An Analysis of Egoism and Altruism


merjet

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Tony, I changed my post. I do that a lot after I initially put one up. Sometimes it's my original that gets responded to as you did. I would have done it quicker but I had to reboot my computer. Sometimes I get too negative without enough of a good reason.

--Brant

grumpy old man

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Tony, I changed my post. I do that a lot after I initially put one up. Sometimes it's my original that gets responded to as you did. I would have done it quicker but I had to reboot my computer. Sometimes I get too negative without enough of a good reason.

--Brant

grumpy old man

You said it Brant.

-[not helping]

Tony,

Your words are gold to me, I'm am very glad for your existence.

I suppose in some people's minds I'm being altruistic when I feed the stray cat in my yard, or water the flowers my wife planted.

Sunday Karen and I got home from a week in Solvang where we participated in her daughter's wedding. A profoundly moving experience, partially due to the fact I was asked to be officiator. That wasn't even on my bucket list. Great memories, and my name is on their marriage license! Really cool. I was a bit distracted for 2-3 weeks writing the thing up and researching it. I'm not a public speaker but I think it went well. I got some compliments but they may have just been being nice.

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Thanks Mike, much appreciated. Aren't the unexpected -and the apparently prosaic - things of life grand! It's a lesson I eventually learned, that even if a task looks to be dull and 'dutiful', to try throw myself into it with interest and pleasure - and whaddayaknow, it always becomes a pleasure or learning experience to be glad of later. Sometimes a financial profit also. One picks up values in strange places and unusual people. The "Beneficiary" of the experience? damn straight. I believe you'll know this - I sometimes catch hints of a sort of 'fixed linearity', in Objectivists, that I recall in somewhat in me - as though there's only one path in life. It's just not so - the idea of philosophy and egoism is to widen and deepen experience I think, to be pre-prepared for anything that comes along, however to avoid pre-judging it...

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Tony, I changed my post. I do that a lot after I initially put one up. Sometimes it's my original that gets responded to as you did. I would have done it quicker but I had to reboot my computer. Sometimes I get too negative without enough of a good reason.

--Brant

grumpy old man

Sure, Brant. Not my normal cheery ;) self lately, either. I've thought of you, and how you went through the death of your dog (a year or so ago). Now it's my turn, tonight will be his last night. So life, value - and the ending of them- has been much on my mind these last couple of days.

- grouchy old man.

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I'm sorry about your dog, Tony.

A pet can come to be so much a part of one's life, the pet's death leaves a special kind of empty place.

I gather that the dog was ill and you decided to end his suffering. It's a hard decision to make.

Ellen

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Meanwhile, I re-read the Introduction to VOS this evening, wanting to refresh my memory of the context of the passage Merlin asked about. Then I decided to type up and post a sizable excerpt for reference.

Here's the core of Rand's thesis about "selfishness" and the issue of "beneficiaries." I've bolded the sentences Merlin quoted in post #28.

"Introduction," The Virtue of Selfishness

Introduction

The Virtue of Selfishness

1964, NAL

[italics in original; bold emphasis added]

[....]

There are two moral questions which altruism lumps together into one "package-deal": (1) What are values? (2) Who should be the beneficiary of values? Altruism substitutes the second for the first; it evades the task of defining a code of moral values, thus leaving man, in fact, without moral guidance.

Altruism declares that any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one's own benefit is evil. Thus the beneficiary of an action is the only criterion of moral value - and so long as that beneficiary is anybody other than oneself, anything goes.

Hence the appalling immorality, the chronic injustice, the grotesque double standards, the insoluble conflicts and contradictions that have characterized human relationships and human societies throughout history, under all the variants of the altruist ethics.

[....]

Observe what this beneficiary criterion does to a man's life. The first thing he learns is that morality is his enemy: he has nothing to gain from it, he can only lose [...]. Apart from such times as he manages to perform some act of self-sacrifice, he possesses no moral significance; morality takes no cognizance of him and has nothing to say to him for guidance in the crucial issues of his life; it is only his own personal, private, "selfish" life and, as such, it is regarded either as evil or, at best, amoral.

