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Apologies if this was asked before...

As I understand Objectivism, I must act in my self interest, anything which hinders this I must regard as evil.

Suppose I give 100$ in charitable aid to some tribe in Africa. Over my life span I will receive a total return of 1$ for this investment. I have essentially burned 99$.

Is what I did evil? If I burned 99$ anyway it would be, would it not?

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Apologies if this was asked before...

As I understand Objectivism, I must act in my self interest, anything which hinders this I must regard as evil.

Suppose I give 100$ in charitable aid to some tribe in Africa. Over my life span I will receive a total return of 1$ for this investment. I have essentially burned 99$.

Is what I did evil? If I burned 99$ anyway it would be, would it not?

First off, you are mistaking "money" with "self interest". O'ists consider money to be EXTREMELY important - but contrary to popular misconception, neither we nor Ms. Rand considered Money as the ONLY thing of importance. Money is simply a means of trade - and the reason it's so important is what it represents and what we can do WITH it, not the money itself.

Giving $100 to a tribe in Africa could be a perfectly moral act on your part, even if you never see $1.00 back, *if* it contributes to making the world into the way you want the world to be.

If your $100 goes to the tribe in the form of food and/or clothing, and enables them to stay alive for a short while longer, but doesn't encourage them or help them to become more productive and more able to stand on their own feet, well - you might as well buy a few bottles of liquor for the local wino for all the good it will do - you'll just be enabling bad behavior, and that, in the long term, is against your own self interest - you've helped create a world of mooches who will look to you more and more for their own sustenance.

On the other hand, if that $100 goes to the tribe in the form of a pair of sheep and the education needed on how to raise them and produce wool, and the tribe becomes a productive shepherding tribe producing some of the finest wool in the world, you've helped to create a world of producers - of equals - of peers - of people with whom you can live together and be free of dependency except those which you choose.

In other words, your $100 charitable gift can be moral or immoral - and it is up to you to determine which it will be and the moral course of action is to ensure that the gift is given with moral intent.

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As I understand Objectivism, I must act in my self interest, anything which hinders this I must regard as evil.

I hope you understand that in Objectivist philosophy, every "must" is conditional, i.e. it is true that "If I want X, I must do Y." There is no "I must, period."

The wording of your sentence is a bit unfortunate, however. What one would normally regard as evil is that which destroys his life or his values and not that which hinders his self-interest. (Does the fact that the shopkeeper won't give you the bread you need for free hinder your self-interest? After all, you would prefer to have the bread and keep the money, no?) Also keep in mind that a mistake isn't necessarily evil, even if it does result in destruction of values to some extent. Even the most moral person can make honest mistakes. When judging good or evil you should be looking at how decisions are made, rather than what were the outcomes.

Finally to answer your question, many confuse giving charity with altruism, but that isn't necessarily so. You can give something of yours away without having a guarantee it will ever come back, without actually making a sacrifice, if you have it in abundance. And helping someone who has had a streak of bad luck in life can be rewarding, if for no other reason then for the warm feeling you get for knowing that you were able to help someone. Normally, I think, people don't like it when other people are miserable, especially when it is not their fault.

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