The Virtue of Selfishness: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition

Overview

Ayn Rand here sets forth the moral principles of Objectivism, the philosophy that holds human life—the life proper to a rational being—as the standard of moral values and regards altruism as incompatible with man's nature, with the creative requirements of his survival, and with a free society.

More than 1.3 million copies sold!

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Overview

Ayn Rand here sets forth the moral principles of Objectivism, the philosophy that holds human life—the life proper to a rational being—as the standard of moral values and regards altruism as incompatible with man's nature, with the creative requirements of his survival, and with a free society.

More than 1.3 million copies sold!

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

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 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451163936
  • Publisher: Signet
  • Publication date: 11/28/1964
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Fiftieth Edition, Anniversary
  • Edition number: 50
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 153,447
  • Product dimensions: 4.24 (w) x 6.84 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 2, 1905. At age six she taught herself to read and two years later discovered her first fictional hero in a French magazine for children, thus capturing the heroic vision that sustained her throughout her life. At the age of nine she decided to make fiction writing her career. Thoroughly opposed to the mysticism and collectivism of Russian culture, she thought of herself as a European writer, especially after encountering Victor Hugo, the writer she most admired.

During her high school years, she was eyewitness to both the Kerensky Revolution, which she supported, and—in 1917—the Bolshevik Revolution, which she denounced from the outset. In order to escape the fighting, her family went to the Crimea, where she finished high school. The final Communist victory brought the confiscation of her father's pharmacy and periods of near-starvation. When introduced to American history in her last year of high school, she immediately took America as her model of what a nation of free people could be.

When her family returned from the Crimea, she entered the University of Petrograd to study philosophy and history. Graduating in 1924, she experienced the disintegration of free inquiry and the takeover of the university by communist thugs. Amidst the increasingly gray life, her one great pleasure was Western films and plays. Long an admirer of cinema, she entered the State Institute for Cinema Arts in 1924 to study screenwriting.

In late 1925 she obtained permission to leave Soviet Russia for a visit to relatives in the United States. Although she told Soviet authorities that her visit would be short, she was determined never to return to Russia. She arrived in New York City in February 1926. She spent the next six months with her relatives in Chicago, obtained an extension to her visa, and then left for Hollywood to pursue a career as a screenwriter.

On Ayn Rand's second day in Hollywood, Cecil B. DeMille saw her standing at the gate of his studio, offered her a ride to the set of his movie "The King of Kings," and gave her a job, first as an extra, then as a script reader. During the next week at the studio, she met an actor, Frank O'Connor, whom she married in 1929.

After struggling for several years, she sold her first screenplay, "Red Pawn," to Universal Pictures in 1932 and saw her first stage play, Night of January 16th, produced in Hollywood and then on Broadway. Her first novel, We the Living, was published in 1936. The most autobiographical of her novels, it was based on her years under Soviet tyranny. She began writing The Fountainhead in 1935. When published in 1943, it gained for its author lasting recognition as a champion of individualism.

Ayn Rand returned to Hollywood in late 1943 to write the screenplay for The Fountainhead, but wartime restrictions delayed production until 1948. Working part time as a screenwriter for Hal Wallis Productions, she began her major novel, Atlas Shrugged, in 1946. In 1951 she moved back to New York City and devoted herself full time to the completion of Atlas Shrugged.

Published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged was her greatest achievement and last work of fiction. Although she considered herself primarily a fiction writer, she realized that in order to create heroic fictional characters, she had to identify the philosophic principles which make such individuals possible.

Thereafter, Ayn Rand wrote and lectured on her philosophy: Objectivism, which she characterized as "a philosophy for living on earth." She published and edited her own periodicals from 1962 to 1976, her essays providing much of the material for six books on Objectivism and its application to the culture. Ayn Rand died on March 6, 1982, in New York City.

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.

Biography

Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 2, 1905. At age six she taught herself to read and two years later discovered her first fictional hero in a French magazine for children, thus capturing the heroic vision that sustained her throughout her life. At the age of nine she decided to make fiction writing her career. Thoroughly opposed to the mysticism and collectivism of Russian culture, she thought of herself as a European writer, especially after encountering authors such as Walter Scott and—in 1918—Victor Hugo, the writer she most admired.

During her high school years, she was eyewitness to both the Kerensky Revolution, which she supported, and—in 1917—the Bolshevik Revolution, which she denounced from the outset. In order to escape the fighting, her family went to the Crimea, where she finished high school. The final Communist victory brought the confiscation of her father's pharmacy and periods of near-starvation. When introduced to American history in her last year of high school, she immediately took America as her model of what a nation of free men could be.

When her family returned from the Crimea, she entered the University of Petrograd to study philosophy and history. Graduating in 1924, she experienced the disintegration of free inquiry and the takeover of the university by communist thugs. Amidst the increasingly gray life, her one great pleasure was Western films and plays. Long a movie fan, she entered the State Institute for Cinema Arts in 1924 to study screen writing.

