Selfishness- A Virtue?

Upon completing The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, my view on selfishness will never be the same. Prior to reading the book, “selfishness” was an attribute stemming from evil and pride as an innate test of human compassion . It was synonymous with self-centered, self-absorbed, and self-serving.

Now the word has a certain zing to it. The book presented it as synonymous with self-sufficient, self-motivated, and self-generated. Before you question my ethics, let us delve deeper into what “selfishness” meant in the book. It was understood as an awareness of self. It is when one’s truth is his/her only motive. His/her own truth and work to achieve on his/her own terms. Strength and courage must come from one’s own spirit not the justifications of power or money. A human’s spirit lies in “self”.

Rand argues:

“Men have been taught that the ego is the synonym of evil, and selflessness the ideal of virtue. But the creator is the egotist in the absolute sense, and the selfless man is the one who does not think, feel, just or act. These are all functions of the self.”

Her primary argument is not to blindly follow virtues set by others as a means of self-justification. One must actively pursue the self, and not function through others for consciousness is an act of self. It takes courage to pursue one’s self and humbleness to be a part of a collective good.


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