T Nation

Is Unselfishness Moral

“It is thus necessary that the individual should finally come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of his nation; that the position of the individual ego is conditioned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole … that above all the unity of a nation’s spirit and will are worth far more than the freedom of the spirit and will of an individual…”

“This state of mind, which subordinates the interests of the ego to the conservation of the community, is really the first premise for every truly human culture… The basic attitude from which such activity arises, we call-to distinguish it from egoism and selfishness-idealism. By this we understand only the individual’s capacity to make sacrifices for the community, for his fellow men.”
— Adolf Hitler

Should the interests of the community (which is simply a made-up word) come before those of the individual?

Haha, are you trying to see who agrees with Hitler?

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
“It is thus necessary that the individual should finally come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of his nation; that the position of the individual ego is conditioned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole … that above all the unity of a nation’s spirit and will are worth far more than the freedom of the spirit and will of an individual…”

“This state of mind, which subordinates the interests of the ego to the conservation of the community, is really the first premise for every truly human culture… The basic attitude from which such activity arises, we call-to distinguish it from egoism and selfishness-idealism. By this we understand only the individual’s capacity to make sacrifices for the community, for his fellow men.”
— Adolf Hitler

Should the interests of the community (which is simply a made-up word) come before those of the individual?[/quote]

To me, no. I am a fierce individualist and probably an elitist. The majority often does not know what is moral and needs strong, intelligent hands to guide it. If I wanted to be a dictator would I say to put the community first(so long as I am in charge), yes I would.

Without selfishness there is no progress in any field. Greed (which is an extension of the desire for power which is an extension of wanting to get laid a lot, basically) is the prime motivator behind all advances in any field.

If you’re actually interested in this topic I’d recommend you pick up The Origins of Virtue, which talks a lot about the sociobiological foundation of altruism. It’s a little older, but the book still presents a solid argument.

No community, nation or society can thrive without individualism. Hitler’s shit flew because Germany was in a depression and everyone was desperate.

Most people are taught to put the welfare of others, of their community, above their own interests. But yet, as a member of that community, how can something be good for the community but not good for each individual in it?

Notice, btw, how brilliant Hitler was: he uses the morality of most people, the morality of altruism, as a weapon to enslave them. He uses ‘guilt’ like a master craftsman.

Your a weirdoist for starting a thread on this.

Seriously, only a goober would waste his time making threads about unselfishness.

[quote]King of Vice wrote:
Your a weirdoist for starting a thread on this.

Seriously, only a goober would waste his time making threads about unselfishness.[/quote]

Well that’s a really productive response. Why do you bother?

And to the question, I really don’t know. I don’t know many people who put the community first, I think most people are inherently ‘me first’. It would be good if we were more community minded though.

Hey not everything Hitler said was wrong. Just a lot of it.

I dunno I kinda agree in a way with what he says. I mean if you look at things from a nations point of view, it is best for the nation to have all of it’s citizens in line with what the nation wants. If every citizen gave of himself completly to the nation’s will then things could get done faster.

However, the leaders would also need to give completly of themselves as well. Certainly someone would have to take it upon themselves to decide what exactly is the will of the nation, and at that point, I think everything would start to get fucked up. So while I think what he says is correct, I don’t think it is the right way to run things.

As we have seen in the past.

I am personally a strong believer in the invisible hand concept. If most people do what they feel will benefit themselves the most, society at large will benefit as well. Obviously there are certain rules and boundaries that must contain malicious greed, but overall I think that left to their own devices most people would produce something to benefit others.

In addition to this, I also believe that most “good” is done for the sole purpose of self satisfaction. Are the doctors seeking cures for deadly diseases looking exclusively to help, or is it more of a selfish desire to be “the one” who cured it?

To be honest, I like to believe that it is the man with selfish intentions, because he is far more likely to stay true to his goal and succeed.

Hitler is right on this one.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
Should the interests of the community (which is simply a made-up word) come before those of the individual?[/quote]

In Hitlers case it was an individual who desided what the community’s interests are. So it is in the interests of the community that the interests of individuals are reasonable.

