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Was Ayn Rand an altruist?

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I know Ayn Rand stated that she was vehemently against altruism. But I also wonder why she worked so hard to advance her philosophy of Objectivism. I know it was her job as a writer to write. She started with her fiction, which evolved into explaining her philosophy of Objectivism. When I read her writings I feel a compassion in her motives for voicing her opinion about her brand of ultimate truth in her philosophy. Was she just a pitchman hawking snake oil? Was she a prima dona only trying to pacify her own selfish ego? I like to think that she genuinely thought there was some truth to what she was talking about, not just a slick sales pitch to gratify herself. But that would make her an altruist.

altruism

1 : unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others

2 : behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species

I do think that Rand was devoting herself to the welfare of her readers, many of us which would never read her works until long after she was dead. The fact that I bought all of her books long after her death testify to the fact that she gained no financial or egotistical benefit from me. She even talked often about her legacy in Objectivism almost as if it was bigger than she was.

My point is that I don't think it's the end of the world to care about people, even to the point of altruism. I think this can be what family is all about, especially when one chooses a mate and eventually has children. In family, one must have devotion to the welfare of the ones one cares about. I guess we can split hairs about how ones children might benefit a parent or argue about what is selfish and what isn't and I imagine that is where the discussion begins for Rand. But I claim that most people simply don't do all of this calculation when they fall in love and have kids. Even further, one can't really choose their children, which are individuals with their own unique personalities which may or may not be a pure benefit to the adult. I concede that it's not an easy discussion, but one that needs to be made. Ayn Rand seems to ignore things like love & caring for people except in some strange context of selfishness & greed which doesn't make any sense to me.

Maybe you guys can help me try to figure out this seeming paradox about Objectivism.

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Loving and caring for someone is not altruism. It's like Howard Roark puts it: "to say I love you one must first be able to say the I". Neither is advocating a rational philosophy altruism, she did it because she believed in it and was proud of her achievement, knowing that it could/would benefit herself and mankind.

Edited by JMeganSnow
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Maybe you guys can help me try to figure out this seeming paradox about Objectivism.

The paradox lies in the fact that you equate "caring for others" with altruism.

Was she a prima dona only trying to pacify her own selfish ego? I like to think that she genuinely thought there was some truth to what she was talking about, not just a slick sales pitch to gratify herself. But that would make her an altruist.

You are offering a false alternative, where either you are a primadonna trying to "pacify" your ego by slick dishonest sales pitches, or then you are an altruist. Thats not the case, and you would know that had you read a word Ayn Rand wrote, which i dont believe for a second you have, as your post is so ridiculous.

My point is that I don't think it's the end of the world to care about people, even to the point of altruism.

Caring about people and altruism are opposites, not corollaries. Altruism teaches to help others when there is no value to you. Helping a person you care about has value to you, and is a selfish act.

I think this can be what family is all about, especially when one chooses a mate and eventually has children. In family, one must have devotion to the welfare of the ones one cares about.

Once again, what you are describing is not altruism. Caring about people has nothing to do with altruism.

Ayn Rand seems to ignore things like love & caring for people except in some strange context of selfishness & greed which doesn't make any sense to me.

This is one of the most absurd statements ive read regarding Rand. Rand most certainly does not ignore love.

Also, Ayn Rand does not talk about love or caring for other peoples welfare on the basis of greed.

Your making it seems like it is somehow beneficial for a person to abandon his children and family and live a life of social seclusion, and that one should refrain from doing this by sacrificing your own self interest.

Rand did not oppose altruism because she thought that love is irrelevant or that caring for people is stupid. She opposed altruism because it tells you to put other peoples values in front of your own values, sacrificing your values for the values of someone else. When i buy a birthday present or loan money to my friend i do it because I care for him and share values with him, not because i put his values in front of my own.

But please, read some Rand before critizing Rand, and in your case even a short browsing of wikipedia would be a plus, because you have no idea what you are talking about.

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In my view, Rand opposed altruism as a principle because she saw where it leads. As soon as the idea that morality consists of sacrificing yourself to others is accepted, people in government will jump on that, and then you become compelled to do things that are not in your own best interest, for the alleged "good of society." And because you've accepted altruism as a moral ideal, you are disarmed! You can't say, "Hey, wait a minute! That's not fair!" because then "you're just being selfish."

