Altruism and Egoism Essay

Altruism and Egoism Essay

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In popular culture, an altruistic person is connoted with being a genuine individual that plays as a role model for others, but an egotistic person is synonymous with an evil beast that squashes over anything to attain his own end. However, the views of Ayn Rand heavily collide with these mainstream perceptions of Altruism and Egoism. Rand believes that the basic principle of altruism "is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, his service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value."(1) Thus, she conceptualizes altruism as an ethical dilemma for the person whom sacrifice is demanded. Furthermore, she delineates egoism as the theory, which holds that "it is each person’s responsibility to choose his goals and values by use of his independent reasoning mind; and that it is his right to pursue these goals in quest of his own selfish, personal happiness." Accordingly, she insists that ego is what every man needs in pursuit of his happiness. In her bestselling book, The Fountainhead, Rand demonstrates her ideas of altruists and egoists through the characters Catherine Halsey, Peter Keating, Ellsworth Toohey, and Howard Roark. Through the illustration of their lives, Ayn Rand creates an enthralling case for the inferiority of altruists and the superiority of egoists.
The main parasitical leader of all altruists—individuals who sacrifice their whole life for others—is Ellsworth Toohey, a columnist for The New York Banner—a major news paper company owned by Gail Wynand. Through his Column, Toohey rises to power by shaping public opinion by his manipulative articles that negatively criticize the innovative man, but praises the mediocre. Toohey mis...


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...r wishes, he serenely replies, "I don't intend to build in order to serve or help anyone. I don't intend to build in order to have clients. I intend to have clients in order to build. "(26) Consequently," his decisions obey his flawless logic"(cliff notes), based on the judgment of his mind rather than the decisions of other men’s unprocessed judgments.
Through Roark and other altruistic characters, Rand shares her idea of how people in society should favor egoism rather than succumb to the flaws of altruism. Rand sets up a clear contrast of how the characters lives differ due to their ethical paths they chose. The characters Roark, Dominique, and Wynand end up achieving the highest achievement a man can ever attain—pure happiness. However, Peter Keating, Catherine Halsey, and Ellsworth Toohey lose hope in their life and achieve nothing but—loss of their souls.

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