Re: Selfishness (Was: Re: Polemics for longevity)

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Sat Jan 22 2000 - 23:05:02 MST

On Saturday, January 22, 2000 5:24 PM Robert Owen
> One wonders why, if exclusive self-seeking were as natural
> as Rand insists, our Extropian individualists strive in such a
> strained and histrionic way to exhibit this state?

I think you are misunderstanding Rand here. First off, her view is that
selfishness -- at least, selfishness of the right sort is good and right.
It might be read from some of her texts that selfishness is natural -- in
that, the good or the right comes naturally to humans. However, much of her
writing was devoted to pointing out that the general culture she (and we)
was (are) living in at best tolerates selfishness but only as a means to an
end and typically holds it in derision. I could go further into this, but I
don't want this to turn into another Ayn Rand discussion list. (See my web
page for more on Rand, Objectivism, and the virtues of tar water.)

I agree, people can get a bit strained in broadcasting their views here. In
the current thread, however, one posted listed selfishness as a bad thing.
Another post attacked the use of selfishness -- as if changing terms would
hide actual meanings. (I confess to doing the same thing in some contexts,
just to get my ideas across -- to get in under someone's _internal_ thought
police. However, if you discuss this with someone long enough, she or he is
eventually going to say, "Hey, don't you really mean 'selfishness'?")

I think that's the reason for the strong reaction. But I do think we all
need to take a chill pill sometimes. I don't think because someone
disagrees with another person on this list that the universe will suddenly
come to an end or even that, Lord forbid, "The Simpsons" will be canceled.

In my defense, I've only questioned the listing of selfishness that way and
my response was not histrionic -- though I don't think Robert was responding
to me anyway. (See my bit of self-quoting -- there's that "self" word
again!:) -- below.)

Daniel Ust
"As expected, I disagree. I see a lot of people sacrificing themselves
selflessly, which, by its very definition is destructive. I.e., sacrifice
involves destruction. I think if people really cared about themselves, they
would not be stupid or destructive." -- Daniel Ust, before the drugs began
to take hold:)

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