Just look at current events. The Chrysler bondholders tried to protest that their interests legally come before the interests of the union, but I think to some extent the administration's attempts to disarm them on the basis of altruism is working, unfortunately (although bullying & threats are also part of the strategy...). They're being told, "don't be selfish, everyone else is sacrificing, who are you to place your interests above the 'greater good'?"

I think that is the crux of Rand's opposition to altruism. Although she would also counsel people to take care of their own interests, I think the political context is much more important than the personal, psychological, "self-help"context.

If you want to learn more about Ayn Rand as a person, I recommend the book "Letters of Ayn Rand." In it, you can see many examples of Rand helping people in a non-altruistic way.

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In my view, Rand opposed altruism as a principle because she saw where it leads. As soon as the idea that morality consists of sacrificing yourself to others is accepted, people in government will jump on that, and then you become compelled to do things that are not in your own best interest, for the alleged "good of society." And because you've accepted altruism as a moral ideal, you are disarmed! You can't say, "Hey, wait a minute! That's not fair!" because then "you're just being selfish."

Just look at current events. The Chrysler bondholders tried to protest that their interests legally come before the interests of the union, but I think to some extent the administration's attempts to disarm them on the basis of altruism is working, unfortunately (although bullying & threats are also part of the strategy...). They're being told, "don't be selfish, everyone else is sacrificing, who are you to place your interests above the 'greater good'?"

I think that is the crux of Rand's opposition to altruism. Although she would also counsel people to take care of their own interests, I think the political context is much more important than the personal, psychological, "self-help"context.

If you want to learn more about Ayn Rand as a person, I recommend the book "Letters of Ayn Rand." In it, you can see many examples of Rand helping people in a non-altruistic way.

Morality applies only to choices made by an individual. Acting altruistically is evil - she opposed altruism on principle, all altruism. It is not true that she only opposed altruism as a principle.

This topic is nonsensical. Slacker00, do you honestly think that all of us Objectivists have been busy studying and applying her philosophy for over 50 years, and haven't realised an omission like "Objectivism makes love impossible"?

Rand wrote extensively on love, benevolence and companionship. Please read the source before forming an opinion.

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I think that you should sincerely give her ideas more thought, or if you haven't already done so read her non-fiction, ITOE and OPAR. I'm not trying to be rude or snarky it simply seems like you haven't quite understood her argument.

This reminds me of another recent thread I think may be relevant. Try reading this thread about serving in the military being selfish or altruistic. See if it helps clear anything up.

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To some of the more snarky repliers: it may be helpful to keep in mind that since Rand is in the media so much now, there will be many more people who have heard bits and pieces about her and her philosophy (as interpreted by the media, mind you), but have not read her works. Shooting them down isn't going to help anything, but pointing them in the right direction probably will. Doing both at the same time is wanting to have one's cake and eat it too--people generally don't want to learn more when shot down.

Maybe it would help to ask: slacker00, exactly how familiar are you with her actual works? What works have you read yourself?

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I agree, Ben. Thanks for the reminder.

My basic thought on this...it would've been in Rand's rational self-interest to live in a society where people embrace the philosophy of Objectivism. This is why I try to spread the philosophy whenever I can. It will only help me in the long run.

I just recently watched the documentary, A Sense of Life, which is about Rand. The movie follows her life story, including why she decides to write nonfiction. You should check it out. It's done very well and is very interesting.

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In my view, Rand opposed altruism as a principle because she saw where it leads. As soon as the idea that morality consists of sacrificing yourself to others is accepted, people in government will jump on that, and then you become compelled to do things that are not in your own best interest, for the alleged "good of society." And because you've accepted altruism as a moral ideal, you are disarmed! You can't say, "Hey, wait a minute! That's not fair!" because then "you're just being selfish."

Just look at current events. The Chrysler bondholders tried to protest that their interests legally come before the interests of the union, but I think to some extent the administration's attempts to disarm them on the basis of altruism is working, unfortunately (although bullying & threats are also part of the strategy...). They're being told, "don't be selfish, everyone else is sacrificing, who are you to place your interests above the 'greater good'?"

I think that is the crux of Rand's opposition to altruism. Although she would also counsel people to take care of their own interests, I think the political context is much more important than the personal, psychological, "self-help"context.

If you want to learn more about Ayn Rand as a person, I recommend the book "Letters of Ayn Rand." In it, you can see many examples of Rand helping people in a non-altruistic way.

