Arkadi

has anyone met an altruist in person?

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Anthony: "If you find the answer to your last question you'll have a better understanding of altruism wrt Objectivism."--Perhaps. But I can possibly get this answer from you only, as the question is about the grounds of your inference ("how do you know that she did?")

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"Has anybody met an altruist in person?"

On 4/19/2016 at 6:09 PM, Arkadi said:

I mean, an altruist as defined by Rand, i.e., someone giving up a greater value in exchange for a lesser one. There are quite a few "altruistic" slogans floating around but whenever I had a chance to come across somebody actually living up to them, they turned out to be valuing more what they were getting (emotionally, at any rate) from their "sacrifice" than what they were "sacrificing". And frankly, I cannot understand how it can possibly be otherwise, assuming that people have free will. Why would anyone prefer anything other than what has a greater value (or, a lesser dis-value) in their eyes at the moment of choice? The answer: because they are "zombied" seems to beg the question, for, then, being brought up in a particular culture already means being "zombied", and it is, above all, through one's upbringing (and cultural experience) that one's values are developed. So, do altruists really exist? What am I missing?

Nope.

You'd have to ascribe an objective value to someone's subjective valuing. Man as an idea needs objective values, but, of course, cannot value.

--Brant

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1 hour ago, Arkadi said:

Anthony: "If you find the answer to your last question you'll have a better understanding of altruism wrt Objectivism."--Perhaps. But I can possibly get this answer from you only, as the question is about the grounds of your inference ("how do you know that she did?")

 

I have to say, I see you don't really seem to attempt to understand the concept of 'value' vs. self-sacrifice, here, as in the other topic on life and war.

Is duty to a mystical idea a rational value? Is a life of selfless service to others, a value? Is the disgust Teresa wrote of about the misery she was confronted by every day, a value? When any compassion she may have felt for sufferers at first, changed into hatred, is this a human value? When she submerged her being into other people and into her concept of God, is this an objective value? When she felt that even God had left her, is this a value?

Value: to whom? Apparently not to Teresa. Not to "God". (As she discovered). To all the people who love others' sacrifices - that's who - those who are just sensible enough not to try it as fully as she, but still sacrifice themselves and values in small and mean ways.

How do *I* know this was self-sacrifice? Because MT plainly showed it in her misery. Because of an objective standard of value, which is man's life (qua man). You'll have to do your own reading and considering from the Oist sources.. This is going round and round again... ;)

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Anthony: It would have been easier for me if you confirmed right away that you infer it from her depression (which you strangely call "spiritual agony"; do you believe in spirits?--but this does not matter, as we now understand what we're talking about here). In other words, you infer it from her psychic condition (as documented in her diaries).  I am not making any argument, just want to make sure that I understand what you say.

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"How do *I* know this was self-sacrifice? Because MT plainly showed it in her misery."--By this logic, all unhappy people--whether they serve anybody or not--are "altruists." This is a sheer misuse of the concept. I see no grounds to claim that MT "sacrificed" anything; i.e.,  that she could have became any happier by doing anything other than what she was doing. One may follow a vocation of a medical doctor for good "selfish" reasons, get established in the field and then, suddenly, have one's compassion to one's patients and love of one's profession changed into hatred. What would a selfish person do? It is too late to start a second career after a certain age.

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13 hours ago, PDS said:

Can you be more specific?

I'm not a  Catholic so I have no idea what you're talking about.  

read the Hitchens article I posted

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6 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

read the Hitchens article I posted

Okay Baal.  I read it.  Did you? 

This was not Hitchens at his finest.   He is usually not so reliant on hearsay or speculation. 

And the term "Catholic death" is mentioned but not described. 

You know, there really is no harm in admitting that Mother T has helped the poor.     Go ahead and throw in a caveat that you would have done much better had you spent your life among the lowest of Calcutta, but it's okay to simply concede my simple point.   Lightning won't strike.  I promise.  :lol:

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2 hours ago, PDS said:

Okay Baal.  I read it.  Did you? 

This was not Hitchens at his finest.   He is usually not so reliant on hearsay or speculation. 

And the term "Catholic death" is mentioned but not described. 

You know, there really is no harm in admitting that Mother T has helped the poor.     Go ahead and throw in a caveat that you would have done much better had you spent your life among the lowest of Calcutta, but it's okay to simply concede my simple point.   Lightning won't strike.  I promise.  :lol:

No harm?    She was giving sub-standard care in filthy conditions.  If a person did that in the U.S. they would be indicted for criminal negligence.  I head Hitchens on the vid.  I also posted a written piece by Hitchens.  Did you read that?  Hitchens at his not-best is better than most of usat our best.  He made his point. M. T. was a dreadful evil women who -used- the sick and the poor for her own fame.

