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whYNOT

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  1. whYNOT

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    Eiuol, I would think that last question is clear to you - seeing as one can know another's mind! Sure, by "natural" I mean according to man's nature. Just my reference of "proper to man" and my being here should tip you off. This "knowing" of another's mind is important to our discussions on rational egoism. Btw, only as a foil and not at you, hearing often of a person of altruist mindset it appears to me that there is a (one more)fallacy present, that of people presumptuously claiming to know what an 'other' wants, needs and desires (in their need to attempt to live for others). I.o.w - somehow - believing they have insight into others' consciousness. I'm sure there's "revealed knowledge", intrinsicism, in that. In not the most unpalatable, but ugly enough, expression of altruism, "the other" is imposed upon ("victimized", as we commonly see in societies) by such subjective presumption, sacrificed to the altruist's notion of moral righteousness. Obversely: autonomy. All that is contrary to man's mental, emotional, physical autonomy. I think autonomy in part lies at the metaphysical core of this Objectivist ethics. In the most fundamental way, each mind is alone. Far from being a matter of concern, this aloneness holds man's unique greatness, since he then has to think: what can I do about this? So, his self-directed, independent thought, finding his purpose, and creating his values - and - discovering all the grades of value possible to him to be held in other human beings that exist. One can certainly and should understand others' character, usually from extended and close relations with him/her. Where found, there are both the admiration of a person's self-made fine character in its own right, and the selfish benefits from dealings with his integrity etc.. However, this knowledge comes from the "visibility" of the individual's actions, comparing what one hears/reads of him - with what he does. Further, one can hear of a person's ideas and make good judgments of the ideas' premises (and the consequences of those ideas in action). But I argue the deep actions and contents of his consciousness remain an invisible unknown. (As well as I know a good friend and his/her values, it has occurred several times that they and I can be viewing exactly the same event or happening, and one of us evinces e.g. slight amusement at the sight while the other feels, say, slight dismay. Proves to me even close-others' emotions which correspond to their values, can come as a surprise to what we "know" of them...)
  2. whYNOT

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    Yes, I think I follow. I may have given a wrong impression and would like to stress that I don't mean by "transaction" anything like the trader principle, or value for value with another. Instead "the breach" (in Rand's passage) is what often takes place after this. When some outside party lays claim to the actor's due outcome, literally or figuratively "taking the food from his mouth" - in the name of a 'moral' doctrine. If we would establish this (a breach between actor and beneficiary) as Rand's intention in this one context, there are more "breaches" to come, unforced nor committed by others, and more damaging. One may permit a breach or conflict between one's mind and body. Between theory and practice. Between convictions and action; one's cognition and emotions (one's evaluations and emotions). Undue self-doubt. Etc. In this basic dualism and all combinations and variations of the elements, one can certainly be the cause of "the breach to yourself", so a form of self-sacrifice. I agree with your last thought, I will add there are so many areas of passing human interaction which can't be measured. An interest in hearing of some individual's ideas, outlook and character would lead to a conversation, in which you may or may not give equal value. At any one time you could give more than you get back, or vice-versa. Since another individual's mind is an unknown, one can't gauge this. What you do know, if all goes well, is that you benefit in discovering another thinking individual, who is a value in himself, in his own right. As you say "approximately...personal perspectives". The prime aim is to be at ease, without self-conflict, with one's rational morality, an ethical system "proper to man". Liberating and expansive, I think of it. Putting it and the virtues solidly into practice will be the testing ground for one. In this vein, I wonder if there is sometimes a perception that rational egoism is conceptualized as the counter and antidote to sacrificial altruism. I don't believe so. Altruism is an 'unnatural' and contrived aberration - rational selfishness has a separate, complete validation in objective metaphysics and epistemology (sorry - you know this). Bringing the latter against the former is like cracking a peanut with a one-ton hammer I feel.
  3. whYNOT

