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.
This is a well put together chain of reason and logic. I believe that Socrates would have been won over by Ayn Rand with this one work. Ayn is very patient and very systematic in this presentation. I have spent time studying several popular philosophies, and traditional beliefs. There is so much built-in contradiction in so many philosophies that are explained with impenetrable mysteries that end in unreasonable statements. The clarity of Ayn Rand presents a startling contrast to all those philosophies. She asks only for clear reasoning, not for a leap of faith.
It is a frustrating experience to speak with someone who chooses not to think beyond a point. Art Markman points out in "Smart Thinking" that thinking uses a lot of energy and that the human brain is designed to conserve energy. This may explain the abdication of thinking and reasoning that so many choose when faced with the challenge of thinking all the way through a philosophical presentation.
Please listen to this several times before you decide Ayn Rand, Objectivist philosophy is just wrong. If you are a libertarian, but you have no philosophical underpinning for your beliefs, listen closely to Ayn Rand's challenging essays on Objectivism. If you get tired of thinking, take a break and come back to it, don't give up. Don't decide that your brain is not qualified to reason it out. To allow others to think for you to stop thinking things through and understand clearly what you believe is to throw yourself on the pyre of another's unreasoning sacrifice. It is blanking out. Make yourself valuable to yourself. Work for yourself. You get what you want by providing what others seek or need.
Whether you call it enlightened self interest or selfishness, you are attaining what you seek in a society of peers who reward others who produce what they want. Ayn Rand uses the term selfish to get your attention. To act selfishly, she indicates, it to make your own decisions based on your own resources, perspectives, goals. Helping others is an act of goodwill, not of duty. A charity is only a charity if contribution is voluntary. To give with another's money is taking, not giving.
Is it abusing others to give them a task or job and pay them what at the level they request? As soon as one is rewarded based on need versus based on what they earn, that entire society will parish. Reward for accomplishment is reasonable. One way to look at it is to say that the only thing worth more than gold is trust. I offer my pay (gold) to someone I trust to deliver something I want (plumbing or food, etc.). This is exactly what I offer to those who pay me, trust that I will deliver what I promise. My reputation and demonstrated skills result in the value of what I offer. The value is different to others based on their need or desire.
Ayn Rand lays these simple, reasonable principles end to end in a very logical presentation.
You may ask who will protect me or others from people or organizations who do not deliver what they promise. The role of a government is simple. It is to review the promise as presented (contract) and help enforce this promise for the weaker participant in the contract. Simpler contracts and straight forward trades make it easier for contract participants to understand what to deliver and when. Complex agreements will require help to define the agreement. As it stands now, all the rules, laws, subtleties to commitments makes it impossible for anyone to know where a commitment begins and ends without professional assistance. By complicating the contract with interfering laws and inferences, all parties enter into unknown risks, The one with more influence and professional assistance gains advantages in this system. Reducing government interference benefits the ones with limited means and influence.
Apologia for sociopathy. Brilliant and pitifully misguided.
Want to know why the modern world is such a mess? Read this for a description of how to get there. "The Fountainhead" is another. For the comic book version, save some time and hair-pulling and read "Anthem."
The term "ethics" when referring to Ayn Rand is Orwellian.
Any fool can know something the point is to understand!
This recording was excellently read and presented. I have been reading Rand of late and to her these views presented against the times Rand lived in were insightful and enlightening. Short but well worth a monthly point to listen to.
Don't let the loafers paint you into a corner...
This is SO timely and pertinent to our present society's propensity to blame someone else ~ particularly someone successful ~ for personal failures and disappointments. Rand makes it crystal clear that the framing of the dialogue creates a biased game ... and if one doesn't recognize the rules of the game then one is doomed to lose.Owning our own "mom & pop" businesses, we have experienced the challenges to making them successful. I wish I had read Rand BEFORE we got started, so I could better understand that we were entitled to whatever success we created ... and that those who chose NOT to work at success the way we did were entitled to whatever they created ... but NOT to OURS. And that we shouldn't be ashamed for our success, nor feel responsible for others' lack.Rand describes why it is individual drive that creates buildings out of dreams, industry out of raw materials, and even shapes the improvement of living standards ~ and that the drive of individuals should be honored, not disemboweled.
Selflessness is not a behavior by which morality is quantified. It's just a truth about existance which must be considered for the sake of tranquility. This book is just junk piled onto junk. A total waste.