[....]

If it is true that what I mean by "selfishness" is not what is meant conventionally, then this is one of the worst indictments of altruism: it means that altruism permits no concept of a self-respecting, self-supporting man - a man who supports his life by his own effort and neither sacrifices himself nor others. It means that altruism permits no view of men except as sacrificial animals and profiteers-on-sacrifice, as victims and parasites - that it permits no concept of a benevolent co-existence among men - that it permits no concept of justice.

If you wonder about the reasons behind the ugly mixture of cynicism and guilt in which most men spend their lives, these are the reasons: cynicism, because they neither practice nor accept the altruist morality - guilt, because they dare not reject it.

To rebel against so devastating an evil, one has to rebel against its basic premise. To redeem both man and morality, it is the concept of selfishness that one has to redeem.

The first step is to assert man's right to a moral existence - that is, to recognize his need of a moral code to guide the course and the fulfillment of his own life.

For a brief outline of the nature and the validation of a rational morality, see my lecture on "The Objectivist Ethics," which follows. The reasons why man needs a moral code will tell you that the purpose of morality is to define man's proper values and interests, that concern with his own interests is the essence of a moral existence, and that man must be the beneficiary of his own moral actions.

Since all values have to be gained and/or kept by men's actions, any breach between actor and beneficiary necessitates an injustice: the sacrifice of some men to others, of the actors to the nonactors, of the moral to the immoral. Nothing could justify such a breach, and no one ever has.

The choice of the beneficiary of moral values is merely a preliminary or introductory issue in the field of morality. It is not a substitute for morality nor a criterion of moral value, as altruism has made it. Neither is it a moral primary: it has to be derived from and validated by the fundamental premises of a moral system.

The Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest. But his right to do so is derived from his nature as man and from the function of moral values in human life - and therefore is applicable only in the context of a rational, objectively demonstrated and validated code of moral principles which define and determine his actual self-interest. It is not a license "to do as he pleases" and it is not applicable to the altruists' image of a "selfish" brute nor to any man motivated by irrational emotions, feelings, urges, wishes or whims.

[The preceding, she says, is a warning against "Nietzschean egoists"] who believe that any action, regardless of its nature, is good if it is intended for one's own benefit.] [....]

[she also warns against the error] committed by the man who declares that since man must be guided by his own independent judgment, any action he chooses to take is moral if he chooses it. One's own independent judgment is the means by which one must choose one's actions, but it is not a moral criterion nor a moral validation: only reference to a demonstrable principle can validate one's choices.

Just as man cannot survive by any random means, but must discover and practice the principles which his survival requires, so man's self-interest cannot be determined by blind desires or random whims, but must be discovered by the guidance of rational principles. This is why the Objectivist ethics is a morality of rational self-interest - or of rational selfishness.

Since selfishness is "concern with one's own interests," the Objectivist ethics uses that concept in its exact and purest sense. It is not a concept that one can surrender to man's enemies, nor to the unthinking misconceptions, distortions, prejudices and fears of the ignorant and the irrational. The attack on "selfishness" is an attack on man's self-esteem: to surrender one, is to surrender the other.

[....]

Ellen

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Solvang

a taste of Denmark in California. The architecture of many of the façades and buildings reflects traditional Danish style. There is a copy of the famous Little Mermaid statue from Copenhagen, as well as one featuring the bust of famed Danish fable writer Hans Christian Andersen. A replica of Copenhagen's Round Tower or Rundetårn in the scale 1:3 was finished in 1991 and can be seen in the town center.

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Solvang

a taste of Denmark in California. The architecture of many of the façades and buildings reflects traditional Danish style. There is a copy of the famous Little Mermaid statue from Copenhagen, as well as one featuring the bust of famed Danish fable writer Hans Christian Andersen. A replica of Copenhagen's Round Tower or Rundetårn in the scale 1:3 was finished in 1991 and can be seen in the town center.

