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epistemologue

Questioning the beneficiary of value

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To start, you are the only one who can accurately gauge whether and to what extent you are benefiting from an action. "Helping" other people always requires a fairly large degree of psychologizing and assumption.

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Here's my answer: "The extent to which you support something else over supporting the source of your capability to value, is the extent to which you are sacrificing that source. Sacrificing the source of one's capability to value is to sacrifice one's ability to think, to act, to live, or to do anything at all for that matter, let alone help others. That's why the best course of action is to make yourself the ultimate beneficiary of your morality."

Edited by epistemologue

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Sorry, I didn't realize the initial question was rhetorical and that you had something in particular in mind.

What you write has a number of terms and assumed concepts which you'll need to define if I am going to be able to understand your meaning.

What does it mean to "support something?" Is it financial? Is it moral? Is it devoted time?

What in your opinion is the "source of your capability to value?"

How do you "support" that source and how is it in conflict with other chosen values?

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Seems like this question comes up because you don't know the validation of the standard of the good. You are in effect asking why your self-interest is what Objectivism says, and not more dependant on other people's well being.

In OTI (Objectivism through induction) the validation of the Objectivist concept of self-interest is outlined like this:

  1. You choose values.
  2. You achieve values.
  3. The commong denominator among basic values recognized by common sense as "good" for a person defines self interest.
  4. In contrast: altruism is not in your self interest because it contradicts the nature of values (it says you can't value) and it contradicts itself (it says you should pursue values for others).

In this context the question of this thread has an almost self-evident answer: "Just look at what values are and what is really good for a person".

What I personally find interesting about this is that the formation of the mere concept "self-interest", quickly followed by "egoism" (as the practice of acting for one's self interest), actually holds the proof of the basics of the Objectivist ethics.

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Why is it better for myself to be the beneficiary of morality instead of everyone?

It's not. In fact to me, the most important beneficiary of your (alleged) morality is myself.

Edited by Nicky

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Here's my answer: "The extent to which you support something else over supporting the source of your capability to value, is the extent to which you are sacrificing that source. Sacrificing the source of one's capability to value is to sacrifice one's ability to think, to act, to live, or to do anything at all for that matter, let alone help others. That's why the best course of action is to make yourself the ultimate beneficiary of your morality."

That's a solid argument to not make someone else the beneficiary of your actions. Doing so will in fact destroy you in the long run. That is an argument Ayn Rand made against altruism.

But It's not an argument for anything. It's not an argument for being selfish.

You should also use these terms, by the way: beneficiary of your actions, selfishness, altruism, etc. The notion of "beneficiary of your morality" is very confusing, it would be much clearer to say "to choose selfishness as your morality".

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After further thought, I believe a proper induction of the concept of "value" answers this more effectively.

Where do "values" come from? Where in the metaphysical *is* the epistemological *ought* originally comes from. First and foremost, on the perceptual level, is your own physical pleasure and pain. That's the only thing that can cause you to prefer one course of action over another at the level of an infant. As you gain further mental abilities, you're able to generalize and conceptualize these perceptions up to the level of a rational adult's knowledge, and thus form a conceptual hierarchy of value, an understanding of the virtues and character traits required, general principles of reality that impinge upon this pursuit, and so on. Ultimately it is all still just a pursuit of your own happiness - there's nothing else that CAN rationally motivate you to prefer one course of action over another, because all of your knowledge of value ultimately relies on those base concrete perceptions of your own pleasure and pain.

Tried to re-write without any jargon:

How do you figure out the true rules of right and wrong? As an infant, the only indication you have that your choice is right or wrong is the ability to feel pleasure and pain. As you grow up and learn more, you're able remember many repeated experiences of pleasure and pain, to learn the rules of what causes of pleasure and pain, to learn the rules of how the world works in general, and thus figure out how to live your life in accordance with those rules in order to pursue a life of pleasure, or happiness. Ultimately that means the pursuit of happiness is all there is to right and wrong, because the only effective rules about right and wrong that you can truly be said to know are those that you have learned throughout your life from your experiences of pleasure and pain.

Edited by epistemologue

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