egochick

More "Spread the Wealth Around" Nonsense

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Excerpt from an MTV interview of Obama

MTV: Our next question is from Matt from Iowa: "If your desire is to spread the wealth around, what incentive is there for me to try to work hard? If I am only going to get more taken away from me, the more money I make, why wouldn't I just slide into a life of relaxation and let rich people take care of me? And a lot of people are asking similar questions, and I wanted you to specify. What does this mean exactly?"

Obama: What is amazing to me is this whole notion that somehow everybody is just looking out for themselves ... You don't just give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. What you do is make sure the tax code is fair ... So this idea, that somehow everybody is just on their own and shouldn't be concerned about other people who are coming up behind them, that's the kind of attitude that I want to end when I am president.

What makes it worth it to go to college, to save money for later, to show any initiative at all when an increasing portion is getting taken away (to whatever cause)? It's a question that my generation is facing quite frequently, even before Obama was anything more than a Chicago ward politician. Baby boomers will retire soon and Social Security payments have to come from somewhere ...

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Excerpt from an MTV interview of Obama
MTV: Our next question is from Matt from Iowa: "If your desire is to spread the wealth around, what incentive is there for me to try to work hard? If I am only going to get more taken away from me, the more money I make, why wouldn't I just slide into a life of relaxation and let rich people take care of me? And a lot of people are asking similar questions, and I wanted you to specify. What does this mean exactly?"

Obama: What is amazing to me is this whole notion that somehow everybody is just looking out for themselves ... You don't just give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. What you do is make sure the tax code is fair ... So this idea, that somehow everybody is just on their own and shouldn't be concerned about other people who are coming up behind them, that's the kind of attitude that I want to end when I am president.

What makes it worth it to go to college, to save money for later, to show any initiative at all when an increasing portion is getting taken away (to whatever cause)? It's a question that my generation is facing quite frequently, even before Obama was anything more than a Chicago ward politician. Baby boomers will retire soon and Social Security payments have to come from somewhere ...

Wow on two counts: Not only was the question from Matt a perfect and sincere one to ask, but Obama didn't answer it at all. He basically left it at "well, there is no motivation for yourself to achieve actually, and I want to end that notion"

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Obama: What is amazing to me is this whole notion that somehow everybody is just looking out for themselves ... You don't just give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. What you do is make sure the tax code is fair ... So this idea, that somehow everybody is just on their own and shouldn't be concerned about other people who are coming up behind them, that's the kind of attitude that I want to end when I am president.
What is amazing to me is that this Robin Hoodlum is not just saying that he's going to take money from the rich and give it to the poor, he's actually painting himself as Jesus Christ: He's going to change "that... kind of attitude." It's going "to end when I am President." Did you all feel that? That little rush of Altruism? That change of attitude? Don't you just want to go out and give away your life savings to the guy that boosted your car stereo? Or Cindy Sheehan? Or [insert freeloader's name here]?

I know I just wanna throw my life away for Obama. [chant] "Yes, we can." That's what "they can": They can take your freedom and your future away from you. As Jack Benny pointed out when the robber with a gun said: "Your money or your life!" And, after the longest pause on radio, "Well?" Jack Benny said "I'm thinking." It was a joke and it was understood that the only a skinflint would consider what change he had in his pocket to be worth weighing against his life, but what Obama and the hard Left Democrats like Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer are shooting for is a nation of economic dependents. Without a penny of their own. The Lord giveth and The Lord taketh away.

This really crystallizes the 2-flavors-1-plan of the Right and Left: The Right wants to control a woman's right to determine her life, to choose to have or not to have a child. The Left wants to take your means of support from you by force and give it to the thug across town, then leave you with nothing but the government dole. They both want absolute control over the lives of their constituents. Just a different aspect of it. And Obama certainly appears to believe in the rightness of this expropriation with the incandescent fervor of an evangelist. To see the hypnosis of that victory speech, the "yes we can" repeated until the non-pentacostals got it, with dawning awareness, as they slowly began to take up the chant, that was worse than the Obama Youth videos on YouTube. These weren't acolytes, they were people who'd been sucked into a mass event that could have been choreographed by Leni Riefenstahl.