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    I have answered here and before, and you won't listen. The "breach" is a split or interruption or break, caused by another party(s) coming after what the moral actor creates-- taking from him what he alone must and should gain from his acts. What he ~ must gain ~ I propose as the first, primary and essential 'transaction'. "Why couldn't a breach be voluntary" - presupposes an individual who doesn't want to take the profit of his work and effort, without cause, splitting himself from his deserved rewards - and does not make rational sense. "One does not accept the unearned", but as corollary - must - claim what one knows one deserves. Because: The second and critical 'transaction', is what does he now choose to do with his gains? Broadly, does he use them rationally for his good and the good of his values, (one and the same) and also perhaps voluntarily donate some to a favored charity? In all cases, his acts are indeed "voluntary"-- NOT a "breach" -- since he is motivated overall from his objective values and his volition. "Why couldn't a breach be ... forced by a non-altruist thug?" That indicates that a thug is not or cannot be an altruist, while in Rand's explanation of altruism, he is -i.e. "self-abnegating" - and at very least, is a predatory second-hander, needing others minds and efforts to feed off, to "live by". Of course - theft and fraud are also "a breach" between the moral actor and his just earnings and property! Does that have to stated? A breach represents force. I notice you are very selective in what you quote of mine which leads me to believe you do not apply thought to my repeated argument. Here, the simplest version: *You gotta get whatever you work for*. (Think of slavery, the ultimate denial of this principle) Compare that with Rand's contested statement and tell me if her general meaning is true to my simplification. If not, why not?
  4. whYNOT

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    "Since all values...": Premise 1. An individual NEEDS the income/profits/fruits from his moral actions IN order TO sustain his present and future VALUES. Premise 2. A BREACH caused by others, coming between him and his profits - reducing or confiscating them - deprives him of his capability to gain and/or keep his values (and is an injustice committed by altruists). Seriously. You are looking for too much in this and overlooking what's obvious . This is a simple precept, it's not even so radical for anyone knowledgeable about and in agreement with capitalism and property rights which it foreshadows, I presume. A breach here implies involuntary "force", and yes, I'd say robbery is its simplest form. The statement of it had to be made though, and an essential base to what Rand follows with.
  5. whYNOT

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    After repeated attempts, have you not understood Rand's premise? A man must not be disallowed what he morally earns. Period. See my last post for one example (by the IRS). That has not the slightest bearing on opening doors, etc. etc. but, somehow, you try to conflate the two. One has to appreciate that living a full and selfish life means contact, engagement , awareness and enjoyment of other humans if only in the moment, and always, for some, the potential of becoming future values to one's life (implicit, when not explicit, in Rand's extended writings). If all you see of rational egoism (misreading Rand) is blocking oneself from perceiving others' values (and their dis-values) to the extent of never volunteering to lend a hand on occasions, THAT is a secluded, self-constricted view of egoism a rational egoist would want no part of. If anything, I am sure the "mindful", rational person is more highly aware than anyone. "Rational" is the predominant part and prerequisite of rational egoism. To say again, a "breach", which worries you, is what is forced upon one - by others, altruists. Also it surely doesn't need repeating that one functions on many levels, in a team, in a community, in a family, in work, and so on - all of which should be rewarding, none of which is self-sacrificial, unless or until it is.
  6. Grames, I for one, and several others I'm sure would like to read your thinking on dualism - etc. The relationship of dualism to rationalism - and - of reductive materialism to empiricism and skepticism, for that matter. Can I prevail upon you to open a thread?
  7. whYNOT

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    merjet, I think it's always possible to read too many "implications" into e.g. this statement by Rand. It can happen one takes the complicated route and will over-analyze a proposition when all one needs do is take her at face value ("literally"). This is not, I think, to be read from the perspective of an imperative which rules a rational egoist's acts, instead, from the perspective of strong opposition to any who'd sacrifice some to others - at cost to the egoist and non-rational egoist alike, generally. If one were to say to a staunch laissez-faire, anti-statist-welfarist, self-supporting, professional, working individual, who has known financial struggles and knows he is never totally secure from more in future - that it is a moral injustice that a portion of his/her income 'must' be deducted by edict of the state in order to be 'redistributed' to support those who don't or won't think, work and take responsibility for their own values as he has done--he (and you, I'm sure) would readily agree. To add too, that his consent has been removed from even helping those people whom he would prefer to charitably aid by choice, indiscriminately favoring any and all 'others'. He (the moral "actor") is being 'breached' from some of his due earnings/values, to sustain "immoral" "nonactors", and so cannot be the full "beneficiary" of them. That is simply all that Rand opposes, above: "The Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action". This will most often be a financial sacrifice, commonly to the state and the IRS, but there are many more subtle, insidious ways by which altruism separates actor and beneficiary, and not always monetary. (The early part of her statement in isolation, it's interesting, does not distinguish a rational egoist from the broad society: it is for and applies to them all, "the sacrifice of some men to others", whether or not most in society concur with coercive taxation),
  8. whYNOT

