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Tara Smith

Presented at: Lyceum 1999

Date: Jul 09, 1999

Because selfishness seems natural to most Objectivists, we often take for granted our understanding of it. Consequently, our grasp of important implications of the Objectivist ethics remains murky, hindering our achievement of happiness. This course will investigate the full dimensions of a commitment to self-interest.

We will address several aspects of rational egoism: why interest must be measured long-range, why ill-begotten gains are not truly gains, why the interests of rational individuals do not conflict, why it is appropriate to encourage other people to pursue their self-interest, the spiritual aspects of self-interest and what egoism demands from a person. We will contrast the virtues that egoism demands with the demands-and the effects-of altruism. We may also consider some historical philosophers' attitudes toward self-interest (e.g., hedonists, psychological egoists)-to identify the roots of their errors.

The overall aim is to deepen one's understanding of self-interest in order to encourage its unqualified pursuit and fullest possible realization. (Note: we will not devote equal time to all topics.)


Parts: 6

Handout: none


  • YouTube, 2018 (En) - 60 mins - Part 1 - What Egoism Is
  • YouTube, 2018 (En) - 68 mins - Part 2 - What Egoism Is Not
  • YouTube, 2018 (En) - 71 mins - Part 3 - Why Egoism Is the Proper Policy to Adopt
  • YouTube, 2018 (En) - 71 mins - Part 4 - Altruism, Principles and the Ill-gotten
  • YouTube, 2018 (En) - 71 mins - Part 5 - How to Be Self-interested (A)
  • YouTube, 2018 (En) - 68 mins - Part 6 - How to Be Self-interested (B)
  • Campus, 2018 (En) - 410 mins
  • e-Store, 2012 (En) - 411 mins
  • CD, 2005 (En) - 432 mins - 6 CD set with Q&A