I certainly hope that, against all odds, Obama actually is forced "to the center," as commentators have suggested, but I find that hope discouragingly audacious.

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Obama: What is amazing to me is this whole notion that somehow everybody is just looking out for themselves ... You don't just give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. What you do is make sure the tax code is fair ... So this idea, that somehow everybody is just on their own and shouldn't be concerned about other people who are coming up behind them, that's the kind of attitude that I want to end when I am president.
[Emphasis added.]

What I find interesting about this quote is how Obama is unable to fathom that self-interestedness is a moral virtue, or even something that people practice. He has been selfless for so long that the idea of "self" is alien to him.

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Obama: What is amazing to me is this whole notion that somehow everybody is just looking out for themselves ... You don't just give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. What you do is make sure the tax code is fair ... So this idea, that somehow everybody is just on their own and shouldn't be concerned about other people who are coming up behind them, that's the kind of attitude that I want to end when I am president.
[Emphasis added.]

What I find interesting about this quote is how Obama is unable to fathom that self-interestedness is a moral virtue, or even something that people practice. He has been selfless for so long that the idea of "self" is alien to him.

[emphasis added]

Buying a million dollar plus home is not selfless and, so, Obama is not selfless. There is no law that says he can't "spread his wealth around", yet he doesn't. One could call him a hypocrite, but he's more than that. He's a genuine Harvard educated street hustler, and what he wants is power and all that power can give him, his family, his cronies, and the inevitable gang of boot-lickers who will do his bidding. His adult life can only be characterized as one of irrational selfishness.

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I had an "e" correspndence with a famous liberal who was the education columnist for the NY Times...his name will come to memory...he wrote a piece saying that allowing the deductibilty of property taxes on federal tax returns was a subsidy for "wealthy" school districts. I said so not taking my money is a subsidy? He said where we differ is in what you call your money. In a complex society where you benefit from (all kinds of "public" programs) its hard to see how its your money.

As a matter of fact, it looks like you are appropriating Society's money. I'm afraid I e-mailed back "What size shorts does society wear?"; that is, what is referred to by the word society and the name A N Other are not the same kinds of things. End of e-correspondence. - Richard Rothstein, see I told you it would come; a name you'll see again.

Shift to now. A congressman is discussing the deuctibilty of IRA and 401k contributions and says "we're not getting a return on our - the government's - "investment" in these programs. Listen to the discussions of appropriating your life's savings.

At root there is a denial of identity and of the reality of economically productive action.

Anyway, that's how the argument is going. Here in Michigan the governor and her enablers speak endlessly of "investments". Of course, what's happening is bales of money are being handed out to the usual suspects, who splash on TV and returdn to Hollywood and New York with the money we thought was ours.

A notable feature of "spread the wealth around" is who actually gets it. The poor will still be poor.

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Obama: What is amazing to me is this whole notion that somehow everybody is just looking out for themselves ... You don't just give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. What you do is make sure the tax code is fair ... So this idea, that somehow everybody is just on their own and shouldn't be concerned about other people who are coming up behind them, that's the kind of attitude that I want to end when I am president.
[Emphasis added.]

What I find interesting about this quote is how Obama is unable to fathom that self-interestedness is a moral virtue, or even something that people practice. He has been selfless for so long that the idea of "self" is alien to him.

[emphasis added]

Buying a million dollar plus home is not selfless and, so, Obama is not selfless. There is no law that says he can't "spread his wealth around", yet he doesn't. One could call him a hypocrite, but he's more than that. He's a genuine Harvard educated street hustler, and what he wants is power and all that power can give him, his family, his cronies, and the inevitable gang of boot-lickers who will do his bidding. His adult life can only be characterized as one of irrational selfishness.

I am using "self" here in the sense of "one's own whole [spiritual and physical] life." Buying a house is not an indication of anything: Keating had (a) house(s) too. By "selfishness," I mean "taking actions true and beneficial to one's own whole life." In this way, Obama, who is so concerned with other people's lives, who would socialize with anyone and anything in order to wield power over these others, even when this is to the detriment of his mental health, cannot be concerned with himself. Having no concern with oneself is selflessness.