Thanks, Laure. I almost brought up the concept of compulsion in my thread starter, because I think that's the root of what Rand is really talking about. It isn't really about being selfish or unselfish, which I think are bastardized concepts. It really comes down to any type of authoritarian compulsion to do anything. Even socialism at it's core seems to want to force people to behave in ways which benefit their lives, but it's the compulsion of the system which is really the root of all evil. It's not even so bad to compel another person in some situations, say saving a person from drowning by grabbing them and dragging them to safety. It's just that compulsion can't become a "way of life" for a variety of reasons. I really wish Ayn Rand would have spoken in terms of compulsion rather than words like altruism.

I think Ayn Rand's biggest misunderstanding was that altruism was a defining life philosophy for many people. Maybe at the time of her writings there were more altruists, but someone would have to explain to me who they were and why they were altruists in the Ayn Rand sense. The only examples that spring to my mind might be the so-called saints throughout the history of religion, which brings up another topic that Ayn Rand was simply an evangelical atheist hell bent on philosophically destroying theism. In any case, when Ayn Rand is debating against the altruist, I don't really understand who she is debating against. I see most people as a mixed bag of selfishness & altruism, with different behaviors differing in degree between selfishness & unselfishness. People who are too unselfish usually come across as being an idiot and people being too selfish come across as being conceited.

selfish

1: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others

2: arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others <a selfish act>

I'm familiar with how Ayn Rand uses this word. I'm just not sure how a life philosophy based on selfishness is any less self destructive than a life philosophy based on altruism. Both seem pathological to me. Complete disregard towards others seems just as bad as complete disregard towards any other element of reality. Reality should be regarded in all ways, parts of reality can't simply be disregarded because it's something inconvenient. Other people are a part of reality.

Letters of Ayn Rand is one of the few Ayn Rand books I haven't yet read. I have come across some of her letters in books like, Philosophy: who needs it?. Reading her letters does bring out a different side of her than we see in her philosophy or fiction books. Like I said in my first post above, I think she meant the things that she said, that's why she's such a compelling writer. Right or wrong, you knew you were getting the straight shit from her. At least that's the best thing that I take away from reading her writings.

To everyone else, thanks also for your replies. But I'm not really looking for an orthodox Objectivist answer, I already know what Ayn Rand has to say about altruism. I'm trying to dig a little deeper than that. Maybe this is the wrong forum to ask an Objectivist to take a long, hard look in the mirror and tell me what they really see. When I look in the mirror, I certainly don't see Ayn Rand.

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Even socialism at it's core seems to want to force people to behave in ways which benefit their lives

"Even"? All systems other than laissez-faire Capitalism are about various ways of using force against people. That socialism pretends to do it for people's own good makes it more disgusting, not less.

Slacker00, it is you who do not understand the concepts of altruism and selfishness. The popular definitions of these are instruments of philosophical war, crafted to destroy the real meaning behind them. Your confusion demonstrates but one casualty.

Altuism is not caring for other people; it is destruction of the self.

Selfishness is not hedonism; it is acting in one's self interest with one's entire life as the standard of value, and the best life is one lived in a productive society where people interact only through mutual consent.

Edited by L-C
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I see most people as a mixed bag of selfishness & altruism

Selfishness as the "package" that includes as universally accepted and unquestionable ethics, that it's bad to not think of others regardless of context and implies others are always hurt when you get what you want, is simply the other side of the altruistic coin.

Common people nowadays do live by altruist rule and admire those that are altruistic. They don't think deeply about it if they are not religious, but they would have learned it inexplicit. Nobody goes "wow, what a good man, he made a lot of money." People go "wow, what a good man, he donated all that money to charity, he cares." There are also people who chose to be selfish accepting the altruistic ethics "I'll do whatever I please, I could care less about morality." Common people understand life to be about compromising with others, they think that is needed so nobody gets hurt, instead thinking of relationships as situations where everyone will gain more than they would on their own. Everyone I relate to in real life is the former, unfortunately. Selfishness is so evil for people they do use the words "wants" or "preferences" they say "needs."

Summary:

Altruism is this oath:

I swear to Humankind and my love of it that I will sacrifice my life to other men and expect other men to sacrifice their life for mine.