Sure, Brant. Not my normal cheery ;) self lately, either. I've thought of you, and how you went through the death of your dog (a year or so ago). Now it's my turn, tonight will be his last night. So life, value - and the ending of them- has been much on my mind these last couple of days.

- grouchy old man.

Tony:

My condolences.

As Ellen noted, never easy to do what is right for something, or, someone you love.

I have held each of my animals for that last walk to the Vet. He was a personal friend. Additionally, he knew of my training at the Animal Medical Center so I would be the holder of my animal to the end.

If it is any consolation, when I put my seventeen year old Irish Setter down, I could see, through my tears, the stress gone from his face and an eternal calmness.

It was only at that moment that I fully realized how much of a struggle he had been under.

I would highly recommend Mark Levin's book, Rescuing Sprite, as it has helped many folks who have had to part with their per partners.

Mark Levin, while known as a lawyer and nationally syndicated broadcaster, considers himself first and foremost a dog lover. In 2004, Mark’s family added a new member to their bunch—a beautiful, Spaniel-mixed dog they named Sprite. With his beautiful face and soft, huggable fur, Sprite immediately bonded with the Levin family.

But on Halloween night, just three weeks after being adopted, Sprite collapsed and had to be rushed to the animal hospital in what would turn out to be the first of many such visits—and a difficult, heart-wrenching journey for the entire family.

Over the next two years, Sprite’s health deteriorated, but his spirit remained high and his beauty and grace continued to inspire, until the holiday season of 2006, when the Levin family had to say a final goodbye to their beloved pet. Rescuing Sprite is a stunningly intimate revelation of the strong love that can develop between a family and a pet, and the realization, as Mark Levin puts it, that “in the end, we humans are the lucky ones.”?

http://www.amazon.com/Rescuing-Sprite-Lovers-Story-Anguish/dp/1439165432

A...

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I think Rand in Ellen's long quote from VOS (post 59) doesn't quite make her case as stated and leaves other areas untouched. What she does make a case for--an implicit case--is morality as a control mechanism: "The Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action." This is just an absolutist individualist argument to throw against--real or imagined--an absolutist collectivist argument that she experienced politically in the Soviet Union. That communist state was even more a total tyranny than Nazi Germany--if you weren't a Jew. Lenin and Stalin treated all the citizens of the country as if they were Jews but could not provide the destructive focus Hitler did for he was dealing with a minority he could slaughter almost in toto and did. But Nazi or communist, Rand did not address her ethical considerations from a more normal human social context.

If we posit North Korea as an example of how much absolutist tyranny humans in the aggregate are able to endure and consider the contrary--how much freedom might they be able to endure--we have the basic social conundrum that freedom has to be fought for while the entropy of tyranny is mere acquiescence. Youth doesn't like the latter, especially male youth. It's the testosterone. Rand wanted to provide moral and intellectual power and guidance for such energy, not subtle nuances found in serious professional philosophical discourse. She lived her life on the barricades, just like Enjolras.

--Brant

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Brant, the especially high moral virtue proclaimed for self-sacrifice and service to others spans the gospels of fascism and communism, but also the gospels of our own society in its normal daily run. Also, there are life-and-death issues, things to be adamant about in ethics, and in metaphysics and epistemology too, even without any ramifications they may have for politics. In Fountainhead opposing ethics and opposing psychologies are of life-and-death importance even without the political agendas of Toohey and the author. As a matter of fact, I’d say that Rand’s continual infusion of urgent moment into nonpolitical issues by mentioning their (alleged) political ramifications is very often a referral, as when one feels a pain in the left arm that has really been referred from the heart.

