral supremacy is sacrifice (i.e., altruism) and replace it with an system that values trade - nothing given freely and nothing accepted without cost (i.e., selfishness). Where the author goes wrong in my mind is that, whereas altruism is painted in a stark all-or-nothing way, selfishness is qualified. The new moral framework is to be built around the idea that mankind should be self-motivated but in a way that benefits man. Huh? Isn’t this being altruistic in some way?
Lot’s of good discussion here but I thought that some of her arguments largely begged the question (i.e., This new moral framework is better than the others because it is superior in this way, this way and this way). I didn’t finish – Still it was very thought provoking.