Ayn Rand suggests this oath instead:

I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

Edited by Jill
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Putting dictionary definitions aside, why do YOU think it is in someone's rational self-interest to hurt, use, or deceive others? If you can't answer this question your critique of Rand's concept of selfishness is going to fall flat.

Thanks, Laure. I almost brought up the concept of compulsion in my thread starter, because I think that's the root of what Rand is really talking about. It isn't really about being selfish or unselfish, which I think are bastardized concepts. It really comes down to any type of authoritarian compulsion to do anything. Even socialism at it's core seems to want to force people to behave in ways which benefit their lives, but it's the compulsion of the system which is really the root of all evil. It's not even so bad to compel another person in some situations, say saving a person from drowning by grabbing them and dragging them to safety. It's just that compulsion can't become a "way of life" for a variety of reasons. I really wish Ayn Rand would have spoken in terms of compulsion rather than words like altruism.

I think Ayn Rand's biggest misunderstanding was that altruism was a defining life philosophy for many people. Maybe at the time of her writings there were more altruists, but someone would have to explain to me who they were and why they were altruists in the Ayn Rand sense. The only examples that spring to my mind might be the so-called saints throughout the history of religion, which brings up another topic that Ayn Rand was simply an evangelical atheist hell bent on philosophically destroying theism. In any case, when Ayn Rand is debating against the altruist, I don't really understand who she is debating against. I see most people as a mixed bag of selfishness & altruism, with different behaviors differing in degree between selfishness & unselfishness. People who are too unselfish usually come across as being an idiot and people being too selfish come across as being conceited.

selfish

1: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others

2: arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others <a selfish act>

I'm familiar with how Ayn Rand uses this word. I'm just not sure how a life philosophy based on selfishness is any less self destructive than a life philosophy based on altruism. Both seem pathological to me. Complete disregard towards others seems just as bad as complete disregard towards any other element of reality. Reality should be regarded in all ways, parts of reality can't simply be disregarded because it's something inconvenient. Other people are a part of reality.

Letters of Ayn Rand is one of the few Ayn Rand books I haven't yet read. I have come across some of her letters in books like, Philosophy: who needs it?. Reading her letters does bring out a different side of her than we see in her philosophy or fiction books. Like I said in my first post above, I think she meant the things that she said, that's why she's such a compelling writer. Right or wrong, you knew you were getting the straight shit from her. At least that's the best thing that I take away from reading her writings.

To everyone else, thanks also for your replies. But I'm not really looking for an orthodox Objectivist answer, I already know what Ayn Rand has to say about altruism. I'm trying to dig a little deeper than that. Maybe this is the wrong forum to ask an Objectivist to take a long, hard look in the mirror and tell me what they really see. When I look in the mirror, I certainly don't see Ayn Rand.

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I see most people as a mixed bag of selfishness & altruism, with different behaviors differing in degree between selfishness & unselfishness. People who are too unselfish usually come across as being an idiot and people being too selfish come across as being conceited.

That is true. But you're just making an observation, you didn't really explain what those observations mean. People who are too unselfish usually come across as an idiot, but why is that? People who are thought of as too selfish do come across as conceited to many people, but why is that? Notice you didn't say such people -are- idiots or -are- conceited.

I'm not really sure what type of information you're looking for. It's not like Rand said the only bad philosophy to have is an altruistic one. You should emphasize to yourself that the selfishness she talks about is rational self-interest. I'm not even sure if you disagree with Rand or just wish she spoke about compulsion more. To me, compulsion is a type of force, and the one of the biggest reasons that force is bad is because it prevents a person from living selfishly and living -their- life.

Edited by Eiuol
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Slacker00, let me expound on my views here, because I disagree with you about compulsion being "the root of what Rand is really talking about." In my view, opposition to compulsion is where it all started for Rand, but it's not "the root." She saw the horrors of communism as a young person in Russia, and her soul cried out, "NO!" She then came to the realization that the moral code of altruism is what MADE this compulsory system of government possible. She then came to the realization that the root cause of that moral code is irrationality.

It's like when you discover a theorem in math. You look around, you work some examples, you convince yourself that the supposed theorem is probably true. Then, to prove it, you can either work forward from axioms and known theorems, or you can work backward to connect the theorem to the axioms. We often use our intuition in the discovery of theorems, but then connect them to the fundamentals to prove them right.

So, I would say that being against compulsion may have been where Rand started intuitively, but she identified that the real fundamental issue is irrationality.