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Brant, the especially high moral virtue proclaimed for self-sacrifice and service to others spans the gospels of fascism and communism, but also the gospels of our own society in its normal daily run. Also, there are life-and-death issues, things to be adamant about in ethics, and in metaphysics and epistemology too, even without any ramifications they may have for politics. In Fountainhead opposing ethics and opposing psychologies are of life-and-death importance even without the political agendas of Toohey and the author. As a matter of fact, I’d say that Rand’s continual infusion of urgent moment into nonpolitical issues by mentioning their (alleged) political ramifications is very often a referral, as when one feels a pain in the left arm that has really been referred from the heart.

I'm trying to find a way to argue with you, Stephen, but it's hopeless.

--Brant

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I think Rand in Ellen's long quote from VOS (post 59) doesn't quite make her case as stated and leaves other areas untouched.

Excerpts from VOS Introduction - link

I have numerous quarrels with the Introduction to VOS, including the way she starts it, with her accusing of "moral cowardice" anyone who would ask the sensible question: "Why do you use the word 'selfishness' to denote virtuous qualities of character, when the word antagonizes so many people to whom it does not mean the things you mean?" - and her asserting that "the exact meaning and dictionary definition of the word 'selfishness' is : concern with one's own interests."

I've said before - and I'm aware that some of the people posting on the thread, including Stephen, disagree with me - that I think the title of the book was a tactical mistake. It does needlessly antagonize, and what she's talking about isn't "selfishness" as that word is defined in any dictionary I know of. And then she has to provide a contrived explanation of her meaning, while inaccurately characterizing ethical systems other than hers.

Introduction

The Virtue of Selfishness

Altruism declares that any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one's own benefit is evil. Thus the beneficiary of an action is the only criterion of moral value - and so long as that beneficiary is anybody other than oneself, anything goes.

[....] Apart from such times as [a person] manages to perform some act of self-sacrifice, he possess no moral significance; morality takes no cognizance of him and has nothing to say to him for guidance in the crucial issues of his life; it is only his own personal, private, "selfish" life and, as such, it is regarded either as evil or, at best, amoral.

The statements aren't true of any major world religion or of any of the secular credos (such as Nazism or Communism) with which I have some familiarity.

Possibly the second paragraph could be taken as accurately describing Kant's ethics if "some act of duty" were substituted for "some act of self-sacrifice."

I understand, as Stephen points out in post #63, that "the especially high moral virtue proclaimed for self-sacrifice and service to others spans the gospels of fascism and communism, but also the gospels of our own society in its normal daily run." I understand that this is a life-and-death issue.

Nevertheless, I submit that accuracy would have served Rand's cause very much better, and maybe helped in her being understood more widely than she is understood.

Some time back, on another thread, I suggested the possible title An Ethics for Living on Earth for the book. Recently, in perusing Rand's Journals, I noticed something I hadn't noticed before or had forgotten.

On June 8, 1968, Rand started some notes for a book to be titled Objectivism: A Philosophy for Living on Earth.

She only made a few notes for that book idea. I wish she'd thought to use the title, modified, instead of The Virtue of Selfishness. If she had done that, of course, her Introduction would have been different.

Ellen

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Also - though this is minor compared to other problems with the VOS Introduction - Rand makes another of her "most people" overreaches. I note this because I'm collecting her "most people" statements.

Introduction

The Virtue of Selfishness

If you wonder about the reasons behind the ugly mixture of cynicism and guilt in which most men spend their lives, these are the reasons: cynicism, because they neither practice nor accept the altruist morality - guilt, because they dare not reject it.

Compare to:

"The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made"

Most men spend their lives in futile rebellion against things they cannot change, in passive resignation to things they can, and - never attempting to learn the difference - in chronic guilt and self-doubt on both counts.

I mentioned that second example recently on another thread ("Did Marx Teach Rand How to Think About Capitalism?").

Tony replied with a defense which I thought was as good a defense as could be made but which I nonetheless thought fell short of justifying the statement.

