Everything must be taken in context. To truly be selfish, you have to know what your ‘self’ is. An action is defined as selfish if it is in the best interest of your ‘self’. So, before anyone can decide whether being altruistic or selfish is good, we ask: What is the self?
Aristotle answered by saying that Man is the rational animal, the animal that thinks using concepts. Whatever maintains or enhances my life as a rational being is then called ‘the Good’. If an action detracts from my life as a rational being, this is ‘the Evil’. This is Aristotle’s view, with which I agree. (Contrast this with existentialists like Sartre.)
Now, if someone uses force or violence against me, they are not appealing to my reason. They de-humanize me (and themselves) and try to force me to do something that I may not VOLUNTARILY do. They want to stop my thinking. I contend that that is evil (see paragraph above).
It is exactly this principle that our government has enacted. What if I don’t want to help Katrina victims? What if I don’t want to fund the war in Iraq? What if I don’t want to bail out Citicorp or Morgan? I will be forced to be ‘my brothers’ keeper’. Since Altruism is the moral code they’ve adopted and I’m not altruistic, they feel it perfectly moral to force me to be moral in their eyes, i.e. Altruistic.
I contend that such a policy is unnatural and can only lead to a tyranny. Only a tyranny has the power to force compliance. Something like the world of ‘1984’ is in our future, as long as we believe that altruism (and the violence that must accompany it) is our credo.
Good thread, btw!!!