At the age of 16 I read one of Ayn Rands works on Objectivism and felt uneasy and discomforted by some of its tenets. Had I instead read one her ‘novels’ Atlas Shrugged or Fountainhead, it might have been less challenging for a 16 year old to at least view the tenets through the story and the actions of its characters. But even then, I suspect I might have reacted the same way to the rationale behind the behaviour of those characters.
The book is one of her lesser known releases and if you know Ayn Rand as a fiction writer, you might not even know about this particular book. It is called ‘The Virtue of Selfishness’, co-authored with Nathaniel Brandon. It is full of theory, psychology and a whole lot of arguments on why selfishness is in fact a virtue rather than an evil human tendency.
Too heavy. But of course. I was too young to understand.
Now many many years later – I ran into this 1959 interview with Ayn Rand that revived some of my interest in her philosophy.
This video revived my interest in her and her work, particularly her theory of objectivism.
And I must say that after all these years, although I am not shocked by the philosophy, I still find it a little queasy to accept them.
It is not about disagreement with the philosophy. I don’t think I disagree. I think I just have a problem taking it eye-to-eye. A lot like sunlight that is so harsh that you can’t see it directly.
For all those values, particularly those that come from a Tambram upbringing – having grandmothers who tell you stories of great men and women who strived to uphold truth, values, honour, etc over self, having school books talking about great leaders like The Mahatma, it is difficult to see eye-to-eye with that theory.
But then again, it is not really a question of being selfish the way we think about selfishness. It is not about knocking down the man on a Virar Local so you have more room for your feet.
It is about rationality of self interest.
It is, as she herself said in one of her books, the virtue of enlightened self interest.
Share your thoughts. Will be interesting to hear what you think.