I started a reply to Tony but then was busy and let the issue go. I'll copy Tony's defense and my (previously unposted) reply here. The subject is more appropriate anyway in this context than on the other thread.

The question is: Do such psychological or psycho-epistemological contrasts exist in men - in reality?

Take the AA prayer. Surely, it follows that at least one person (R. Niebuhr) who wrote it, was aware that he, and others, lived by confused premises. Acting futilely against circumstances they couldn't change, and in fatalist resignation, not acting when they should. For me, that seems a footnote on the history of men. It also reminds me of my own past, when indecisiveness froze me from doing something I should - or conversely, when I impetuously challenged a status quo to no avail. No, I think what Rand put forward is all too characteristic of the un-wise human situation, which often can't identify one from the other and rushes around aimlessly between the two.

If Rand had written something along the lines of your statement, I would have no objection to the manner of it, though I might differ in opinion as to how "characteristic" of human behavior the pattern you describe is.

But notice the manner of Rand's statement as compared to yours:

Most men spend their lives in futile rebellion against things they cannot change, in passive resignation to things they can, and - never attempting to learn the difference - in chronic guilt and self-doubt on both counts.

Rand isn't saying "surely it follows..." or expressing an opinion on the prevalence of a particular behavioral pattern. She's making an outright assertion of fact about the way "most men spend their lives," an assertion which includes the characterological accusation that those she describes never try to learn the difference between what they can and what they can't change.

By what means does she presume to know this? There isn't any means by which she could know it.

Ellen

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Ellen,

The quote from post #28 and yours (post #59) -- both from VoS -- say an actor must always be the beneficiary of his action, and his benefitting anyone else makes a breach. Granting Rand the benefit of the doubt, the quote pertains to the actor's goal or intent.

As I literally interpret it, if the actor benefits somebody else, but it is not the actor's goal, that's moral, maybe even commendable. Isaac Newton's goal was a better understanding of the physical world. The fact that he benefitted many others -- including millions of people he didn't even know and many of them who weren't even born yet -- is moral, even commendable. However, if it is the actor's goal to benefit others, even partly, then it is a breach.

Consider trade. If the actor makes something with no intent to sell it, but he eventually does sell it and the buyer benefits, that's moral, maybe even commendable. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak when they worked together in a garage perhaps fits. However, if he makes it with the intent to sell it and for it to benefit the buyer, that is a breach per the quote. Consider the employees of Apple, Inc and iPhones. Consider a medical doctor or lawyer. The doctor or lawyer trades his time and skills for money, intending to benefit the patient or client. That isn't moral and is a breach per the quote, since it is his goal to benefit somebody else, the patient or client.

Thanks for posting the long excerpt from VoS. It includes "concern with his own interests is the essence of a moral existence." I agree, if "his own interests" might encompass the interest of another person whom the actor values. If it means only his own interests always, it overreaches. It is fine with me to act only in one's own interests. I've done it a lot, e.g. studying, exercising, and eating, which don't involve another person.

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Most men spend their lives in futile rebellion against things they cannot change, in passive resignation to things they can, and - never attempting to learn the difference - in chronic guilt and self-doubt on both counts.

Rand isn't saying "surely it follows..." or expressing an opinion on the prevalence of a particular behavioral pattern. She's making an outright assertion of fact about the way "most men spend their lives," an assertion which includes the characterological accusation that those she describes never try to learn the difference between what they can and what they can't change.

By what means does she presume to know this? There isn't any means by which she could know it.

