Barbara Branden

Altruism

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I'd say "ego" is the sense of personal power and space understood, realized, experienced and expressed as mastery over time and space through one's own life force.

I can't comment on your personal career choices as I have no access to what was in your head when you made them. One certainly can write for money, however, and not be a hack writer. I drove a semi-tractor trailler for 400,000 miles for money and I wasn't a hack driver. Both are tough ways to make money.

What I don't really believe is you were into writing professionally primarily for the money. That's too facile. You have to go deeper--deeper into your own ego land--that is, if you're interested. No problem, really, if you're not.

--Brant

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I'd say "ego" is the sense of personal power and space understood, realized, experienced and expressed as mastery over time and space through one's own life force.

I can't comment on your personal career choices as I have no access to what was in your head when you made them. One certainly can write for money, however, and not be a hack writer. I drove a semi-tractor trailler for 400,000 miles for money and I wasn't a hack driver. Both are tough ways to make money.

What I don't really believe is you were into writing professionally primarily for the money. That's too facile. You have to go deeper--deeper into your own ego land--that is, if you're interested. No problem, really, if you're not.

--Brant

I'm a simple Freudian and understand "ego" to mean the conscious mind. I try to live a principled life, women and children first, don't take the unearned, that sort of thing. Perfection doesn't interest me and never did. I had trouble doing okay and occasionally well done by objective standards, like plumbing that doesn't leak, shelves that don't fall down, drama and light entertainment that doesn't bore. My goal was elegant and intelligent. I built a gun rack and coat tree last week, a nice floor-to-ceiling library with a door, both of which give me some satisfaction because they came out nice. Sometimes life is satisfying. Sometimes you work your ass off and barely scrape by. There's a 25-ton retaining wall down the hill that cost a lot of labor, some anguish, much uncertainty until it was poured. You never know whether a $100,000 late-night TV show will click with the audience, or whether a verbal pre-sale contract with BSB isn't worth the paper it's printed on, as Sam Goldwyn used to say.

We're older now, you and I. It's a little late to undo and remake a personality or the principles by which we live.

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The first time I have seen this phrase: Homicidal Altruism. Turcotte killed his kids out of 'homicidal altruism,' psychiatrist testifies

Psychiatric Times does list 'altruism' as a motive in child-killings by a parent:
The most common reason a child is killed by a parent is fatal maltreatment, the end result of abuse or neglect. The least common is partner revenge, in which a parent kills the child in order to make the other parent suffer emotionally. An unwanted child is killed because that child is seen as a hindrance to the parent’s goals. Alternatively, in altruistic child murder, the parent kills the child out of love. These parents may kill their child in association with their own suicide or to protect the child from a fate worse than death. Finally, in the case of acutely psychotic filicide, the parent in the throes of psychosis or mania kills the child for no comprehensible reason

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I am bumping this topic up to the surface, giving me an opportunity to quote Barbara Branden at length. How good a teacher and critical commentator she was, patient and kind. I learn from re-reading her.

I was searching for her advice to readers on the types (groups, You People, blob) of non-belief in gods, spirits, supernatural entities. I will fetch that up for the Golden Rule thread.

"We are here on earth to do good for others. What the others are here for, I don't know."

W.H. Auden


...the biggest stumbling block for me regarding Objectivism is the antipathy to altruism (or maybe 'altruism'). I live my life by a strict accordance to how people treat me. If they consider me, I consider them. If they think only of themselves and what benefits themselves, I don't consider them fully human. If they have no urge, hidden, vestigial, dormant or within reach, to empathize with others, to care about other people, and to occasionally put their own short term advantage aside while considering its implications for others, I withdraw from congress with them. I don't want to live in a community that is ruled by selfishness...

To illustrate my point, during the hideous crash and sinking of Flight 90 in the Potomac on January 13, 1982, several people leapt into the freezing water to try to rescue the doomed. I wept, not for the dead and injured, but for the altruistic efforts of those rescuers. I regard that impulse, from whatever depth of humanity, to be part of human glory. What other animal would do that? It certainly wan't Kant who pushed them into the water at the risk of their own death.


William, if I understand you -- and I think I do -- I agree with the intent of your post. The lack of empathy, the inability to identify with and to vicariously experience the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another person, the inability to care about other people, is a disease. In the psychological literature, as I'm sure I don't have to tell you, it is considered a prime symptom of a personality disorder. But feelings of empathy are perfectly consistent with the Randian concept of selfishness, although not with its usual definition. Rand spoke of rational self-interest as being synonymous with her concept of selfishness, and it is the term I prefer to use.

To understand, care for, and to help others can certainly be to one's self-interest. And in your post you named the reasons why it can be. You wrote: "I live my life by a strict accordance to how people treat me. If they consider me, I consider them. If they think only of themselves and what benefits themselves, I don't consider them fully human." In other words, if you see a value in them -- in this case, the value being that they treat you with consideration -- you will treat them with consideration. If you see no value in them, you won't deal with them or be of assistance to them. What sort of person would you be if, seeing values in them, you treated them without consideration? As Rand said, "A value is that which one acts to gain and keep."(italics mine)

Further, rational self-interest often requires putting our own short term advantage aside while considering its implications for others. If a friend is ill, you presumably would not take as a primary that you intended staying home and reading a book rather than taking your friend to the hospital. Again, the issue is one of personal, selfish values: you value your friend's health more than than you value reading that book that day.

And similarly with the example you gave of people leaping into freezing water to save those who were drowning. Altruism would consist of doing so even if you knew that the people drowning were terrørists headed for New York. But if you are a good swimmer, you could very well weigh some risk to yourself against the horror pf certain death for others. Human life is a value, and short of knowing that the people drowning were killers or the equivalent, you would be right to consider the preservation of innocent lives to be a value.

Rational self-interest is not solopsism, it is not indifference to human suffering, it is not the absence of fellow-feeling. It consists of the pursuit of values -- and of taking action to preserve those values.

Barbara

Ericaand_Barbara_Branden_Atlas50.jpg

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Altruism is a philosophy, a philosophy is that which one practises consciously, consistently and continuously. Altruism, as expounded by Comte, was his philosophy built around a code of self-sacrifice - not an act of kindness for a stranger performed by choice now and then, but as an imperative of service to all others (born to it, he stated somewhere) for the ultimate good of the greater number.

I think this must be clearly distinguished - which altruists deliberately don't - from common-or-garden 'altruism' which at most, it overlaps, and which is simply normal fellow feeling : to recognize others' discomfort and sometimes to willingly help another person in distress - not from duty - from sympathy, i.e. from personal, selfish value. (Which WSS voices, I think). When there's pressure in any way upon oneself to arbitrarily assist ~anybody and any 'cause' ~ at every turn, in a life of self-sacrifice (giving up a higher value for a lesser, or disvalue) it's a guarantee, unsurprisingly, that it will gradually eliminate one's fellow-feeling, and ironically to A.Comte, bring about divisiveness and resentment in a society.

And, damned if you do, damned if you don't ... resisting and not trying to live by this creed constantly (or to fail in the attempt, as is physically certain) although accepting as true its premises, guarantees one the self-righteous disapproval of others and a life of guilt.

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On 2/7/2016 at 2:48 PM, anthony said:

Altruism is a philosophy, a philosophy is that which one practises consciously, consistently and continuously.

Well, kind of yeah, kind of no, kind of yeah-but.   

The posts in this topic take heed of multiple connotations of altruism, in the sciences, general and historical usage, and also in the history of philosophy. So, following Barbara, if I reform your sentence into two parts, I better understand where we agree ... "Altruism, aside from its varied meanings in fields like evolutionary psychology) -- is also a fully-developed social/pollitical theory, devised and expanded upon by Auguste Comte."

I hope I unpacked that more or less correctly, for we do entirely agree.  I would also probably agree if you went on to clarify: "Comte's philosophy was a failure, and any other totalizing philosophy of similar bent will also probably fail -- because of the single-spring or heart: of anti-individualism, 'for-the-other-only."  Though Comte's systematic philosophy was a grand and comprehensive attempt, many other quasi-philosophies, crypto-philosophies, and even many simple 'rule of thumb' systems of ethical prescriptions, many of these tout a Comtean 'giving over' of the individual.

Lots of agreement.  