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Obama: What is amazing to me is this whole notion that somehow everybody is just looking out for themselves ... You don't just give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. What you do is make sure the tax code is fair ... So this idea, that somehow everybody is just on their own and shouldn't be concerned about other people who are coming up behind them, that's the kind of attitude that I want to end when I am president.
[Emphasis added.]

What I find interesting about this quote is how Obama is unable to fathom that self-interestedness is a moral virtue, or even something that people practice. He has been selfless for so long that the idea of "self" is alien to him.

[emphasis added]

Buying a million dollar plus home is not selfless and, so, Obama is not selfless. There is no law that says he can't "spread his wealth around", yet he doesn't. One could call him a hypocrite, but he's more than that. He's a genuine Harvard educated street hustler, and what he wants is power and all that power can give him, his family, his cronies, and the inevitable gang of boot-lickers who will do his bidding. His adult life can only be characterized as one of irrational selfishness.

I am using "self" here in the sense of "one's own whole [spiritual and physical] life." Buying a house is not an indication of anything: Keating had (a) house(s) too. By "selfishness," I mean "taking actions true and beneficial to one's own whole life." In this way, Obama, who is so concerned with other people's lives, who would socialize with anyone and anything in order to wield power over these others, even when this is to the detriment of his mental health, cannot be concerned with himself. Having no concern with oneself is selflessness.

I used buying a house for such a huge sum--for me anyway--as an example that he and his wife, with her six-figure salary, have spent their adult lives accumulating wealth, not "spreading it around." The reference to Keating is lost on me.

I think that Obama truly believes that everything he has done, is doing now, and will do in the future, were, are, and will be "actions true and beneficial" to himself and his family. Those actions are indeed selfish actions, to him. You and I may think his actions will eventually hurt him, but he doesn't.

Selflessness is the absence of concern for fame, position, wealth, etc., and I think that all of these are at the top of Obama's wish list. The only concern he has for other people's lives is telling them what to do, i.e., perform selfless actions and make sacrifices.

If you were to do what he is doing, knowing what you know and knowing that you would suffer, then it would be a selfless act.

Do you think that Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were selfless? Would you say Castro, Putin, and Chavez are selfless?

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Believing something and something actually being in your best interests are two different things, which is why Rand and others describe it as rational self interest.

A drug addict is not working to his own benefit, and neither is a tyrant.

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It's scary that people actually think like this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6ikOxi9yYk

There are lots of others..."I won't have to worry about making payroll...making good on pension benefits...health care...donations to worthy civic functions...protecting my depositors...my investors...my students..."

To put the same matter a little differently than in "Getting Equipped"...how do we lead the lives we want and minimize "contribution" from us? What's needed is sort of a virtual Galt's Gulch. How do we do that?

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To put the same matter a little differently than in "Getting Equipped"...how do we lead the lives we want and minimize "contribution" from us?

By carefully judging and accurately understanding the nature of what we have to deal with and then acting accordingly.

What's needed is sort of a virtual Galt's Gulch.

Not necessarily. A good CPA and tax attorney, plenty of insurance, prudent living, rational friends, and having contingency plans may suffice.

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What's needed is sort of a virtual Galt's Gulch.

Not necessarily. A good CPA and tax attorney, plenty of insurance, prudent living, rational friends, and having contingency plans may suffice.

Contingency plans for what and where? Insurance for what?

Even a good CPA and tax attorney are becoming inadequate as tax authorities make vindictive impositions under non-objective law that lets them do what they want. This is getting much worse.

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---------------

I think that Obama truly believes that everything he has done, is doing now, and will do in the future, were, are, and will be "actions true and beneficial" to himself and his family. Those actions are indeed selfish actions, to him. You and I may think his actions will eventually hurt him, but he doesn't.

Motivated actions are not equivalent to selfish action. For an action to be selfish, one must demonstrate that it is in one rational self-interest. It is not a matter of who thinks what of a particular action.

Selflessness is the absence of concern for fame, position, wealth, etc., and I think that all of these are at the top of Obama's wish list. The only concern he has for other people's lives is telling them what to do, i.e., perform selfless actions and make sacrifices.

