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Can an Altruist be happy

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As far as I understand, objectivism says that living according to altruism would not lead to personal happiness.

Do you think this can be countered by giving an example of a person that does believe in altrusim, but is happy? Or altruistic societies that are happy?

Or - this is a matter of principles, and no altruist _can_ be happy?

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The ultimate perceptual data that the argument is based on are the observations needed to form the relevant concepts, like 'value,' 'altruism,' and 'happiness.' The core of the argument is the follow

Actually, research shows that altruistic people are generally happier than others: http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/topic/altruism/altruism-happiness http://www.wholeliving.com/article/givin

I feel there's some confusion in this thread. Selfishness versus altruism is not an answer to "what makes us happy?" but "in whose interests ought we act?" Selfishness answers that we ought act

As far as I understand, objectivism says that living according to altruism would not lead to personal happiness.

Do you think this can be countered by giving an example of a person that does believe in altrusim, but is happy? Or altruistic societies that are happy?

Or - this is a matter of principles, and no altruist _can_ be happy?

True happiness is achieved by living a rationally selfish life. As an altruist, this cannot be possible.

However, there are many levels of happiness. An altruist who is otherwise a "good" person will reach a certain level of happiness, and he will likely be satisfied with that and believe he is truly happy. But he is certainly not striving for moral perfection, thus not as potentially happy as an Obj.ist.

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Do you think this can be countered by giving an example of a person that does believe in altrusim, but is happy? Or altruistic societies that are happy? Or - this is a matter of principles, and no altruist _can_ be happy?
A counter-example falsifies only a universally quantified assertion, like <<For all humans, no human exists that is altruist and happy>> would be falsified by a counter-example.
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Do you think this can be countered by giving an example of a person that does believe in altrusim, but is happy? Or altruistic societies that are happy?

It can be countered by giving an example of a person who is making his decisions solely according to altruism, but is happy. Not by someone who merely "believes" in altruism. As far as altruistic societies, I'm not sure what definition you're using for either an altruistic society or a happy society. I'm especially in the dark about the latter, but the former is unclear too: altruism means self-sacrifice, to another. If the society is sacrificing its member, are the "others" (the beneficiaries of the sacrifice) within the society (in which case sure, they might be very happy with the arrangement, because they're not being altruistic), or outside of it?

Either way, I guess your question is more about how Objectivism defines a principle, abstractions etc. than just this particular principle. It's a complex issue, but you could start at the Ayn Rand Lexicon entry for "principles".

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Not by someone who merely "believes" in altruism.

Distinguishing the crucial differences!

Introducing a person that does believe in altruism that happens to be happy, only acquaints you with a happy altruist.

This should have be stated:

Introducing an altruist practitioner (although it cannot be practiced with full consistency) who happens to be happy, only acquaints you with a happy altruist.

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The buddhist Mahayana seems to be altruistic.

Though, it seems that according to the buddhist notion of altruism, there is no contradiction between altruism and egoism.

The dalai lama seems a happy being; the dharmsala community is a an intellectualy vibrant community.

Especially considering that they are refugees; as refugees they are hugely successful. And people that I rely on (in their evaluation), have reported to me their impression of dharmsala as having a very happy atmosphere.

Edited by samr
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The buddhist Mahayana seems to be altruistic.

Though, it seems that according to the buddhist notion of altruism, there is no contradiction between altruism and egoism.

The dalai lama seems a happy being; the dharmsala community is a an intellectualy vibrant community.

Especially considering that they are refugees; as refugees they are hugely successful. And people that I rely on (in their evaluation), have reported to me their impression of dharmsala as having a very happy atmosphere.

Ok, you have now acquainted us with some names of some people who seem to be happy, and have a notion of altruism.

? ? ?

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It can be countered by giving an example of a person who is making his decisions solely according to altruism, but is happy. Not by someone who merely "believes" in altruism.

That is a contradiction. If you do the former, then you do the latter (explicitly or implicitly).

True happiness is not equivalent to "feeling" like you are happy or "seeming" to others to be happy.

Edited by TLD
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Ok, you have now acquainted us with some names of some people who seem to be happy, and have a notion of altruism.

? ? ?