So, only one quibble over the 'normative' maxim in the second part of your sentence.  Surely there are philosophies extant that simply are not practiced "consciously, consistently and continuously,"  Some are curiosities, like Comte's remaindered into crumbling Temples in Brazil. And certainly there are religions that are fully and/or monstrously complicated and exacting (Jewish Orthodox, Old Order Amish, Scientology), but for each one of those living religions, there are relapsed, escaped, gone AWOL, never-fully-engaged and other kinds of folks who are anything but consistent, conscious and continuous in their adherence to the ideal.

An 'on one foot' philosophy is much more likely to be followed 'religiously' ... than the full and heavy sprawl of, eg, Buddhism, Taoism, monastic orders of various sects.  For example, try to imagine a person who described himself as a Nietzsche-ist, and a leader in the local Nietsche-ist subculture? What do they do on Friday nights that other people not consistently following Nietzsche-ism fail to do?  And so on. What do you call a person who is not rigorously devoted to his or her detailed personal philosophy?  If they are otherwise moral, grounded, centred and wise with reason, would it matter that they might not be able to articulate their 'philosophy of life and its best living'?  Is there a test?

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Altruism, as expounded by Comte, was his philosophy built around a code of self-sacrifice - not an act of kindness for a stranger performed by choice now and then, but as an imperative of service to all others (born to it, he stated somewhere) for the ultimate good of the greater number.

Yeah.  And it all went to shit fast.

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I think this must be clearly distinguished - which altruists deliberately don't - from common-or-garden 'altruism' which at most, it overlaps, and which is simply normal fellow feeling : to recognize others' discomfort and sometimes to willingly help another person in distress - not from duty - from sympathy, i.e. from personal, selfish value. (Which WSS voices, I think).

Tony, you need to -- sometimes -- edit your comments for clarity. This sounds like Kant, a verb in search of a paragraph to make a home in. Pro-tip: define terms before, not during, an exposition, as much as possible.  I'd try to de-clutter and re-verb this sentence, but instead I might just ask you to read that as if you were not yourself. You might see it as a little bit garbled ore gabbling. The thought is in there punching to get out of the jam.

Look at that last sentence. How will I extract a coherent statement from that? 

I say this just to let you know that I do not recognize what you are tying me to: "Which WSS voices."  I don't understand your remarks well enough to give a reaction beyond 'rewrite' ...

Quote

When there's pressure in any way upon oneself to arbitrarily assist ~anybody and any 'cause' ~ at every turn, in a life of self-sacrifice (giving up a higher value for a lesser, or disvalue) it's a guarantee, unsurprisingly, that it will gradually eliminate one's fellow-feeling, and ironically to A.Comte, bring about divisiveness and resentment in a society.

Gabble.

Quote

And, damned if you do, damned if you don't ... resisting and not trying to live by this creed constantly (or to fail in the attempt, as is physically certain) although accepting as true its premises, guarantees one the self-righteous disapproval of others and a life of guilt.

Garble.   Jesus, Tony. You know what you mean, but you are not working hard enough to be clear and clean and specific.  Thanks for mentioning me, though, and for the exercise in finding agreement. I think I probably will agree with 99 percent of what you think, once you get it out in a clearer form.

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On 2016/02/10 at 10:58 AM, william.scherk said:
On 2016/02/10 at 10:58 AM, william.scherk said:
On 2016/02/07 at 0:48 AM, anthony said:
On 2016/02/10 at 10:58 AM, william.scherk said:

Well, kind of yeah, kind of no, kind of yeah-but.   

The posts in this topic take heed of multiple connotations of altruism, in the sciences, general and historical usage, and also in the history of philosophy. So, following Barbara, if I reform your sentence into two parts, I better understand where we agree ... "Altruism, aside from its varied meanings in fields like evolutionary psychology) -- is also a fully-developed social/pollitical theory, devised and expanded upon by Auguste Comte."

I hope I unpacked that more or less correctly, for we do entirely agree.  I would also probably agree if you went on to clarify: "Comte's philosophy was a failure, and any other totalizing philosophy of similar bent will also probably fail -- because of the single-spring or heart: of anti-individualism, 'for-the-other-only."  Though Comte's systematic philosophy was a grand and comprehensive attempt, many other quasi-philosophies, crypto-philosophies, and even many simple 'rule of thumb' systems of ethical prescriptions, many of these tout a Comtean 'giving over' of the individual.

