Friday, September 01, 2006

The Virtue of Selfishness!


I couldn’t agree more on this with her. Every time I read, re-read and read these lines, innumerable times, I am filled with joy and tears flow out of my eyes without my knowledge.
Hmm here is a piece of text of my most favorite writer….

The virtue of Rationality means the recognition and acceptance of reason as one’s only source of knowledge, one’s only judge of values and one’s only guide to action. It means one’s total commitment to a state of full, conscious awareness, to the maintenance of a full mental focus in all issues, in all choices, in all of one’s waking hours. It means a commitment to the fullest perception of reality within one’s power and to the constant, active expansion of one’s perception, i.e., of one’s knowledge. It means a commitment to the reality of one’s own existence, i.e., to the principle that all of one’s goals, values and actions take place in reality and, therefore, that one must never place any value or consideration whatsoever above one’s perception of reality. It means a commitment to the principle that all of one’s convictions, values, goals, desires and actions must be based on, derived from, chosen and validated by a process of thought—as precise and scrupulous a process of thought, directed by as ruthlessly strict an application of logic, as one’s fullest capacity permits. It means one’s acceptance of the responsibility of forming one’s own judgments and of living by the work of one’s own mind (which is the virtue of Independence). It means that one must never sacrifice one’s convictions to the opinions or wishes of others (which is the virtue of Integrity)—that one must never attempt to fake reality in any manner (which is the virtue of Honesty)—that one must never seek or grant the unearned and undeserved, neither in matter nor in spirit (which is the virtue of Justice). It means that one must never desire effects without causes, and that one must never enact a cause without assuming full responsibility for its effects—that one must never act like a zombie, i.e., without knowing one’s own purposes and motives—that one must never make any decisions, form any convictions or seek any values out of context, i.e., apart from or against the total, integrated sum of one’s knowledge—and, above all, that one must never seek to get away with contradictions. It means the rejection of any form of mysticism, i.e., any claim to some non sensory, non rational, non definable, supernatural source of knowledge. It means a commitment to reason, not in sporadic fits or on selected issues or in special emergencies, but as a permanent way of life. The virtue of Productiveness is the recognition of the fact that productive work is the process by which man’s mind sustains his life, the process that sets man free of the necessity to adjust himself to his background, as all animals do, and gives him the power to adjust his background to himself. Productive work is the road of man’s unlimited achievement and calls upon the highest attributes of his character: his creative ability, his ambitiousness, his self-assertiveness, his refusal to bear uncontested disasters, his dedication to the goal of reshaping the earth in the image of his values. “Productive work” does not mean the unfocused performance of the motions of some job. It means the consciously chosen pursuit of a productive career, in any line of rational endeavor, great or modest, on any level of ability. It is not the degree of a man’s ability or the scale of his work that is ethically relevant here, but the fullest and most purposeful use of his mind.

The virtue of Pride is the recognition of the fact “that as man must produce the physical values he needs to sustain his life, so he must acquire the values of character that make his life worth sustaining—that as man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul.” (Atlas Shrugged.) The virtue of Pride can best be described by the term: “moral ambitiousness.” It means that one must earn the right to hold oneself as one’s own highest value by achieving one’s own moral perfection—which one achieves by never accepting any code of irrational virtues impossible to practice and by never failing to practice the virtues one knows to be rational—by never accepting an unearned guilt and never earning any, or, if one has earned it, never leaving it uncorrected—by never resigning oneself passively to any flaws in one’s character—by never placing any concern, wish, fear or mood of the moment above the reality of one’s own self esteem. And, above all, it means one’s rejection of the role of a sacrificial animal, the rejection of any doctrine that preaches self-immolation as amoral virtue or duty.

The basic social principle of the Objectivist ethics is that just as life is an end in itself, so every living human being is an end in himself, not the means to the ends or the welfare of others—and, therefore, that man must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. To live for his own sake means that the achievement of his own happiness is man’s highest moral purpose.

- Ayn Rand

I have learnt to trust my intuition and my reasoning…and as far as possible not to go by heart. Every time I did that has landed me in trouble. Sometimes even though we know we’ll suffer from our decisions we take them overriding our mind’s reasoning. Eventually we suffer.

We get stuck in wrong relationships, with wrong people, in a wrong job… or could be anything that’s not right. There should be some way out isn’t it?
If only we not take anything and everything that comes in our life!!
We can get that ultimate happiness by taking tough decisions though it may not be always pleasant and what our heart wishes.


How I wish we have limited options just like CAT or GMAT...strike off all the wrong answers you are left with only right answer..Sometimes too many options is as good as no option at all!

75 comments:

anup.777 said...

*Sometimes too many options is as good as no option at all!
Awesome statement yaar!!!!

and yes, we all wish that quite often ... but what can one do except grin and bear it ... and move on ....

Tejas said...

Yeah...Ayn really marvels us with that philosophy. I do agree with incorporating all the mentioned virtues EXCEPT the concluding one...selfishness.
For a human, there are always a few people whom he values and trusts more than anything else. We are after all social creatures. An act of sacrifice (in a rational and honest sense) for those very people is a much better moral road to happiness. It makes us humane.

As for the heart vs mind debate, trusting one's heart with reason, following it and fighting for it can never bring regret in life:)

Kuan Gung said...

The mind with it's intelectual appraoch is no math for the heart with a constant flow of wisdom, the key is development. To lose that connection, is to enter into the "fade", where the inner glow disappears, and life's tear wear upon the face from the trials and trublations of the egocentric portion of the mind.

GhostOfTomJoad said...

I've never been an Ayn Rand fan but had I been one I'd still have completely disagreed with her. Her "virtue of Rationality" seems most inappropriate because our failings are what make us human. Logic and reason, if pursued to the degree that she seems to be advocating would make us robotic, no? Besides, she seems to be completely negating the power of having a dream and chasing it.

Enjoyed your piece on chess. Very nice :-)

pria said...

I always believe in me before I do something. It need be 100% perfect, but atleast I know it will work for me. Intution can go wrong based on situations. To be at the right time, right place for the right job is indeed very difficult. We have to satisfy ourselves with wat we have rather, become negative or get dis-satisifed with our jobs. Most of the jobs may get bored after a period coz its a routine. We work to keep ourselves busy and to learn something.

Known Stranger said...

waaa raaay waaaaw... you have another reader who is mesmerised by the words of this author.

by the way... unsaid answers - haunts the soul. said answers - thorns the soul. i better to settle with getting in ravage rather being haunted.

jac said...

Unfortunatly it doesn't happen that way.



Adios...

Schrodingers cat said...

Yes, Ayn Rand is good in parts. But existentialism/objectivism is flawed in certain areas. It gives no importance to morality. And maybe because of that, Sartre described his philosophy as "an error". But the point to ponder over is this : Is morality the same for all? Moreover individual happiness for everyone is impossible as long as ego exists....even in one out of a million. So Sartre or Ayn rand are not possibly wrong...they are describing a lower form of truth. And for that matter everything is a lower form of truth unless you are enlightened.

M.

Schrodingers cat said...

Yes, Ayn Rand is good in parts. But existentialism/objectivism is flawed in certain areas. It gives no importance to morality. And maybe because of that, Sartre described his philosophy as "an error". But the point to ponder over is this : Is morality the same for all? Moreover individual happiness for everyone is impossible as long as ego exists....even in one out of a million. So Sartre or Ayn rand are not possibly wrong...they are describing a lower form of truth. And for that matter everything is a lower form of truth unless you are enlightened.

M.

starry nights said...

I think we learn from our failures and so it is nice to have many options.gives us a chance to learn from each one and eventually settle with the right one.

Frida said...

Rand's ideas have often been described as "self-osophy"

Morality is as malleable as the truth often is; we change it to suit our situation.

Let’s take dating for instance; you date someone knowing after three dates they are not the one for you. You want to break up with them but you don’t want to hurt their feelings.

You have broken the virtue of rationality: You are no longer committed to what you perceive as reality. You are willing to settle till something better comes along instead of making yourself the better person that came along.

The virtue of integrity: Sacrificing you opinions for the wish of the other.

The virtue of honesty: You are a liar. Telling the person straight away “this won’t work” may cause them momentary grief but it’s not as painful as staying with someone for twenty years only to find out they disliked you from the third date.

Virtues of Justice: You desired to break up with them knowing your purpose and motives but put it in the back of your mind for the sake of not hurting yourself. A contradiction because you are blaming the other person’s feelings for halting your progress.

Which finally leads us to virtue of productiveness: You are no longer progressing spiritually, emotionally or rationally.

The virtues of pride are taking credit for one's mistakes as well as one's accomplishments. Believing "I am worthy of life" must also lead me to the rational conclusion you are worthy of life to you.