Also, when you say that "Ayn Rand was simply an evangelical atheist hell bent on philosophically destroying theism" -- I'm not sure if you're representing your own views or someone else's -- I disagree entirely. She was far from an evangelical atheist. She saw religion as a symptom of irrationality, which is why she opposed it, but she was never a strident atheist like Madelyn Murray O'Hair, railing against "In God We Trust" on coinage, or the like. She had "bigger fish to fry."

You say, "I think Ayn Rand's biggest misunderstanding was that altruism was a defining life philosophy for many people." You need to look at the premises that people hold, not just at their behavior. The fact that altruism as a moral code is at odds with normal human behavior is part of what makes it dangerous in the hands of leaders. They hold up altruism as an ideal, and then when people "fall short" because they are naturally interested in self-preservation, GUILT is held over them to control them. So yeah, I agree that most people don't behave as altruists. But lots and lots of people believe as altruists. If people accepted a moral code of rational self-interest, we would not see stories in the news every week of the President scolding people for their selfishness. Heck, if the President accepted a moral code of rational self-interest, you wouldn't see him scolding people for being irrational or acting against their interests probably, either, because if that happens, it's the irrational person that suffers - unless he's actually violating someone's rights, which is the only time the government should have anything to say about it.

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Putting dictionary definitions aside, why do YOU think it is in someone's rational self-interest to hurt, use, or deceive others? If you can't answer this question your critique of Rand's concept of selfishness is going to fall flat.

I can't set the dictionary definitions aside. There must be some common understanding of basic definitions. Otherwise what's the point of a discussion if the words have no meaning?

As far as hurting, using, deceiving others, I can only speak for myself. Have I done it? Yes. Do I regret it? Yes. Was it rational? It depends on the objective.

In my case of deception, I had a job in sales and followed the sales script provided to me, which I knew was a bunch of baloney. Whoever listened to me just heard a line of baloney. But I had to pay the rent and that's the job that paid. I didn't last long. I'm not sure if this answers your question, but I live in the real world and it isn't always so clear cut what one should or shouldn't do. Even further, there aren't always a ton of options depending on the situation and the individual.

My objective was to pay rent. I was deceptive, but I paid the rent. My other option might have been to default on my rent, which would have been a breach of contract with my landlord, is that rational? Is it rational to be homeless when I had other options which, albeit, weren't all that appealing?

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I don't see what your deception was. Are you saying that the script provided was full of lies and deception and you read it off? Maybe it was the most rational choice. That's why if we lived in a truly free society, with a free market, you wouldn't feel trapped to make certain choices.

Again, can you be more clear what it is you are discussing? First you ask if Ayn Rand is an altruist, but you seem to have said that you don't think she is. Then you seem to be talking about rational selfishness and irrational selfishness both as the same selfishness Rand talks about.

Edited by Eiuol
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I've always thought that Rand should have separated personal altruism from political altruism, and in a way, she did. Her stand against political altruism was in defense of individual rights. Her stand against personal altruism was based on the principle that it is inherently irrational. Her argument against personal altruism was that one should explore the premises of one's altruistic tendencies, rather than accept them as axiomatic. In developing this argument, I believe she demonstrated that individual altruism is the result of tribal mysticism, whether from religion, culture or political "science," and not the result of reason.

The problems with individual altruism are threefold:

First, there is an inherent contradiction in holding altruism as a moral ideal, since its practice necessarily entails someone else receiving the benefit of altruism, i.e., practicing the exact opposite of altruism.

Second, altruism works against your own well-being. If you can find an example in which altruism does not work against your well-being (e.g., participating in good-samaritan ethics), then that behavior has an element of self-interest to it, and is therefore not altruistic. Many mystical altruists base their actions on such superstitious rationales as karma, and are therefore embracing (false) self-interest.

Third, acceptance of altruism as a personal moral choice provides sanction to those who would force altruism upon us. (as has been pointed out a few times already) If you understand that altruism-by-force is evil, then you must accept that altruism-by-choice, when embraced by a majority in a democratic society, provides not just a moral sanction, but a political mandate for the enforcement of evil. It is only by recognizing that altruism is inherently immoral (by dint of the first two points) can you reject it as an acceptable political ideal.

I'm familiar with how Ayn Rand uses this word. I'm just not sure how a life philosophy based on selfishness is any less self destructive than a life philosophy based on altruism.