Ellen

If we consider Galt's speech to be the proto-expression of Objectivism, which I certainly do, then it's a pile of asseverations in lieu of arguments. Sort of like stating the obvious so the guilty learn they got away with nothing. Last words on a doomed moral-political system. That fit the novel; what followed as Objectivism was inertia in presentation and that which was most reasonable in various published articles "consonant" with the philosophy if not of the philosophy. It's comparatively easy to deal with the politics on the one hand and the axiomatic premises on the other, but the morality as presented in its totality, is a train that just sits on the siding blowing its horn and pumping smoke. Fortunately, you can run your own train (or fly your own plane)--walk your walk helped by a lot of Rand.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede
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Irfan Khawaja has recently posted some reflections on Rand’s essay “The Ethics of Emergencies” that are pertinent to this thread. Scroll down to where he writes “Unfortunately, I also find Rand’s essay seriously defective. I see at least seven or eight basic problems.” See defects 2–6.

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Khawaja's point 2 says:

In discussing egoistic relationships, Rand repeatedly stresses that a rational egoist forms a hierarchy of values, incorporates other people’s well-being into that hierarchy, and then treats others well-being as part of his own. What she doesn’t explain is how or why anyone would do that. Yes, if you incorporate others’ well-being into your own, you come to treat their well-being as part of your own, and thereby promote their good while promoting your own. But why would an egoist do that? What benefit does an egoist get by making the initial choice? She doesn’t explain.

Part of the answer is trade and working with others productively pursuing a common goal, as I mentioned in post 67.

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Thanks for the extremely interesting and important link, Stephen. A proper critique of that article is right up your alley, however, not mine. Regardless, I do have a few comments about Rand and her emergency ethics. I see them as an attempted reconciliation between Nietzschean ethics such as they are-were hers and her Objectivism. I see her Objectivism as a dog leg away from her natural outlook or personal philosophy and the effort and result (Galt's Speech) made her mean. Take the Branden affair. It was having her cake and eating it too. So too her "Ethics of Emergencies." Or, having her Objectivism and eating it too. The affair might be describable as an "emergency"--the emergency of having a man in her bed while she was still young enough to really enjoy it by a young, impressionable man who would provide her what her husband didn't and could not. The next emergency was hiding it from (conventional) moralization as she was writing a moralizing novel in which she was the great moralizer. So she hid it with a lie supported by a rationalization.

The key is that destroying collectivism by using morality as a weapon doesn't work any better than shooting a gun into a huge glob of jelly destroys the glob. Going on strike doesn't work either. Collectivism will ride the horse all the way into the ground and still stick around. Setting up collectivism is another matter. Collectivists are not altruists. Out of their own context they are as selfish as anyone else. Altruism is their disarming doctrine. The basic irony is their ethics of emergencies is doing the right thing in so far as it is expedient then reverting to their tyrannical norm. Thus in the early 1920s the Soviets had a "New Economic Policy" (NEP) and in the late 1950s Mao said, "Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom."

Ethics of emergencies are moral exceptions which must involve initiation of force, minimized. I'm lost in the woods and it's snowing and I'm starving and freezing and I come upon a locked up cabin. I break in to save my life. Burn someone else's firewood and eat someone else's food. Afterwards, I do what I can to make it up. I think where Rand failed was inability to explicitly acknowledge these ethics involve the necessary initiation of force and work off that. If she did I missed it or forgot it.

Rand had it clear in her own head she was as pure morally as the driven snow--didn't make "mistakes." Hence she unloaded on her attorney when he suggested she, like everyone else, had in her life--must have made--some. And take the title of her essay. The overwhelming implication of it per se is that these emergency ethics are ethical--that one's own life comes first--bottom line. Hence the essence, stated negatively, of her ethical egoism. But what kind of ethics did Stalin have that weren't of the ethical egoism type (or anyone else)? Is it only you should feel guilty or not feel guilty and if you are guilty and don't feel it then shame on you so read Atlas Shrugged, feel guilty and evaporate, go away, shrink up--die! (And she wondered why she got bad reviews.)

I wonder if this jibes with your basic understanding and critique of her "ethical egoism." In any case, I hope I haven't been to confused and rambling here muddying these waters with my own ethics of intellectual emergencies from not being a well enough educated moral philosopher.

