Statesboro, GA, USA
Why should doing good bring it's own particular kind of pleasure? WHY NOT? There are people who live their lives in many such ways. They may dedicate their lives to helping others, or taking care of animals, or crusading for the homeless, etc, etc, etc. There have been Ghandis and Mother Theresas. You are asking why such goals should bring them pleasure? Why is it different than materialistic pleasure? Easy....it is the ONLY satisfying pleasure.
But isn't saying that moral action is the "ONLY satisfying pleasure", making a qualitative judgment? In which case, the egoist has to admit that there is a good kind of selfishness versus a bad kind. Or else say that the bad ones aren't selfish enough, making the traditionally negative term "selfish" into a positive one, by fiat. The problem is, with egoism, self-interest is claimed to be the ONLY motive for human action ... period. If that is true, then no distinction can be made within the framework of egoism.
You don't have to sermonize me. Of course I agree that moral action is more fulfilling than doing evil. I simply don't think that egoism supports that within its own assumptions. That addendum has to be held in great tension with egoism.
Unless of course Ayn Rand's philosophy differs somewhat from classical egoism. I admit I haven't read Rand much, but I do have an understanding of egoism as articulated by philosophers much earlier than Rand.
What if one's personal goal was to do evil or fail? What if doing bad WAS their goal?
Only you're placing evil in the context of failure. There are those who place it within the context of success. Now of course I agree with you. But egoism simply makes "self-interest" the motive and goal of all action. If this is the case, how can an egoist tell a person who enjoyingly does evil, that he is a failure? If "self" is the foundation, then "self" must also be the determiner of what is and is not "success". The egoist pulls this qualitative judgement out of another paradigm entirely. It doesn't come from its own ranks.
"The man who thinks he's happy?" And who would you be to tell the man who thinks he is happy that he is not? Some famous guy once said, "I think - therefore I am." Stick "I am happy" after the "think" and it's still true. Your complaint of egoism is that it doesn't give us an out for going after less than virtuous pleasures? A bummer, for sure
MIKE! You've totally got it backwards. That's what I'm asking you! The man who does evil and "thinks he's happy" ... Who are YOU to tell him he isn't? Who are you to tell him that only moral pursuits satisfy?
My complaint with egoism is not that it doesn't give us an out for going after less than virtuous pleasures ... but that it doesn't give us a deterrent. No disincentive coming from its philosophy. If self is the center (the erroneous claim of egoism), then selfishness (in all of its forms) must be okay. If self-fulfillment is what it's all about, then ANY chosen path to that must be a valid attempt. There's no way around this impasse, for egoism.
Ayn Rand certainly doesn't deny that (selfishness). She applauds it.
That's the problem. Either she ends up inadvertently praising what is not worthy of praise, or she redefines "selfishness" as a virtue. The latter would actually seem better, since it is only a breach of language, rather than an outright approval of vice. (Though, this willy nilly changing of language is rash, unwise, and insulting to one's intellect) But even if we allow the language to be twisted, in changing a term which once meant a vice into a virue, egoism offers nothing to disallow what is the opposite of virtue. If you're going to praise "selfishness", then you're automatically decrying something else. Only that "something else" springs from (you guessed it) self interest, which is something egoism cannot but approve.
that's simple enough. Ayn Rand's definition (which I have already mentioned here) involves not infringing on the rights of others. A swindler certainly infringes on those rights, wouldn't you say? You are dismissing a man's moral code and keying in only on the results of whatever actions.
I'm not dismissing a man's moral code. I'm saying that egoism doesn't support one. Infringing on the rights of others is indeed part of the moral law. However egoism offers nothing to censure infringing on someone's rights, if it is done out of self interest. Many rob others, very stealthily, out of self interest. Egoism claims that ALL actions stem from the same principle. Then how can it condemn the man who chooses a darker path to meet the needs of "self"?
And Mike, it's like a big glaring hole in these arguments. I honestly can't understand how you're missing it. You are arguing a philosophy in which self-interest is king. And when I ask for a justification of moral action versus immorality, you answer "we shouldn't violate the rights of others", which is just a restatement of morality, not it's justification. When you say "the rights of others" you tell me, in effect, that self-interest is not so central. Any moral code you bring in, must always come from outside egoism.