I'm not so sure you are familiar with how Rand uses the word, since both definitions offered stipulate a lack of regard for others. Rand did not use the word as your definitions propose, and she provides explicit definitions for the term, explicit to the point that anyone who has read her would never, ever try to sneak (let alone highlight) "disregard for others" in the definition for a discussion of this type. (unless, of course, they were being intentionally dishonest)

Selfishness, as Rand uses the word, entails explicit respect for the rights of others, including a rejection of all forms of force (including fraud, i.e., passing "baloney" off to customers as truth), except in defense or retaliation. Had she believed in selfishness as you define it, she would have embraced anarchy, in which the most "selfish" survive, and the least are killed. This is the law of the jungle, the moral code of animals. (i.e., no moral code at all)

Atruism, as a moral code, entails sacrifice of self to the collective. It is the law of brute force, the moral code of the ruled. (i.e., no moral code at all)

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Ok, I think I've got it figured out.

I'm involved in an argument between Ayn Rand and my dictionary!

I think Ayn Rand branded her own definitions of Altruism & Selfishness, not to mention the word Objectivism. That's what was confusing me. I've been on a bit of a dictionary reading kick recently and looking up every word to get the exact definition, which I think can add value to my understanding. In this case it completely derailed me. I'm pretty sure this is what's going on here. Let's see if I can clear things up.

Yet the exact meaning and dictionary definition of the word “selfishness” is: concern with one’s own interests.

So, she basically clipped off the part that I put in bold above. So, now I agree with Ayn Rand. The quote is from VOS intro, which I read a while back, but that little part of the definition threw me for a loop when I got the dictionary out.

Regarding altruism, I still can't find where Rand nails down an exact definition. But she does seem to always frame it in the context of being coerced. But I did find this quote about charity, which I think is more accurate to my dictionary definition of altruism above.

My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue.

“Playboy’s Interview with Ayn Rand,” March 1964.

I agree with this also.

So, to answer my own question that started this thread. I think maybe Rand was indifferent whether her readers gained legitimate benefit from her work. I do think that she thought her philosophy was good and could help people, but that was really out of her hands. She was just a writer and write what she knew, which was her ideas and her stories. I think I'm satisfied with that conclusion. This would fit the dictionary definition of altruism, but not Rand's version of being compelled to write to inspire and explain her philosophy. What a thought!

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PLAYBOY: Would it be against the principles of Objectivism for anyone to sacrifice himself by stepping in front of a bullet to protect another person?

RAND: No. It depends on the circumstances. I would step in the way of a bullet if it were aimed at my husband. It is not self-sacrifice to die protecting that which you value: If the value is great enough, you do not care to exist without it. This applies to any alleged sacrifice for those one loves.

.

.

.

RAND:You ask me, would I be willing to die for Objectivism? I would. But what is more important, I am willing to live for it -- which is much more difficult.

Here's some more from the Playboy interview that I kinda referenced in my very first post above. The first part talks about a unique circumstance of ultimate self sacrifice. The last part in quotes is maybe my favorite Rand quote. I think the quote indicates a type of greater good she sees in her philosophy.

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I know Ayn Rand stated that she was vehemently against altruism. But I also wonder why she worked so hard to advance her philosophy of Objectivism. I know it was her job as a writer to write. She started with her fiction, which evolved into explaining her philosophy of Objectivism. When I read her writings I feel a compassion in her motives for voicing her opinion about her brand of ultimate truth in her philosophy. Was she just a pitchman hawking snake oil? Was she a prima dona only trying to pacify her own selfish ego? I like to think that she genuinely thought there was some truth to what she was talking about, not just a slick sales pitch to gratify herself.

See? That's why I not longer participate in discussions here - because I can't tell people like you that you're an idiot. But really, reading your opening paragraph, it's the only logical conclusion.

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The first part talks about a unique circumstance of ultimate self sacrifice.

I have no idea how you divined that. Please note how Ayn Rand says specifically that "it is not self-sacrifice".

I think the quote indicates a type of greater good she sees in her philosophy.

No. You've got everything twisted around.

The central theme of Ayn Rand's philosophy is the discovery and definition of value and an objective morality which entails the rejection of the invalid concept of a "greater good", there is no such thing. The ultimate value is your own life. Part of living your own life is deciding what you are willing to live for and what you are not willing to live without.

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