Ayn Rand's controversial use of “selfish” and “selfishness” has arguably done as much or more to supply “grist” to her critics and drive people away from her philosophy than to persuade people to adopt it. This article is about her meaning of “selfish” and the common, popular meaning. Succinctly, the former is a high-level abstraction, philosophical, and mainly a way of thinking, whereas the latter is a low-level abstraction, not philosophical, and mainly a way of acting. They also have different contrast terms.

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