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41 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

No harj?    She was giving sub-standard care in filthy conditions.  If a person did that in the U.S. they would be indicted for criminal negligence.  I head Hitchens on the vid.  I also posted a written piece by Hitchens.  Did you read that?  Hitchens at his not-best is better than most of usat our best.  He made his point. M. T. was a dreadful evil women who -used- the sick and the poor for her own fame.

You're really struggling to address the merits of the question, aren't you?

Again, yes I read the article.  Now I'm pretty sure you haven't, since you keep changing the subject.   The question isn't whether Hitchens is better than you or me when not at his best.   He obviously is.   But facts are facts. 

The question is whether Mother Teresa helped the poor.  It is not enough for you to make this assertion and then point to an article with an interview involving Hitchens to prove your point.   The question is not whether she might have helped them more, or in the manner you prefer, or in the manner I happen to do in my hometown. 

I see from your profile that you help the blind and "dyslexic folks."  This is commendable, in my opinion.  There are others, however,  who might help these same kinds of persons in a manner different than you.  Or better than you.  Or maybe worse than you.   These possibilities or assertions of fact do not mean you are not helping the blind and "dyslexic folks."    

You see what I mean? 

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56 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

She used the poor. The poor she could get her hands on.

Isn't this what you normally call an argument by asseveration? 

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17 hours ago, Arkadi said:

"How do *I* know this was self-sacrifice? Because MT plainly showed it in her misery."--By this logic, all unhappy people--whether they serve anybody or not--are "altruists." This is a sheer misuse of the concept. I see no grounds to claim that MT "sacrificed" anything; i.e.,  that she could have became any happier by doing anything other than what she was doing. One may follow a vocation of a medical doctor for good "selfish" reasons, get established in the field and then, suddenly, have one's compassion to one's patients and love of one's profession changed into hatred. What would a selfish person do? It is too late to start a second career after a certain age.

Arkadi. There's a central matter you miss. (And spirituality btw is the secular sense, of the mind, the consciousness, as I use it).

I'm quite unconcerned with Mother Teresa, she did her thing and that's that. But it's the majority in the world who hold her up as the best of mankind, who bother me. Perhaps one may assume MT started with values in mind - given her frame of reference: God and loving thy neighbour, etc. - unknowing herself, that it was a *selfish* desire to help the poor and sick in the slums whom nobody else would. .

What i recall of her account, not much later MT began feeling lost to God and worrying why she wasn't loving doing His good works and why she felt disgust for the very people she was helping. iow, the rewards for being a 'selfless martyr' weren't coming. Even the 'selfless' want recognition of some kind. I think her emotional confusion was an appropriate response and given her knowledge, quite rational. But then, she didn't stop. For her to go on for the next 40years in self-doubt of her God and her dreary work and self-contempt (as expressed in her own words) was ongoing sacrifice to the extreme of losing any value in life she once had. I deduce, anyway.

At this first warning point of emotional turmoil a semi-rational person would give up the struggle, since he could see no more (selfish) value and only more painful sacrifice, but she continued, and now "self-lessly" for real.

But it's not her and her life that bothers me, it's people who exalt someone's suffering or loss (for the sake of others), as the best which men can achieve (and call it "moral"). Remember, they are the people who pride themselves on being 'humanists' unaware -apparently- of any contradiction and irony.

Finding happiness, you bring up, has no guarantee for anyone. But nobody can deny that it is fully reliant on evolving one's sense of self - as 'earning' that state, by pride and other virtues, and accomplishments, small and large. Nobody else can feel happy on your behalf, correct? Like they can't think for you. Pursuing fulfillment in the suffering of others - OR, its alleviation being 'morally' demanded of one - a). breeds a dependence and emphasis on suffering, itself b). consumes any genuinely-felt good will to men and turns it into contempt, and c). dissolves one's sense of self.

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Anthony: "There's a central matter you miss."--No wonder, given that you spelled it out so clearly only now. The case of those who have MT as their role model is, of course, another matter. In fact, I know at least one such person. This is a dedicated and gifted social worker and she LOVES what she is doing (namely, finding foster families for kids with special needs). She also has her depression episodes and the example of MT helps her to go through them with her commitment to her vocation (i.e., to her SELF) intact. I fail to see anything wrong with this.