Lots of agreement.  

So, only one quibble over the 'normative' maxim in the second part of your sentence.  Surely there are philosophies extant that simply are not practiced "consciously, consistently and continuously,"  Some are curiosities, like Comte's remaindered into crumbling Temples in Brazil. And certainly there are religions that are fully and/or monstrously complicated and exacting (Jewish Orthodox, Old Order Amish, Scientology), but for each one of those living religions, there are relapsed, escaped, gone AWOL, never-fully-engaged and other kinds of folks who are anything but consistent, conscious and continuous in their adherence to the ideal.

An 'on one foot' philosophy is much more likely to be followed 'religiously' ... than the full and heavy sprawl of, eg, Buddhism, Taoism, monastic orders of various sects.  For example, try to imagine a person who described himself as a Nietzsche-ist, and a leader in the local Nietsche-ist subculture? What do they do on Friday nights that other people not consistently following Nietzsche-ism fail to do?  And so on. What do you call a person who is not rigorously devoted to his or her detailed personal philosophy?  If they are otherwise moral, grounded, centred and wise with reason, would it matter that they might not be able to articulate their 'philosophy of life and its best living'?  Is there a test?

Yeah.  And it all went to shit fast.

Tony, you need to -- sometimes -- edit your comments for clarity. This sounds like Kant, a verb in search of a paragraph to make a home in. Pro-tip: define terms before, not during, an exposition, as much as possible.  I'd try to de-clutter and re-verb this sentence, but instead I might just ask you to read that as if you were not yourself. You might see it as a little bit garbled ore gabbling. The thought is in there punching to get out of the jam.

Look at that last sentence. How will I extract a coherent statement from that? 

I say this just to let you know that I do not recognize what you are tying me to: "Which WSS voices."  I don't understand your remarks well enough to give a reaction beyond 'rewrite' ...

Gabble.

Garble.   Jesus, Tony. You know what you mean, but you are not working hard enough to be clear and clean and specific.  Thanks for mentioning me, though, and for the exercise in finding agreement. I think I probably will agree with 99 percent of what you think, once you get it out in a clearer form.

 

 

 

 

.  

So, only one quibble over the 'normative' maxim in the second part of your sentence.  Surely there are philosophies extant that simply are not practiced "consciously, consistently and continuously,"  Some are curiosities, like Comte's remaindered into crumbling Temples in Brazil. And certainly there are religions that are fully and/or monstrously complicated and exacting (Jewish Orthodox, Old Order Amish, Scientology), but for each one of those living religions, there are relapsed, escaped, gone AWOL, never-fully-engaged and other kinds of folks who are anything but consistent, conscious and continuous in their adherence to the ideal.

 

Hell, I missed a chunk of a thought. I should have gone on to say, from "consciously, consistently", etc", - that the philosophy of altruism is one that ISN'T practised consistently and indeed can never be. The contradiction to an individual's life renders it impossible. Which doesn't mean to say even a partial practice is not admired and exalted.

On the basis of the harder it is, the more moral it must be, altruism has survived changes of ideology as the single "go-to" morality, both pressed upon us from outside collectively, and endlessly struggled to attain by individuals, internally. Since it remains ('tectonically') subterranean and also in the back of people's minds as "the perfect behavior for the sake of others", it is never questioned and it stays a toxic force.

This has next to nothing to do with charity and helping others, which is how it's nicely framed. Rand came along and unerringly spotted altruism's premises in men's minds and its logical consequences, and concluded that altruism = "self-abnegation". The credo of self-sacrifice - the surrender of one's mind, values, humanity and independence - implies: a sacrifice, to whom?  And there is always the attendant 'sacrificer' who grabs the spoils, most often of power.

So altruism in this widest and real sense still predominates in the West. For one thing, Europe's anti-individualism only differs from religious fundamentalism by degree, not kind, I think. E.g.The longtime lack of resolve by Western nations to know what to do about opposing Jihadism stems from the moral/philosophical confusion and equivocation brought about by their common sacrificial root (and their inability to identify the nature of Jihadism and its long term threat). Though if you told anyone that ISIS - sacrificing, and self-sacrificing, in the most extreme - is "altruist", they'd think you crazy.

