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Classic Text #2

The Virtue of Selfishness

Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand is a popular philosopher and novelist who came from Russia and died in 1982. Her novel The Fountainhead was made into a movie and her novel Anthem is standard fare for US high school students. Two primary themes that resound in her work are the nature of freedom and the role of reason in human life. Her writing is complex and pointed. It takes a careful and patient reader to appreciate the threads of argument that run throughout here work. In reading this work, keep the following questions in mind:

  • Why does Rand focus on the meaning of selfishness? (i.e. how does that move affect her essay?)
  • What other accounts of altruism are there?
  • What forms of egoism does Rand warn against and why?
  • Why does Rand think that a person needs a moral code?

It may be valuable for your to learn more about Ayn Rand and explore her ideas and those who follow her. I particularly encourage you to read the short biography. Here are some links to Rand and Objectivist sites:

Ayn Rand Institute

Objectivism: The Philosophy of Reason

Objectivist FAQ
Check out The Role of Philosophy in Human Life

Is Morality Real?
A real video to try with a brief discussion of moral value and self-interest. Please note that a Real Video Player plug-in is required to view this video. You can get that plug-in from Please note that the RealPlayer 7 Basic is the free player (you have to look carefully for the link). You do not have to purchase the Plus player.


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