The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies Vol. 10, No. 2
the value of an individual is measured in terms of that individual’s ability to advance the species. Here is a quotation from Twilight of the Idols:
The value of egoism depends on the physiological value of
him who worthless
possesses it: it can and contemptible.
valuable, it can
regarded as life. When
representing the ascending or descending one has decided which, one has thereby
line of estab-
ascending line his value is in fact extraordinary—and for sake of the life-collective, which with him takes a step
forward, the care expended on his preservation, on creation of optimum conditions for him, may even extreme. (TI, “Skirmishes of an Untimely Man,” 33)
Note that the advance of “the life-collective” is the standard of value, not the advance of the individual. If an individual contributes to the advance of the life-collective, then egoism is an appropriate policy for that individual.
Continuing the same quotation, Nietzsche makes it clear that egoism is bad in the case of most other individuals. Most individuals, we recall, are a disgrace to Nietzsche’s aspirations for the species, and so egoism is the wrong policy to urge upon them: “If he represents a declining line—then he has little value: and the first demand of justice is that he take as little room, force and sunshine from the well bred as possible. In this case society has the duty of suppressing egoism” (TI, “Skirmishes of an Untimely Man,” 33). Nietzsche does not here explain what methods society might use to suppress egoism. But the point is clear: for the large majority of the human population, Nietzsche is anti-egoistic: “To ordinary human beings, finally—the vast majority who exist for service and the general advantage, and
who may “mankind species of
exist only for that” (BGE, 61). And more ruthlessly: in the mass sacrificed to the prosperity of a single stronger man—that would be an advance” (GM, II:12).
For all that Nietzsche attacks Christianity’s altruism, a striking point is that one of his later criticisms of Christianity is that it is too egoistic: it is too individualistic, seeing each human being as precious