In Defense of Selfishness: Why the Code of Self-Sacrifice is Unjust and Destructive Hardcover – June 2, 2015
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“This thoughtful and well-reasoned essay will, for sure, evoke many spirited arguments on the altruism versus-selfishness debate.” ―Booklist
“It is taken as an axiom by most people that altruism is moral and self-interest is immoral. In a brilliant analysis, Peter Schwartz turns this view on its head. By explaining what altruism and self-interest really mean, he shows that altruism (self-sacrifice), far from being benevolent, is profoundly anti-life, and that self-interest, based on reason, is unequivocally pro-life. There is no doubt that America's future depends more on this one, fundamental issue than on any other.” ―Dr. Edwin Locke, Emeritus Professor of Leadership and Motivation at the R.H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland
“Are you selfish? You should be, and Peter Schwartz knows why. In the breezy but passionate In Defense of Selfishness, Schwartz validates rational egoism as the only moral code by which humans can live and succeed. It's not bad policies that are destroying the world, but bad philosophic ideas. From charity to religion to government to romantic love, Schwartz systematically incriminates the altruist ethics that likely lies behind most decisions you make, and presents selfishness-yes, selfishness-as the moral ideal. This radical book could change the world.” ―Jonathan Hoenig, Fox News Contributor
“Peter Schwartz's In Defense of Selfishness is a brilliant and timely book on the most important moral subject of our age: the battle between selfishness and altruism. Written with crystal-clear prose, penetrating logic, and a level of moral seriousness that readers will find compelling, Schwartz's book should redirect America's moral, social, and political conversation for a generation to come.” ―C Bradley Thompson, executive director, Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism
“Peter Schwartz has written an unapologetic defense of the individual that should be considered a must-own handbook to successfully debunk the widely accepted fallacies of the welfare state. In an easy to read style, he lays out the moral justification free-market advocates need to reclaim the economic high road from those self-described modern-day liberals who have misappropriated it.” ―Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital and author of the New York Times Best Seller THE REAL CRASH
About the Author
- Publisher : St. Martin's Press (June 2, 2015)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1137280166
- ISBN-13 : 978-1137280169
- Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.45 x 0.99 x 9.52 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,072,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
"A timely novel highlighting the worth and delicate nature of Nature itself." -Delia Owens Learn more
Top reviews from the United States
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The book also does an excellent job of indicating the essential alternative to altruism, namely, a morality founded on rational thinking and corresponding action as one's basic means of furthering one's own life -- and why that approach will do vastly more to sustain and strengthen one's life (for anyone who thinks and acts rationally) than dogmatic adherence to a causeless "duty" to subordinate oneself and one's mind to the wishes and alleged "needs" of as many others as possible. Some may wonder if the book's view of altruism is an exaggeration, but the book's extensive concrete examples and historical background demonstrate otherwise.
The book's key thesis is that everyone has a choice about what code of morality to follow, and that the objective requirements of man's life require consistent adherence to a morality of rational self-interest. The book shows that the morality of altruism, in contrast, inescapably destroys human life on a vast scale (over time).
I also found the book to be highly readable, flowing almost like an exciting detective story, with each major section and chapter leading naturally into the next in a progression that often makes the reader tantalizingly unable to resist continuing to read to find out what comes next. The suspense builds steadily, finally leading to a climax in the full identification of man's power of choice in morality.
This book will make an excellent companion to Ayn Rand's book, <I>The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism</I>, and her discussion of values, virtues and morality in the speech to the nation by John Galt in <I>Atlas Shrugged</I>. The basic principles of altruism versus rational self-interest are all very well stated and validated by Ayn Rand, but Peter Schwartz's book provides extensive additional concrete examples that can help the reader greatly to make a rational moral perspective more personally real and effective for living, with a correspondingly positive and growing influence for American life in general and Western culture as a whole.
Although many people today may try to follow an eclectic, pragmatic approach to moral issues, seeking to compromise with altruism, Schwartz argues (as did Ayn Rand) that an inconsistent, "mixed" approach to moral issues is steadily self-defeating. It is merely a delayed surrender to altruism, which meanwhile continues to grow and expand ever more virulently. A consistently principled opposition to altruism, with affirmation of rational self-interest, will be essential to preserve and uphold the personal freedom and productiveness that America and the West have enjoyed in the past and still enjoy to a more limited degree today, as Schwartz and Ayn Rand have persistently endeavored to show.