The morality does exist BUT only my opinion is important to me... as your opinion is important to you.

Keshi said...

yep..always better to make mistakes and learn from em than have a mistake-free life. That would be boring.

And I like a limited number of options than a zillion options. Tough they may be, but that gives more endurance.

Keshi.

Neers said...

BINGO!!! i loved this one! I agree with all the time!

mathew said...

hey thanxs for dropping by..

ayn rand is great..but me takin hell lot of time with atlas shrugged..

Known Stranger said...

hey..i came here and read your post and left a comment didnt i post it?

hmm some answers never we get to hear in life time.. a harsh truth is far better than an silence which haunts.

Crizzie Criz! said...

Know what the best thing is? i didnt even know that you were ever in my blog before that comment!
Thanks for visiting. As to when i would be back, I aint so sure myself.
I wouldnt like to leave for long either. After all, blogging to me is pretty close to the air i breathe. No wonder i already feel like the proverbial fish outta water...
thanks for the wish. Now all i wish is things are that easy...

Sudeep said...

i read the whole thing twice coz it is heavy to digestth whole thing.. n esp coz it is so true, isnt it?

its a puzzle whether too many options is gud or no options is better..

Eclipsed Thoughts said...

I love Ayn Rand and the way she talks about selfishness.... just love it...

***How I wish we have limited options just like CAT or GMAT...strike off all the wrong answers you are left with only right answer.

I think we do have limited options/unlimited options in life.... its just the matter of looking at it.. take a kid for example, when we ask him what he wants to be, the answers would be few... doc, engg, lawyer, teacher, policeman, actor, dancer... but when he grows up, this quetion is looked at deeply.... now the answer might turn to ortho, gynae, opthalmo, dermato, neuro, cardio, IT prof, civil engg.... and the list goes on and on....

I dont know what is better way of seeing into things, deep or just shallow??? me the confused soul as ever... :(

Meg said...

This post is deep. I need to reread it before I say too much...but I do agree with limited options..I think most decisions come down to just a few choices anyway...its usually a matter of heart or mind.

disguised said...

Thanks for visiting my blog.

To trust my INTUITION AND my reasoning--I consider my intuition closer to my heart than my head. Do you?

Ayn Rand has been used by the Libertarians in the U.S. as justification for greediness--gotta be careful with that philosophy.

You might find this site interesting:
http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/focusareas/business/

Has to be me said...

Sure more options means more trouble in selection! Good one!

Contented said...

Do I have anything else except to just agree! Paradoxically Life has been always fighting with/for choices though...

sophie said...

Yes - i understand your logic:)
here -
i followed my heart when my
intuition warned me somehting
was amis...
intuition is brilliant:)
thanks for visiting me!!

samuru999 said...

Thanks for visiting my blog!
Not too sure on all this stuff, but agree on some!
I did read the book years ago!
Take care!

White Forest said...

Thanks for all the comments friends..there is nothing much i cud have added to make them better :) They are just devout to me!

mona said...

intutions..yes they are always there to guide u right and wrong..
many times when we are totally confused and our mind refuse to work for us, then only these intuitions are their to help us..help us inmaking our way ahead..
and i have personaly experienced it a lot...
take care..

sanjay jha said...

nameste.
i agree with you,and love the passion of your writing.
cheers.
jhaji.

http://jhaji-jhaji.blogspot.com/

Aneesha said...

Brilliant!!!
Intutions helps when your mind stops working and heart starts..!!

Within Without said...

Hi WF, sorry it's taken me so long to comment, but never had enough time to truly read something so deep and to be able to respond.

Rationality, to me, is just to wooden, a restraint on life that can't be the No. 1 thing.

There are elements from this that I agree with, that I think most would.

What I find is missing is an overall acknowledgment of the importance of feeling to us.

If we were all guided by rationality above everything else, there would be no war, no starvation, no pollution, nothing bad in the world at all.

Instead, we are mostly creatures of the heart. Or at the very least we are guided by both the heart AND the mind. There's that constant conflict. And that's our biggest challenge.

It's how we combine those two things, along with our souls if that's a third thing, that dictates who we are and how we live our lives.

Our intuitiveness, I believe, IS that combination of things.

Wriju said...

I did want to comment about the post. But I am not a fan of her writing, so I'll let it drop. Nor do I see my life as a CAT or GMAT test. Heck, I am gonna screw up, so what!
But hey, nice blog :-)

tulipspeaks said...

We get stuck in wrong relationships, with wrong people, in a wrong job… or could be anything that’s not right. There should be some way out isn’t it?

yes honey. ironically we know the way out. we usually fail to save ourselves when the way out looks rather harsh, and we are not prepared to bear such consequences.

=ammu=

Kalpana said...

good one.....

Shreemoyee said...

I think options are imp, else one would never know what they missed. Thats worse.

Sreejith Kumar said...

Too many options to have is the real problem on most occasions, yes.

This was an interesting write-up.

Kautilya said...

In reality....
more options = more confusion!

most times... by my experience... I would have been much happier if I dint' have to make a choice!

Every time, I have made a choice... I have screwed up big time! Just once I have got it right! and I just thank God that I did... make the right choice!

ganty said...

nice clock on ur blog...rest is a waste of blogspace eh?

The Individualist said...

Lovely last line.
And as for Ayn Rand, hmm I had only profound admiration for her. She has this uncanny knack of taking on an admirable admiration filled pupil and taking him on and on with her philosophy. A ride after which you refuse to believe in something else. If my title is an indication. And after a while, when your brain does work on its own, you realise some flaws in the theory. But yes. She makes more sense than most in more parts than most.
Again, lovely last line.
I ought to remember that.

the vestige said...

rationality most of the times is not the guiding force behind the life around us... rationality is like what they call the optimum solution... but then as in most cases for an optimum solution to occur we usually assume "cetrus paribus"( all other things remaining same)... however that is not the case in real life.. tooo many variables...

Robyn said...

Wow, great analogy how I wish we have limited options just like CAT or GMAT...
You are right, too many options can make things more complicated and it's almost the same as not having any options.

I think I will re-read this excerpt from time to time. Thanks for sharing this.

Robyn

Alter Abhishek said...

hey!
amazing.. your views and percetion of things!

Another Dreamer said...

I dunno.. I have always liked Ayn Rand, Identified with her ideas at times, but somehow I cant bear to have only limited options in life.
Having a choice and being able to exert it is one of the best teachers of life..It doesn't matter if you chose right or wrong.. U did.. and learned from it..
As for me, i usually go with my intuitions.. even though they have gotten me in trouble lotsa times, but that makes life more fun. Now atleast I can look back and not wonder what if...

And as usual great post..

Anonymous said...

hi how was GMAT?

SCRIBBLEZ TO WAKEUP said...

Hey...After reading the entire thing I personally love the manne rin which you have summed up in the last para where at one end we wish we had choices and we could strike off and also when too many choices are not always the best...It is so simply but so reasonably said...Just love those sentences the most! :)

Anshuman Ghosh said...

limited the options are not -- you are being limited in thinking so. If you name CAT or GMAT, you are referring to MBA. But what about to many other vocations ? ever stood still to think whether what you do today, is what your calling originally was ?

Known Stranger said...

this scribbling came out of deep thinking - true at late night.

clash said...

Thanks for the comment! Personally,am not an Ayn Rand fan.But planning to read a book by her "capitalism - the unknown ideal".Let us see, what she can instill in me!

Ellee said...

I believe intuition is important, also my rule of thumb (an English saying) is that you should treat people the way you want to be treated yourself and only to do what will make my sons proud of me.

Great blog, btw, really thoughtful.

Tanushree said...

hi,
i gone with ur post and whole lots comments also...
everybody has put up his own veiw..adn every body s free to do so...
now virtues are the things that again differe from person to person so you cant limit it 'x' number of things...

Kishley said...

Hey me too a fan of ayn rand.. And i particularly like the clarity of thought and to the point explaination she give sofr everything..
In the writing u have posted, i would really really love to work upon-- one must never seek to get away with contradictions. :)

Tarini said...

wow! ayn rand! one of my favorite authors.

homo escapeons said...

Rand was a genuine genius.
The Queen of Reason.
She told us to stick to our 'guns' and stir it up.
Ask Questions...investigate..a message lost in todays Corporately owned Global Village.. especially the American media.

Brilliant. Fascinating. Timeless.

Enemy of the Republic said...

When I was studying for my oral exams, I put The Fountainhead (I read it yearly) on my list. My testers told me that I was unqualified to pursue a Ph.D if I read Ayn Rand. Whatever. Thanks for visiting. We have some common friends! And your blog is beautiful.

markiv said...