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    There are two relevant sentences, a paragraph apart: "...and that man must be the beneficiary of his own moral actions." "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". Yes, "beneficiary" is singular. Standing for all beneficiaries and all individuals. What of it, and what is it that Rand considered of supreme importance here? This is a high level abstract principle, not a 'how to' guide. I think to carry away the implication that "man" or the individual must never open a door for some frail person, slow down his car to let another driver pull out into the traffic ahead of him--or any action of which he is not the obvious , single "beneficiary"--trivializes what is rational self-interest - and too, what is altruism. I can only see the consequences of this approach, enacted in the many incidents in daily life, heading one into a narrow and self-conflicted irrational and subjective selfishness, when, conversely, the import of Rand is rational egoism's expansiveness and liberation to act for oneself without anxiety and guilt of others' needs and demands. (Context: if one is in a hurry to take one's sick child to hospital, one will and must act according to one's value-hierarchy, disregarding all else). There should be no self-conflict about such temporary, minor matters of considerate assistance to others (without a self-sacrifice of time, etc.), which Rand apparently thought self-evident enough. (Like good manners - or the recognition of others' ends in themselves lives). It would be ludicrous to worry that such actions are 'altruist' or in any way contra-egoistical. Paradox-seeming, at first, the capability to identify/evaluate situations and perform such minor acts for others is, instead, a confident affirmation of one's rational egoism.
  9. whYNOT

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    As an aside I recall now, I like this passage from (I think) her book on ethics, by Tara Smith: "As long as egoism is portrayed as materialistic, hedonistic, emotion-driven, or predatory, we can sympathize with those looking elsewhere for guidance". Thanks. Very important what you observe there about "aware and mindful". An individual's mind-full-ness is the central characteristic of Objectivism, I think, from the senses to evaluations to high abstractions. With that expanding knowledge, simply, the more one knows, the more that one finds value and the more one cares about all things. The more, then, that has to be protected by one. These volitional acts and contents of a consciousness equally justify rational egoism, and make it a crucial necessity.
  10. whYNOT

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    Merjet, It would be helpful if you made clear your interpretation, and what is your objection to that. Or else I must continue guessing that you read in there by Rand that any action one performs for others (e.g. considering aiding the old person cross a busy street) as: What's in it for me? What will I get out of it? If no gain is likely, the act must not be made. Please tell me if that's correct? If so, I maintain still, this is a narrow and most eccentric reading of Rand's statement - which I think is aimed against altruism and altruists, not FOR rational egoism. i.e. they who'd lay claim to any benefits resulting from the actor's "moral" actions. If you are correct and such is Rand's case, then would be understandable the need to make corrections and adjustments to rational egoism. Obviously I do not believe so.
  11. whYNOT

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    "Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, did you enjoy the play?" (there's a little more I put in my argument). But of course that's my own interpretation, then and now.
  12. whYNOT

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    Hi merjet, I apparently have read a different interpretation and grasped other implications to you. Foremost for me is that Rand delivered the injunction solely against and for the attention of sacrificial altruists and not for the egoist and the totality of all the minor acts he may execute in a lifetime. In effect: Nobody may take away from nor interfere with, nor separate from the actor's "moral" actions the benefits he worked for. Thus, actor=beneficiary. This is made clear by the fuller context, in which she inveighs against the injustice of "the sacrifice of some men to others, of the actors to non-actors, of the immoral to the moral". Just previously, she wrote: "...and that man must be the beneficiary of his own *moral* actions". Specially note "moral". Are the simple and occasional acts of kindness and assistance which a rational egoist might choose to carry out - "moral"? As in an old example - Is to guide an elderly stranger across a road -- moral? Not in Objectivist ethics. Like donating to one's chosen charity, the acts have no "moral" weight (while not being immoral, either). You will agree, I think, that what are "moral" actions to Rand is what someone performs directly for one's own objective good through one's reason, integrity, and productiveness - and therefore - whatever should accrue to one financially, intellectually or psychologically must not be obstructed by anyone. At stake is the moral individual's values, so his life, which some others will try to endanger in the name of sacrifice. "Yet, that is the meaning of altruism [man's life is evil] implicit in such examples as the equation of an industrialist with a robber". VoS. You will know too that Rand somewhere pointed out a truth we well notice, that altruism is what eventually makes kindness or benevolence among men impossible. I infer from this that she took as a given that outside of an altruist dominated society, human kindness is normal and 'natural'. And not even remarkable.
  13. whYNOT

