On his new weekly podcast, Yaron Brook has started giving listeners “homework” to help build a foundation for the issues he we be discussing on the show. For this week’s show he asked that everyone read the introduction to Ayn Rand‘s The Virtue of Selfishness. I had read this a couple of years ago, but a previously un-highlighted paragraph jumped out at me.
The Evil of Altruism
The context of this quotation is a discussion of the difference between egoism and altruism. The most essential difference is that egoism states that the beneficiary of an action should be the same as the actor while altruism says that the beneficiary should be anyone except the actor.
Since all values have to be gained and/or kept by men’s actions, any breach between actor and beneficiary necessitates an injustice: the sacrifice of some men to others, of the actors to the nonactors, of the moral to the immoral. Nothing could every justify such a breach, and no one ever has.
This is not to say that one can never act to help another person, or give to charity, but rather you do these things because you are ultimately the beneficiary. You help a friend because they are value in your life and if they thrive, your life is better, but only if such aid is not a sacrifice (i.e. exchanging a higher value for a lower one). For example, you would not give food to a hungry friend if it meant your children would go hungry or starve nor would you give money to a charity, no matter how worthy, if it meant you would lose your house or fail to meet other obligations you had accepted.
Yaron covers a lot of ground on his shows, so I would definitely encourage everyone to either listen live at 11:00am Eastern time on Mondays, and participate in the chat, or listen later either at Blogtalkradio or on iTunes.