Re: Ethics

Eric Watt Forste (
Thu, 19 Dec 1996 10:45:18 -0800

>> Sometimes one must fight evil ideas by being deliberately provocative
>> and extreme in the other direction. The unspeakable evil of the cult
>> of self-sacrifice demands such a fight. How can one possibly love
>> life without loving one's own most?
>Very easily. The only reason I'm still here is to serve humanity.

If you really believe that is true, Eliezer, then you should take
very good care of your body, develop your mind, and you should
study the market to find out which skills are in the highest demand
by the rest of humanity (hint: they will generally pay the best,
because recent demand will have been growing faster than supply).
In short, you should care about money and nothing else. It is only
because I prefer myself and my friends to the vast mass of humanity
that I care about anything other than money. I know you probably
know all this already, but I wanted to take the opportunity you
gave me to explain a bit more about my current opinion that egoism
and altruism collapse into one another.

The best means of serving humanity is usually indistinguishable
from what most people call selfishness. As for myself, I'm pretty
selfish and only peripherally (if at all) interested in serving
humanity, which is why I spend so much time studying what my
interests dictate rather than studying the stuff that the market
calls me to. Actually, I don't really believe that the best means
of serving humanity is to make a lot of money; sometimes I think
the best means of serving humanity is by setting a good example.
And who would want to have to think about what kind of example they
were setting every waking hour? Perhaps you would. Perhaps you
really mean what you are saying. But if you would want to help
others by setting a good example to them, then the example you
should be setting should be one of selfishness. To set an example
of "truly" altruistic self-sacrificing martyr-like behavior would
*not* be of benefit to your followers!

>And let's not forget that the religious/altruistic types you reflexively
>condemn are simply stating a retrospectively obvious truth: That our
>emotional nature, from self-righteousness to love to honor, has evolved
>to maximize our own inclusive fitness, while an impartial ethical system
>regards all sentients symmetrically.

Exercise: explain why an impartial ethical system is preferable to a
partial ethical system.

P. S. Pay me no mind. I'm just a sophist. ;)

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++