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"These three values* imply and require all of man’s virtues, and all his virtues pertain to the relation of existence and consciousness: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride." (Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged, reproduced in For The New Intellectual) *reason, purpose, and self-esteem

The Virtue of Selfishness was published after Atlas Shrugged, but selfishness is not among the above seven virtues above. How do you explain that?

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"These three values* imply and require all of man’s virtues, and all his virtues pertain to the relation of existence and consciousness: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride." (Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged, reproduced in For The New Intellectual) *reason, purpose, and self-esteem

The Virtue of Selfishness was published after Atlas Shrugged, but selfishness is not among the above seven virtues above. How do you explain that?

All true virtues are selfish. Nothing listed has anything to do with sacrifice and altruism. Generosity, btw, is the luxury you can afford by practicing these virtues. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that by several years after writing Galt's Speech Rand could have added to Galt's list--"purpose," for instance. "Reason" and "rationality" do not 100% overlap. Reason is the broader, more inclusive concept. You can reason illogically while you cannot be rational and illogical at one and the same time. Flights of fancy, for instance, are not permitted, but can be food for reasoning as in preliminary for rational verification, or set up. If you're an artist you don't neceddarily have to go that far; your flight of fancy can be a contemplative value. There is a great deal that can be described as irrational in novels, and novels need that anyway or why write them? Making sense of a painting is making sense of what's in your head, if you want to. Reason is only in the painting--the artist's. Trying to actually get inside his head is somewhat futile. Be more concerned about what's in own head. That you can work with.

--Brant

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"These three values* imply and require all of man’s virtues, and all his virtues pertain to the relation of existence and consciousness: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride." (Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged, reproduced in For The New Intellectual) *reason, purpose, and self-esteem

The Virtue of Selfishness was published after Atlas Shrugged, but selfishness is not among the above seven virtues above. How do you explain that?

Generosity, btw, is the luxury you can afford by practicing these virtues.

--Brant

Excellent. That's an important point, I think. From strength and self-regard, alone, may come - well - what's called our "finer feelings", within the individual...or in a society of individuals. Strength into gentleness is human, do-able and perfectly sustainable, whereas the obverse...?

As well as all else, one could look at rational egoism as the selfish protection and nurturing of those very same finer feelings - though it is a "btw", and not the purpose of developing selfish virtues.

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For a quote like in the opening post, wouldn't it be a good idea--for readers who are not familiar with this issue--to name the three values? Hmmmmm? :smile:

So for the record, here they are:

Reason, purpose, self-esteem.

Here is the full quote from the AR Lexicon:

My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists—and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these. To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason—Purpose—Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge—Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve—Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living. These three values imply and require all of man’s virtues, and all his virtues pertain to the relation of existence and consciousness: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride.

Here's a thought. Instead of thinking about words (although this was a helluva clever gotcha--I do admire this one :smile: ), why not think in terms of concepts?

I presume we are talking about human beings. Selfishness is inherent to independence--human independence as frame for action (to gain and/or keep the supreme values). How can one be independent and not selfish, i.e., dependent? How does one gain and/or keep reason, purpose and self-esteem (after choosing to live) if not by independence, meaning by dependence on others and thinking that only apes the words of others?

Self-sacrifice (the opposite of selfishness in Rand's meaning), that's how. Except the intention--conscious or subconscious--may be reason, purpose and self-esteem by going that route, but the result is anti-reason, destroying the individual as purpose and either chronic insecurity or serenity from willful blindness to reality.

So in this context, independence is practically a synonym for selfishness. That's how I understand Rand's meaning of independence.

Other people may think Rand was talking about something else.

Michael

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For a quote like in the opening post, wouldn't it be a good idea--for readers who are not familiar with this issue--to name the three values? Hmmmmm? :smile:

Here's a thought. Instead of thinking about words (although this was a helluva clever gotcha--I do admire this one :smile: ), why not think in terms of concepts?

They were there. :huh: Hmmmm.

Please tell us how you know I was simply thinking about words.

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For a quote like in the opening post, wouldn't it be a good idea--for readers who are not familiar with this issue--to name the three values? Hmmmmm? :smile:

Here's a thought. Instead of thinking about words (although this was a helluva clever gotcha--I do admire this one :smile: ), why not think in terms of concepts?

They were there. :huh: Hmmmm.

Please tell us how you know I was simply thinking about words.