Stephen: what if one feels certain that it would be to his gain, to violate the rights of someone else, or at least that it derives him more pleasure than anything else?
mike: That man would not be a part of any teaching of Ayn Rand, nor would he be a true egoist.
Why (according to the principles of egoism) would he not be a true egoist? I hear the statement, I'm not hearing the explanation. My belief is that Ayn (like any egoist) must hold her morality in spite of her philosophy.
Based on whose superior intellect? Once again, you are attempting to tell the man what his feelings REALLY are. Who, again, are you to do that? The janitor did not consider his actions a sacrifice....period. If it were your life, perhaps you would. He didn't...and that's his choice.
I disagree, in that I take a more "objective" view of sacrifice. However, let's say I give you that one ... Why would someone going through great pains for a stranger, be any different? What if a person says it is his life's joy to feed people (even to his own financial strain) in a far away land? Whether for a stranger, or for one's own flesh and blood, you are still speaking of a virtue. The fact that Ayn doesn't like the term "sacrifice" is irrelevant. (although it represents the same twisting of language I mentioned before ... only this time, changing a traditionally positive connotation into a negative one).
Stephen: And about that goal ... we still need to go further and ask about the motive behind the goal.
mike: We don't need to go further at all. The motive behind that goal was the man's personal satisfaction from helping others. I don't understand why it is so hard for you to grasp that.
But you DID go further. You said that it was his personal satisfaction from helping others. But was his goal to be satisfied, or to help others? It's an important question. In my framework, satisfaction is a byproduct of doing good, not the good itself. If you don't think motives are important, then you're being naive. People can perform all kinds of "good works" with less than sterling motive, and all out of self interest.
"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." (words of Jesus, Matthew 6:1-2)
And the only reason I bring motives up, in speaking of egoism, is that as a philosophy egoism needs to tell us why a personal satisfaction from doing good, is better than personal satisfaction from deception or vainglory or other less-than-virtuous methods. Intuitively we know that all motives are not equally virtuous. But philosophically egoism cannot tell us why.
You may as well. You've already spoken of people who "think they are happy"
Actually that was my challenge to YOU. The fact that people can merely "think they are happy" was implicit in your statement that doing good is the only thing that satisfies. Since there are many people who think otherwise, you seem to be claiming to know better. Don't worry, I don't blame you for haughtiness (like you've done me), but attribute the fault to egoism, which must do something to justify the distinction between moral and immoral action (both of which spring from self interest, according to it). I guess the only way for the egoist to accomplish this, is to objectively define what is "self-interest" for another (which is quite a contridiction of the SELF part) by claiming to know best what is false and true happiness for someone else.
The difference is, in my world-view, and Theistic framework, I'm allowed to say there's true and false happiness, since self (including mine) is not the final arbiter.
... and someone who "doesn't understand they made sacrifices even though you state they did" so you must be one of those that knows better. Does that make you the "enemy"? May God protect us from those that "know better".
The difference is, where you accuse me of arrogance, I am really being the opposite. Claiming that a mother really did give sacrificially, even though she didn't think of it that way, is not to insult, but to give a compliment. "Sacrifice" historically has not been a negative term, but originally was an expression of meaningful and intentional offering to the gods. When conferred upon another, the term usually brings attention to the cost of what was given, thereby praising the person for generosity. Denying "sacrifice" on the part of oneself, is certainly not a deflection of an insult, but the deflection of a praise, usually out of humility and a desire to not attract attention. It is not letting your left hand know what your right hand does.
So, if complimenting someone with a virtue, makes me someone to be protected from, then I can only say that you are confused ... perhaps by all of this hyper-plasticity of language exhibited by your favorite teachers?
I'm curious if anyone who has read both CS Lewis and Ayn Rand seen a connection?
Because I do.
Okay, I admit, I haven't read alot of Ayn Rand. But I am well familiar with the claims and implications of egoism, from David Hume onward. C.S. Lewis is as far from an egoist as anyone I could think of. I recognize that a "connection" certainly doesn't imply an integral likeness, nor does it deny significant difference. But I'm curious about the connection you see, being an avid reader of Lewis. Can you explain in detail? I'm skeptical.
Hey, glad you're back.