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Passions in Poetry

Leggo my Egoism

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Brad
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Jejudo, South Korea


50 posted 02-17-2005 08:57 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I've said this before, and honestly I don't mean to be flippant, but you're both right.

Is a Pavlovian reaction a form of heroism?

What follows from describing all actions as self-interested by definition?

Do reason and reaction interact?
Stephanos
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51 posted 02-17-2005 09:36 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
Is a Pavlovian reaction a form of heroism?



That really depends Brad.  Do you think it is instinctual for people to be cowardly or to be altruistically brave?  I understand fight or flight.  But I've never heard the Martyr put in that context.  I personally think selfless heroism might be a virtue which has been acted upon and assumed (in countless smaller ways) for such a long time, that when a crisis moment comes, it has already been reasoned out.  In short, it overrides the mere animal tendency to save one's own skin at all costs.  


quote:
What follows from describing all actions as self-interested by definition?



That your motive for description would be for self interest, rather than for arriving at the unbiased truth?  Thanks, Brad.  I had never thought of that one, until you asked that question.  That's rather Socratic I think.


quote:
Do reason and reaction interact?
  

Yes.  But to what degree I'm not sure.


Stephen.
  
serenity blaze
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52 posted 02-18-2005 01:43 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

I'm confused again.

Stephanos, you say,

" I understand fight or flight.  But I've never heard the Martyr put in that context.  I personally think selfless heroism might be a virtue which has been acted upon and assumed (in countless smaller ways) for such a long time, that when a crisis moment comes, it has already been reasoned out.  In short, it overrides the mere animal tendency to save one's own skin at all costs."

Using this line of reasoning, could you also say that crimes of passion might be a character flaw which as been acted upon and assumed (nod, in countless smaller ways) for such a long time, that when a crisis moment comes, it has already been reasoned out?

(and forgive me Steven, I still haven't read the entire thread, but tsk, this time I've really got the flu--it's not a hangover. )

Also: as you can obviously see by my reasoning, it's not something of which I have already formed an opinion--this thread had caught my eye some time ago, and yep, ya'll know me, I tend to bumblebee-graze.

Maybe that accounts for the buzzing in my ears, huh?

I go sleep, and try to read again tomorrow.

Nite guys.   
Stephanos
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53 posted 02-18-2005 11:35 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Karen:
quote:
Using this line of reasoning, could you also say that crimes of passion might be a character flaw which as been acted upon and assumed (nod, in countless smaller ways) for such a long time, that when a crisis moment comes, it has already been reasoned out?



Well, now that you mention it ... Yes.  If a crime of passion involves an outburst of anger or jealousy that cannot be controlled, I wonder how many smaller scenarios there were when these vices were allowed to grow, instead of gaining mastery over them.  If there are these kinds of tests in our lives, even hindsight of failure would be "a time of reasoning" before the next time the opportunity comes 'round.  


I was reading William Barclay once who quoted someone else ...  "Sow an act, reap a habit.  Sow a habit, reap a character.  Sow a character, reap a destiny."


But to bring this back to the issue of egoism ...

Even a heroic act can be without the element of immediacy ... It is conceivable that such an act might be well considered beforehand.  So the whole attempt to describe heroic actions as Pavlovian knee-jerks, and to thereby cast doubt upon their virtue, is faulty in my opinion.


So let's take everything away which can be assailed on other grounds, such as immediacy and reaction, and say that there was time for the heroic deed to be adequately thought out, and determinately chosen.  Let's use the hardest example, so that the egoist must face the fact that unless egoism (by it's own admission and standards) can account for ALL actions, and not one less, it is false.


Stephen.      
serenity blaze
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54 posted 02-19-2005 03:37 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Well, that's where I ran into my problem to begin with though.

I rather agreed with Ron's point that a premeditated heroic act most probably reveals self-interest at the point of purpose, even if it's to avoid the burden of guilt upon the conscience.

Now here is another example (yet again from  The Oprah Winfrey Show --and sorry Ron, but hey, at least it ain't Judge Judy )but it's an which I thought quite aptly demonstrated the quandary.

There was a married couple on the show who had survived the catastrophic Tsunami. The woman had been knocked unconscious, and it took all of her husband's resolve and determination to hold on to her--and he obviously had succeeded in his promise that "no matter what happened, he would not let go of her."  He confessed his great burden of guilt however, as he lives knowing that he could have saved the lives of several others had he not been driven by what he himself termed "selfish motivation", as he tearfully acknowledged that he was not ready to say goodbye to her. Remember too, that she was knocked unconscious, so he had no idea if this act of love and loyalty would result in her survival.

My heart went out to him as he acknowledged that he was in a situation which would leave him with grief and guilt with either decision.

So you see, that is what triggered my confusion regarding this issue.

And smiling, I'm still hoping for some enlightment, as not even my beloved Oprah had an answer for him.
Stephanos
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55 posted 02-23-2005 12:31 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Karen:
quote:
I rather agreed with Ron's point that a premeditated heroic act most probably reveals self-interest at the point of purpose, even if it's to avoid the burden of guilt upon the conscience.


Karen, Sorry it took me so long to get around to this.


First of all, I've never denied that "self interest" is involved "at the point of purpose".  What I have said is that it doesn't make sense to say that's the only interest that exists or can exist at that central point. But that's what egoism dogmatically claims.


If a heroic act and a cowardly act, are BOTH the result of self-interest, why the guilt in the first place?


The guilt itself should be a clue to the doubtfulness of egoism.  If either course of action is based upon "self interest", then guilt itself is irrational.  If you've saved someone, merely so that YOU won't feel guilty, you've done nothing virtuous that would reasonably assuage guilt.  And conversely, if saving someone else from harm is something done only to avoid guilt, then why the guilt assoicated with neglecting to do so?  Guilt becomes irrational.  

Now is there such a thing as "false guilt", or "irrational guilt"?  Yes.  But we also know that there is such a thing as real guilt.  That's why I am more inclined to doubt egoistic philosophy, than to doubt the reality and basis of moral guilt (moral oughtness).  


The difficulty with egoism is that it can support neither moral oughtness, nor moral guilt, and therefore must explain them cogently, or explain them away.  


In my opinion, it has only tended to explain them away.


Stephen.
Stephanos
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56 posted 02-23-2005 12:37 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Oh and Karen.  I do have some thoughts about the dilemma of the man you mentioned on Oprah.


I'll get back to that.  I'm outta time right now.


Later,

Stephen.
 
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