If that is your definition of selflessness, then it is a definition by non-essentials. Selflessness means the lack of concern with one's own interests.

If you were to do what he is doing, knowing what you know and knowing that you would suffer, then it would be a selfless act.

Do you think that Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were selfless? Would you say Castro, Putin, and Chavez are selfless?

Yes, they were all quite selfless.

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What's needed is sort of a virtual Galt's Gulch.

Not necessarily. A good CPA and tax attorney, plenty of insurance, prudent living, rational friends, and having contingency plans may suffice.

Contingency plans for what and where?

One should have strategies for self-sufficient living, escape plans, ways of living anonymously, etc.

Insurance for what?

Health and accident insurance, liability insurance that covers legal expenses, property insurance -- especially title insurance -- and insurance to cover other disastrous possibilities.

Even a good CPA and tax attorney are becoming inadequate as tax authorities make vindictive impositions under non-objective law that lets them do what they want. This is getting much worse.

Indeed it is, but having good legal and financial advice can definitely help you predict trouble and prepare for it. That it is much better than not being prepared.

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I used buying a house for such a huge sum--for me anyway--as an example that he and his wife, with her six-figure salary, have spent their adult lives accumulating wealth, not "spreading it around." The reference to Keating is lost on me.

Keating is the selfless architect in Ayn Rand's novel, The Fountainhead.

If you have not read it, do not read further.

Keating is the man of significant ability who betrays his own desire to study art (his interest). He becomes an architect in order to please his mother (her interest) and to achieve social standing (societal interest, i.e., no-one-in-particular's interest).

Abstracting from above, Keating betrays his interest, in order to fulfill his mother's interest and, wider, no-one's interest. He who fundamentally betrays his own interests is selfless.

I think that Obama truly believes that everything he has done, is doing now, and will do in the future, were, are, and will be "actions true and beneficial" to himself and his family. Those actions are indeed selfish actions, to him. You and I may think his actions will eventually hurt him, but he doesn't.

It's not his view of his actions which determines the nature of his actions; that would be subjective. The nature of an action is determined by reference to reality; which would be objective. The referent in reality which establishes his selflessness is his rejection of a moral use of his talents: he has to lie, cheat, manipulate, etc, in his practice of Leftist politics.

His dishonesty is in violation of the requirements for a successful human life. Had he used his intelligence to, say, study objective law and then aspire to the Supreme Court -- assuming, of course, that he were motivated by a need to preserve or strengthen the institutions of the United States -- then his actions would be selfish.

Selflessness is the absence of concern for fame, position, wealth, etc., and I think that all of these are at the top of Obama's wish list. The only concern he has for other people's lives is telling them what to do, i.e., perform selfless actions and make sacrifices.

No, that is not what selflessness is.

If you were to do what he is doing, knowing what you know and knowing that you would suffer, then it would be a selfless act.

Actually, one's knowledge of the wrongness of the act is not required to establish the act as selfless.

Do you think that Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were selfless? Would you say Castro, Putin, and Chavez are selfless?

Yes. All these men had - or have - no souls, i.e., no selves.

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Motivated actions are not equivalent to selfish action. For an action to be selfish, one must demonstrate that it is in one rational self-interest. It is not a matter of who thinks what of a particular action.
Yes, I agree. That would be subjective.
If that is your definition of selflessness, then it is a definition by non-essentials. Selflessness means the lack of concern with one's own interests.
I stand corrected.
Yes, they were all quite selfless.
Again, I agree. Thanks for your correction.

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Keating is the selfless architect in Ayn Rand's novel, The Fountainhead.

If you have not read it, do not read further.

Keating is the man of significant ability who betrays his own desire to study art (his interest). He becomes an architect in order to please his mother (her interest) and to achieve social standing (societal interest, i.e., no-one-in-particular's interest).

Abstracting from above, Keating betrays his interest, in order to fulfill his mother's interest and, wider, no-one's interest. He who fundamentally betrays his own interests is selfless.

I have read it, but it was long ago. My memory of Keating was of a fawning second-hander, ever ready to embrace and mimic the status quo—quick to please to succeed. Your description adds a bit more depth. The element of abandoning his interest to pursue the interests of others shines a different light on his character. He wasn't pleasing to succeed. He was pleasing to please?

It's not his view of his actions which determines the nature of his actions; that would be subjective. The nature of an action is determined by reference to reality; which would be objective. The referent in reality which establishes his selflessness is his rejection of a moral use of his talents: he has to lie, cheat, manipulate, etc, in his practice of Leftist politics.

His dishonesty is in violation of the requirements for a successful human life. Had he used his intelligence to, say, study objective law and then aspire to the Supreme Court -- assuming, of course, that he were motivated by a need to preserve or strengthen the institutions of the United States -- then his actions would be selfish.

This is where I was having a problem. I wanted to say that everything he's doing, he's doing for himself, he's sacrificing nothing. He's selfish, but irrationally so, not selfless. I equated selflessnes with Altruism. But I can't disagree with your first sentence above. Are the tentacles of Subjectivism tripping me up?

My initial post was a visceral reaction to the term selfless and a recent New York Times opinion piece by Charles Duhigg, here. In it he says, "When the mortgage giant Fannie Mae recruited Daniel H, Mudd, he told a friend he wanted to work for an altruistic business..…Mr. Mudd collected more than $10 million in his first four years at Fannie." My immediate thoughts were: altruism, sacrifice, selflessness, $10 million; give me a break!

Yes. All these men had - or have - no souls, i.e., no selves.
When I read this it was as if I had been knocked on the head with a bat. Had you said, Obama had no soul, I would have agreed! Evil people have no souls.

I have always thought that rational self-interest implied a self-interest that was irrational, and the latter I always applied to the "bad guy." I created definitions to support that. Your's and Paul's Here's responses made it quite clear that is not so. Rational, in this case, is not a modifier but a clarifier; actually it is redundant.

Egoism is to selfishness as Altruism is to selflessness. Many things now fall into place. The soul is the self.

I'll end this with a sincere apology. My reaction was an emotional (subjective!) one, and I should have posted with a question, not with a lame and what I now know was an incorrect correction. My understanding of Objectivism is not as solid as I thought it was. I find that very disturbing. I don't know if it's a lack of integration, baggage from the past, depth of understanding, or something more fundamental. It's something for me to discover.

Thanks for giving me your time.

Jim

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I'll end this with a sincere apology. My reaction was an emotional (subjective!) one, and I should have posted with a question, not with a lame and what I now know was an incorrect correction. My understanding of Objectivism is not as solid as I thought it was. I find that very disturbing. I don't know if it's a lack of integration, baggage from the past, depth of understanding, or something more fundamental. It's something for me to discover.

Thanks for giving me your time.

In all justice, don't be so hard on yourself. You're not omniscient. Nobody is. You made a mistake. You had the sense to recognize it and the courage to own up to it. Good for you!

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I'll end this with a sincere apology.

In all justice, don't be so hard on yourself. You're not omniscient. Nobody is. You made a mistake. You had the sense to recognize it and the courage to own up to it. Good for you!

I'll second that. Be glad that you're one of the few who actually want to systematically use their minds for logical thinking - and logic, after all, is the art of non-contradictory identification and one of its primary functions is to correct errors in thinking.

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Keating is the selfless architect in Ayn Rand's novel, The Fountainhead.

If you have not read it, do not read further.

Keating is the man of significant ability who betrays his own desire to study art (his interest). He becomes an architect in order to please his mother (her interest) and to achieve social standing (societal interest, i.e., no-one-in-particular's interest).

Abstracting from above, Keating betrays his interest, in order to fulfill his mother's interest and, wider, no-one's interest. He who fundamentally betrays his own interests is selfless.

I have read it, but it was long ago. My memory of Keating was of a fawning second-hander, ever ready to embrace and mimic the status quo—quick to please to succeed. Your description adds a bit more depth. The element of abandoning his interest to pursue the interests of others shines a different light on his character. He wasn't pleasing to succeed. He was pleasing to please?

