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The "unappeal" of Objectivism vs. Collectivized Ethics (TVoS 10)

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18 hours ago, Wayne said:

Thanks JASKN. I completely agree with you. I am going to think about this some more.

I think "sefishness" keeps some people from picking up Rand. It's one part in the vague rumor out there that paints Rand as light-weight  and paints Objectivism as a bit looney.  On the other hand, there could be some who are thus motivated to pick up Rand. My guess would be that all the buzz by pro and anti commentators is a net positive when it comes to picking up Rand.

Once someone picks up Rand, I don't think it matters too much whether she calls it selfishness, vs. toning down the nomenclature and keeping everything else the same. 

I think the real problem in the marketing of Objectivism was stressing its politics. Instead, the stress should have been on true selfishness: focus on being happy, and let politics, mostly, go to hell.

Edited by softwareNerd

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Welcome to the forum.

10 hours ago, Wayne said:

I have always been uncomfortable with the statement 'If *you* want to help *them*, *you* will not be stopped.' To put the statement another way: 'We would want to stop you but we would not.' Isn't this a rather rude, dismissive and mean-spirited attitude?


"If you want to help them, you will not be stopped." How can this statement be interpreted to mean anything other than giving approval for you to use your own judgement and free will?

10 hours ago, Wayne said:

But this leads to the question of the meaning of *selfishness*. People have sincerely asked why Objectivists use the word selfish when it is clear (to the asker) that it has a negative connotation, that is, acting without regard for the values of other people. The Objectivist would answer that that is exactly what we mean. For truly selfish people, their are no inherent conflicts and that acting *selfishly* is a virtue. I personally think this an over-simplification and can lead to personal disaster -- even for 'rational' people.


The word, "selfishness," will carry a pejorative definition to most as long as they remain unaware of the antithesis of selfishness: selflessness. If one were to find the the dictionary definition of "selfish," they would find: self-interest. I made this discovery at an early age, and understood the truth of the matter that anyone who does not admit to taking an interest in one's self is a hypocrite. It was not until quite late in life that I read Ayn Rand, and discover the pejorative definition of selflessness, altruism, and sacrifice. It occurred to me at that point that a great many people world-wide and throughout history are not merely content to "save" other people, but to save those other people from themselves. The selfless altruist must oversee the lives of not merely the unfortunate ones who are victims through no fault of their own, but must make it the obligation of others to sacrifice on their behalf. Through the sacrifice of their leadership, the altruist concerns him/herself with the duty of "saving the world." Or on a smaller scale, the altruist must impress upon others their duty to the family, not from a selfish sense of compassion for those that are loved, but from a selfless sense of guilt. Compassion is a perfectly normal human trait, one that no doubt helped in the survival of mankind since the earliest days of his existence. Ensuring the survival of those you love, of those upon whom you rely for your own survival, be that in a material or an emotional sense, is no sacrifice. And if your compassion motivates you to lending assistance to those who have value, those whom you judge to be worthy of your assistance regardless of your familiarity, then, by all means act upon your selfish and rational judgment, and volunteer your support. True charity can never be an act of coercion; it is an act of selfishness.

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