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One thing you seem to be missing, Anthony, is that one's relation to one's (real) self is not all honeymoon (not for all people, at any rate). Just like in marriage, it's sustaining requires a commitment. Which, yes, is kind of duty. Duty to oneself. I doubt that without it one can possibly be selfish in any non-superficial sense.

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On 2016/04/21 at 3:35 AM, Arkadi said:

One thing you seem to be missing, Anthony, is that one's relation to one's (real) self is not all honeymoon (not for all people, at any rate). Just like in marriage, it's sustaining requires a commitment. Which, yes, is kind of duty. Duty to oneself. I doubt that without it one can possibly be selfish in any non-superficial sense.

Arkadi, I hope, and in fact I know, that I've never glossed over the effort involved. The value(s) of one's life needs constant nourishment and thought. I like what you say.

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What we may be looking for is the difference between a selfish act and an act of self sacrifice and asking if there is some personal benefit to the second that contradicts the idea that it IS in fact a self sacrifice.  Do you serve the other at your own expense for some psychological or emotional return on the "investment".  Does that negate it being a self sacrifice?  Is the motive approval or the avoidance of disapproval or actual punishment?  Would that negate it being a self sacrifice?  

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On 4/20/2016 at 0:51 PM, PDS said:

Isn't this what you normally call an argument by asseveration? 

Ouch.

You really know how to hurt a guy.

--Brant

taken by itself it is; in the context of the conversation--?

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On 2016/04/21 at 3:10 AM, Arkadi said:

Anthony: "There's a central matter you miss."--No wonder, given that you spelled it out so clearly only now. The case of those who have MT as their role model is, of course, another matter. In fact, I know at least one such person. This is a dedicated and gifted social worker and she LOVES what she is doing (namely, finding foster families for kids with special needs). She also has her depression episodes and the example of MT helps her to go through them with her commitment to her vocation (i.e., to her SELF) intact. I fail to see anything wrong with this.

Ah, that poor, picked upon social worker! You touch on what I think is a clear dividing line. There's non-sacrificial valuing in one perceiving the disvalue of a particular individual's troubles with sympathy, and being willing to do something about changing it at a cost of time, effort and money one can afford, therefore having selfish purpose and human generosity of spirit in helping him/her get on their feet again to regain their independence. You can expand this to supporting a drive or charity which is of direct significance to one, I think. This is an enriched view of what man is.

Also there are the self-sacrificial consequences of making of single, chosen acts instead a life-long career owed to any and all people en masse, of being always close to suffering, and of deriving pseudo-self esteem and getting kudos from others for one's 'selflessness'. Because one OWES a duty. Ultimately, it must create a culture of entitlement, where more and more people will anticipate and demand more of one or the State, and so can never gain their independence but are finally rewarded for their psychological dependency . That's a retarded view of man.

What does the second achieve but a growing interdependence between giver and taker, both of whom eventually lose their autonomy? I don't think it's a stretch to say in 'helping' others the career altruist is sacrificing them to his neediness, as he sacrifices himself to theirs. "Intact - self"? - I don't believe so..

Again, the career altruist/social worker isn't the big problem. One person's profession or one person's single action doesn't have to make for altruism. But I think the culture of the huge aggregate of people which implicitly has always accepted the morality of 'otherness', and who live in guilt for "not doing enough" themselves while praising another's self-sacrifice, IS the problem. All that remains is for a government to get in on the act and compel self-sacrifice on a mass scale and begin an unravelling of a society.

 

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3 hours ago, MereMortal said:

What we may be looking for is the difference between a selfish act and an act of self sacrifice and asking if there is some personal benefit to the second that contradicts the idea that it IS in fact a self sacrifice.  Do you serve the other at your own expense for some psychological or emotional return on the "investment".  Does that negate it being a self sacrifice?  Is the motive approval or the avoidance of disapproval or actual punishment?  Would that negate it being a self sacrifice?  

Doesn't the answer always lie within finding objective value? Value, of something, which is observed, identified, evaluated -'objectified' - and emotionally experienced, by you? In which case, a corresponding helpful act for someone can be nothing but 'of the self', applied to reality - selfish. One would naturally find subsequent pleasure in seeing a person recover his independence after aiding her/him, but a "psychological or emotional return" shouldn't be the motive and cause, though it is an effect. To a certain type of person in temporary difficulty you are giving the justice he deserves in reality, (and reality is what it's all about). Also many a time unknown 'others' deserve some leeway, since we aren't omniscient in estimating them, and good ole "benevolence" or generosity of spirit towards any human suffering/disvalue is proper within limits.

