Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Virtue of Selfishness

Here are the main extracts from the book "The Virtue of Selfishness" by Ayn Rand for personal notes. If you like these extracts don't hesitate to read this book.

  • " He may hope that others might occasionally sacrifice themselves for his benefit, as he grudgingly sacrifices himself for theirs, but he knows that the relationship will bring mutual resentment, not pleasure - and that, morally, their pursuit of values will be like an exchange of unwanted, unchosen Christmas presents, which neither is morally permitted to buy for himself."

  • " Since nature does not provide man with an automatic form of survival, since he has to support his life by his own effort, the doctrine that concern with one's own interest is evil means that man's desire to live is evil."

  • " Altruism permits no view of men except as sacrificial animals and profiteers-on-sacrifice, as victims and parasites"

  • " Concern with his own interests is the essence of a moral existence, and that man must be the beneficiary of his own moral actions."

  • " A plant can obtain its food from the soil in which it grows. An animal has to hunt for it. Man has to produce it."

  • " Man's actions and survival require the guidance of conceptual values derived from conceptual knowledge. But conceptual knowledge cannot be acquired automatically. "

  • " The Objectivist ethics holds that human good does not require human sacrifices and cannot be achieved by the sacrifice of anyone to anyone."

  • " If it is only on the basis of rational selfishness - on the basis of justice - that men can be fit to live together in a free, peaceful, prosperous, benevolent, rational society. "

  • " Pride is one's response to one's power to achieve values, the pleasure one takes in one's own efficacy. And it is this that mystics hold as evil."

  • " Love and friendship are profoundly personal, selfish values" "One gains a profoundly personal, selfish joy from the mere existence of the person one loves."

  • " A 'selfless', 'disinterested' love is a contradiction in terms: it means that one is indifferent to that which one values"

  • " Concern for the welfare of those 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."

  • " Any action that a man undertakes for the benefit of those he loves is not a sacrifice if, in the hierarchy of his values, in the total context of the choices open to him, it achieves that which is of greatest personal (and rational) importance to him. In the above example, his wife's survival is of greater value to the husband than anything else that his money could buy, it is of greateast importance to his own happiness and, therefore, his action in not a sacrifice."

  • " Since one's own happinness is the moral purpose of one's life, the man fails to achieve it because of his own default, because of his failure to fight for it, is morally guilty."

  • " The respect and good will that men of self-esteem feel toward other human beings is profoundly egoistic; they fell, in effect: 'Other men are a of value because they are of the same species as myself.' "

  • " Suppose two men apply for the same job. Only one of them can be hired. Isn't this an instance of a conflict of interests, and isn't the benefit of one man achieved at the price of the sacrifice of the other? "

  • " A rational man is guided by his thinking not by his feelings or desires."

  • " ... he does not permit himself to hold contradictory values, to pursue contradictory goals, or to imagine that the pursuit of a contradiction can ever be to his interest."

  • " A rational man knows that one does not live by means of 'luck', 'breaks' or favors, that there is no such thing as an 'only chance' or a single opportunity, and that his is guaranteed preciselly by the existence of competition."

  • " If a man loves a woman so much that he does not wish to survive her death, if life can have nothing more to offer him at that price, then his dying to save her is not a sacrifice."

  • " If, motivated solely by a sense of charity, compassion, duty or altruism, a person renounces a value, desire or goal in favor of the pleasure, wishes or needs of another person whom he values less than the thing he renounced-that is an act of self-sacrifice. The fact that a person may feel that he 'wants' to do it, does not make his action selfish or establish objectively that he is its beneficiary."

  • " The boy ' wants' to renounce his career only because he has accepted the ethics of altruism; he believes that it is immoral to act for his self-interest. That is the principle directing his actions."

  • " There are, broadly, five (interconnected) areas that allow man to experience the enjoyment of life: productive work, human relationships, recreation, art, sex."

  • " A neurotic can 'enjoy' a party for reasons unrelated to the real activities taking place; he may hate or despise or fear all the people present, he may act like a noisy fool and feel secretly ashamed of it - but he will feel that he is enjoying it all, because it is a social distinction to have been invited to this party."

  • " To pronounce moral judgment is an enormous responsibility. To be a judge, one must possess an unimpeachable character; one need not to be omniscient or infallible, and it is not an issue of errors of knowledge; one needs an unbleached integrity, that is, the absence of any indulgence in conscious, willful evil. Just as a judge in a court of law may err, when the evidence is inconclusive, but may not evade the evidence available, of accept bribes, nor allow any personal feeling, emotion, desire or fear to obstruct his mind's judgment of the facts of reality"

  • " A judge puts himself on trial every time he pronounces a verdict."

No comments: