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A questions about helping others selfishly

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David,

I think it will be very difficult to distinguish between problems thats are of their choosing and ones that are not. You would have to evaluate that for example, the help of the West in Africa (which they could have refused) is in fact mostly the reason for the troubles in Africa (or some other intervention) and not, let's say, corruption or constant wars.

It's a matter of perspective. If you want you can always trace back problems to someone else.

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the help of the West in Africa (which they could have refused) is in fact mostly the reason for the troubles in Africa

Sure it wasn't the imposition of artificial boundaries upon a patchwork quilt of tribes and loyalties that the west didn't have a clue about much less care about?

The need for aid came long after the west said, in essence "Here, listen up and shut up. You people there are all one nation we don't give a rats ass what you think..." and so on down the line till they had subdivided Africa into neat Westphalian states.

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You can make that claim, but it is a dangerous path to follow: Passing down guilt in history.

Shouldn't the West help India and China too? They were colonies once too. Maybe the Turks should help Eastern Europe because of the invasion during the Ottoman Empire.

History was mostly about who the strongest was and what he did with his power. Searching for guilt and responsibility gets you no where.

At some point people need to be held responsible for what is happening and I believe that point has come for Africa. Sure slavery and occupation had tremendously bad effects, but so did hundreds of other violent acts in history. Every country on earth could blame another for something.

Right now Africa's biggest problems are self-made: Corruption at a magnitude that cripples economics and destroys the foundation of the rule of law and constant wars.

As others have stated: I believe taking the responsibility away from them make it even worse.

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You can make that claim, but it is a dangerous path to follow: Passing down guilt in history.

How is what I posited any more "passing down guilt" than what you proposed in the post prior to mine?

Shouldn't the West help India and China too? They were colonies once too. Maybe the Turks should help Eastern Europe because of the invasion during the Ottoman Empire.

History was mostly about who the strongest was and what he did with his power. Searching for guilt and responsibility gets you no where.

Personally I don't think we need to help Africa or anyone else. What we need to do is get the hell out of the way and let them sort it out themselves in whatever way they want. When the smoke clears (assuming that none of the players was stupid enough to threaten me or mine) we deal with what is left.

At some point people need to be held responsible for what is happening and I believe that point has come for Africa. Sure slavery and occupation had tremendously bad effects, but so did hundreds of other violent acts in history. Every country on earth could blame another for something.

Right now Africa's biggest problems are self-made: Corruption at a magnitude that cripples economics and destroys the foundation of the rule of law and constant wars.

As others have stated: I believe taking the responsibility away from them make it even worse.

Good so we agree. :)

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You could do what you want with you money but why "africans"? Why not Eskimoes or Indians or people from some tribe in the middle of the Pacific? What's so special about strangers from Africa versus anywhere else?

Theres nothing special. The main idea was offering scholarships to people who show moral character and willingness to improve their lives, but whose situation of no fault of their own is such that it is nearly impossible to do that.

I bolded the key parts, so that you dont reply to something i never said.

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  • 5 months later...
Something I've been thinking about lately as I learn more about Objectivism is the definition of egoism..particularly when it comes to the line between selfishness and altruism. For example, there is some evil, horrible stuff happening to children in Africa right now. I guess the question I ask myself is how much of a blind eye should I have? My religious/altruistic upbringing complicates my ability to focus on my own happiness. You could argue, and you might, that it may be in my own self interest to go and try and help people. But on the other hand, of course I want to stay right here in US and enjoy prosperity and living my life to the fullest. I don't know, but I will figure it out. I'd appreciate any thoughts you have on the subject.

I find it interesting that no one has said if you simply cannot achieve happiness in your life knowing that those kids are suffering, then by all means, GO. But make sure your values are in proper order...

Anyone...?

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scottd

I find it interesting that no one has said if you simply cannot achieve happiness in your life knowing that those kids are suffering, then by all means, GO. But make sure your values are in proper order...

Yes, it's all about values. The only question to ask in order to answer this thread's question is: do you value someone enough that helping them is not a sacrifice?

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Theres nothing special. The main idea was offering scholarships to people who show moral character and willingness to improve their lives, but whose situation of no fault of their own is such that it is nearly impossible to do that.

I bolded the key parts, so that you dont reply to something i never said.

Yes, but there are plenty of people IN AMERICA who fulfill those requirements, is the issue. So why go to the trouble and expense of importing them from another country?

Now, if you were (say) adopting a child, I could understand going to another country to do that, because there are so many hurdles in the way of doing it in the U.S. that it is actually easier for you to go to Ethiopia like my friends have. But there's nothing stopping you from finding some struggling teenager in the U.S. and funding a scholarship for them.

I just think there's something morally corrupt about stepping over the people on your doorstep in order to drool over the fate of people you don't know and probably never will.

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I've thought about this a bit because it is related to my future career choice. I really want to see the 24 million people in North Korea free, with a united peninsula under one liberal government. That would really feel like a major "success" for me if I educated people enough to make major policy decisions that led to the fall of the North. The whole issue of the politics and international relations on the Korean peninsula interests me, even though I wasn't born there and the people are thousands of miles away, as someone here put it.

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Yes, but there are plenty of people IN AMERICA who fulfill those requirements, is the issue. So why go to the trouble and expense of importing them from another country?

Smart and moral people in America generally have the ability to finance their education, or rise up from poverty because they live in a free economic system. That could be one major difference that the OP may have accounted for. There is also the fact that there are probably millions of (potentially) genius minds that will be completely wasted in some countries due to their governments and culture. Those people have much less of a "chance" because of the climate of those countries, so the OP could be causing more genius and productivity to be released into the world, and in America.

I just think there's something morally corrupt about stepping over the people on your doorstep in order to drool over the fate of people you don't know and probably never will.

I won't and probably never will know most Americans either. If they're outside of your state, they're probably just as much of a stranger and someone outside your continent.

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I've thought about this a bit because it is related to my future career choice. I really want to see the 24 million people in North Korea free, with a united peninsula under one liberal government. That would really feel like a major "success" for me if I educated people enough to make major policy decisions that led to the fall of the North. The whole issue of the politics and international relations on the Korean peninsula interests me, even though I wasn't born there and the people are thousands of miles away, as someone here put it.

And who would you have to influence/educate? The N Koreans who listen to no one.

You sound like Obama: "I want to negotiate (with success) with the leaders of Iran et al"; when, in fact, that is impossible given the values and goals of those leaders.

Politics is dirty business and seldom breaks through moral barriers. Such a goal is near impossible to achieve.

Unless you documented a clear path to that end that could be seen as a potential success, than it would be a sacrifice to attempt it.

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And who would you have to influence/educate? The N Koreans who listen to no one.

You sound like Obama: "I want to negotiate (with success) with the leaders of Iran et al"; when, in fact, that is impossible given the values and goals of those leaders.

I don't think I sound like Obama. I do think, however, that you are jumping to a conclusion without sufficient evidence to support that conclusion. The Objectivist position on judgement is that you evaluate based on facts (not your emotional projections onto me) before coming to a conclusion.

Unless you documented a clear path to that end that could be seen as a potential success, than it would be a sacrifice to attempt it.

Little successes are certainly enough. For example, a lot of people working at ARI are rightfully skeptical that we will have a free society in our lifetimes, but see little successes as possible (even if that is just temporarily holding back the flood of the barbarians).

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ex_banana-eater

I don't think I sound like Obama. I do think, however, that you are jumping to a conclusion without sufficient evidence to support that conclusion. The Objectivist position on judgement is that you evaluate based on facts (not your emotional projections onto me) before coming to a conclusion.

That was not emotional at all. The evidence suggests that your goal is too lofty. I was trying to get to to consider being less idealistic.

Little successes are certainly enough. For example, a lot of people working at ARI are rightfully skeptical that we will have a free society in our lifetimes, but see little successes as possible (even if that is just temporarily holding back the flood of the barbarians).

Your goal as stated was far from "little." But if you would be satisfied with simply getting N Korea to say they would talk with the South without any expected outcome leading to that goal, or getting an agreement from the UN to speak harshly with N Korea, then just realize that there is a high probability that that will end up being your sacrifice.

I assume you are very young and have time to think about what is truly realistic in the political arena.

Then you have to determine your motive for getting into that arena and avoid the altruistic path.

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That was not emotional at all. The evidence suggests that your goal is too lofty. I was trying to get to to consider being less idealistic.

I was referring to your comparing me with Obama in how I would operate. That was a complete jump of the gun and an emotional projection onto me.