You're a lexicographer. No?

--Brant

you and Michael

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Some plausible answers follow. Others are possible. The numbers are not a ranking.

1. Selfishness is the eighth virtue.
2. Selfishness is implied by the seven.
3. Selfishness results from practicing the seven.
4. The title VoS was chosen for its shock value (similar to Jules' post #3).
5. The title VoS was chosen for marketing.

************************

I looked at Journals of Ayn Rand for what else she wrote about virtues, which varies with time.

September 18, 1943: Per the editor she presents independence as a primary virtue, but later identifies independence as derivative, an aspect of the primary virtue of rationality.
September 29, 1943: She names integrity as the first, greatest, and noblest virtue. She also writes about the virtues of courage, honesty, sense of honor (a selfish virtue by definition), self-confidence, strength (of character, will, and wisdom). All these virtues are contained in, enhanced by, based upon the fundamental virtue of self-respect.
July 19, 1945: Her chief virtues: self-reverence, self-sufficiency, worship of the ideal.
July 29, 1953: The virtues of the Life Morality - thinking (rationality), independence, honesty, purposefulness, happiness, self-esteem.

Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged: Adds integrity and justice to the July 29, 1953 list. Happiness is dropped. Pride replaces self-esteem. Poductivity replaces purposefulness.

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Some plausible answers follow. Others are possible. The numbers are not a ranking.

1. Selfishness is the eighth virtue.

2. Selfishness is implied by the seven.

3. Selfishness results from practicing the seven.

4. The title VoS was chosen for its shock value (similar to Jules' post #3).

5. The title VoS was chosen for marketing.

************************

I looked at Journals of Ayn Rand for what else she wrote about virtues, which varies with time.

September 18, 1943: Per the editor she presents independence as a primary virtue, but later identifies independence as derivative, an aspect of the primary virtue of rationality.

September 29, 1943: She names integrity as the first, greatest, and noblest virtue. She also writes about the virtues of courage, honesty, sense of honor (a selfish virtue by definition), self-confidence, strength (of character, will, and wisdom). All these virtues are contained in, enhanced by, based upon the fundamental virtue of self-respect.

July 19, 1945: Her chief virtues: self-reverence, self-sufficiency, worship of the ideal.

July 29, 1953: The virtues of the Life Morality - thinking (rationality), independence, honesty, purposefulness, happiness, self-esteem.

Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged: Adds integrity and justice to the July 29, 1953 list. Happiness is dropped. Pride replaces self-esteem. Poductivity replaces purposefulness.

Not all forms of selfishness are virtue. Suppose there is a bunch of unfortunate folk in a life-boat awaiting rescue. One of the passengers is a selfish jerk he drinks up the total water supply. He has not only doomed the other passengers, he has most likely doomed himself. That kind of selfishness cannot be a virtue.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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He's dead too? He can be judged selfess by the consequence of not ending up with any self at all. His "selfish" motivation is only derangement or stupidity or cowardice. You see, if you're a selfish jerk you're actually selfless for being a jerk in the first place. Selfless/selfish is not subjective; it's objective. Otherwise Hitler was selfish. He was selfish only in his own mind but couldn't stand to consider his life as selfish--he did it for Germans and Germany, you see. That's what Saddam Hussein said just before they hanged him: he did what he did, as dictator, for Iraq.

--Brant

try again

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He's dead too? He can be judged selfess by the consequence of not ending up with any self at all. His "selfish" motivation is only derangement or stupidity or cowardice. You see, if you're a selfish jerk you're actually selfless for being a jerk in the first place. Selfless/selfish is not subjective; it's objective. Otherwise Hitler was selfish. He was selfish only in his own mind but couldn't stand to consider his life as selfish--he did it for Germans and Germany, you see. That's what Saddam Hussein said just before they hanged him: he did what he did as dictator for Iraq.

--Brant

try again

As I said there are many forms of selfishness. Some of them are quite stupid and short sighted. Not all forms of selfishness are virtues.b

You regard the forms of selfish of which you approve as virtues. That is rather a biased and skewed definition of both selfishness and virtue.

Selfish means one seeks his own good without any regard (good or bad) for the good of others. Or put another way, a selfish person will not relinquish his own interests for the sake of another person. There are indeed people like that. Are they virtuous?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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That's not what selfish means qua Objectivism. That's just common usage. Just because you don't care to run Ayn Rand into this discussion--which is bad manners considering where you are--doesn't mean she doesn't belong here.

