I read Atlas Shrugged probably about a decade ago, and felt turned off by its promotion of selfishness as a moral ideal. I thought that was basically just being a jerk. Then I talked to a friend who told me Atlas Shrugged had changed his life.
Ayn Rand Man is not the best of things in the universe. Rackham, Loeb Classical Library, p. Admitting all the value accorded to the true, the truthful, the selfless, it is nonetheless possible that a higher value should be ascribed to appearance, to the will to deception, to self-interestto greed -- a higher and more fundamental value with respect to all life.
Ayn Rand born Alice Rosenbaum is a fascinating person and an inspiring advocate of freedom but a very mixed blessing philosophically. Her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are still best selling introductions to the ideas of personal freedom and of the free market.
As literature they may have drawbacks, but they are compelling "reads," which is certainly what Rand would have wanted. Rand's passionate and moralistic tone, while off-putting to many, is nevertheless probably a real part of her appeal and is no less than an equal and opposite reaction to the self-righteousness that is still characteristic of leftist rhetoric.
Few writers convey an irresistible ferocity of convictions as Rand does. To many, including the present writer, raised and indoctrinated with the standard disparagements of capitalism, a novel like Atlas Shrugged can produce something very much like a Conversion Experience.
At the same time, the harsh certainty of an autodidact and self-made person, and the high handed authoritarian manner of Rand's personality, worked against her case, her cause, and her life.
Although David Kelley, Leonard Peikoffand others now try to develop her thought into a complete philosophical system, nothing can hide the relative shallowness of her knowledge: She despised Immanuel Kant but then actually invokes "treating persons as ends rather than as means only" to explain the nature of morality.
Perhaps she had picked that up without realizing it was from Kant [ note ]. At the same time, the Nietzschean inspiration that evidently is behind her "virtue of selfishness" approach to ethics seems to have embarrassed her later: She very properly realized that, since the free market is built upon voluntary exchanges, capitalism requires firm moral limits, ruling out violence, coercion, fraud, etc.
That was certainly not a concern of Nietzschebut it was very much a concern of Adam Smithwho realized that, in a context of mutually voluntary exchange, people will always go for the best deal, producing the "invisible hand" effect of mutual and public goods being produced by private preferences.
This confuses people enough in regard to Smith; and that makes it all the easier to mistakenly see Rand as advocating a view of capitalists as righteous predators -- especially unfortunate when the popular vision of laissez-faire capitalism is already of merciless and oppressive robber barons.
A careful reading of Rand dispels that idea, but her rhetoric works against a good understanding. Rand also confuses her case with her emphasis on individuals being deliberately "rational. That makes it sound like the free market works just because such supermen exist to control it.
Rand herself was actually aware that was not true: At her best moments she asserts only that capitalism is superior because it automatically, through the "invisible hand," rewards the more rational behavior, not because some superrational persons must exist to hand out those rewards.
That would have been F. Rand certainly tried to exercise a superrationalistic control in her own life, with disastrous results: Her psychological understanding of people, and even of herself, was clearly and gravely limited. Thus she engineered the marriage between Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, even though according to Barbara, in The Passion of Ayn Rand they weren't all that attracted to each other -- their unease was "irrational" to Rand.
Then she decided that she and Nathaniel should have some sort of "rational" love affair, like characters in her novels. That Nathaniel was not comfortable with that, especially since they were both already married, does not seem to have mattered. When he finally refused to continue their relationship, Rand furiously expelled him from her "movement" and then scuttled the "movement" itself.
That was, curiously, all for the better, since under her control the Objectivist movement was taking on more and more of the authoritarian or totalitarian overtones of the very ideologies it was supposedly opposing.An Argument Against The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand Words Feb 25th, 3 Pages Perhaps the strongest argument Rand gives for this claim relies on the argument that it is up to every individual to decide what values his or her life needs.
Ayn Rand's argument on 'selfishness' is this: unless you factor in morals and values a.k.a rational self-interest, you are unable to give a precise definition of the word 'selfishness' because what the public thinks weighs heavily on this particular definition.4/4(1).
Ayn Rand's Book: The Virtue of Selfishness Rand ’s argument for the definition of ‘selfishness’ is that it does not include a moral evaluation; it does not tell us whether concern with one’s/5(1).
The Virtue of Selfishness, 49 Share Love, friendship, respect, admiration are the emotional response of one man to the virtues of another, the spiritual payment given in exchange for the personal, selfish pleasure which one man derives from the virtues of another man’s character.
Dec 03, · The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism is a collection of essays by Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden. Most of the essays originally appeared in The Objectivist Newsletter.
The book covers ethical issues from the perspective of Rand's Objectivist philosophy. The morality of transformational leadership has been sharply questioned, particularly by libertarians, “grass roots” theorists, and organizational development consultants.