Nietzsche boldly criticized the altruist creed in the second half of the 19th century, yet his proposed alternative was hardly an improvement: rather than sacrificing the individual to the herd, the herd must be sacrificed to the "superior" individual. This indefensible view served only to reinforce the Attila-the-Hun caricature of "selfishness" that the altruists had long been promoting, and so altruism marched on unopposed for another half century--until Ayn Rand identified the basis for a rational, egoistic philosophy.
Rand's work should have been--and eventually will be--the deathblow to altruism. Unfortunately, altruism was more deeply entrenched than even she imagined, and its proponents were thus able to discredit her by targeting their attacks not at her actual ideas, but at the false, "straw man" conception of "selfishness" they had packaged and sold to the masses. When an entire culture has been conditioned from birth to believe in God, or The Fatherland, or that we are "our brother's keepers," or that words are merely conventions whose meanings are dictated by Society, such premises become extraordinarily difficult to shake. It takes a strong, independent thinker to question everything she has been taught, to be open to the possibility, for example, that a concept as familiar as "selfishness" has been systematically corrupted to mean exactly the opposite of what it would mean if rationally formed and defined.
Peter Schwartz's "In Defense of Selfishness" does not detail the history of altruism or the long process by which committed altruists inverted the meaning of "selfishness." Rather, Schwartz uses concrete examples both to demonstrate that the meaning of selfishness has in fact been corrupted, and to reveal the extent to which altruism now permeates our moral and political thought. In clear, concise prose, he shows how supposedly "selfless" (and therefore supposedly "virtuous") actions damage both the altruist and his supposed beneficiary. In short, Schwartz shows that altruism is lose-lose, while egoism, properly understood, is win-win.
I recognize that this turnabout will be difficult for many readers to swallow, and so does Mr. Schwartz. What most impressed me about this book--and the reason that I regard it as a triumph--is that it articulates and applies Ayn Rand's moral theory in a way that is accessible to general readers. It contains no complex philosophical arguments, no strained thought experiments, no digressions into technicalities. The presentation is brief, straightforward, and to the point, yet Schwartz makes his case thoroughly and effectively. There is, to be sure, much more to be said, and those who are intrigued by Schwartz's argument will deepen their understanding of it by going directly to the source (Rand's writings) for a broader exposition. But even those who have some familiarity with "Atlas Shrugged" are sure to benefit from Schwartz's presentation: I've found that most readers of Rand's most famous novel fail to fully grasp its moral implications simply because they have been preconditioned to read it through a lens distorted by altruism. Schwartz provides an invaluable service by pointing out the the muck that is clouding our vision and wiping the lens clean so that we can gain a clear view of Rand's moral thought.
If you are determined to hate Ayn Rand, or are convinced that morality means choosing between Mother Teresa and Gordon Gekko, then this book is unlikely to change your mind. If on the other hand you are prepared to question the "common wisdom" and take a critical look at our culture's prevailing moral assumptions, then I think you'll find "In Defense of Selfishness" an illuminating and thought-provoking read. It may very well change the way you look at the world and think about morality. I recommend that you read it and decide for yourself.
In the 50 years from "The Virtue of Selfishness" to "In Defense of Selfishness," I have seen this country sink further and further into socialism and irrationality. I think "In Defense of Selfishness" may be the book that can make a significant difference. I only hope that more and more people hear about it and read it. If only enough read it, then maybe there will be a chance to turn this country around.
Top reviews from other countries
If you're in the isolated place of being an individual thinking; 'is it me? or are people going nuts thinking we all have to share our stuff, come on people, I'll have nothing left....', then I recommend this to you. This book makes you look, observe and think, and see all the small ways you can improve your life.
This is also a book for those that have read Ayn Rand and find themselves struggling to explain her revolutionary ethics to others. It does a great job of exposing, explaining and denouncing typical altruism thinking today.
Personally, it is my favourite Objectivist book since OPAR, due to the pertinent examples, remorseless logic, and concise style.