The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies Vol. 10, No. 2
one best and to whatever degree one’s energies and abilities allow. It is not the scale of one’s abilities that is primarily morally significant; it is the fact that one’s abilities are one’s own abilities and that one has committed to using them to achieve one’s own life. In that respect, being a moral giant is within the reach of any of us. Altruism, by contrast, encourages the less-talented to disrespect themselves, to make compara- tive judgments as fundamental to their self-worth, to see themselves as relatively helpless or as victims, and to plot and act against the more talented.
In Part One of this essay, we have concentrated on the negative
that is, Nietzsche’s and Rand’s critiques of altruism. Now we will
turn to their positive programs—i.e., what they take a proper egoism to entail.
Part Two: On Egoism
In their critiques of altruism there is much overlap between Nietzsche’s and Rand’s views. In their beliefs about egoism, there is virtually none.
Rand’s Egoism To see this, let us begin with a highly-abstracted list of twelve components that are integrated into Rand’s advocacy of egoism:
The life of the individual is the standard of value.
Values are objective—they are identifications of an individual’s
Individuals have free will.
The volitional capacity is the capacity for reason.
Reason is competent to know reality and is an individual’s
fundamental tool for surviving and flourishing.
Reason gives individuals the power to shape their characters,
to develop or alter their habits, to control their actions.
The development of reason enables individuals to be creative
producers, rather than merely hunter-gatherers from the environment or parasites upon each other.
Consequently, individuals are self-responsible both psychologi-
cally and existentially.
Consequently, individuals are both ends in themselves and the
means to their own ends.