 

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This might remove lingering doubts about Comte and what he intended:

"The social point of view cannot tolerate the notion of rights, for such notion rests on individualism. We are born under a load of obligations of every kind, to our predecessors, to our successors, to our contemporaries.

After our birth these obligations increase or accumulate, for it is some time before we can return any service....

This [to live for others], the definitive formula of human morality, gives a direct sanction exclusively to our instincts of benevolence, the common source of happiness and duty. [Man must serve] humanity, whose we are entirely".

(Cathechisme Positiviste)

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Egoism versus Rights (link) criticizes Rand's use of altruism.
Altruism in Auguste Comte and Ayn Rand (link) defends Rand.

Both can be read online for free if registered, which is also free. 
 

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Good for Robert Campbell! Admittedly only from reading the intros, it seems to me Bass hasn't much understanding of Rand's egoism, or individual rights (he calls "libertarian rights"). Rather than either one voiding the other as he claims, it's the existence of rational egoists, and of all self-responsible actors, which *necessitates* individual rights.

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27 minutes ago, anthony said:

Good for Robert Campbell! Admittedly only from reading the intros, it seems to me Bass hasn't much understanding of Rand's egoism, or individual rights (he calls libertarian rights). 

True about Bass. I also sharply criticized Bass' article and defended Rand in my article Egoism and/or Altruism (link). Unlike Campbell's article, it can't be read on JSTOR for free until circa December 2018.

 

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Merlin,

At bottom, I'm sure one fault is in people taking the status quo for granted yet again.

Isn't everybody altruist? ;)

I think the accusation commonly made is that Rand's interpretation of altruism is kind of 'idiosynchratic'. They might argue or just believe that nobody goes to Comte's extremes or expects it, and, like the "balance" between capitalism and welfarism, a little bit of selfishness and a little bit of self-sacrifice is good for the greater number, and is what keeps society healthy. "Good, for whom?" one wants to ask. And - "In an individual -or between sectors of society - is this not an internal conflict which must eventually crack apart?"

My sense is there's not many degrees of separation between sophisticated nations which are managing so far to maintain that uneasy "balance", and those rawer ones where sacrifice and self-sacrifice have started running amok. A few months visit to a country like mine -might- convince some doubters otherwise. 

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Tony,

Bass' other main error was assuming the idea of egoism as advocated by Rand was the egoism described by other philosophers, especially its critics. He claimed an egoist cares nothing about the rights of anyone else. He obviously evaded Rand's statements about rights in The Virtue of Selfishess. He either wasn't aware of or evaded Rand's description of "traditional egoism" in Letters of Ayn Rand. She didn't use "traditional egoism" in The Virtue of Selfishess, but what she meant by the term was clearly present. Even the subtitle of the 1964 edition was A New Concept of Egoism

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A human interest story -- if you are interested in a Baby In The Woods  ...

Officers recall finding buried baby; man says he abandoned boy because he was heavy

Quote

 

MISSOULA, Mont. -- A faint whimper in the darkness was all it took. Missoula County Sheriff's Deputy Ross Jessop and U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Nick Scholz rushed toward the sound after hours spent searching the Montana woods for a missing infant.

Jessop was about to take another step when he heard a stick crack underfoot. He looked down to find a cold, wet, soiled 5-month-old boy face-down buried under a pile of debris.

"I abandoned any police training or any chance of saving evidence there - I didn't care," Jessop, a father of three, told reporters on Tuesday. "I scooped up the baby, made sure he was breathing. He had a sparkle in his eye. (I) warmed him up, gave him a couple of kisses and just held him."

[...]

 

 

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On 9/3/2015 at 9:59 AM, Wolf DeVoon said:

Revisiting some many pages of this thread, I had forgotten how much I contributed to it, best of which was...

"There is a solution, however steely. My time is gone, but another will follow, someone much greater."

:cool:

Very nice adaptation of John the Baptist's most well-known saying! Were your sources the Aramaic or the Greek?

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DhzPXJaUwAA4B5M?format=jpg&key=c2c80febe4DAB328000000578-5890179-image-m-63_1530

 

Edited by william.scherk
Provided context for Q-aJon the Beeptist of F-Troupe, who appears everywhere you look. I kinda feel like he's telling me to stay outta town, stranger. Cain't be.

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