Ayn Rand, Aristotle, and Selfishness

Ayn Rand, Aristotle, and Selfishness

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Ayn Rand, Aristotle, and Selfishness

Selfishness is an act that humans innately have implanted within them. Ayn Rand being a rational egoist had many moral beliefs, one being especially about selfishness. She believed that: “Self-interest, properly understood, is the standard of morality and selflessness is the deepest immorality.”( Ayn Rand 279) This basically emphasizes that you should see oneself, as an end to oneself. A person’s own life and happiness are their highest values, and that they don’t exist as servants or slaves to the interests of others. In the same way, others as well don’t exist as servants or slaves to a person’s own interests. Each person's own life and happiness is his/her crucial end. Ayn Rand, Aristotle, and Frederick Nietzsche all had theories behind this, which was that Humans are innately selfish. Threw out society today all humans are selfish and it is proven by these philosophers that it is naturally developed and there is no cure to prevent it.

Ayn Rand, a great Russian philosopher, once questioned why shouldn’t one be selfish. Ayn Rand responded to that question with her theory which she called objectivist ethics. This theory states that humans are innately selfish. “Everyone does what they really want to do otherwise, they wouldn’t do it”.(Ayn rand 66) Rand believed that humans are rational beings and maintained the idea that rational people will help others if they get something in return. This idea is a voluntary co-operation, which applies to dealings with trade and justice. It also applies to human relationships. In developing her theory she criticized the ethics of altruism, which says that people should act out of selfish concern for others. Ayn Rand says in her book called “The Virtue of Selfishness” that the proper method of judging when one should help another person is by reference to one’s own rational self-interest and one’s own hierarchy of values. Ayn Rand followed Aristotle’s point of view. However unlike Aristotle she focused on an individual other than a community. “There is no such thing as ‘society’ … only individual men” (Ayn Rand 279)

Ayn Rand followed her great acknowledged teacher Aristotle. She changed her view slightly different from Aristotle which was to focus on an individual rather than focusing on a whole community. Aristotle believed that one’s own life is the only life one has to live for. Aristotle also stated that the “good” is what is objectively good for a particular man.

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Good means good for the individual or the moral agent. Egoism is an integral part of Aristotle’s ethics. According to Aristotle, there is an end of all of the actions that we perform which we desire for it. This is what is known as eudaimonia, flourishing, or happiness, which is desired for its own sake with all other things being desired on its account. Each man is responsible for his own character. According to Aristotle, each person has a natural obligation to achieve, when helping others. Each person should be concerned with the “best that is within us” and with the most accomplished and self-sufficient success and excellence. Viewing selfishness according to Aristotle is that selfishness is naturally inherited through out life.

Unlike Aristotle and Ayn Rand there were many philosophers that challenged egoism by presenting a different definition of selfishness. Mary Midgley a British philosopher, Hazel Barnes an American philosopher and James Rachels an American philosopher didn’t determine selfishness by the motives of the moral agent who carries out the act. They believed that it is determined by the person who benefits from or damaged by the act. These philosophers say that helping another is unselfish but causing hurt even thou it wasn’t intentionally done is selfish.

In conclusion Ayn and Aristotle both developed theories that help attain the fact that humans are innately selfish. It is in human nature to put our self need before the needs of others. This is a human trait that cannot be given up by any person.
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