It's that same normal, healthy generosity and sympathy which altruism and altruists play on, insidiously turning it into an automatic 'claim' all others have on one's life, and so, killing benevolence. I think one great side-effect of rational selfishness above altruism is in keeping that generous human spirit alive and well.

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Anthony: " the self-sacrificial consequences of making of single, chosen acts instead a life-long career owed to any and all people en masse"--But by this logic, any career is "self-sacrificial"! Take the career of a musician. My playing piano now and then to friends or broader selected audiences whenever I am up to it (i.e., am in a proper mood), is one thing; making these single, chosen acts instead a life-long career is quite another. The latter implies choosing myself  as a concerting musician and dedicating my whole life to this self. How does this differ in principle from choosing oneself as a social worker??? Any authentic professional "owes" (if this verb is here appropriate at all) his or her career not to any "people" but only to ONESELF!

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Anthony: "Ultimately, it must create a culture of entitlement, where more and more people will anticipate and demand more of one or the State"--We are talking of CHILDREN being abused by their biological parents!!! Do you seriously believe that finding foster parents for them is "creating a culture of entitlement"?!

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The people who really live the life of duty (not just talk about it) are selfish in the highest degree, for their duty is always, at bottom, to their own self, whether or not authentically chosen. The "boy" in Branden's illustration has chosen himself as a son his mother is to be proud of. He serves not his mother but his own thus chosen "self".

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Yes, I have met an altruistic person. My best friend herself is an altruistic person and she is also ready to help poor and needy people. She often goes on mission humanitaire afrique look here for educating and helping poor children in Africa. I appreciate her work and her love towards the poor and needy people.

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That is good and fine, I'm sure she's a lovely and sensitive person. Who could wish to interfere with her choices? I have known a few in the field (likely, women) and I've been witness to some aid programmes and NGO's initiatives in regions of Southern Africa (you might say I had been "in" on publicizing them).

Problems I've noticed: such as, this dedicated work is endless. Usually, the aid worker becomes burned out and emotionally exhausted by years of uphill struggle to improve, sustain and maintain some basic, good conditions for people in rural areas. Sooner or later this takes its mental toll and he/she goes back home for the sake of her self-preservation. All right, one may say, there is always another fresh and enthusiastically committed young college graduate to take her place, and so on, and so on. However, the one thing most needed is for a people to learn for themselves, and take advantage of the aid, education, medical, agriculture methods etc. and to apply the knowledge to their own good and to grow upon that base. It's Catch 22, since as long as the aid and caring professionals keep arriving, they tend not to do that. (Also to continue giving birth to babies at the same rate, in spite of cautions to reduce it).

And if, as happens, an NGO or a Government withdraws, runs out of funds and backing or loses interest in the plight of a particular village or area, the poor are back to square one, or even worse off than before. People who were cheerful and grateful at first later will become sullen and demanding. The sense of habituated entitlement and expectation from the charitable wealthy in the West does not generally lead to efforts by 'disadvantaged' people to raise their own standards themselves, for their own individual and community, selfish values. We just create an addiction and demand for more aid, for the next generation.

I wish your friend well.

As after-thought. Charity and care for others in general is not at all "altruism" - philosophically speaking. Charity is well and good if one can afford it and finds personal value in a person or a cause enough to choose to spend the money and time on it. It is no more or less than an individual choice and value, one I don't consider 'virtuous' or unvirtuous. In distinction, altruism is a morality advocating constant service to "others". "Others", there's an unlimited supply of. It's just that nobody can get close to achieving that without self-sacrificing their own minds and lives. (As I noted earlier). The terrible paradox is that as impossible as altruism is to continuously carry out, the more it's revered as an ideal which most in the West will glorify. Something they (guiltily) can't do themselves. (While mixing up - "package dealing" - the two different concepts). For this advocacy of sacrifice, altruism is much more than non-virtuous to Objectists, it's considered immoral.

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5 hours ago, JamesFidler said:

Yes, I have met an altruistic person. My best friend herself is an altruistic person and she is also ready to help poor and needy people. She often goes on mission humanitaire afrique look here for educating and helping poor children in Africa. I appreciate her work and her love towards the poor and needy people.

That is unselfish of her. She should be ashamed of herself.

 

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