Monday, June 18, 2018

QUORA: What does Ayn Rand think about vitrues [sic] such as charity, selflessness, and friendship?

QUORA *: What does Ayn Rand think about vitrues [sic] such as charity, selflessness, and friendship?

I left this answer:

I’m not going to pretend to be able to read Ayn Rand’s, or anyone’s, mind.

But as a believer in Rand’s philosophy, which she named Objectivism, I can tell you what I think.

Charity is neither a moral duty nor forbidden. To the extent one’s charitable time or money is given to promote one’s values, is non-sacrificial (does not harm more important of one’s values), and one can afford it, charity is virtuous. But it is not a major virtue and should not be the primary focus of one’s life. Needless to say, charity should never be coerced, as in a government welfare program.

Selflessness is not a virtue. It is a vice, because it means self-sacrifice, or denial of self. It is fundamentally dishonest, since honesty means fidelity to the facts of reality. Selflessness is dishonest because it means precisely the denial of the facts of one’s own needs, wants, and values. Worse, to be selfless is to betray one’s values; to obliterate one’s integrity. Objectivism holds that self-sacrifice, properly understood as the giving up of a personal value for something you value less, or not at all, is always immoral; a position with which I wholeheartedly agree. To avoid confusion, I must stress that selfishness, the opposite of selflessness, does not preclude doing for others whom you value, such as a friend or spouse--or even a stranger--so long as doing so does not come at the expense of making one’s own life worse--that is, of ignoring or betraying more important values. People one cares about are values, and a person of honesty and integrity doesn’t betray one’s values. Betrayal is an act of selflessness.

Friendship is not technically a virtue. But it is unequivocally a major value, because it is unequivocally selfish. A friendship is a bond with someone whom you value and who values you, and whose absence in your life would make your life less fulfilling. Friendship is not only a luxury. It is the type of win-win companionship that is a necessary contribution to a flourishing life.

Related Reading:

Books to Aid in Understanding Ayn Rand's Rational Selfishness

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Quora is a question-and-answer website where questions are created, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. The company was founded in June 2009, and the website was made available to the public on June 21, 2010.[3]Quora aggregates questions and answers to topics. Users can collaborate by editing questions and suggesting edits to other users' answers.[4]

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