Skip to comments.Bringing Selfish Back
Posted on 09/17/2012 1:25:28 AM PDT by Kaslin
Step aside, Justin Timberlake. Lets bring selfish back, yall!
Last week, I wrote that if you are a Christian, you must embrace Ayn Rands economic philosophy (capitalism). Today, I will explore this further.
To recap, philosophers who came before Christ (think Aristotle), philosophers who rejected Christ (think Rand) and philosophers who accepted Christ (think Thomas Aquinas) concur that human laws must stem from natural law, which stems from reason. Said differently, all rational thinkers embrace natural law. Capitalism is the most rational political system and therefore the best political expression of natural law, so rational Christians and non- Christians must be capitalists.
What exactly does it mean to live a capitalist lifestyle? To Rand, being a capitalist means being "selfish" and abhorring self-sacrifice. I believe this is compatible with Christianity.
Most people define selfish as greed; certain celebrities come to mind as examples of people who act like the world owes them superior treatment for inferior behavior (think Lindsay Lohan leaving a jewelry store without paying for the necklace around her neck). This is not how Rand defines selfish.
For Rand, a selfish person lives morally, independently and pursues happiness. By caring for himself, he is philanthropic (benefits society) without trying. He capitalizes on his unique talents. He produces a good or service that society needs at a competitive price. He selfishly saves his money via wise investments, thereby making capital available for new businesses and creating jobs. I think Christians and non-Christians should embrace this idea of selfishness. Happiness
Rand believes the goal of life is happiness. In her magnum opus novel, Atlas Shrugged, the hero, John Galt, says: Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of ones values.
How would it even be possible to achieve happiness without making decisions that are in ones own best interest? Said differently, what is the rational alternative to being selfish? There does not appear to be one.
Certainly, it can sometimes be challenging to determine ones best interest. Rand herself seemed to struggle to achieve earthly happiness. In an open marriage, her lover betrayed her. She suffered from severe depression. And she sustained her long working hours through heavy smoking and stimulants.
At any rate, I think both Rand and rational Christians can agree that the goal of life is happiness, achieved by living morally on earth. Rand maintains that life ends at physical death and happiness is achievable on earth. Christians simply take a longer view on life. To achieve happiness, both can agree that one must embrace a selfish lifestyle of seeking ones best interest in a moral and productive manner.
Selfish Sacrifice vs. Self-Sacrifice
According to Rand, besides pursuing happiness, a selfish person refuses self-sacrifice. Rand also contends that it takes hard work and sometimes pain to achieve happiness. I will call this selfish sacrifice.
Galt says: Joy is not the absence of pain. You [socialists] seek escape from pain. We [capitalists] seek the achievement of happiness. And: If you achieve a career you wanted, after years of struggle, it is not a sacrifice; if you then renounce it for the sake of a rival, it is. If you own a bottle of milk and give it to your starving child, it is not sacrifice; if you give it to your neighbors child and let your own die, it is.
Like Rand, a Christian lives, not to avoid pain, but to achieve the reward of happiness. So, I think Rand defines sacrifice semantically different from Christians, not philosophically.
Rand describes her conception of Christian sacrifice thus: I do regard the cross as the symbol of the sacrifice of the ideal to the non-ideal. Isnt that what it does mean? Christ personifies that which men should strive to emulate. Yet, according to the Christian mythology, he died on the cross not for his own sins but for the sins of the non-ideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was sacrificed for men who are vicious
With respect to Rand, I think she misinterpreted Christs sacrifice on the cross. God encompasses perfect joy and strength so the crucifixion did not diminish his happiness or power; it was his way to show love (not deference) for his creation.
She also misinterpreted the Christian notion of personal self-sacrifice. Christians only sacrifice to their superior, namely God. It is blasphemous for a Christian to sacrifice to an equal (another human) or an inferior (an animal or plant). See the first through fourth commandments of Moses.
Christian sacrifice does not require flogging oneself (harming oneself) or bowing down to a worm (an inferior). Christian sacrifice is an outward sign to show God respect. Aquinas says: Natural reason dictates to man to show, in his own way, submission and honor to the power that is above man. inward sacrifice, to which all are bound [is] to offer to God a devout mind.
I think Rands view of acceptable pain or struggle en-route to happiness (selfish sacrifice) is consistent with Christian self-sacrifice. Lets say I refrain from eating desserts during Lent. While it appears as though I am giving up pleasurable food, I am in fact selfishly seeking my own happiness by venerating my superior. Usually, my physical health improves sequentially.
Christians should embrace Ayn Rands economic philosophy of capitalism whole-heartedly as well as a selfish lifestyle because they are consistent with reason and the Gospel.
Thanks. Will need to study more, but seems to go along with how I fit my pro Ayn Rand views with my Christian lifestyle.
It is not Christians’ duty to reconcile themselves with any atheistic philosophy. Faith comes before economics. It is the atheists’ duty to reconcile themselves with God.
Ayn Rand’s philosophy is based on objective reality. Now whether that reality was created by a God or just is and has no creator does not have any bearing on the truth of those ideas. I think you could be a deist and an objectivist but not a Christian and an objectivist because objectivism does not permit any acceptance of supernatural revelation or any other arbitrary knowledge.
I don’t think Ayn Rand would approve of the term “selfish sacrifice” because if something is selfish it isn’t a sacrifice.
I don’t think Capitalism is compatible with Christianity. Certainly there are Christian captitalists but on fundamental principles they are not compatible. What a thing is in principle it is in reality. Just as there are mixed economies as ours is there are people who hold mixed philosophies. The fundamental principles of Christianity are one and the same as the fundamental principles of Socialism. Socialism simply replaces God with the people or society or the state. Capitalism rests on the exact opposite principles and it is the attempt to mix the two codes that is destroying the world.
The pain you feel today is the strength you'll have tomorrow.