--Brant

"without any regard (good or bad) for the good [sic] of others"?--take it out with a stick!

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In the introduction to "The Virtue of Selfishness" Rand states, "The choice of the beneficiary of moral values is merely a preliminary or introductory issue in the field of morality." She explains that choice as following from "[one's] nature as man and the function of moral values in human life." (Page x)

In the remainder of the book, she names and describes the specific virtues that lead to actions benefiting one's Self. Maybe she viewed "Selfishness" as the genus of all the specific virtues described in the book, and captured that idea in the title.

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That's not what selfish means qua Objectivism. That's just common usage. Just because you don't care to run Ayn Rand into this discussion--which is bad manners considering where you are--doesn't mean she doesn't belong here.

--Brant

"without any regard (good bad) for the good [sic] of others"?--take it out with a stick!

You mean Ayn Rand can just redefine a word that is in common use by billions of people and not tell the word what she means by $selfhish. (I put a $ front of every word hijacked by objectivist advocates). If by selfish she meant what most people mean by rational selfishness then the rational aspect makes is a candidate for being a virtue. When I talk with people I try to conform to common usage. If I mean something else I will say plainly how the use i make differs from common usage. It is only good manners to do so.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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That's not what selfish means qua Objectivism. That's just common usage. Just because you don't care to run Ayn Rand into this discussion--which is bad manners considering where you are--doesn't mean she doesn't belong here.

--Brant

"without any regard (good bad) for the good [sic] of others"?--take it out with a stick!

You mean Ayn Rand can just redefine a word that is in common use by billions of people and not tell the word what she means by $selfhish. (I put a $ front of every word hijacked by objectivist advocates). If by selfish she meant what most people mean by rational selfishness then the rational aspect makes is a candidate for being a virtue. When I talk with people I try to conform to common usage. If I mean something else I will say plainly how the use i make differs from common usage. It is only good manners to do so.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Sure. She. Could. And she did tell, but not very well. What she really meant by selfishness was rational self interest.

--Brant

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Sure. She. Could. And she did tell, but not very well. What she really meant by selfishness was rational self interest.

--Brant

Perhaps she did not say what she meant to say. Or perhaps she did. Perhaps she thought her mind so great that she could "correct" common usage by her own decree. Rand was not your usual person. Perhaps she felt she was above and far beyond "the masses" and had a degree of contempt for them. If that is the case she was definitely guilty of bad manners.
Ba'al Chatzaf
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Her primary use of "selfishness" was throw-it-in-the-culture's-face polemical, hence the title of that book. I agree with the use of that title, but she dropped the ball inside with her "dictionary" definition: "Concern with one's own interests."

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede
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There's a minor point, "self-ish" is the adjective of "self" - i.e. anything relating to the self - and so in itself totally value-neutral.

An idiosynchratic ("common") use forced a biased connotation one way--as a long-standing assault by altruist-collectivists on the individual.

When it's "deuces wild" with a definition, why could not Rand -or anybody - bias it in the other direction into a prideful virtue? Common use be damned.

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You mean Ayn Rand can just redefine a word that is in common use by billions of people and not tell the word what she means by $selfhish.

She did tell "the wor[l]d" what she meant in the Introduction to The Virtue of Selfishness. Did you ever read that?

--

Merlin,

Thanks for your time line in post #11 of Rand's successive changes in her list of virtues.

Ellen

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Maybe she viewed "Selfishness" as the genus of all the specific virtues described in the book, and captured that idea in the title.

I am puzzled. Did you mean "genus" as in genus-species? Or something like (a) all of the seven virtues are based on selfishness or (b) selfishness is an aspect of each of the seven?

Incidentally, Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics describes rationality as "the master virtue." I don't believe Rand did so, but guess she would have agreed.

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I'm away from home and away from Rand books, but I think that selfishness as a virtue could be found in all of Rand's conceptions of her cardinal virtues and in all of her seven specific virtues. She maintained in AS that rational acts of mind are selfish acts. I think MKS is correct, however, in underscoring her virtue of independence as being especially tight with selfishness in her definitions of independence (in AS and in OE). To that one, I would suggest looking into her conceptions (the two definitions) of her virtue of pride as being especially tight with her conception and virtue of selfishness.

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