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Mass Market Paperback The Virtue of Selfishness: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition Book

ISBN: 0451163931

ISBN13: 9780451163936

The Virtue of Selfishness: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition

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Book Overview

A collection of essays that sets forth the moral principles of Objectivism, Ayn Rand's controversial, groundbreaking philosophy. Since their initial publication, Rand's fictional works-- Anthem , The Fountainhead , and Atlas Shrugged-- have had a major impact on the intellectual scene. The underlying theme of her famous novels is her philosophy, a new morality--the ethics of rational self-interest--that offers a robust challenge to altruist-collectivist...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Excellent book

If you understand how words are defined, this book is excellent. If you don't, you'll be lost.

Sense of self.

Paragraphs packed with cogent analysis and potent prescriptions, it's tough to write something that encapsulates it all. Ayn Rand summarizes her views better than I ever could in "The Objectivist Ethics." If you only read one of the essays in "The Virtue of Selfishness," make it that one. The piece expands upon ideas found in "Atlas Shrugged." Whether you accept Rand's strict rationalist philosophy or not, your worldview will never be the same after reading her. At the beginning of "The Objectivist Ethics," I reckoned she was cribbing John Stuart Mill's "Utilitarianism" without giving the great Englishman credit. But, almost on cue, Rand criticizes Mill and other utilitarians, holding herself apart from them -- "The philosophers who attempted to devise an allegedly rational code of ethics gave mankind nothing but a choice of whims...'selfless' service to the whims of others (such as the ethics of Bentham, Mill, Comte, and of all social hedonists...)." Rand further rounds on the rationalists, whose father was Aristotle, saying they were no different from the "irrationalists" (the religious), simply substituting "society" for "G-d." This set the stage for statist tyranny of the majority that is everywhere around us today. A staunch advocate of capitalism because its rationality best accords with man's nature, Rand writes that government and the economy should be separate for the same reasons church and state are separate. Good one! Never heard it put in quite those terms before. Rand adds that capitalism (which she calls the system of the future) has never been tried before, not even in America, always hamstrung by some government interference. This may give us a clue as to why government has so easily discredited the market while elected leaders swear up and down that they believe in "freedom." Altruism is Rand's great foe and mankind's great foe (according to Rand). It's ironic that Rand's theory about the destructiveness of self-sacrifice may be proved by one of the most dramatic incidents in the Bible -- Abraham's near-sacrifice of his son Isaac. Rand rejected religion and other "supernaturalism" yet isn't G-d telling mankind by telling Abraham, in essence, that "even though you (Abraham) thought I wanted you to sacrifice yourself (your loving nature, all your hopes for the future as represented by Isaac) and other people (Isaac himself) that's not what I want or require."? And did Christianity come along and reverse this via the dramatic execution of Jesus amid his supposed ethos of dying for the sins of others? Rand is careful to section off her "selfishness" from mere license. Clearly, personal responsibility is mandated by Rand. Our author holds that life should be lived for its own sake (Rand's Jewishness pops out again in that this concept sounds a lot like "Torah Lishma," learning Torah -- the Hebrew religious canon -- for its own sake, simply to be imbued with its wisdom (this concept was expertly expounded by Rabbi Chaim Volozhiner and

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.

A fantastic collection of essays about the human condition

This book is awesome - but I don't recommend it as the first of Ayn Rand's work for one to read. I suggest starting with "The Fountain Head" and then "Atlas Shrugged". After reading those two, if you want some practical / real life applications and views on the philosophy elucidated in those two novels, pick this book up. It is a great collection of essays and speaches written by Rand and others. A fast read, great for short trips on the subway or bus.

Review of the Book, not the Ideas

I am writing, ostensibly, to provide you with some information regarding the book, in order that you may make a more rational decision as to whether you will purchase it.Rand is often provocative, and mention of her/and or her philosophy can create instant dichotomies. I will not, in this review, critique the ideational content of her work. I offer this review with some "objective", pardon the pun, criticism.1. This work offers a concise, fairly complete philosophy (which you may or may not agree with), from the essential and foundational steps, to their eventual results in daily life. This complete-package approach is an interesting window into her philosophy. Several issues could have been explored in more detail surely, but this collection of essays acts primarily to spark thinking on behalf of the reader.2. Her philosophy is a shocking alternative to the present implicity accepted norms in society. Her counter-arguments to both traditional and contemporary systems of ethics are interesting and worth consideration, even if you eventually endeavour to refute them.3. This work presents profound ideas in rather straightforward text. Topics include: ethics metaphysics politics values comments on contemporary trends in philosophy comments on ethical relativism4. This work provides some insight into the breadth and depth which simple assumptions may have on daily life. Rands ideas, and those she illustrates for purposes of refutation, are extrapolated from basic intellectual concepts to day-to-day effects on human life. This concept-to-consequence style of writing offers a holistic perspective that can easily be applied to the work of other philosophers. For this reason I suggest this book to students of philosophy to gain a perspective of the impact of philosophical ideas.5. Finally, this is perhaps the most succinct and most accessible of Rand's works, and a reading of it should allow sufficient insight into the body of her thought to understand her stance on several issues. If you are looking for a 'summary of Rand', this is the book I would suggest.
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