Your goal as stated was far from "little." But if you would be satisfied with simply getting N Korea to say they would talk with the South without any expected outcome leading to that goal, or getting an agreement from the UN to speak harshly with N Korea, then just realize that there is a high probability that that will end up being your sacrifice.
That wasn't my "goal" with respect to my career. As an Objectivist my ultimate career goal is process orientated--it's an action.

I assume you are very young and have time to think about what is truly realistic in the political arena.

Then you have to determine your motive for getting into that arena and avoid the altruistic path.

I don't know what you mean by "very young" or "political arena." If you could please give me some kind of more specific examples that would help. Please note that I'm fairly solidified in my interests now--or at least my general direction.

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I was referring to your comparing me with Obama in how I would operate. That was a complete jump of the gun and an emotional projection onto me.

That wasn't my "goal" with respect to my career. As an Objectivist my ultimate career goal is process orientated--it's an action.

I don't know what you mean by "very young" or "political arena." If you could please give me some kind of more specific examples that would help. Please note that I'm fairly solidified in my interests now--or at least my general direction.

I certainly did not compare you with him, just the goal.

Now you say that was not your career goal; but it sounded like it was.

Was it just an idea to see how selfish it could be perceived or not (given the thread)?

You seem a bit sensitive to specific words and reactive instead of recognizing my attempt to be helpful.

I won't add anything further unless on a more philosophical point.

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I certainly did not compare you with him, just the goal.

The goal does not imply that I was going to undertake the immoral means that you presented. You said "I sounded like..." some person who would take some horrible means to reaching that goal, when I never sounded like that at all. That was a flutter of your imagination that you projected onto me.

Now you say that was not your career goal; but it sounded like it was.

You're using "now" like I am reversing my position. I've never changed my position. All you did was project something that wasn't there. It "sounded" like it was whatever you are imagining, because you were projecting.

I said I would feel an immense degree of success if what I envisioned ever became the case. I did not say that is an ultimate career goal (ultimate career goals are process orientated; you don't just throw your hands up and quit working after creating a good building).

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That would really feel like a major "success" for me if I educated people enough to make major policy decisions that led to the fall of the North. The whole issue of the politics and international relations on the Korean peninsula interests me, even though I wasn't born there and the people are thousands of miles away, as someone here put it.

Sorry, you can't educate North Koreans. You should've probably checked whether you're allowed into NK, before you set that goal. Turns out you're not.

Smart and moral people in America generally have the ability to finance their education, or rise up from poverty because they live in a free economic system. That could be one major difference that the OP may have accounted for. There is also the fact that there are probably millions of (potentially) genius minds that will be completely wasted in some countries due to their governments and culture. Those people have much less of a "chance" because of the climate of those countries, so the OP could be causing more genius and productivity to be released into the world, and in America.

The easy solution to the problem of geniuses who are wasting away in third world countries is to invite them to the US. (and Europe, Japan, Australia, etc.) The impossible solution would be to magically change cultures that cannot be changed, so they can stay put.

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Sorry, you can't educate North Koreans. You should've probably checked whether you're allowed into NK, before you set that goal. Turns out you're not.

Is this how you generally behave to get your point across? You make snide, condescending comments that belittle people?

1. Don't assume you know more than me about the Korean peninsula. Out of us two, who has studied at university there? Who is enrolling in a Masters in Korean studies? Who speaks Korean?

2. Don't project your imaginary crap onto me. Nobody said I'm going to "educate North Koreans." You dreamed that up, and then made a rude reply in response to your dream.

3. Good luck with life if you act condescending toward people before you have any knowledge of them. You're closing a lot of doors for yourself.

Edited by ex_banana-eater
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3. Good luck with life if you act condescending toward people before you have any knowledge of them. You're closing a lot of doors for yourself.

Act condescendingly. Or, 'are being condescending'.

With that, I've been condescending twice now, both times based on knowledge I do have about you. First, I knew that your idea of educating "people" is arrogant nonsense, and the second time I realized that you have trouble with grammar.

And the reason why I chose to be condescending is that the guy before me gave you a polite answer, and you reacted like an idiot. It would've been pointless to try and explain again, my only goal is to shoot down your nonsense, before it spreads.