REALITY IS A MYTH


reality is a figment of our personal reflection. and one of the coolest things in life is the unlimited choices we have. imagine life where ur choices r limited by universal codes. true, we have certain social obligations that limit our choices. but these too r nt unbreakable- only anti social (which is ok!).
then again, choices r responsible for makin decisions, which leave us in confusion. confusion disturbs mental clarity n creates necessity for thought. thinking, although the work of the brain, is heavily dependent on emotions. emotions r the wake of the inner self.

thus it is because of our choices tht we question life n try to decipher its meaning.
it is also because of choices tht we so hopelessly yearn for happiness, security, future, past, remorse, guilt, love, freedom n all those transient "PERMANENT" smile fixtures

Anonymous said...

man must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.

u think that is possible ?
doesnt that sound too perfect ?
u live for urself and yet u dont make any sacrifices, nor do u sacrifice anybody ?
too utopiac for me

Eclipsed Thoughts said...

When is the new write up coming???? Waiiiiting......... hmmm

anup.777 said...

time for an update, buddy ... :)

Have a gr8 weekend!

Imemine said...

Excellent! I believe in selfishness but I don't consider it a virtue. Virtue can turn anything into self-absorption and narcicism.

Wrong choices and bad circumstances are the ways we can learn to transcend selfishness. We don't really transcend it, we just disappear. Because we are not there in the first place. There is only what is true, right and good inspite of everything. There is only reality or what is. And there is experiencing and learning.
Anyway, very excellent post.
I will be come back for more.

Corinne said...

Excellent article. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Now I must add you to my blogroll. I am a big fan of Ayn Rand as well.

The Visitor said...

Ah! Ayn Rand - I remember reading Rand (FH) a loooong time ago, and I'm happy that I dont remember it. I remember feeling miserable after reading it - I was the antithesis of all that Rand stood for, probably still am.
I haven't read the entire post, but couldn't get past the first few sentences.
I just came to say hi and see 'who' you were :)

PS: I like Black Forest ;)

The Visitor said...

I went through the comments though. They make good reading. And you've got an impressive list of commentors! Wow!

lori said...

I have never read anything by Ayn Rand, but I think I will run down to my local library and look her up.

mouse said...

Wow to be honest this stuff is to deep for me but I wanted to stop in and say thanks for visiting my blog. love the name White Forest, very interesting.

Dh@v@! said...

Sometimes too many options is as good as no option at all!

--- Totally Agree buddy...
nice one...

The Visitor said...

Another question for you - if helping others, love, sacrifice is not a good thing, why does it feel so good when you do them?

Neha said...

hey u havent posted for so long too...come on :)

Sudarshan said...

I've heard a lot about Ayn Rand..but never read her books..Looks like I've gotta get my hands on one of them!!!

Kalpana said...

hey, tagged u. do take it up, if interested...

Godzheart said...

Thanks for visiting my blog!!!

God Bless

faith said...

sometimes too many options is as good as no option at all..

true.. nice post..

*smiles*

Phoenix said...

Hmm, thats one way of looking at it...I say make all the mistakes you can, enjoy life to the last drop and learn from every experience...if everything was perfect, it would be a tad boring, wouldnt it?! :-) Cheers!

amitsinha said...

hi rathna, hope I got ur name right. If not , I apologise. i have read Fountainhead and liked ayn rand.
u k whenever i take decisions based on heart , it pains me. I am nuturing a broken relationship with one of my best friend and repenting that why was I not practical with her.
neways , i am reading a lot these dayz, I feel its a way to forget bad things. and yeah , I did felt better on reading this post on objectivism and reasoning.

Rai said...

I like this .."Sometimes too many options is as good as no option at all!" .... Yes, less options help you in taking decision, it's easier and the fear of regretting it, is minimum.

But can we always escape troubles/miseries just by acting rationally? And can one live without listening to his or her heart, ever? I doubt!

amu (amrita) said...

well said. We generally take whatever comes in our way in fear of being deprived from it all through the life and unknowingly bring misery to ourselves as we often take wrong decisions. Very true. I also wish life were an entrance exam where you could strike off odd choices. Yes having too many options act as deterrants, they actually lead us astray

Priyankari said...

Nice post!

.."Sometimes too many options is as good as no option at all!" -very true.

But if you don't take any decision by your heart, you can perhaps succeed but can you ever be satisfied and peaceful?

StandbyMind said...

yup...
wonderful post