In late 1925 she obtained permission to leave Soviet Russia for a visit to relatives in the United States. Although she told Soviet authorities that her visit would be short, she was determined never to return to Russia. She arrived in New York City in February 1926. She spent the next six months with her relatives in Chicago, obtained an extension to her visa, and then left for Hollywood to pursue a career as a screenwriter.

On Ayn Rand's second day in Hollywood, Cecil B. DeMille saw her standing at the gate of his studio, offered her a ride to the set of his movie The King of Kings, and gave her a job, first as an extra, then as a script reader. During the next week at the studio, she met an actor, Frank O'Connor, whom she married in 1929; they were married until his death fifty years later.

After struggling for several years at various non-writing jobs, including one in the wardrobe department at the RKO Corporation, she sold her first screenplay, Red Pawn to Universal Studios in 1932 and saw her first stage play, Night of January 16th, produced in Hollywood and then on Broadway. Her first novel, We the Living, was completed in 1933 but was rejected by publishers for years, until The Macmillan Company in the United States and Cassells and Company in England published the book in 1936. The most autobiographical of her novels—it was based on her years under Soviet tyranny—We the Living was not well-received by American intellectuals and reviewers. Ayn Rand was up against the pro-communism dominating the culture during "the Red Decade."

She began writing The Fountainhead in 1935. In the character of the architect Howard Roark, she presented for the first time the kind of hero whose depiction was the chief goal of her writing: the ideal man, man as "he could be and ought to be." The Fountainhead was rejected by twelve publishers but finally accepted by the Bobbs-Merrill Company. When published in 1943, it made history by becoming a best seller through word-of-mouth two years later, and gained for its author lasting recognition as a champion of individualism.

Ayn Rand returned to Hollywood in late 1943 to write the screenplay for The Fountainhead, but wartime restrictions delayed production until 1948. Working part time as a screenwriter for Hal Wallis Productions, she began her major novel, Atlas Shrugged, in 1946. In 1951 she moved back to New York City and devoted herself full time to the completion of Atlas Shrugged.

Published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged was her greatest achievement and last work of fiction. In this novel she dramatized her unique philosophy in an intellectual mystery story that integrated ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics and sex. Although she considered herself primarily a fiction writer, she realized that in order to create heroic fictional characters, she had to identify the philosophic principles that make such individuals possible. She needed to formulate "a philosophy for living on earth."

Thereafter, Ayn Rand wrote and lectured on her philosophy—Objectivism. She published and edited her own periodicals from 1962 to 1976, her essays providing much of the material for nine books on Objectivism and its application to the culture. Ayn Rand died on March 6, 1982, in her New York City apartment.

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 totaling 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.

Author biography courtesy of The Ayn Rand Institute.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Alice Rosenbaum (real name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 2, 1905
    2. Place of Birth:
      St. Petersburg, Russia
    1. Date of Death:
      March 6, 1982
    2. Place of Death:
      New York, New York

Table of Contents

Introduction
1. The Objectivist Ethics, Ayn Rand (1961)
2. Mental Health versus Mysticism and Self-Sacrifice, Nathaniel Branden (1963)
3. The Ethics of Emergencies, Ayn Rand (1963)
4. The "Conflicts" of Men's Interests, Ayn Rand (1962)
5. Isn't Everyone Selfish?, Nathaniel Branden (1962)
6. The Psychology of Pleasure, Nathaniel Branden (1964)
7. Doesn't Life Require Compromise?, Ayn Rand (1962)
8. How Does One Lead a Rational Life in an Irrational Society?, Ayn Rand (1962)
9. The Cult of Moral Grayness, Ayn Rand (1964)
10. Collectivized Ethics, Ayn Rand (1963)
11. The Monument Builders, Ayn Rand (1962)
12. Man's Rights, Ayn Rand (1963)
13. Collectivized "Rights", Ayn Rand (1963)
14. The Nature of Government, Ayn Rand (1963)
15. Government Financing in a Free Society, Ayn Rand (1964)
16. The Divine Right of Stagnation, Nathaniel Branden (1963)
17. Racism, Ayn Rand (1963)
18. Counterfeit Individualism, Nathaniel Branden (1962)
19. The Argument from Intimidation, Ayn Rand (1964)
Index

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 41 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2001

    THE LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW IS IRONIC!!

    I read the review from library journal and chuckle. Rand predicts a range of phenomenon including 'leftist intolerance for individualism' and the idea that colletcivism should be voluntary. It is ironic that the Library Journal review, which scorns her, also confirms her opinion. Do not be fooled. This work may not be objective, but its logic is accurate and cutting. I highly recomend this book. If you think you will disagree with it, then I challenge you to read it. What are you worried about, that it might change your mind? Read it all the way through, and weigh the truth of the work against reality, not propaganda. You may well learn a truth about yourself you would not have trusted.

    14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    This book is only for those that are reasonable

    I've read the bad reviews that some people have given this book, or Ayn Rand herself, and I see that they do not understand Ayn Rand or her philosophy at all. She addresses all of their arguments clearly and logically. But, if you haven't read Ayn Rand before, as these "bad reviewers" obviously haven't; do not start with this book. Read: Anthem,The Fountainhead, or best of all, read Atlas Shrugged. This is why I gave it one star for being comprehensive, because her other works give her philosophy so much more vividness. In the end; her logic is hard to refute, and it is thought provoking in the highest degree. So give it a shot...the mental stimulation is well worth it.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 30, 2009

    Thought provoking and inspiring

    This book can change the way you think about virtues. It uses language literally and explains clearly the difference between how the word "selfishness" is perceived and what it actually means. Ayn Rand has taught me to think very carefully about the difference between good and evil and her philosophy provides a clear outline for judging values in all aspects of life. Please note: this requires you to use your brain.
    I do disagree with one example in the book written by Nathaniel Branden concerning homosexuality. The wider abstraction he was making was logical, but the example used in this case could - in my opinion - be disproved.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2007

    A reviewer

    I read 'The Virtue of Selfishness' when I was in high school, shortly after reading Aristotle's 'De Anima' and some other works in philosophy. I thought then, and still do now, that she was addressing some of the most important philosophical issues in a unique, intelligent way. I loved reading it and was very happy to find someone who could defend rational egoism. Inspired by this book and a few others, I continued to study philosophy.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2001

    Wish I had read it earlier

    This book spells out the underlying philosophy behind Rand's great fiction novels, Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead. The Virtue of Selfishness makes an extremely convincing argument for individualism that I have not seen intelligently argued against. The book is a series of short essays that are readable and entertaining in one sense and thought provoking and intellectual in another, achieving a strong balance between the desire to learn and the desire to tear your hair out that other philosophical writing can induce. Nearly all the points that Rand and Branden make throughout address counter-arguments and utilize real life examples, vital to any credible persuasive writing. I had my doubts about Rand before I read any of her stuff, but now that I've actually given her work a chance it has changed my outlook and understanding on life. This book is the ideal start to delving into Ayn Rand's non fiction work.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2007

    Opinions Thirty Years On

    I read 'Virtue of Selfishness', 'Capitalism, The Unknown Ideal', 'Atlas Shrugged', 'The Fountainhead', and other Ayn Rand fiction and non-fiction in the late 70's at the age of 32. Their main affect on me was that I took over responsiblity for my life and started computer school at the age of 32, completed it, and ended up with a successful career. --- I became a staunch conservative, up until about 6 years ago, at which time I 'flip-flopped' into a staunch liberal in reaction to my disgust with the Republican Party, and my sudden epiphany that the American economy is rigged to maintain an upper class served by a lower. Truly, capitalism is, and will continue to be an unknown ideal because governments always tinker with the economy skew results so as to make the current administration look good. --- However, I couldn't refute Ayn Rand's ideas in 'Selfishness...' thirty years ago, although I tried, until I realized what she was getting at. I doubt I would do any better now, regardless of my politics. --- My only issue with Ayn Rand is that she was either naive or overly-optimistic about human nature. --- As far as homophobia goes, in 1964, almost everyone was homophobic. At seventeen, I know I was. But I was right at the end of my 12 year indoctrination in public school, so it's understandable I would be subject to the Zeitgeist of the times. --- BTW, telling me what I need to read first so I'll know what to think totally makes me disregard anything you have to say. It's like telling me I should accept something because it's in the Bible. Scholars and experts - they know a lot, but can they think?

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2012

    Ayn Rand and her work

    I must say that though I'm conservative I never knew her works were so important to the cause of freedom and individuality. The fact that she foresaw what's going on in our country does her some credit. I also would like to say that posts by Anonymous about her are right on point and to thank Anonymous for the extremely helpful advice as it was those posts that made me buy, FINALLY,and read 'ATLAS SHRUGGED'& I'LL BE PURCHASING ALL BY HER BECAUSE OF POSTS BY ANONYMOUS. Thanks!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2010

    Fantastic!

    Ayn Rand was truly remarkable. She knews what America's foundation stood on.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The Virtue of Selfishness

    Author Ayn Rand is completely remarkable. The logic put forth by the book, is not only true, it is eye opening. I enjoyed this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2005

    A very original book

    this book talks about the effects of commnunism today.Reading the book makes me feel like you have to do certain things just to survive in society.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2005

    not impressed

    I dont think the library journal is ironic, just observant and it seems most reviews agree also. She contracdicts herself many times. Im not impressed.

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2003

    The virtue of rational hedonism

    Ayn rand and her boy toy nathaniel lay out the doctrine of rational hedonism. They either ignore or misinterpret most of western philosophy and religion in order to shape their doctrine. I would strongly suggest that a person should read books of philosophy and religion before reading this book. Although I did like chapters 9 and 17 I think most it did not make that much sense because of the doctrine of self-sacrifice. They talk about the need of an army but the main reason for an army is to sacrifice oneself for the greater good which is a contradiction of their argument of self-sacrifice. Foresoothe, I will probably read a couple of more books but not expect too much.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2010

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    Posted September 1, 2011

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    Posted August 3, 2011

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    Posted October 24, 2008

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    Posted March 7, 2010

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    Posted February 22, 2010

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    Posted July 23, 2011

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    Posted January 1, 2010

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