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With that, I've been condescending twice now, both times based on knowledge I do have about you. First, I knew that your idea of educating "people" is arrogant nonsense,

No, that's your idea. As I said, you projected on me something that I didn't write. I do not think it is "arrogant nonsense" to become a professor and writer specializing in international relations with North Korea and then try to educate people in South Korea, the US, or Japan, to change their dealings and relations with the country.

and the second time I realized that you have trouble with grammar.

Oh, okay, good reason. Like I said, I'm sure you make a lot of friends!

And the reason why I chose to be condescending is that the guy before me gave you a polite answer, and you reacted like an idiot. It would've been pointless to try and explain again, my only goal is to shoot down your nonsense, before it spreads.

I did not receive a polite answer from anyone.

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This kind of dialog is what causes such threads to be closed down.

Ex-BE: you started off talking about (what looked like) a goal to solve major problems in Korea, and noted that it related to a future career.

In the context of this thread, I appropriately assumed that you saw helping Koreans as a selfish act.

But I attempted to show that your goal was too lofty and unrealistic - as are Obama's.

After accusing me of over-judging you, you then talked about "little successes" which fell fall short of the "goal."

Then you said that your first statement was not a goal - just a thought.

Then you showed impatience and made more accusations; I stopped posting.

Then Jake similarly attempted to show you that your goal/thought was unrealistic.

Perhaps he was less tactful about that than I was (no offense Jake), but his basic points were correct.

But you took him wrong and accused him of belittling Koreans (vs. their leaders); and you took strong offense at the mistaken notion that he was saying he knew more about Korea than you.

He partially reacted to the fact that you had already over-reacted to my "polite" answer, and that you were missing the message we were trying to convey.

You never really explained why you made your first statement and what it had to do with the tread's topic.

But now no one is likely listening to you.

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This kind of dialog is what causes such threads to be closed down.

Ex-BE: you started off talking about (what looked like) a goal to solve major problems in Korea, and noted that it related to a future career.

I said that I would consider it a major success. Just like any intellectual at ARI would consider it a major success if the United States became capitalist in their lifetime. I did not say any more than that.

But I attempted to show that your goal was too lofty and unrealistic - as are Obama's.

That was not at all the correct way to say that it was too lofty and unrealistic. You accused me of "being just like Obama" and then illustrated an immoral action. You are re-writing history; you never said that Obama's goals were lofty and unrealistic in the beginning. You said this:

You sound like Obama: "I want to negotiate (with success) with the leaders of Iran et al"; when, in fact, that is impossible given the values and goals of those leaders.

Nothing that I want to do is in any way similar to this.

After accusing me of over-judging you, you then talked about "little successes" which fell fall short of the "goal."

No, I did not; since I did not say anything was my ultimate goal other than being an intellectual the best I can (action-orientated goal). In that sense, nothing "falls short of the goal." I did, however, say I would consider the fall of the North as a major success, compared to little successes (such as influencing the present South Korean government to stop giving aid to the North).

This is you, again, trying to add something to what I said. Words have actual meanings and you better look at them closely and carefully before you add more to what I say than I have. If you are unsure, why not ask for clarification instead of making some kind of pronouncement? Why do you continue calling it a "goal"?

Then you said that your first statement was not a goal - just a thought.

Show me where I said it was a "thought" or a "goal." Brush up on your reading skills.

Then Jake similarly attempted to show you that your goal/thought was unrealistic.

That kind of success is not unrealistic. Give me a reason why it is unrealistic in my lifetime.

Perhaps he was less tactful about that than I was (no offense Jake), but his basic points were correct.

His basic points did not address anything I said. He made strawman criticisms about what he thoughto my means of operating would be.

But you took him wrong and accused him of belittling Koreans (vs. their leaders);

Show me where I said this? Where? WHERE?

and you took strong offense at the mistaken notion that he was saying he knew more about Korea than you.

I never said he knew more about Korea than me. I was implying that I, as a person who has studied Korea intimately, know a little more than was illustrated in his snide comment here:

You should've probably checked whether you're allowed into NK, before you set that goal. Turns out you're not.

Of course I know that. How condescending, considering any idiot knows what he wrote.

Edited by ex_banana-eater
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Sorry, you can't educate North Koreans. You should've probably checked whether you're allowed into NK, before you set that goal. Turns out you're not.

You need to work on your literacy skills. I never said I was going to educate North Koreans, and I never said I was going to go to the DPRK (although I am allowed there and know people who've gone, so this is also wrong). Do you always let your imagination run so wild?

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