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Publisher's Summary

Ayn Rand here sets forth the moral principles of Objectivism, the philosophy that holds human life - the life proper to a rational being - as the standard of moral values and regards altruism as incompatible with human nature, with the creative requirement of survival, and with a free society.

Ms. Rand's unique philosophy, Objectivism, has gained a worldwide audience. The fundamentals of her philosophy are set forth in this insightful piece of nonfiction.

©1961, 1964 Ayn Rand; 1962, 1963, 1964 by the Objectivist Newsletter Incorporated (P)2000 Blackstone Audiobooks

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  • Dale
  • California
  • 12-06-14

A "Must" read for any budding capitalist!!!

Where does The Virtue of Selfishness rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

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.

Who was your favorite character and why?

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.

Did C.M. Hernert do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

There were no characters, however she is a great narrator.

If you could give The Virtue of Selfishness a new subtitle, what would it be?

$$$$$

Any additional comments?

It should be on every teachers required reading list from 6th grade to a Ph.D.

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  • William
  • Fox Chapel, PA, United States
  • 04-26-14

Don't Blank-Out

What did you love best about The Virtue of Selfishness?

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.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Even better on the second reading

Any additional comments?

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.

4 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good intentions those often misunderstood

An excellent guide to understand the modern American minds. Add a dose of human compassionate and intuitiative moral compass... Enlightement

5 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Greg
  • Lansing, MI, USA
  • 08-19-08

I shrugged

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.

11 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • Brett
  • Charlotte, NC, United States
  • 04-29-14

Is it any better than the alternative?

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.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Give Objectivism a Chance!

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.

6 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Leon
  • San Antonio, TX, United States
  • 10-30-17

One of Our Greaest Philosophers

Ayn Rand is one of our greatest philosophers. Her book The Virtue of Selfishness is the best book I have ever listened to. Her doctrine of Objectivity is pure and allows us to be our best selves.

Leon W.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Essential

Fantastic compilation of essays about one of the most important philosophies to mankind. The viewpoints are well articulated, making them that much easier to understand and implement into daily life.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • DK
  • 10-05-16

A Fantastic World View


➳ In a nutshell: Taking care of others is a sign of moral character. One must take care of oneself (selfish as a positive) in order to care for others. Relying on others to take care of you when you are capable of taking care of yourself is the very definition of irresponsible

➳ That's my simple summary of this fascinating book.

➳ Leave a 'yes' vote, if you found my review helpful.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful