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"Rationality is man's basic virtue, the source of all his other virtues." (VoS, p. 25 in Signet pb, written by Rand, my bold)

"[R]ationality is the precondition of independence and self-reliance." (VoS, p. 136 in Signet pb, written by N. Branden, my bold)

In both cases, rationality "outshines" selfishness.

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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.

What if strange person dedicates his reason to doing good for others, even at his own expense. Are you saying his reason is not rational?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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In both cases, rationality "outshines" selfishness.

Inter-dependent, not hierarchical, I'd say. You can't have one without the other.

Independence is both metaphysical ("man's autonomy") and epistemological.

(To your #11, I think it is 2 and 3 - selfishness implies the other virtues and is also their effect).

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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.

What if strange person dedicates his reason to doing good for others, even at his own expense. Are you saying his reason is not rational?

Ba'al Chatzaf

You'd first have to know what you mean by "expense." Everything you do has an expense, if only the expense of time. That's only the beginning of the discussion if your focus is on expense. If you have a goal and the best way to reach it is not the one you chose, then it might be posited you made the irrational choice---that there was a failure of your rationality. All valuing is subjective and rationality rationally serves the attainment of your values if those values are rational. Values have both subjective and objective components. And some are likely also to be one or the other, but all subjectively valued. Objective values belong to man qua man and subjective values belong to a man. Since "man" is an idea only, that "man" cannot be a valuer. He cannot be an objective being for he isn't a being at all. Only an objective being can experience--do--subjective valuing. That's all the kind of valuing there is.

Etc.

--Brant

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Values are "subjective"?!!

No. Then rationality is subjective, and so are the other virtues by which values are gained and kept..

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"Rationality is man's basic virtue, the source of all his other virtues." (VoS, p. 25 in Signet pb, written by Rand, my bold)

"[R]ationality is the precondition of independence and self-reliance." (VoS, p. 136 in Signet pb, written by N. Branden, my bold)

In both cases, rationality "outshines" selfishness.

Having been a teacher of Rhetoric, I have always followed the connections between Aristotle and Ayn.

This article touches on the subject.

The contrast between these quotes of Aristotle and Rand seem to draw a distinction between Aristotle’s virtue ethics and Rand’s rational egoism. Much recent discussion in ethics has amassed around the edges of egoism, as renewed attention to virtue ethics, eudaimonia, and perfectionism naturally raises questions about the role of self-interest in a good life, notes Tara Smith in the introduction to Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics (Cambridge, 2006).

She quotes Rosalind Hursthouse from her book, On Virtue Ethics (Oxford 1999), “much virtue ethics portrays morality as a form of enlightened self-interest.” Although the Aristotelian conception of ethics that is currently enjoying a revival does not fit stereotypes of egoism, admits Smith, she claims that it certainly does not advocate altruism. Smith has written an elegant and thorough text of Rand’s ethics in which she gives it a more robust and developed philosophical footing than Rand did herself. In fact, between Smith, Leonard Peikoff, and Fred Seddon, Rand’s ethics have become far more palatable and far less polemical. It is Smith who has borrowed heavily from Aristotle in fleshing out the ethics attributed to Rand.

She asks a number of provocative questions, which I too would like to address: “ Is eudemonia a selfish end? What does selfishness actually mean? What sorts of actions does it demand? What are the implications of pursuing eudaimonia for a person’s relationships with others?” Aristotle has answered these questions in his ethical writing, particularly in the Nichomachean Ethics.

In an earlier paragraph in this article entitled, Ayn Rand vs. Aristotle – Self Love, Selfishness, and Egoism:

Ayn Rand rejected altruism, and in fact, blamed it for the plight of human civilization, and with the presumed backing of Aristotle, wrote fervently in support of self-interest and rational egoism in The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, and in her other writings. Aristotle assumes neither the possibility nor the impossibility of what we would call altruism, but instead offers a sustained and sympathetic exploration of what is really at work in the human heart when an individual seems to disregard his own good to pursue the good of others. Aristotle does not assume that the concern for a friend is necessarily tainted by partiality; he argues that friendship can be rooted in a true assessment of the friends’ worth and as such can be the noblest expression of human relationship. He nonetheless insisted that self-love was the highest love and maintained a conception of selfishness, such that it not only contributed to, but was requisite for, virtuous living. This particular understanding of selfishness is best explained in his chapters on friendship in the Nicomachean Ethics, but it is also referred to in numerous other writings, such that there can be no doubt that he sincerely held this belief. Ayn Rand holds Aristotle in the highest regard and utilizes his conception of selfishness as the philosophical underpinning for her version of egoism and objectivism. While I agree that there are certain Aristotelian ideas of selfishness which might lend support to some aspects of her theory, for the most part, she has taken Aristotle out of context or has been represented to have done so by authors elaborating upon Rand’s ideas. My primary objective here, then, is to refute Rand’s claim of Aristotelian support for her beliefs and demonstrate how and where her interpretation went astray through a careful analysis of Aristotle’s conception of virtue and friendship

It is worth delving into Aristotle’s concept of character friendships, which are those friendships of the highest order and those in which selfishness plays a significant role, while concomitantly developing the egoism of Rand, distinguishing the similarities and differences between the two philosophers and addressing the questions raised above. Aristotle has crafted an ingenious theory, which results in the synthesis of selfishness and altruism. Aristotle’s idea of thumos is also quite important for us to better understand what he means by selfishness.

http://jaideepprabhu.org/2012/08/07/ayn-rand-vs-aristotle-self-love-selfishness-and-egoism/

A...

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Values are "subjective"?!!

No. Then rationality is subjective, and so are the other virtues by which values are gained and kept..

Please give better indication you read what I wrote. I said some, not all. Water is of greater value the greater your thirst. The variation is subjective while the basic value is objective. I would add that since attributes of man are naturally in a man then a man qua man experiences objective values albeit subjectively.

--Brant

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Values are "subjective"?!!

No. Then rationality is subjective, and so are the other virtues by which values are gained and kept..

Please give better indication you read what I wrote. I said some, not all. Water is of greater value the greater your thirst. The variation is subjective while the basic value is objective. I would add that since attributes of man are naturally in a man then a man qua man experiences objective values albeit subjectively.

--Brant

So far as, and to the degree a man is rational, so are his values objective. As you're aware, they descend from life, his absolute value. Of course then, they're hierarchical and contextual, and priorities change according to circumstances: Water will be plentiful most of his life, but one day his life might depend on a cup of water. In both situations water is of objective value, though.

Introducing the subjective into values, at all, (even in a "variation") undercuts the ~objective~ necessity and nature of values, virtues and rational selfishness, I think. Not said, but it *could* imply an arbitrary and floating cut-off point somewhere between the objective and the subjective.

Rand had a quite useful substitute for what is loosely called 'subjective':

Personal.

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This is my first post from a train. Dagny Taggart, and Walter too, wish you a good evening. All was splendid in New York.**

Bob #27, I doubt Rand would have conceded such reasoning was fully rational or fully selfish, therefore she could take it as defective in virtue. That is, she could argue your concept of rationality is too narrow, too free of the full context of reality. She needed a tall and deep-sunk argument for that, and she put one forward.

Merlin #26, I doubt by her title The Virtue of Selfishness Rand intended to suggest it was a virtue apart from rationality. Similarly, she could have written a book with the title The Virtue of Focussing. Same ethical theory, different aspect to which to draw attention.

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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.

What if strange person dedicates his reason to doing good for others, even at his own expense. Are you saying his reason is not rational?

Ba'al Chatzaf

You'd first have to know what you mean by "expense." Everything you do has an expense, if only the expense of time. That's only the beginning of the discussion if your focus is on expense. If you have a goal and the best way to reach it is not the one you chose, then it might be posited you made the irrational choice---that there was a failure of your rationality. All valuing is subjective and rationality rationally serves the attainment of your values if those values are rational. Values have both subjective and objective components. And some are likely also to be one or the other, but all subjectively valued. Objective values belong to man qua man and subjective values belong to a man. Since "man" is an idea only, that "man" cannot be a valuer. He cannot be an objective being for he isn't a being at all. Only an objective being can experience--do--subjective valuing. That's all the kind of valuing there is.

Etc.

--Brant

Expense means to his own injury or loss.

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How about The Virtue of Rationality?

:)

Rand often expressed herself linearly, but there is a huge difference between saying one has to be 100% rational as a precondition to being selfish, or that anything not rational cannot be selfish, and recognizing that rationality is a piece of the whole, just as selfishness is. (The whole is something like "the good" for humans.) Then it becomes a discussion of what it more important, the liver or the heart. If you amputate either, the human dies.

I look at Rand's enumeration of virtues in this light.

As another metaphor, one I often apply to axiomatic concepts, I see them like facets of the same gemstone. You can look at a single facet and talk about it, but you cannot remove the facet from the stone and make it a standalone entity.

Michael

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How about The Virtue of Rationality?

Werner von Braun was very rational. He was scientific. I aim for the stars, said Werner v B but sometimes I hit London and Antwerp.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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The book could have been titled The Virtue of Rational Selfishness, and still kept some of its 'bite'. But then we wouldn't be discussing AR's choice 50 years later. It is all about ownership, ultimately. Nothing concentrates the mind more than knowing something is your own. Living in a house you are renting, say, a ceiling may be sagging due to damp, but you'll think "Ah, maybe I'll call the owner sometime... but anyway, I won't be here long". A whole different ball game when you own the house. Nothing about its condition passes muster without your attention, thought, time, worry, work and expense. There's the tie-in between the rational and the selfish (which extends to the private ownership of capitalism).

Actually, a house is a nice metaphor for the morality: a lifetime investment which contains, preserves and protects all your values and virtues - selfish and rational and all your own doing.

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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.

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.

Maybe the following analogy between values and virtues would be useful:

Ultimate goal - Life ("Ultimate value" in Ayn Rand's words)

Value goals that benefit life and achieve the ultimate goal: reason, purpose, self-esteem, etc.

Ultimate action principle - Selfishness ("Ultimate virtue")

Virtue action principles that are constitutive of the utlimate action principle: rationality, independence, etc.

In that sense, "The Virtue of Selfishness" seems an appropriate title for the book.

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My 400mm f2.8 (older version) that I ordered had been sold the day before. I opted to buy it because it was less expensive than the new version. So they informed me that they had to cancel my order. (That was 9800 CDN ). So now I am (after Xmas ) going to be ordering the new version that after tax is 13000 CDN (about 12k usd ). To other photographers that specialize in wildlife and sports photography it is a rational decision (and may make some envious). To others that would only use their iPhone to take pictures absolutely completely insane!

Sometimes being rational looks irrational depending on ones point of view.

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. . .

Maybe the following analogy between values and virtues would be useful:

Ultimate goal - Life ("Ultimate value" in Ayn Rand's words)

Value goals that benefit life and achieve the ultimate goal: reason, purpose, self-esteem, etc.

Ultimate action principle - Selfishness ("Ultimate virtue")

Virtue action principles that are constitutive of the utlimate action principle: rationality, independence, etc.

In that sense, "The Virtue of Selfishness" seems an appropriate title for the book.

That is good, Robert. For Rand's theory, it would probably be even better to say "Your Life" rather than simply "Life" because there are other philosophies that will say "Life" and end with an ethics not entirely egoist (all virtues justified most profoundly by self-interest), even an ethics sacrificial or other-worldly in some ways. Your picture does not conflict with the further fact that Rand was out to defend some of what is condemned as the vice of selfishness, and was saying so right up front, in her title.

Notice the absence of your before life in the following from N. Branden’s The Basic Principles of Objectivism:

A morality that holds life as its standard of value is, by that very fact, I want you to notice, necessarily a morality of egoism, of self-interest, of selfishness. There is nothing more selfish than wanting to live. There is nothing more selfish than breathing. (Vision 300)

The distinction being followed here is Rand’s distinction between standard for morality (life) and purpose of morality (your life).

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You have to be selfish first and social second for the first makes the second possible morally. You know what to do by its effect on you, but you have to understand effect too. Hence the virtue of rationality, for no matter how much you have to give and want to give there is a limit before you eat into yourself. That would be where selfish becomes selfless. Rationality is needed which is why nature provides humans with a cognitive brain. Thinking is individualistic at the core thus the selfish first. If it isn't first it can't be selfish. Knowing that and owning that and valuing that and being blessed for that is why Ayn Rand wrote what she wrote and made her heroes the way she made them and condemned this culture's anti-heroic bias by exposing its intellectual and moral vacuity and essential hypocrisy.

--Brant

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Revised list of candidates:

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.
5. The title VoS was chosen for marketing.

new:

6. The title VoS was chosen to raise the ire of altruists (Jules' post #3).

7. The title VoS was chosen to oppose the view that selfishness is a vice.

13q7. A 400mm f2.8 camera. :tongue:

6 and 7 are similar to 4 but more specific.

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I wish I had some virtues. I ate them all up years ago.

--Brant

now that my vices are old and boring I'm left only with envy like the hungry homeless guy looking into the virtues restaurant watching customers eating up their virtues looking up at me drooling all over the window

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. . . I think MKS is correct, however, in underscoring [Rand's] 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.

We were correct to call out the virtues of independence and pride as being especially tight with selfishness. The following two quotes from GS use selfish expressly.

This much is true: the most selfish of all things is the independent mind that recognizes no authority higher than its own and no value higher than its judgment of the truth. (1030)

Pride is . . . that radiant selfishness of soul that desires the best in all things, in values of matter and spirit—a soul that seeks, above all else, to achieve its own moral perfection, valuing nothing higher than itself. (1021)

Rand also used selfish in connection with the virtue of honesty in GS:

Honesty is not a social duty, not a sacrifice for the sake of others, but the most profoundly selfish virtue man can practice: his refusal to sacrifice the reality of his own existence to the deluded consciousness of others. (1019)

Rand also used selfish in discussion of the value of love and friendship. This was in her essay “The Ethics of Emergencies.”

Love and friendship are profoundly personal, selfish values . . . . One gains a profoundly personal, selfish joy from the mere existence of the person one loves. It is one’s own personal, selfish happiness that one seeks, earns and derives from love.

. . .

Concern for the welfare of the one one loves is a rational part of one’s selfish interests. If a man who is passionately in love with his wife spends a fortune to cure her of a dangerous illness, it would be absurd to claim that he does it as a “sacrifice” for her sake, not his own, and that it makes no difference to him, personally and selfishly, whether she lives or dies. (VoS 44–45)

I’ll file my usual criticism that to argue all moral value and virtue are profoundly selfish is necessary but not sufficient to complete an argument for ethical egoism. I agree with the virtue of selfishness, and with all Rand’s uses of that word. That she mustered a sound argument for ethical egoism I deny, for in such a theory, one must show that all virtues and values accepted in the theory are derivatives of self-interest alone; no other-interest on the ground floor, yet still advertise as ethical egoism. She tried to argue only the self was possible as the ground floor, but the argument(s) fails, and, as I shall argue in my book, for the good reason that that conclusion is false.

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The ideal of "moral perfection" in Objectivism has been the ruination of the philosophy as an intellectual and cultural force to the extent Objectivists believed it then found out it was just wrong and cult creating with a religious bent. These Objectivists became non-Objectivists who, like the Shakers, have not reproduced except literally. Perfection is incompatible with free will. All God's creatures are perfect because they are neither moral nor immoral only amoral--except man (and his dog). Naturally Objectivism also imagines perfection in politics too. Another no-go, except for the theorectical imaginings of libertarians not concerning themselves with moral perfection thus throwing out the baby with the perfection bathwater while keeping both in the individual rights locus and focus.

--Brant

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[redacted]

Small quibble. I'm MSK, not MKS.

MKS does have a certain charm to it, though.

:smile:

Michael

Confidential to MKS MSK: [redacted] is dyslexic. Please give him some slack, a little empathy.

--Brant

keep please yourself to this please keep this to yourself

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Stephen,

I grant that selfishness is tightly connected with independence, pride, and honesty. As you quoted, selfishness or selfish is used in Galt's speech describing independence, pride, and honesty. On the other hand:

1. Selfishness or selfish are not used (literally, anyway) in describing rationality, productiveness, justice, or integrity.

2. Rationality or thinking is used or implied when every other virtue is described.

3. Within Galt's speech one page before the virtues are listed and described is: "Thinking is man's only basic virtue, from which all the others proceed."

So, again, in my opinion, rationality "outshines" selfishness.

I do agree with your last paragraph, despite not knowing what will be in your book.

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