--Brant

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"A breach" is key (I think) to Rand's thinking. It's not only a "breach" between actor and beneficiary that she indicates, but within the actor's consciousness itself.

The endless, re-directing and sustained effort for a person to move towards his goals, virtues and values can't be impeded by blocks he imposes on himself - such as obligation, fear and guilt. Life is that tough, his purpose has to be single-minded -- with himself as ultimate beneficiary (materially and spiritually) -- to have a chance for success. That he supposes or knows that others will benefit (if simply by association, if not trade) is all to the additional good, but not his standard and purpose.

Who can tell how many lives were defeated of their purpose, never to realize their potential, by their own confused sense of duty?

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Brant, there is much I’d take issue with in #71.

Rejecting altruism is not enough to make egoism of the sort Rand espoused in Fountainhead and Atlas. As of her 1936 We the Living, it is possible (we can conjecture uncertainly from one bit of dialogue) that she had accepted the Marxist or Nietzschean views that there is some division of classes according to which benefit to one class requires sacrifice of the lives and labor of another class. But sometime before completing Fountainhead, she had come to reject that sort of fundamental and ineradicable conflict among people. Her theory of ethical egoism, the type of egoism she endorsed from Fountainhead on (and evidently in Anthem 1938 as well), required self-dependence and non-sacrifice of others, not only refusal to sacrifice for others.

I’m not informed of the particulars of Stalin’s person and career, but it’s plain he was not an ethical egoist of Rand’s ’43-forward sort, and I think it possible the virtue of altruism, against a background of presumed fundamental class conflict, could be an important factor leading him and legions of others to favor socialism. As for the total state of communist socialism, including mass murders, No, it cuts loose from altruism (and from the Kantian set of duty; Eichmann admitted he knew he had run afoul of Kant when it came to the murders). I certainly agree with the view of you and of Rand that altruism is sometimes used as a weapon to disarm the people being sacrificed by the state and to disarm people being enlisted into execution of such state actions. I agree also that altruism, proclaimed by political leaders, is by itself not a sufficient reason to seal the rightness (for anyone not idiot) of what they do in its name. In the recent Ken Burns series on the Roosevelts, each episode was opened with an introductory narration saying these eminent Americans had been taught from an early age the virtue of altruism—to which I added each time: “with other peoples’ money.”

Although the accepted virtue of self-sacrificing altruism may not be sufficient to have brought about collectivisms violating individual rights, I’m inclined to think that accepted virtue of such altruism is necessary to buoy those collectivisms. That necessary condition is a moral condition, correctible by, and only by, realization of self-sacrificing altruism’s error(s) and a replacement ethics seen as better.

On the ethics of authentic emergencies, I’ll be interested to see what Irfan has to say in his paper under way.

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Okay, Stephen, but I still don't have my brain around ethical egoism a la Rand and your basic objection to it. You may have already stated it and I admit if you did I've not enough time to have properly noticed it. Can you do a precis on the matter?*

--Brant

can we view ethics of emergencies as a bridge between using ethics normally to when we no longer can to back to normal as soon as we can?--in the grossest sense we could view a war as exemplifying that or Cincinnatus being a temporary but necessary dictator--or we cannot act ethically so choice is not actually involved but we must act just as any other species of animal must and will act as a matter of course (giving us two "normals" depending on circumstances: normal involving choice and normal involving no [real] choice [except sacrifice or not sacrifice as in throwing yourself out of the lifeboat so the stranger next to you might live])

*sorry; I think you said you were saving it for your book

Edited by Brant Gaede
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. . . I think you said you were saving it for your book.

Correct. Substance in my posts to last January when I began the book is all the substance there is to be online from me; all substantive advances in any area since then I’m holding for the book exclusively. In addition to the first two links in #41 this thread, I’ve said some on the egoism issue in these three: 1, 2, 3. Although all that can be summarized, I shouldn’t do it now, as I’m immersed in very distant areas of philosophy in the book so far and for a good while to come.

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