To say it differently, it is in the interests of individuals that the interests of other individuals are reasonable.

To use altruism as a political tool means mixing two worlds.

The world of friends and family where altruism is wanted, expected and necessary and the world of politics where these feelings can be exploited to support your “class”, “race” or any other collecivist entity of your choice.

The problem is that what we feel is no longer a valid guide for societies consisting of millions of people, yet deep down inside we are still herd animals.

Hmmm…if I am unselfish and give something of value (money, volunteering, whatever) to another person or to a community, then are they being selfish in accepting what I give?

It seems that unselfishness can only exist if there is a selfish recipient. Morality breeds immorality?

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
Hmmm…if I am unselfish and give something of value (money, volunteering, whatever) to another person or to a community, then are they being selfish in accepting what I give?

It seems that unselfishness can only exist if there is a selfish recipient. Morality breeds immorality?[/quote]

do you spoil your child by feeding it?

[quote]orion wrote:
Headhunter wrote:
Hmmm…if I am unselfish and give something of value (money, volunteering, whatever) to another person or to a community, then are they being selfish in accepting what I give?

It seems that unselfishness can only exist if there is a selfish recipient. Morality breeds immorality?

do you spoil your child by feeding it?[/quote]

Since I selfishly value my child more than a stranger, should I feed my child or the stranger? (assuming its a survival choice)

According to altruism, I have to sacrifice what I value for something I value less, such as a stranger. That’s the meaning of sacrifice, to give up something we value a lot, in exchange for something we value less.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
Hmmm…if I am unselfish and give something of value (money, volunteering, whatever) to another person or to a community, then are they being selfish in accepting what I give?

It seems that unselfishness can only exist if there is a selfish recipient. Morality breeds immorality?[/quote]

Maybe being selfish isn’t immoral. It seems to me that moderate (not in the extreme) selfishness is desirable, necessary and unavoidable, for without it (like you said), no one would accept money, children wouldn’t accept food, everyone would die. So maybe only extreme selfishness is bad. I’m just thinking out loud right now.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
orion wrote:
Headhunter wrote:
Hmmm…if I am unselfish and give something of value (money, volunteering, whatever) to another person or to a community, then are they being selfish in accepting what I give?
[/quote]

Only if they ask for it, because it would be selfish to refuse in thinking that by refusing they can remain unselfish, however you would remain selfish in keeping the money, or gift. Which is why it’s rude to refuse gifts in the first place. Asking for a free handout is however rude. It also depends on the act as well, if it is for charity, and they do not need your charity or know someone who needs it more, then yes in accepting that does make them selfish.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:

Since I selfishly value my child more than a stranger, should I feed my child or the stranger? (assuming its a survival choice)

According to altruism, I have to sacrifice what I value for something I value less, such as a stranger. That’s the meaning of sacrifice, to give up something we value a lot, in exchange for something we value less.
[/quote]

I think your taking it a bit to extreme, and anyways any grown person who would eat, and watch a child starve is very selfish. So no, just on the principle that the stranger himself should refuse the food and give it to the child, I do not think it would make anyone selfish.

eh… I don’t really care if someone else is selfish as long as they don’t obstruct my business… we’re all going to die anyway so there really isn’t much point in alturism… many of my personal ambitions involve helping people, but in most of those cases, the goal is ultimately to glorify myself by achieving recognition, so I can’t really say that I’m alturistic.

helping others is just a means by which to reach my own goals. I help you, you recognize me. It’s a two-way deal. You think when Eric Cressey writes a great article that he did it for all of you guys? No. He just wants you to aknowledge his towering intellect. That’s reality. Deal with it.

"Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime.

The issue is whether you must keep buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you. The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence. The issue is whether man is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal. Any man of self-esteem will answer: ‘No.’ Altruism says: ‘Yes’." – Ayn Rand in Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World

'Nuf said

La’
Redsol1