ALTRUISM AND EGOISM: PART 1

Posted by Ergo on September 20th, 2007

Colin McGinn, the philosopher who claimed to have refuted egoism in a few brief remarks, holds a very willy-nilly concept of altruism, but is adamant that egoism can only be defined as the "maximization of one's own interest." According to McGinn, an altruist can properly behave in self-interested actions occassionally; but an egoist–on principle–can never act against his own interests, which includes not dirtying your clothes to jump in to save a drowning baby.

Clearly, McGinn and altruists like him wish to claim sole proprietorship over concepts of kindness, benevolence, and charity.

Let's be very clear about what we mean by altruism:

The word "altruism" (French, altruisme, from autrui: "other people", derived from Latin alter: "other") was coined by Auguste Comte, the French founder of positivism, in order to describe the ethical doctrine he supported. He believed that individuals had a moral obligation to renounce self-interest and live for others. Comte says, in his Catechisme Positiviste, that "[the] social point of view cannot tolerate the notion of rights, for such notion rests on individualism. We are born under a load of obligations of every kind, to our predecessors, to our successors, to our contemporaries. After our birth these obligations increase or accumulate, for it is some time before we can return any service.... This ["to live for others"], the definitive formula of human morality, gives a direct sanction exclusively to our instincts of benevolence, the common source of happiness and duty. [Man must serve] Humanity, whose we are entirely." [1]

The Catholic Encyclopedia says that for Comte's altruism, "The first principle of morality...is the regulative supremacy of social sympathy over the self-regarding instincts." [2] Author Gabriel Moran, (professor in the department of Humanities and the Social Sciences, New York University) says "The law and duty of life in altruism [for Comte] was summed up in the phrase: Live for others." [3]

More recent reformulations of the word altruism have served up a watered down principle of a general lovey-durvy, fluffy-feely sense of kindness and benevolence toward others to make the principle seem more palatable to most people's sensibilities. Note how it is better to have a phantasmic notion of altruism than to even permit the possibility of egoism (self-interest) as a plausible moral principle for people to live by.

It stands to reason that no one can adhere to the principle of altruism strictly and consistently in their lives: it is a contradiction at the most fundamental level. To live is to act in self-preservation; to live is to engage in self-sustaining action. One cannot live by selfless action, unless one wishes to die. The proper and consistent act for an altruist would be to give up his life in an ultimate sacrifice for others (like Jesus did; now, the conundrum that the recipient of the sacrifice has to himself be sacrificed to someone else's interests and so on with every individual on earth is another thorny matter of its own).

At best, altruism can only be practised inconsistently, whimsically, and often out of guilt.

Wrong. The only reason to eat for this flesh is to exist on this plane to do righteousness that is to lead to what is higher, more enlightened, spiritual, and does not require such devouring. If it were not for that, there would be no reason to come to this plane. Jesus came out from God to show the world the kind and degree of love consistently required for the highest enlightenment and salvation. Our highest and best self-interest is everyone else's who will grasp this and do likewise. If everyone treats everyone else carefully so as not to mislead but rather to serve harmlessly and wholesomely, heaven will ensue. The only thing retarding this is selfishness, which is synonymous with evil and sin, bringing corruption and death of the soul and pain and suffering as the direct consequence. The standard of self-centeredness ruins everything for everyone else not separated away from it. Only hardheartedness facilitates it.

Since altruism–as a moral principle–cannot be practised consistently, philosophers like McGinn have injected doses of self-interested pursuits and common sense motivations into the principle of altruism. By doing this, altruists have appropriated the notions of kindness, charity, and benevolence, while vociferously denying that these notions are fully and logically compatible with the ethic of egoism.

"By doing this, [some] altruists...." The premises are faulty. Egoism is based upon half-truths only. It is inconsistent and therefore fatally flawed. Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. Matthew 12:33

Egoism is the principle of purusing one's own rational self-interest with your life as your standard of value. Properly speaking, "life as a standard of value" is a redundant elaboration of the principle of rational self-interest. Only life can provide a context for the existence of a self and for the pursuit of interests; only human life can provide the standard of rational behavior and meaning to rationality. Nevertheless, the redundancy is necessary because altruists are committed to caricaturing egoism as everything that it is not: hedonism, subjectivism, self-destruction, malice, etc.

The only way to avoid ending up in utter darkness via "rational self-interest" is to realize that the New Commandment of Jesus Christ is the most rational statement ever made and to live accordingly. To comprehend it is to come to the understanding that self is one with God who is righteousness (true and whole). Everything else is relatively fractured, with the satanic spirit being the most self-deluded, broken, and confused but also irredeemable.

Egoism–that is, the principle of rational self-interest–is the only principle that can be practised consistently by every individual without leaving behind a trail of mutilated, self-sacrificed corpses. Only egoism makes it possible to have a society of individuals where acts of benevolence, kindness, and charity are performed without contradiction, without conflicts of interest, and without any sacrifice.

Source: Leitmotif, Altruism and Egoism

Do you reject giving and sharing all with all for all? Do you reject total pacifism? Do you reject sexual harmlessness? If you reject these things, you reject the one and only living God and you will end up without the benefits of these higher standards. In the process, you will also be responsible for having aided in leading others away from these higher standards as well. Does your conscience not bother you when you think about the pain and suffering of those others? Aren't there people you love for whom you want the real bounty, peace, and security implicit in the New Commandment? Can you feel what Jesus was feeling toward souls when he went through what they did to him? Do you really believe that Ayn Rand was the Good Samaritan with you lying by the side of the road? Where's her fruit? Where is the fruit of her disciples? She was an atheist and now she's dead and in the dark without the Holy Spirit of truth. Are you sure you want to follow her to where she's gone? Do you trust her more than you trust Jesus Christ? If they were both standing there together before you and each said follow me, which one would you follow? That's not a completely rhetorical question. The death of Ayn Rand called you, and you've been hearing and listening. The life of Jesus Christ calls. Can you hear his voice? Those who love the truth hear him? Do you love truth? I'm telling you the truth. Ask God and Jesus in earnest, and you will be given the answer in a way that will have great meaning for you that I am telling you the truth. It will disturb you. It will shake your confidence in Ayn Rand. You will be given the opportunity to see. You will have the choice of rationalizing with false excuses such as the signs just for you are mere coincidences or of accepting them as having real meaning for you right then and there. Believe, and keep asking, seeking, and knocking. More and more light will come to you. This is the way of it.

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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