Re: Randian paradigm challenged

From: Ryan (
Date: Thu Aug 03 2000 - 04:50:55 MDT

In-Reply-To: <>; from on Wed, Aug 02, 2000 at 01:35:08PM -0500
Precedence: bulk

[Non-member submission]

[what is the Meaning Of Life?]
okay, so here's my spin.

evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins introduced the idea of the
selfish gene, to explain the selection pressure by which creatures tend
to develop their instincts. as humans, we are driven by more then the
need to reproduce, although many of our drives can still clearly be
explained by evolved inner needs, where it is our genes that are really
winning out - not "us". the rest of the mess in our heads is neatly
explained by the idea that memes have emerged as another replicator,
evolving separate from our genes. this idea is very well explained in:
   _The Meme Machine_ by Susan Blackmore.

so, like the other answers, this one doesn't give you a Meaning Of Life
(that is, unless you are content being a slave to your genes, in which
case your mission is clear). but it allows you to see where the burning
question comes from...

i think this tends to make questions of whether an individual's actions
are "selfless" less meaningful. actions serve some memes installed in
that individual's head, or they fulfill a biological motive (which may
include acting for for the benefit of relatives, if an individual is
not acting directly for themselves).

after all that, if you decide the thing for you to do is improve your
happiness... well, have at it.

- Ryan

On Wed, Aug 02, 2000 at 01:35:08PM -0500, altamira wrote:
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From:
> > []On Behalf Of Ian Goddard
> > Wait a minute. I thought we were talking about proofs.
> >
> >
> > IAN: Actually I was asking if anyone
> > could identify an action and/or goal
> > of a self that's truly selfless. If
> > there are no examples, then the idea
> > of a selfless chosen action is a myth.
> I don't think it can be proved one way or the other, Ian, until people know
> more about how the mind works. There are numerous examples of people acting
> in ways that are against their own self interest, and there's no way to say
> for sure whether they mistakenly believe that what they're doing IS in their
> best interest, or whether they are not motivated by self interest after all.
> In living my life I operate under the assumption that people are motivated
> by self interest, and when someone tells me they're not I tend to watch my
> back when I'm around them. I'm fond of Ludwig von Mises' book _Human
> Action_ , and I like his argument against the existence of altruism. I just
> don't think you can say it's been proved that all people are always
> motivated by self interest.
> Bonnie

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