Re: PHIL: Egoism (Was ART: What Art Is)

From: Zero Powers (zero_powers@hotmail.com)
Date: Tue May 30 2000 - 16:11:45 MDT


>From: QueeneMUSE@aol.com

>In a message dated 5/28/2000 10:21:34 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
>zero_powers@hotmail.com writes:
>
> > 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.
>
>I did not say I was others centered. That's preposterous. I said I was a
>person who loved.

I did not mean it as a put down. As I see it people are essentially
self-centered or others-centered. Given your posts in this thread, it is
obvious you donít consider yourself a self-centered person. So I naturally
assumed you were in the other camp.

>I love myself. I love things passionately ... thing outside
>myself: my lover, my family, my smallest closest circle of friends, new
>people, things, animals, genres of art, music, TV, books, conversation,
>this
>list...

Thatís great. I would say the same things about myself. In fact Iíd go so
far as to say that I have love for everything and everyone, even people that
Iíve never met. Yet, in the same breath Iíd also describe myself as
self-centered. In my (perhaps twisted) view, the two are not mutually
exclusive.

>What you mean I assume is healthy self esteem and the ability to draw
>boundaries -- letting religions and manipulative forces use the guilt
>factor
>to cause you to do damaging thing to yourself in the name of altruism. If
>you're a doormat, may I suggest a codependents anonymous meeting (or
>therapy)
>instead of reading about selfish industrialists with gold mines who like to
>sneer at the masses. It will hone your communication skills to boot.

Never been to a codependents anonymous meeting, but my guess is that what
they advocate is not all that far removed from healthy egoism.

>IMO we are all born self centered. This is normal, but hopefully we learn
>to
>curb that impulse when we learn the rest of the world is interactive. Being
>a
>grabby child at 35 is OK BY ME ... but OFTEN it doesn't serve the
>situation,
>or infringes on other's boundaries or causes pain to others.

I think you and I have different ideas of what it means to be self-centered.
  Young children are more narcissistic than self-centered. As I recall,
they view themselves as more important (in fact all-important) than anyone
else. In much the same way that people once thought that Earth was the
center of the universe and that humans were Godís favorite creation, young
children think that they are the most important creatures in the universe
and that everyone else is here to serve them. That is immaturity, that is
childishness, that is narcissism. That is *not* egoism (at least the kind
that Rand advocates).

As we mature we realize that others have as much value as we do, and that
they have feelings, dreams and aspirations which are just as important to
them as ours are to ourselves. I fully realize this. Yet my goals, values
and aspirations have much more value *to me* than yours do. I have no
desire to subordinate your desires to mine. In fact it is my earnest hope
that you reach every one of your goals and that you live a completely
satisfying and fulfilling life. But to the extent that your reaching that
goal impedes my reaching the same goal for myself, donít expect any help
from me.

I donít think this makes me a 35 year old grabby child. It is contrary to
my personal code of ethics for me to infringe on your boundaries or cause
you pain. I donít wish you any ill, I have nothing against you (in fact I
*love* you). But simply, it is more important to me that I reach my own
goals than that you reach yours. I think this is much different than the
kind of childish selfishness we are all born with.

>I am sorry you were raised Christian, I was not.

Iím glad I was raised a Christian. Many of the Judeo-Christian values
instilled in me are still an important part of who I am. I am glad that I
have love for everyone. I realize (like Martin Luther King) that there is
real strength to be found in loving your enemies (not to mention the fact
that it tends to leave one with very few enemies). I do wish these ideals
could have been instilled with out the fairytale aspects of the religion.
But now that I have shed the more irrational aspects of the faith, I feel
that I am much better off having been immersed in it and having transcended
it.

>Sorry to hear you fell for more dogma.

What dogma is that? Because some of Randís ideas on egoism have resonated
with me that means I have fallen for dogma?

>The character in the Fountainhead would NEVER have been a follower of dogma
>that's the funny part. Howard Roarke at an objectivists gathering?? bahaha
>gimme a break.

You must feel that I am some dyed-in-the-wool objectivist. I am not.
Egoism as discussed by Rand has articulated for me something that makes a
great deal of sense. Howard Roarke would not shun an idea simply because it
was first articulated by someone else. Being a creator yourself does *not*
mean that you cannot appreciate something that *you* did not create.

>A healthy person does not need to be told to be more selfish, it comes
>naturally to love one's self and to have integrity to one's own ego.

Perhaps. But not everyone is quite so ďhealthy.Ē As discussed above, what
comes naturally is childhood narcissism. While narcissism for a newborn is
natural and healthy, society has decided en masse that adult narcissism is
some sort of sickness. In order to combat this sickness we are constantly
ďvaccinatedĒ with altruistic ideals. We are told that the best people are
those who suffer for the benefit of others. The Santa Clauses and Mother
Theresas of the world are praised, the Hitlers and Marie Antoinettes are
killed. Jesus, who is said to have suffered and died for our sins, is
deified. He has transmogrified from a simple peasant to the creator of the
universe.

Before Rand, virtually all of our societal myths and literature glorified
the selfless do-gooder. Not everyone can easily resist this constant and
ubiquitous altruistic indoctrination. Apparently it was cake walk for you.
It was not so easy for me. For me Rand said ďitís OK to do what *you* think
is good for *you* regardless of what *anyone* else thinks.Ē That was
welcome news to me and I am grateful for it. Perhaps, for you, egoism comes
naturally. However from your descriptions of your feelings toward Rand and
her ideas, I doubt it.

>A
>healthy person also doesn't need THAT much control over others -- or need
>to
>smugly put-down those who haven't learned to take care of themselves, and
>to
>build themselves up with bogus pomposity and leering condescension for
>everyone else.

I havenít read all of Randís works like you have. But from what I have read
it didn't seem to me that she advocated asserting control over others. I
find it hard to believe that she actually advocated ďbogus pomposity and
leering condescension.Ē If she did, Iíd take issue with her on that. My
guess though is that you are reading this between the lines of what she
actually wrote.

>We don't need to expound the virtue of selfishness any more than we need to
>expound the virtue of breathing air.

Speak for yourself. Ignoring the ubiquitous doctrinal assault of altruism
apparently comes natural to you. It does not for everyone. It did not for
me.

>Mostly a self absorbed person is truly a bore.

You confuse self-absorption with self-centeredness. I am self-centered. I
am not self-absorbed. I enjoy studying and contemplating myself. But not
nearly as much as I enjoy studying and contemplating other things and ideas.

>The same shtick goes for everyone. They don't have enough awareness of
>"others" to curb their self talk and don't have the people skills/tools to
>see how they are being perceived. They test the boundaries of patience in
>polite conversation. Usually they take themselves waaaaay too seriously too
>and get annoyed at anyone who tries to bringing in an outside viewpoint.

No offense (really), but seems to me it could reasonably be said that your
response to my post fits that description.

>How can you be UTTERLY focused on yourself 100% of the time and find the
>time
>to
>look openly at life outside your own sphere? To be open minded? Listen?
>Especially since people are ALWAYS contradicting you, challenging your
>ideas,
>disagreeing?

Again it sounds like you are simply confusing self-centeredness with
self-absorption. They are *not* synonymous.

-Zero

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

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