Both. He was pleasing to succeed and pleasing to please. In my view, it depends on the sense in which you are discussing Keating. He was successful in the sense that he set certain goals and met them. However, those goals were not tied to an ultimate goal, which should have been his own happiness. Happiness, here, is a technical philosophical term. Aristotle called it eudaimonia. I suggest you look it up.

It's not his view of his actions which determines the nature of his actions; that would be subjective. The nature of an action is determined by reference to reality; which would be objective. The referent in reality which establishes his selflessness is his rejection of a moral use of his talents: he has to lie, cheat, manipulate, etc, in his practice of Leftist politics.

His dishonesty is in violation of the requirements for a successful human life. Had he used his intelligence to, say, study objective law and then aspire to the Supreme Court -- assuming, of course, that he were motivated by a need to preserve or strengthen the institutions of the United States -- then his actions would be selfish.

This is where I was having a problem. I wanted to say that everything he's doing, he's doing for himself, he's sacrificing nothing. He's selfish, but irrationally so, not selfless. I equated selflessnes with Altruism. But I can't disagree with your first sentence above. Are the tentacles of Subjectivism tripping me up?

My initial post was a visceral reaction to the term selfless and a recent New York Times opinion piece by Charles Duhigg, here. In it he says, "When the mortgage giant Fannie Mae recruited Daniel H, Mudd, he told a friend he wanted to work for an altruistic business..…Mr. Mudd collected more than $10 million in his first four years at Fannie." My immediate thoughts were: altruism, sacrifice, selflessness, $10 million; give me a break!

I can see why you would differentiate irrational selfishness from rational selfishness. I do this too, myself, when I am discussing with non-Objectivists. This is perfectly valid, especially as many people associate selfishness with short-range immorality. But, we are trying to reinstate a more "Greek" view of self. As I see it, "we" [Objectivists] ultimately want a culture where we would not have to differentiate irrational selfishness from rational selfishness. We would only say "selfishness." The idea is to restore long-term selfishness as the proper ethics, and to obliterate the association of selfishness with immorality.

When the restoration of "selfishness" is complete, selflessness will be widely recognized as its opposite.

So, as you can see, you are right to equate altruism with selflessness. Altruism means "living for others" in one sense. It can also be described as "sacrifice of self to others." It can further be described as "the sacrifice of the good for being the good." The term was coined by Auguste Comte, a French philosopher, and literally means "other-ism." The French altre means other. Altre-ism becomes altruism.

The way one uses these terms depends on context: what needs to be emphasized and so on.

Yes. All these men had - or have - no souls, i.e., no selves.
When I read this it was as if I had been knocked on the head with a bat. Had you said, Obama had no soul, I would have agreed! Evil people have no souls.

I have always thought that rational self-interest implied a self-interest that was irrational, and the latter I always applied to the "bad guy." I created definitions to support that. Your's and Paul's Here's responses made it quite clear that is not so. Rational, in this case, is not a modifier but a clarifier; actually it is redundant.

Egoism is to selfishness as Altruism is to selflessness. Many things now fall into place. The soul is the self.

I'll end this with a sincere apology. My reaction was an emotional (subjective!) one, and I should have posted with a question, not with a lame and what I now know was an incorrect correction. My understanding of Objectivism is not as solid as I thought it was. I find that very disturbing. I don't know if it's a lack of integration, baggage from the past, depth of understanding, or something more fundamental. It's something for me to discover.

Thanks for giving me your time.

Jim

Like I wrote above, in my view, the differentiation of self-interest into rational self-interest and irrational self-interest serves a didactic purpose in our transition to a self-interested or selfish culture. So, I don't think you were wrong; I think your knowledge was incomplete. You don't need to apologize for anything; I reject your apology. ^_^

Your reaction was not an emotional[ist] one; you raised a perfectly valid point. There is NOTHING wrong with you, and while your conscientiousness is laudable, please do not let it become a source of self-doubt and its attendant guilt.

I recommend you purchase and listen to Dr. Peikoff's History of Philosophy lectures and, more importantly, his Understanding Objectivism lectures. The History lectures will give you a richer understanding of Objectivism by contrasting the philosophy with others. The Understanding lectures provide big leads to proper methods of thinking, proper methods of learning Objectivism, and the proper management of your own psychological states while learning Objectivism.

