PHIL: Egoism (Was ART: What Art Is)

From: Zero Powers (
Date: Sun May 28 2000 - 11:19:52 MDT


>When I think of her I am
>struck with an image of a bitter, psthologically stricken person who
>traumatic injuries in her homeland and came here to work through her
>wounds by outpouring onto paper. What she promotes is largely distrust,
>dislike, disdain, contempt, scorn, and loathing. For meny many things.
>This is not my style of thought, I am a person who loves.

I suppose I can see how her ideas on "egoism" might lead an others-centered
person (such as, apparently, yourself) to view her ideas this way. In fact,
initially, her ideas struck me as narcissistic and selfish. But I've
gradually come to believe that narcissism and, particularly, selfishness
have traditionally gotten a bad rap.

Coming from years of fundamentalist Christian indoctrination, I was heavily
on board the "love your neighbor as yourself" rap. So when I came across
Randian egoistic ideas I bristled. But the more I thought about it, the
more it seemed to me that an openly selfish person would (generally
speaking) be a more honest and productive member of society than someone who
proclaims to be all about loving others, helping the less fortunate, etc.

Why more honest? Well, as I see it, do-gooders one and all are not in the
business of doing good for others for the sake of others, so much as for
their own sake. For many people, sacrificing for other people makes *them*
feel good. Take me for instance. I work hard all week and make a pretty
good income and, if I splurged it all on me, I could live a pretty high
lifestyle. But instead I spend the bulk of my income on educating my kids,
providing them (and my wife) with a home, and investing the money (in part)
so that my family is financially secure. (Admittedly I'm also saving for
*me* too, so I don't have to work until I'm 80, but you get the point.) So
why do I "sacrifice" my own immediate pleasure for the sake of those I love?
  Well, primarily because it makes *me* feel good about myself. I would
feel like a louse if I didn't provide for my kids. Yes, in fact I would
*be* a louse -- but the point is if I could *be* a louse without *feeling*
like a louse I just might go for it. But if you ask most people why they do
good for others they will most likely tell you they are doing it just to
benefit others, as opposed making themselves feel better about themselves.

Why more productive? Well this one is explainable with a short analogy:
Who would you rather have, 100 Bill Gateses or 100 Mother Theresas?


"I like dreams of the future better than the history of the past"
--Thomas Jefferson

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