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Ayn Rand declared "The Virtue of Selfishness." Would she also declare "The Virtue of Narcissism"?

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  • Whereas most or much of the world views the word and concept of "selfishness" as a vice and a sin, Ayn Rand reversed 6,000 years of history (at least the predominate philosophy therein) and declared "The Virtue of Selfishness." 
  • So, I wonder: Is there implicit in Ayn Rand's Objectivism a similar reversal of values regarding the term and concept of "narcissism." 
  • Ought one be proud to be viewed (by oneself and/or by others) as a narcissist?
  • Does being viewed as a narcissist simply mean that you are living ethically, that is, as a person who refuses to sacrifice his/her happiness, survival, or well-being to the demands of the mob (the collective, or the government) or to the demands of family members, and that you are living as a person who regards themselves as the sum and center of his/her own universe and experience, and that you are living as a person who regards his/her personal excellence as the most important thing.
  • I have been unable to find any writing or speaking by Ayn Rand that uses the terms "narcissism" or "narcissist." Perhaps those terms were not much in wide circulation during Ayn Rand's lifetime.
  • In sum: Based on the principles of Objectivism, can we legitimately suppose that Ayn Rand would approve of the phrase "The Virtue of Narcissism"?
Edited by The Laws of Biology
Corrected misspelled words
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Tara Smith, the author of Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics, answered this question once during a lecture. Narcissism is essentially a form of second-handedness since it is an obsessive quest for external validation. It is a sign of low self-esteem. 

Have you ever read any of Rand's novels? The heroes she portrays are anything but narcissistic. How they are perceived by other people is generally of no importance whatsoever to them. 

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Ayn Rand wrote that the question of whether something is in one's self-interest or not is a question of fact. Genuine selfishness has to be fact-based, i.e., requires dealing with reality, i.e., requires self-sufficiency, i.e., requires not having victims -- and is thus very different from the popular conception of "selfishness," which is whim-based, meaning that it is not reality-based at all, and thus ends up leading to self-harm as well as harm of others.

Narcissism, on the other hand, is a mental illness, and as such is not reality-based. On that basis alone, she would not approve of it.

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Rand’s rational selfishness is reality-seeking and reality-engaging, not reality-avoiding, as is megalomania, nor the reality-avoiding and other-avoiding, the subjectivism, the self-centeredness, of narcissism. Rational selfishness does not presume that others are inferior or stand on lack of empathy for others.

Does a narcissist seek to find others she can admire? A person of authentic self-esteem does, according to Objectivist writings. More specifically, does a narcissist seek to be a productive creator and find others with that trait for which she can admire them? A person of authentic self-esteem does.

See N. Branden’s The Psychology of Self-Esteem, p. 146.

Edited by Boydstun
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On 12/27/2022 at 11:23 AM, The Laws of Biology said:
  • Ought one be proud to be viewed (by oneself and/or by others) as a narcissist?
  • Does being viewed as a narcissist simply mean that you are living ethically, that is, as a person who refuses to sacrifice his/her happiness, survival, or well-being to the demands of the mob (the collective, or the government) or to the demands of family members, and that you are living as a person who regards themselves as the sum and center of his/her own universe and experience, and that you are living as a person who regards his/her personal excellence as the most important thing.

Yes.  As others have pointed out, acting in one's own self-interest and taking oneself seriously are not narcissism; narcissism is something distinct.  However, most people who hold the dominant philosophy will incorrectly CALL such things "narcissism", "psychopathy/sociopathy", "arrogance" and hatred of others.

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