28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A clear explanation of the ethics of objectivism
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...
Published on 6 Dec 1999 by J S
28 of 33 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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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Destructive "philosophy",
By A Customer
This review is from: The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)I believe Ayn Rand's writings are very destructive. And this isn't because of her highly un-original philosophy. No, the reason for this is the powerful grip the books has on her followers. In her books they find justification for behaving in a anti-social manner that is slowly destroying the fabric of the societies of the Western World. This egoism is supposedly derived from "reason". In the real world however there is no reason for people not to find fulfillment and meaning from helping others and caring for their family and friends. The accusation that "altruism", i.e. decency and goodness, leads to tyranny is nothing but products of a very paranoid mind. The craziest thing about this though is the fact that Ayn Rand has been raised to a saint-like status by her followers. No disagreement with her writings is ever accepted and if you disagree you are an evil communist/collectivist. To be a true individualist you must agree with everything she has ever written. Isn't this collectivism in a true sense? No, says her followers, those views are derived by reason and must therefore be share by all intelligent human beings. Pretty scary!! Note that Objectivism, like Marxism, Freudianism and Jungianism, is a closed system of thought in the sense that any critisism of the system is automatically seen as a symptom of unreason. This is what makes Objectivism a religion rather than a philosophy or scientific method. And this is also the reason for the fanatical behavior of her disciples.
24 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars ONE interesting idea, drowned in COUNTLESS clutter,
This review is from: The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)There is no arguing with those who already like Ayn Rand and enjoy her linguistic dramatics.
But that is precisely what makes everyone else not take her seriously--she is more DRAMATIC than BRILLIANT or INCISIVE.
The very idea of not carrying altruism to the extreme, by not meaninglessly sacrificing oneself because of expectations imposed upon us, indeed stands up to scrutiny.
But this particular book is more than anything else about taking an idea, or even a word definition, to an extreme which not too many sensible people do anyway, and verbosely ranting against it in --yet again-- dramatic ways. A few valid ideas are no licence to engage, too, in tirades that open us to suspicions of paranoia or hidden "issues".
Ayn Rand needs to acquire greater faith in the persuasive powers of SUBSTANCE, and less on FLOWERY or RADICAL WORDS.
A perfect book for fans of hers. For the rest of us, it's a struggle to get through the first ten pages.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars weak,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)Selfish ethics, does it really hold up to criticism? If someone wants to act out of pure self intrest a lot of problems arise.
Why should someone help someone who is sick, or extend his life (presuming doing that will give you no self-advantages)
Would it be moral to kill a individual you have a distaste for, and take his money , if there is no possible punishment or personal loss, according to selfish ethics it would be.
Under ethical egoism , morality is not done out of duty, or respect for others life, but out of personal gain, as a person is a material object only guided for self advantage, and without use if not benefited to you (at least in applied selfish egoism)
Rand also makes the (incorrect) assumption that 'the goal of any organism is self preservation' which is empirically false, A look at mammals, birds, social insects shows altruism in many places, wolves giving up their own food for brothers or pack leaders, chimpanzees sacrificing their life or putting it in danger for a close relative, bees or ants that will sacrifice their life for the preservation of the group etc.
Humans are pack animals, and display much altruism, a good book on this would be 'on human nature' by Edward O. Wilson.
Another major objection to the book is found in Rand's straw man of socialism, turning anything 'leftist' into communism.
From this Rand equates socialism, with bureaucracy, crushing of individuals, and collectivism, something which very few socialists hold, In fact most socialists opposed Communism in its Russian form.
Rand also makes the use of many logical fallacies, such as causation not equaling correlation, Rand tries to make out that somehow Britain was prospering, but then its pro-labor government ruined it causing mass migration to the US and Canada.
She fails to mention the millions of dollars and lives lost in world war 2 or any such thing.
Instead of Rands gross generalizations and faulty ethical systems, someone should try a more original, and logical philosophy, although this book may be worth a small read
16 of 37 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Consume, consume, my little herd!,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)Make a space next to phrenology in the intellectual dust-bin for this tripe.
12 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dogmatic teachings of a bitter woman,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)A militant and dogmatic atheist, Rand preached a version of unmitigated individualism and what she called the "Virtue of Selfishness," an ethic that glorifies egoism and the material gratifications of Economic Man. At her funeral in 1982 an immense dollar sign stood beside her casket, and the characters in her books are always sketching the symbol in the air like early Christians sketching the sign of the cross.
For all her hatred of religion, Rand managed to turn herself and her ideas into her own private church, and her intolerance of dissent rivaled that of the Ayatollah Khomeini. One story, about Murray Rothbard, shows how far she carried it and how seriously she took herself.
Murray, one of the world's leading free market economists and libertarian thinkers, was a lifelong agnostic, but his wife, Joey, was and is a Christian. When they were younger, they had some truck with Rand and her circle of worshippers, but then the Great One found out about Joey's faith.
Rand gave Joey six months to soak herself in Rand's own screeds against religion. If, at the end of that period, Joey abandoned her beliefs, she and Murray could sign up with the Source of All Truth Herself. If not, Murray would have to divorce Joey, or else they would be exiled to the outer dark. Murray, quite properly, told Rand to go take a flying jump up in the lake (or words to that effect). He kept his wife, and his wife kept her faith, and somehow they managed to live happily without the benefit of Ayn Rand's wisdom.
Murray was not the only thinker who penetrated Rand's buncombe and saw that she was in fact a dangerous enemy of the very liberty she championed. Whittaker Chambers wrote a withering review of her novel Atlas Shrugged in National Review. Calling it a "ferro-concrete fairy tale," Chambers noticed that despite "the impromptu and surprisingly gymnastic matings of the heroine and three of the heroes," no children ever seem to result. "The strenuously sterile world of Atlas Shrugged," he wrote, "is scarcely a place for children."
Actually it could be argued that there are nothing but children in her novels. Howard Roark, one of Rand's heroes says in The Fountainhead: "This country," he intones, "was not based on selfless service, sacrifice, renunciation or any precept of altruism. It was based on man's right to the pursuit of happiness. His own happiness. Not anyone else's." Really?
It is typical of Rand and her self-obsessed followers that they conveniently ignore every sacrifice on which this and every other human society is based -- men who die in wars, women who die in childbirth, parents who do without so their children may prosper, leaders who surrender privacy and wealth for service, and whole communities that stand together against a common enemy. Men who died at Valley Forge and the Alamo, with a courtesy unknown to the Virtue of Selfishness, would have politely asked Ayn Rand to take her false and solemn platitudes somewhere else.
The "Virtue of Selfishness" offers you phony but plausible reasons to avoid doing things you know you ought to do but don't want to do. You can cheat on your wife or husband, desert your family, abandon your religion, neglect your work, and betray your country, and Miss Rand could give you 50 different reasons why it's all right.
12 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Better yet, read INSTEAD of Atlas Shrugged,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)- and stop when you reach the point in the introduction at which Rand says she's using the term 'selfishness' to intimidate people. That statement pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the book, indicates the quality of 'philosophy' you can expect, and tells you exactly what you'll find in Atlas Shrugged - so you can skip it too.
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The Virtue of Selfishness (Signet) by Ayn Rand (Mass Market Paperback - 30 July 1992)