Re: rehabilitation versus punishment in a future society....

From: Lee Daniel Crocker (
Date: Wed Feb 23 2000 - 12:52:52 MST

> << I define evil as simply abject selfishness.
> Funny, that's pretty much how I define what's good and noble.
> The sine qua non of evil for me is dishonesty. >>
> Clearly many people will consider your philosophy of abject selfishness evil.
> Do you enjoy taunting them with that construct? Some selfishness is healthy,
> but complete abject selfishness is boring, teious and painfully gauche. It is
> anti-social and associated with all of the "evils'" YOU decribe below

The interesting question is whether it is _correct_ to associate it with
those evils. There certainly is a bit of "taunt" in the use of the term;
that's also why Rand chose it for the title of her essay "The Virtue of
Selfishness", because its association in the minds of many with evil
things, and reclaiming the term for good uses is a rhetorical effect that
sticks in the mind and stimulates thought and discussion.

> <<
> Now I think we probably mostly agree on the specific acts we
> would classify as "evil": murder, torture, etc.; but I can't
> view these as acts of selfishness, because if one were truly
> selfish and educated emself on the best techniques to profit
> from others, >>
> Ahh. So you are not talking ABJECT selfishness, but "educated" selfishness.
> One that is tempered by a need to plese others. If only to better serve one's
> own goals.

It's hard to parse what you mean here: "abject" means "contemptible", and
I am arguing that selfishness itself is not per se evil, but that certain
acts which _are_ evil are (rightly or wrongly) associated with it. In
that sense I suppose I do indeed object to "abject selfishness", but then
I haven't said anything meaningful: i.e. "bad X is bad". What I do
support is enlightened selfishness, where that is not at all tempered
with any need to serve others, but with the simple rational conclusion
that serving others is one effective means of accomplishing one's own
goals. This is complete, forward-looking, rational selfishness. The
details of Rand/Stirner egoist philosophy is really one of the "basics"
here that I won't go into further; plenty of resources for further study
are available on the net.

> << Most acts that are described as "selfish" are not evil
> because they are selfish, but because they exhibit irrational
> short-term thinking. >>
> So abject selfishness perhpas is not entirely rational?

Since rationality is my basis for a definition of "abject", again
this is merely a tautology.

> <<The truly selfish individual takes the
> long view, because ey wants to live forever and be obscenely
> rich, not just make a few bucks for the moment.
> >>
> Long or short viewed, the truly selfish individual is not valued
> by others, and is often over valued by his/herself.

One's value to others is generally based on how one acts with them,
not how one believes. Acting in ways that encourage others to value
you is a good way to accomplish selfish goals. As far as overvaluing
oneself, how is it possible to overvalue that which is the source of
all values?

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC

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