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Ayn Rand and Altruism

Ayn Rand and Altruism

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In Ayn Rand and Altruism, George H. Smith calls attention to benevolence in Rand’s thinking, defending Rand’s rejection of altruism by contrasting it with benevolence. 

In this series of essays, originally published in, and republished by The Atlas Society with permission of the author, Smith begins by establishing that Rand’s definition of altruism–“The placing of others above self, of their interests above one’s own,”–is identical to the definition of altruism originated by Auguste Comte. The 19th-century French philosopher considered altruism the basis of morality. Rand considered altruism morality’s antithesis. Smith explains: "Rand’s analyses of altruism—including her claims about its moral, social, and political implications—are a virtual negative image of Comte’s defense of altruism. Thus, however much critics may dismiss Rand’s attacks on altruism as unjustified, her treatment of altruism, as discussed and defended by the man who originated the term and who defended altruism in more detail than any other philosopher, before or since, was remarkably on point."
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