Re: There is No Altruism

From: Tennessee Leeuwenburg (
Date: Wed Mar 23 2005 - 20:37:12 MST

Hash: SHA1

This is still a poor definition. For one thing, it fails to add
anything to the simpler definitions already given.

However, let's just look at it.

Firstly, altruism is not at all unusual. Almost all people are
altruists. Any attempt to deny this is merely a line-drawing argument.

Secondly, you define the goals of a non-altruist to be "some sort of
societal success indicator". To accept this, you are already accepting
that your so-called non-altruist is accepting society's morality,
which is in itself giving your own "goal system" to society's goal
system. Furgermore, you claim that these goals are such because they
are considered the "most worthy goals of any, by most people". Worthy
is a loaded word, meaning "the the good" or "for the good". The
concept of worthiness is similarly laden with both societal and
altruistic overtones.

Thirdly, you claim that the outward-facing goal system of the altruist
is unthinkable to the majority, which is clearly false in Australia
because of the average donation of $60 per person to the Tsunami appeal.

- -T

| Altruism is a quality that some people attribute to an unusual
| breed, the altruist, to explain his actions. The altruist has an
| unusual goal system, one which causes him to act in ways which, to
| non-altruists, seem to be self-contradictory--to go against the
| goal system of the altruist, which must, after all, *really* be
| self-centered deep down. After all, that is true for most people.
| This is often peceived to be such because the actions of the
| altruist benefit others at the expense of some sort of societal
| success indicator, such as money, popularity, or free time, which
| are held to be the most worthy goals of any, by most people. The
| illusion of this self-contradiction is only effective because the
| outward-facing goal system of the altruist is so unthinkable to the
| majority, conditioned as they are to be good little mindless
| consumers with one-sided interpersonal relationships.
| The label "altruist", to the altruist, doesn't mean that he acts
| against his own self-interest, against his own goal system(!), in
| other words, but is simply a word to describe the fact that his
| goals, which he is still tautologically consistent to, are more
| outward-facing than usual. He may describe himself as an altruist
| to identify those notable aspects of his goal system, but for no
| other reason.
| Chris Capel

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