Thank you, Jim.

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In all justice, don't be so hard on yourself. You're not omniscient. Nobody is. You made a mistake. You had the sense to recognize it and the courage to own up to it. Good for you!
Thanks, Betsy. Yes, you're right, but I do expect more of myself. I'm not exactly new to Objectivism, and it seemed to me to be such a fundamental error. I'm mostly angry at myself for not presenting my disagreement in the form of a question; just my view of good character. I do not dwell on negatives for long, and I do see this as another step toward a fuller understanding of Objectivism.

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I'll second that. Be glad that you're one of the few who actually want to systematically use their minds for logical thinking - and logic, after all, is the art of non-contradictory identification and one of its primary functions is to correct errors in thinking.
Yes, I agree. And thanks for your encouragement, it means a lot to me. With a little hard work and more visits to The Forum, maybe I'll be able to reach those stars of yours. ^_^

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Both. He was pleasing to succeed and pleasing to please. In my view, it depends on the sense in which you are discussing Keating. He was successful in the sense that he set certain goals and met them. However, those goals were not tied to an ultimate goal, which should have been his own happiness. Happiness, here, is a technical philosophical term. Aristotle called it eudaimonia. I suggest you look it up.

I did and there is a lot of meaning in such a short word, meaning I find very comforting. It certainly doesn't apply to Keating's "success." Just as important is what it excludes from happiness.

It's not his view of his actions which determines the nature of his actions; that would be subjective. The nature of an action is determined by reference to reality; which would be objective. The referent in reality which establishes his selflessness is his rejection of a moral use of his talents: he has to lie, cheat, manipulate, etc, in his practice of Leftist politics.

His dishonesty is in violation of the requirements for a successful human life. Had he used his intelligence to, say, study objective law and then aspire to the Supreme Court -- assuming, of course, that he were motivated by a need to preserve or strengthen the institutions of the United States -- then his actions would be selfish. I can see why you would differentiate irrational selfishness from rational selfishness. I do this too, myself, when I am discussing with non-Objectivists. This is perfectly valid, especially as many people associate selfishness with short-range immorality. But, we are trying to reinstate a more "Greek" view of self. As I see it, "we" [Objectivists] ultimately want a culture where we would not have to differentiate irrational selfishness from rational selfishness. We would only say "selfishness." The idea is to restore long-term selfishness as the proper ethics, and to obliterate the association of selfishness with immorality.

When the restoration of "selfishness" is complete, selflessness will be widely recognized as its opposite.

Yes, the sooner the better.

So, as you can see, you are right to equate altruism with selflessness. Altruism means "living for others" in one sense. It can also be described as "sacrifice of self to others." It can further be described as "the sacrifice of the good for being the good." The term was coined by Auguste Comte, a French philosopher, and literally means "other-ism." The French altre means other. Altre-ism becomes altruism.

The way one uses these terms depends on context: what needs to be emphasized and so on.

Like I wrote above, in my view, the differentiation of self-interest into rational self-interest and irrational self-interest serves a didactic purpose in our transition to a self-interested or selfish culture. So, I don't think you were wrong; I think your knowledge was incomplete. You don't need to apologize for anything; I reject your apology. ^_^

Hopefully I can improve on my knowledge and explain it with your clarity. I accept your rejection of my apology, but my interjection should have been in the form of a question. ^_^ I do owe you a big thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge. THANKS

Your reaction was not an emotional[ist] one; you raised a perfectly valid point. There is NOTHING wrong with you, and while your conscientiousness is laudable, please do not let it become a source of self-doubt and its attendant guilt.

I recommend you purchase and listen to Dr. Peikoff's History of Philosophy lectures and, more importantly, his Understanding Objectivism lectures. The History lectures will give you a richer understanding of Objectivism by contrasting the philosophy with others. The Understanding lectures provide big leads to proper methods of thinking, proper methods of learning Objectivism, and the proper management of your own psychological states while learning Objectivism.

Thank you, Jim.

I have read a lot of philosophy but it's never been in any kind of a structured way (just willy-nilly over the years), so I'll follow up on your recommendation and order those lectures tomorrow.

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