Right, but were I to investiage deeply tibetan society, and the dalai lama, and were to find them very happy, though altruistic - what _would_ that mean?

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Right, but were I to investiage deeply tibetan society, and the dalai lama, and were to find them very happy, though altruistic - what _would_ that mean?

That you have made your acquaintance with some happy altruists.

Is it possible that you are confusing causal relationship with correlative observations?

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The question is, how is this

"The principle indicates that living according to altruism does not lead to personal happiness"

falsifiable?

Rand: "What is the moral code of altruism? The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.

Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice—which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction—which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good."

The principle is valid.

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As far as I understand, objectivism says that living according to altruism would not lead to personal happiness.

Do you think this can be countered by giving an example of a person that does believe in altrusim, but is happy? Or altruistic societies that are happy?

Or - this is a matter of principles, and no altruist _can_ be happy?

Think of it this way: if you are happy, and the purpose of the moral code you have accepted is to harm yourself and sacrifice yourself for the sake of others' well-being, then you are not practicing your code correctly or consistently. Pursuing happiness is entirely selfish.

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Rand: "What is the moral code of altruism? The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.

Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice—which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction—which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good."

The principle is valid.

I meant - empirically falsifiable. Can you falsify that from observing people and how they act. Can you falsify principles at all.

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I meant - empirically falsifiable. Can you falsify that from observing people and how they act. Can you falsify principles at all.

Principles are either true or false.

Principles that are derived from human behavior either accurately describe the observation(s), in which case they are true, or they do not, in which case they are false.

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There is a principle "Things fall down when dropped" which is true.

Then there is principle "Things raise to the ceiling\sky when dropped" which is false.

But then there are principles of the sort "Gravity works through invisible undetectable creatures which pull and push particles together". Or "God works through mysterious ways. Ways which we cannot understand. ".

Would you agree that the latter belong in a different category than the two above?

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As far as I understand, objectivism says that living according to altruism would not lead to personal happiness.

Not exactly. It is possible to be irrational and happy. You could be happy as you drink a bottle of poison, for example. Humans can't survive for long by being irrational.

Do you think this can be countered by giving an example of a person that does believe in altrusim, but is happy? Or altruistic societies that are happy?

Believing in altruism isn't enough. To counter the idea, you would need to find someone who is happy after consistently practicing altruism.

Or - this is a matter of principles, and no altruist _can_ be happy?

It's more a matter of understanding what altruism really is: sacrifice; giving up higher values for lesser ones. A true altruist would have to say that if they are happy, they have not sacrificed enough. In fact, some philosophers who argue for altruism (such as Kant) make this exact point.

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There is a principle "Things fall down when dropped" which is true.

Then there is principle "Things raise to the ceiling\sky when dropped" which is false.

But then there are principles of the sort "Gravity works through invisible undetectable creatures which pull and push particles together". Or "God works through mysterious ways. Ways which we cannot understand. ".

Would you agree that the latter belong in a different category than the two above?

More precisely, it is the proposition which should be evaluated as true or false.

The proposition "Things fall down when dropped" is usually substantiated by observation.

The proposition "Things raise to the ceiling\sky when dropped" is only observed in special cases. (Consider a helium filled balloon.)

The proposition "A rock rises or floats to the ceiling or sky when it is released" is actually contradicted by observation and should be dismissed as false.

The proposition "Gravity works through invisible undetectable creatures which pull and push particles together" could probably be dismissed as an arbitrary assertion.

The proposition "God works through mysterious ways. Ways which we cannot understand" contains an invalid concept and should just be dismissed out of hand.

Edited by dream_weaver
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Not exactly. It is possible to be irrational and happy. You could be happy as you drink a bottle of poison, for example. Humans can't survive for long by being irrational.

Happiness is the state of life resulting from the achievement of one's values.

It is not a moment in time. No, one cannot be happy and irrational. That does not say that one can't make mistakes and still retain his happiness.

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Objectivism would refer to the method as reduction.

Leonard Peikoff outlines this in Objectivism, The Philosophy of Ayn Rand as:

"Reduction" is the process of identifying in logical sequence the intermediate steps that relate a cognitive item to perceptual data. Since there are options in the detail of a learning process, one need not always retrace the steps one initially happened to take. What one must retrace is the essential logical structure.

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