Re: Obligation & Compassion

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Mon, 15 Sep 1997 15:12:31 -0700 (PDT)

> >"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will
> >never live for the sake of another man, nor ask
> >another man to live for mine."
> >
> >John Galt's statement could be loosely
> >interpreted as a no-obligation statement.
> >It says nothing about Galt's compassion.
> >It says nothing about whether or not Galt
> >would help another.

> I understand and agree with this: but what do you say to people who say
> that's what they're criticising (that this ethic says nothing about
> whether or not to have compassion)?
> I would say that, actually, it isn't an ethic at all but, very precisely,
> a politic.

That's a cop-out: I think Galt's oath /is/ an ethic, and one of the most
beautiful sentences ever written in the language. It expresses precisely
the ethic that "obligation" and "compassion" are not merely unrelated
but quite contradictory. It is impossible to have true, effective,
compassion from a sense of obligation. Compassion /requires/ freedom.
Compassion /must/ be voluntary. Though it is not directly a positive
ethic (i.e., a "thou slalt" rather than "thou shalt not"), it does
express the root from which her positive ethics come: the love of life.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC