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  1. Please define altruism as Rand's defines it for a reference point.
  2. Show why her definition is representative of altruism, and not just a convenient straw man of altruism and the arguments used to justify it, so we can confirm that her reference point is actually altruism and not just some special, similar, or narrow subset or false set of altruism.

asked Jan 26 '13 at 17:36

Adeikov's gravatar image


edited Jan 26 '13 at 17:36

You might also be interested in this question I asked a while ago.

(Jan 29 '13 at 08:59) JK Gregg ♦ JK%20Gregg's gravatar image

Part 2 in this question clearly uses "altruism" in some way that is different from the definition sought in Part 1. The question effectively asks the reader to specify what "altruism" refers to, and then judge whether or not Ayn Rand's view of "altruism" matches the conventional view, whatever that may be. I would invite the questioner to specify what he means by "atruism."

As for what Ayn Rand means by that term, there is a very substantial selection of excerpts in The Ayn Rand Lexicon under the topic of "Altruism." Refer also to the topic of "Kant, Immanuel" in the Lexicon. OPAR (p. 240) describes "altruism" as follows: "'altruism' ... is not a synonym for kindness, generosity, or good will, but the doctrine that man should place others above self as the fundamental rule of life." "Altruism" literally means "other-ism," living not only for others, but also through others, like Peter Keating and any other Second-Hander. Discussing the idea of animal "rights," OPAR mentions: "By its nature and throughout the animal kingdom, life survives by feeding on life. To demand that man defer to the 'rights' of other species is to deprive man himself of the right to life. This is 'other-ism,' i.e., altruism, gone mad." (p. 358)

For more examples of altruism in practice, here is an excerpt from the Lexicon entry on "Altruism":

The social system based on and consonant with the altruist morality -- with the code of self-sacifice -- is socialism, in all or any of its variants: fascism, Nazism, communism. All of them treat man as a sacrificial animal to be immolated for the benefit of the group, the tribe, the society, the state. Soviet Russia is the ultimate result, the final product, the full, consistent embodiment of the altruist morality in practice; it represents the only way that that morality can ever be practiced.

(Excerpted from CUI, p. 195, "Conservatism: An Obituary.") The CUI article goes on to describe conservatives as disarmed by altruism in their efforts to challenge the "liberals," and the "liberals" as likewise disarmed by altruism in trying to challenge the communists. Many ordinary Americans may insist that they favor only "generosity" and "loving your fellow man" as expressions of fundamental "kindness," but that is merely inconsistency (mixed premises); the politicians and the intellectuals pursue altruism and statism far more consistently, as the CUI article and many other Objectivist writings describe.

answered Jan 28 '13 at 02:33

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

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Asked: Jan 26 '13 at 17:36

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Last updated: Jan 29 '13 at 08:59