Today is Valentine’s Day, a holiday on which we celebrate romantic love. But, what exactly is romantic love? According to Ayn Rand, “Love is a response to values. . . . One falls in love with the embodiment of the values that formed a person’s character, which are reflected in his widest goals or smallest gestures, which create the style of his soul — the individual style of a unique, unrepeatable, irreplaceable consciousness.”
While most people think that love is an expression of unselfishness, Rand’s perspective is the complete opposite. In The Virtue of Selfishness, she writes that, “To love is to value. Only a rationally selfish man, a man of self-esteem, is capable of love — because he is the only man capable of holding firm, consistent, uncompromising, unbetrayed values. The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone.” She also writes that:
One gains a profoundly personal, selfish joy from the mere existence of the person one loves. It is one’s own personal, selfish happiness that one seeks, earns and derives from love.
A “selfless,” “disinterested” love is a contradiction in terms: it means that one is indifferent to that which one values.
Concern for the welfare of those one loves is a rational part of one’s selfish interests. If a man who is passionately in love with his wife spends a fortune to cure her of a dangerous illness, it would be absurd to claim that he does it as a “sacrifice” for her sake, not his own, and that it makes no difference to him, personally and selfishly, whether she lives or dies.
Intrigued? If you would like to further explore Ayn Rand’s perspective on love, then you might want to check out the entry for “Love” in the ARI Campus lexicon.
We at ARI wish you all a Valentine’s Day full of selfish love and romance.
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