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

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Wed Feb 23 2000 - 16:06:35 MST wrote:

> In a message dated 2/23/2000 8:55:03 AM Pacific Standard Time,
> writes:
> << 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

There is a distinct difference between selfishness and self-centeredness. Also
different are ego-centric, megalomaniacal, and sociopathic. Many traits of these
other characteristics are politely refered to as 'selfish' but are actually far
less rational, and far more malignant and rapacious.

> <<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.
> Perhaps your words do not describe your ideas plainly, but in the
> preachroneous fashion.

Ha. Well, for those who value selfishness as a good thing, it is presumed that
the listener understands the difference between rational selfishness and petty or
irrational selfishness (the polite terms for the more malignant behaviors
referred to above.) This is perhaps some supporting evidence to Lee's argument
that politeness is not always a good thing as a rule. I much prefer the 18th
century English practice of calling things by their right names. Rather than
calling a man 'suave', he would be called a whore-monger.

> ey would choose to cooperate and trade because
> that's a more profitable strategy than predation in the long
> run. 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?

abject, or petty selfishness, is not rational because it completely discounts
negative returns beyond the short term gains that might be accrued, and is
performed merely for petty self-aggrandizement of the moment, its a instant
gratification thing.

> <<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.

I value selfish people much, at least rational selfish people. I know that they
value themselves as highly as I do myself. Because of this mutual understanding,
we are able to treat each other as free and equal human beings who are
responsible for themselves. There are no issues of dependency, and I know that
the word of such individuals is good because they value their own integrity as
one of their core assets, and are unwilling to compromise it.

Mike Lorrey

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