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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars so misunderstood. . .
Ayn Rand has got to be one of the most misunderstood philosophers of the 20th Century.

For those that think this book advocates a selfishness at the expense of everyone and everything, you are mistaken. The selfishness advocated by Ayn Rand is not easy and is not about doing what you want, when you want based on your desires or whims. It requires a rational...
Published on 23 Nov 2010 by Ryopinion

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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mix of legitimate points and very flawed rethorics.
This, like many of Ayn Rand's works, seems to be one of those "love it or hate it" books that has a very loyal following as well as many opponents. I don't think it's that easy because this is a very mixed collection of essays.

Much of the ideas presented in the first few essays are good and should be truly thought provoking for most readers. I have come to...
Published on 27 July 2006 by NoWireHangers


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars so misunderstood. . ., 23 Nov 2010
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This review is from: The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)
Ayn Rand has got to be one of the most misunderstood philosophers of the 20th Century.

For those that think this book advocates a selfishness at the expense of everyone and everything, you are mistaken. The selfishness advocated by Ayn Rand is not easy and is not about doing what you want, when you want based on your desires or whims. It requires a rational approach based on goals and values and that "human good does not require human sacrifices and cannot be achieved by the sacrifice of anyone to anyone". In today's society, it would be rare to find someone you could define in this way.

The book is a collection of essays that covers a broad range of topics from ethics, through to human rights, the role of government and Racism.

It isn't light reading but it is inspiring and thought provoking. It provides a window into what mankind can be.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A clear explanation of the ethics of objectivism, 6 Dec 1999
This review is from: The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)
This book focuses on the ethics of the philosophy of objectivism. Rather than being a book with chapters, it is a selection of articles which cover various questions, such as what selfishness is, the ethics of charity and voluntary help, the false dichotomy of altruism and selfishness, and what the theory of Objectivism actually is.
This is a good place to start to learn about the philosophy of objectivism as it concentrates on the philosophy itself rather than applying it to real-world examples. For those who wish to know more about objectivism applied, the books "Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal", "The Anti-Industrial Revolution", and "Why Businessmen Need Philosophy" would be more relevant.
Whether one disagrees with the philosophy or not, the articles in this book are clearly written, simple to understand, and passionately argued. Some parts are flippant, particularly with reference to the dismissal of the ideas of other philosophers, and Rand does not truly manage to justify why objectivism is actually objective [see Nozick's book Socratic Puzzles). Nevertheless, this book is worth reading if you are interested in this area of politics and philosophy.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A profound and original theory of egoism, 7 Oct 2009
By 
G. Imroth (Hertfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)
To add to other positive reviews that greatly admire this lively set of philosophical essays, I think it is useful to explain in just what way Ayn Rand's theory of egoism is original:

It may be said that Ayn Rand's theory of egoism simply repeats ideas found in Nicolo Machiavelli, Benedict Spinoza, La Rochefoucauld and Friedrich Nietzsche. My view is that it is a novel theory for two reasons: Ayn Rand clearly distinguished between self-interest and wilfulness (which she called 'whim-worship'); and she uniquely identified selfishness as an essential precondition for rationality.

The distinction between self-interest and wilfulness allows a cognate distinction to be made between selfishness and spite or, in general, between egoism and egotism, where an egoist is essentially independent (neither relying on other men nor harming them) and an egotist is essentially other-dependent. Thus spitefulness and whim-worship are both fundamentally selfless, not selfish. Critics of Ayn Rand fail to understand this consequence of her theory, assuming it is the same thing to refuse to sacrifice one's interests for the sake of others as to sacrifice the interests of others to oneself.

The reason selfishness is an essential precondition for rationality is that intellectual integrity requires independence of mind, which relies on the egoistic virtue of courage and the egoistic psychological attribute of self-esteem or confidence in one's own intellectual worth.

It follows from this that the term 'rational' in the phrase 'rational self-interest' is almost redundant: 'irrational self-interest' is either self-indulgent hedonism or else gaining benefits by damaging others. It is in this spirit that we should understand the otherwise unrealistic belief that 'there are no conflicts of interests between rational men'. Clearly, the desires and potential benefits of men conflict; but what is probably defensible is that an egoist does not achieve his interests at the expense of another man; that only ambitions that can be fulfilled without abusing other men count as rational.

Among the many topics discussed in 'The Virtue of Selfishness' is an unsurpassed analysis of the evil of racism. Ayn Rand fans will enjoy this book and even her opponents will benefit from reading it.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mix of legitimate points and very flawed rethorics., 27 July 2006
This review is from: The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)
This, like many of Ayn Rand's works, seems to be one of those "love it or hate it" books that has a very loyal following as well as many opponents. I don't think it's that easy because this is a very mixed collection of essays.

