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The virtue of selfishness, a new concept of egoism Paperback – January 1, 1964

4.1 out of 5 stars 310 customer reviews

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Paperback, January 1, 1964
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--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The problem with Rand is easily detectable by careful listeners of this production: a good essayist with a flair for the dramatic turn of phrase, she wasted her obvious writing skills in an effort to support outlandish personal opinions cloaked in the guise of logic. An absolutist thinker, she devotes one whole essay to an effort to persuade us that we really should see things as black and white, with no shades of gray. Born in Soviet Russia, Rand so despised socialism and collectivist thinking that she leapt to the furthest extreme possible to become the champion of unbridled capitalism, the rights of the individual at the expense of the community, and the diminution of all regulation by the state, with the exception of a judicial system and the control of crime. Among the sadly dated ideas she conveys are the attitude that homosexuals are mutant symptoms of a sick society and the belief that anyone with an interest in internationalism is a "one world" proponent. To use one of her own favored words, Rand's political and social philosophy is critically "muddled." C.M. Herbert's voice is efficient and cold, making it a perfect choice for the narration of this author's work. Recommended only as documentation of an anomaly in the history of ideas. Mark Pumphrey, Polk Cty. P.L., Columbus, NC
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Every book by Ayn Rand published in her lifetime is still in print, and hundreds of thousands of copies are sold each year, so far totalling more than twenty million. Several new volumes have been published posthumously. Her vision of man and her philosophy for living on earth have changed the lives of thousands of readers and launched a philosophic movement with a growing impact on American culture.


--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 151 pages
  • Publisher: Signet (January 1, 1964)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00005X3N7
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (310 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,404,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
To some of the people who have written previously striving to stain Ayn Rand and Objectivism with examples of brutal acts, it would be a good idea to at least have the decency to actually read The Virtue of Selfishness so they would know what they are talking about, because as is, they only stand out as examples of people talking about a subject they know nothing about. Even more the posted review from the Library Journal, which heads the page, is a highly prejudicial piece of work that only exhibits the author's emotional feelings and distaste for Ayn Rand and Objectivism. Full of sharply pointed adjectives like "outlandish" and "sadly dated" and "mutant symptoms" the author fails to offer factual evidence to make his claim, and in other instances, such as his claim that Rand advocated "the rights of the individual at the expense of the community" was completely mistaken.

Without a doubt, this is a forum of opinions and one has to expect a wide variety of different views from all types of people. But I would expect Amazon to follow a higher standard when posting comments by media sources such as Library Journal. If you are going to post something from a media source, at least post an articulate and well-informed piece instead of a highly prejudicial post, filled with the author's ungrounded opinions divorced from facts.

In the early sixties, when The Virtue of Selfishness hit the market, it was one of the first book-form expositions of Objectivism. True to form, in the introduction to the book, Ayn Rand defines a new concept of egoism and points out that her definition of selfishness, or rational self-interest, differs radically from the common usage of the term.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am writing, ostensibly, to provide you with some information regarding the book, in order that you may make a more rational decision as to whether you will purchase it.
Rand is often provocative, and mention of her/and or her philosophy can create instant dichotomies. I will not, in this review, critique the ideational content of her work. I offer this review with some "objective", pardon the pun, criticism.
1. This work offers a concise, fairly complete philosophy (which you may or may not agree with), from the essential and foundational steps, to their eventual results in daily life. This complete-package approach is an interesting window into her philosophy. Several issues could have been explored in more detail surely, but this collection of essays acts primarily to spark thinking on behalf of the reader.
2. Her philosophy is a shocking alternative to the present implicity accepted norms in society. Her counter-arguments to both traditional and contemporary systems of ethics are interesting and worth consideration, even if you eventually endeavour to refute them.
3. This work presents profound ideas in rather straightforward text. Topics include: ethics metaphysics politics values comments on contemporary trends in philosophy comments on ethical relativism
4. This work provides some insight into the breadth and depth which simple assumptions may have on daily life. Rands ideas, and those she illustrates for purposes of refutation, are extrapolated from basic intellectual concepts to day-to-day effects on human life. This concept-to-consequence style of writing offers a holistic perspective that can easily be applied to the work of other philosophers.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
As the title suggests this is going to be an actual review of the _Virtue of Selfishness_ and not another argument for or against Miss Rand's thesis. I'm assuming here that you, as a potential reader, would possibly like to know a little something about what the book contains. If so, read on.
Objectivism, the philosophy which Ayn Rand originated, is a full system of thought. This book presents a part of that system, its ethics. And here, as with the other books Miss Rand has written, her thesis is controversial, strikingly original and brilliantly articulated. The book, for instance, begins with the following premise:
"Ethics is _not_ a mystic fantasy--nor a social convention--nor a dispensable, subjective luxury. . . . Ethics is an _objective necessity of man's survival_--not by the grace of the supernatural nor of your neighbors nor of your whims, but by the grace of reality and the nature of life."
This conception of ethics as a _this-worldly, objective need of man determined by reality and not by some ruling consciousness_ is virtually unwarranted in the history of philosophy. Her conclusions are just as controversial however--and, for proof, read the following passage (which shows the difference between the Objectivist ethics and that of every other system known to mankind):
"Every human being is an end in himself, not the means to the ends or the welfare of others," says Miss Rand, "and therefore, man must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself."
In other words, Rand advocates _rational selfishness_. Now, what does this mean or entail--and how does one achieve it? These are the questions that the book answers (and which the other reviews posted at this site most certainly do not). If you would like to find out those answers, I highly recommend you read this book.
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