by Michael Gilson De Lemos
The unselfishess man, with what self does he love? Altruism is a mixed up idea and thus, as used, an evil, but remember Rand is using a strict technical definition from Comte--sacrifice of self to thers as a primary moral goal--and specifically warns against the propaganda that this is the same as compassion, giving, kindness to strangers, and so forth, all of which she says are in the proper moment worthy things.
I would add altruism confuses ethics ( in Aristotle's
original definition, the study of character to develop the aware self )
and morals ( the study of salutary relations between self and others, and
in general wise customs or mores). Aristotle, Spinoza,
My personal experience with Rand was she was warm personally but in philosophy she was all business and gave little slack to those she judged insincere or flakes. Her comments on matters of compassion were mostly to point out the traps of making this a primary goal in ethics and morality e.g. mercy on Hitler, resolving alleged conflicts of interest via sacrifices, love where factuality was needed, sentimentalism getting in the way of true love, and common vulgar objections that confuse rational egoism with egotism, etc. She also was very interested in communicating that love by a selfless person was an emotional snare, that for love to be strong we must first love ourselves, and this in turn was built on factors involving rationality, self-knowledge, self-esteem from following good practices, etc. She would I believe argue that unless you got this straight, pure concern for others was subtly ( at best ) flawed with many insincerities, paradoxes, and emotional traps. Her follower Branden has written much on the subject, including some excellent exercises to accept and release emotions.
Altruism is also defined in modern times as concern
for others, but this is hardly a moral concept, merely a description, and
it leaves undefined questions such as what concern, what others, and why.
As has been pointed out, Christ and many religious
Rand is talking mental organization and discipline, division of labor ( a society where we officiously all mind other's business is a chaos where no one pay's attention to their own ) and getting rid of fuzzy "feel-good" concepts used by exigent men to oppress the unwary. Perhaps her simplest statement poetically is Roark's (this is from memory) "If you wish to do something for people, you must first be a person who can get things done, and love the doing for yourself, not the praise or anything else."
Having said that, a person interested in Objectivism
is well-advised to consider how Rand's groundwork then improves and
strengthens teamwork, compassion, sensitive authentic feeling for others,
social customs of mutual help, and the like, There is much
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