Much of the ideas presented in the first few essays are good and should be truly thought provoking for most readers. I have come to regard selfishness (though I prefer the term "egosim") in a new light, which has been good for me.

But here are also many flaws. Most of these are due to the utopian ideas in the essays. There seems to be no place for sick and unable people in Rand's perfect society. Based on my own self interest, I want a society that takes care of their sick and poor, because I would like to be helped if I got in that situation.

Rand's worldview is an oversimplified version of reality. She seems to believe in the libertairian myth that all men have equal chances in life to pursue their ambitions. She writes that one can only achieve one's goals through one's own effort. Never mind that some people (such as the heroes Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden in her novel "Atlas Shrugged") are born wealthy while some people have to work full time just to feed themselves, not leaving much spare time to pursue their true ambitions.

Rand is so rabidly opposed to all forms of altruism she goes to the extremes to demonize it. This is another proof of her oversimplified worldview which leads me to the next point, how proudly she declares that she's an extremist. This is the essay titled "The Cult of Moral Grayness", in which she explains that it is evil to combine ideas from different philosophies and that the world must only be viewed in black and white, in terms of absolute good and absolute evil, with no shades of gray. My only interpretation of this is that Rand - Objectivism being the only rational philosophy - is always right about everything and if you disagree with her on any issue you are morally corrupt and evil. Thus, you must accept all of her teachings without questioning. In reality this means you are not allowed to think for yourself and evaluate them critically. This blind obedience is not compatible with rationalism and individualism. On the contrary, this demands you to stop think for yourself, out of fear that you may reach some "incorrect" conclusion that only a corrupt and evil person could do, which is exactly the sort of rethorics she opposes in the essay titled "The Argument from Intimidation".

It is quite sad that some of the essays express a very old fashioned and uninformed attitude towards homosexuality.

Although I found much of the rethorics flawed, I am glad I read the book, first of all because I did find good ideas in the first three essays, and secondly for the simple reason that it gave me a good insight of Rand's way of thinking, and it's always valuable to get exposed to different ideas in order to keep an open mind. Only after you've read something can you decide whether you agree with it or not. For these reasons I recommend this book. If you read it with a critical mind, it has some good ideas to offer, but don't automatically swallow the whole package just becase you agree with some of it. Be rational.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Collection of essays-unique, accessible intro to philosophy, 13 Feb 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)
Ayn Rand--love her or hate her, this philosopher made history, challenging accepted assumptions and cheerfully slaughtering sacred cows with crystal-clear reason. Most famous for Atlas Shrugged and other formidable novels, she also expressed her views in brief, pithy essays. This slim volume of her essays from the 1960s is a painless introduction to the startling ideas of this unique figure, whose novelistic skills were arguably different from her philosophical ones. The world will never look the same aftera view through Rand's prism.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!, 27 July 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)
I enjoyed this book like no other in my extensive Ayn Rand collection. The clear, rational thought that echoed throughout this book gave a new meaning to my understandings of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. The collection of essays seemed to say just what I've been repeating to myself for years now. It is great to see Rand's magnificant philosophy so clearly and non-metaphorically described so as to see Objectivism with a new, practical light. This is a must read for everyone!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brasil, 19 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)
I Swear by life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor will I ask another man to live for my sake. - Atlas Shrugged -. If you don't agree with this, read it and you will. the book is about this quote, how to live for yourself, what are the terms on ethics, racism etc... If you agree with this, also read it, I have, it will show little things which become significant. What this book says is to live for yourself and value yourself more than anything else.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Exposition on Government as well as Philosophy, 4 Sep 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)
Rand's explanation of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights is very impressive. She has a grasp of the exact principles that the Founding Fathers intended. I would recommend this book not only to the beginning philosopher, but also to students of government, politics, and ethics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American, 25 Oct 2013
By 
JHvW "JHvW" (Pays Bas, Europe) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)
If you want to understand why objectivism is so popular in the United States, this is a good book to start. It is also a good starting point for exploring the works of Ayn Rand.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bible of Objectivist, 25 Sep 2009
By 
lordcris (Milano, Italy) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is maybe Ayn Rand's best work regarding Objectivism.
She expresses her concepts briefly and clearly. Anyone interested in how logic could be applied to our way of living should read this.
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The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet)
The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) by Ayn Rand (Mass Market Paperback - 30 July 1992)
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