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    Eiuol, Right, and excuse me for butting in. I persisted on the topic because I think it is an error to take Rand in her statement as proclaiming some sort of imperative directed at a rational egoist - and so one must be sure to *always be* the beneficiary of *every* act... Rather, it seems to me that hers is a generalized 'categorical injunction' (if I may call it) - to any readers - that it is an immorality to divide the beneficiary from actor, to take from him the fruits of his effort. Is it proper to assist another person, say - someone physically struggling, or give words of advice - etc.etc. - when and if one is aware, nearby and able? Insert the countless incidents you know of. With no expectation of benefit or reward, and not accepted, if offered? Of course it is. One's many non-self sacrificial actions involving others didn't have to be specified by Rand, they're a given. There are innumerable occasions of simple human contact when you may unknowingly have given someone a sort of spiritual boost, with only a word or two, a smile, or simply your presence. Times, others do the same for you. I think this is a form of trade and with no clear beneficiary and no gauge to measure the effects. Way I see it, to adhere to one's rational egoism is and should be, an expansive and liberating life-experience, never a cramped or proscribed one. It's plain this object must have been Rand's purpose, far more than having concerns about whether this action might be "self-sacrifice". Similar to living in the freedom to act which individual rights brings, the overriding question at any stage for the consciously aware, volitional and thinking egoist (rational) is: What should I do (for my good)? And not: what may I not do - what am I permitted to do? Cheers.
  14. whYNOT

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    I think that consideration of "exchange" is a red herring which is confusing things. Her statement does not specify other agents - and not, whether or not anyone else should benefit or gain (or not) in 'a trade'. There isn't trade with others at this stage, only the actor and who benefits from his actions. It simply and generally states a principle, that what one puts in, in "moral" effort, is what one should get out. Action - > benefit, without interference or sacrifice. At this stage there isn't "an other" implicit or explicit, only the rational selfishness of ("moral") productive work and the advantages one earns from it. The foundation for one's pursuance of life and happiness: "SINCE all values have to be gained and or kept by men's moral actions, any breach"... (and so on)... therefore, and because of this, whatever resources or benefits etc. you earn from your work is yours to keep--in order to gain and keep your values (which I've said include also your human values). "As a man sows, so shall he reap". Apt and accurate.
  15. whYNOT

    "Egoism and Others" by Merlin Jetton

    "...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...etc" The lead-in from the previous paragraph is (I think) the proper context, by which Rand contrasts a moral existence with sacrificial altruism. Simply, men must not be separated by others from the benefits (of any kind) of their moral acts. She is opposing the individual's sacrifice here, primarily. If you want that, you must do this. If you want to sustain your supreme value, life, you must act (and benefit from the acts). If you want to gain other values that enrich your life, the same. If you want to keep your intimate human values, ditto. I can't see a problem of inconsistency with Rand, in proposing "sub-beneficiary" for those human/spiritual values which one has to act to gain and/or keep, such as raising one's child, tending to a sick spouse, helping a struggling friend. [And too, one's emotional responses (to one's value-judgments). E.g. seeing someone in trouble or suffering, perceiving the disvalue, and helping them financially or physically to 'get back on their feet' to regain their independence, will contain for one - we know from our experiences and as Rand put it - the beneficial element of "pleasure" (without guilt and moral duty)]. All these acts above and a multitude of others presuppose that the actor and the beneficiary are one and the same, causally and morally, without "breach". The 'resources' (esp. money, but not exclusively) one gains this way are alone those which enable one's gaining and/or keeping of - anything. Those fine emotions, the prerequisite of happiness, particularly. Anyone limiting or cutting into your resources commits your sacrifice.
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