On Youtube I did a search on the term "Altruism". What you find is almost shocking, but that is my personal view. One of the results was a trailer of the documentary "Ayn Rand & The prophecy of Atlas Shrugged".
It was uploaded August 19, 2011 and I was speechless. It was as if the whole world was turned upside down. Ayn Rand as the prophet of the current financial crisis !
Yes, she was with her Utopia of Greed and her Virtue of Self-Interest the opposite. She wasn't the prophet of it, but one of the main causes as a prophet of the Utopia of the Free Market.
Everybody who wished to enter the utopian Atlantis, as described by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged had to take this oath:
I swear by my life and my love of it that I
will never live for the sake of another
man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
Rational egoism claims that the promotion of one’s own interests is always in accordance with reason. The greatest and most provocative proponent of rational egoism is Ayn Rand, whose The Virtue of Selfishness outlines the logic and appeal of the theory.
Rand argues that: first, properly defined, selfishness rejects the sacrificial ethics of the West’s Judaic-Christian heritage on the grounds that it is right for man to live his own life; and, she argues that, second, selfishness is a proper virtue to pursue.
She states: “the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest.” To be ethically selfish thus entails a commitment to reason rather than to emotionally driven whims and instincts.
Reason is, according to Rand, the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
Now, take this. Vervet Monkeys give alarm calls to warn fellow monkeys of the presence of predators, even though in doing so they attract attention to themselves, increasing their personal chance of being attacked.
From an evolutionary point of view the calling monkey makes a mistake. It seems evident, that it is not the fittest surviver in this situation. By calling he makes himself a target for the predator.
If it had adopted the view that “the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest.” it would have shut up and run.
This then is an act of altruism, which would be scorned by Rand. But here we enter a dense forest with respect to the concepts of altruism and egoism, c.q. self-interest. Let's make a start with elaborating on these issues.
The meaning of “altruism” in ordinary language is quite different from its use among evolutionary biologists, of which the behavior of the Velvet monkey is an example.
An ultimate motivation of assisting another regardless of one’s direct or indirect self-benefit is necessary for it to be altruistic in the ordinary sense, for what we might call moral altruism.
However, motivations and intentions are not accessible to someone studying non-humans. Thus, they are not part of the meaning of “altruism” in the biological sense.
Biological altruism is a course of action that enhances the expected fitness of another at the expense of one’s own fitness. A matter of importance here is to keep in mind that this behavior is observed among social animals.
You could argue, that, even if we accept an evolutionary approach to human behaviour, there is no particular reason to think that evolution would have made humans into egoists rather than psychological altruists.
On the contrary, it is quite possible that natural selection would have favoured humans who genuinely do care about helping others, i.e., who are capable of ‘real’ or psychological altruism.
I am far from done that the subject of altruism, so we'll continue next lecture.
Documentary: Uploaded on Aug 19, 2011
Ayn Rand at large:
a good laugh:
[13:17] Merlin Saxondale: Richard Dawkins says a lot about this in Selfish Gene
[13:17] herman Bergson: Yes indeed Merlin...
[13:18] Mick Nerido: In war a solder who falls on a grenade and saves others lives is considered a hero
[13:18] herman Bergson: That is about kin selection, if I am not mistaken
[13:19] herman Bergson: Yes Mick…don't think Rand would call him that
[13:20] Mick Nerido: In fact we call all worse dead good because they sacrificed for our benefit very altruistic i'd say
[13:20] herman Bergson: But I think Rand ignores all social features of the human being....
[13:20] Mick Nerido: war
[13:20] Bejiita Imako: hmm ok
[13:20] Clerisse Beeswing: almost like me on a bus not making eye contacts with weirdos just to avoid them but in order to get them away from someone else one must act
[13:20] herman Bergson: Rand was against conscription for instance...
[13:21] herman Bergson: next time I'll discuss psychological egoism and altruism....
[13:21] Mick Nerido: In nomadic societies cooperation is encoraged
[13:21] herman Bergson: That deals with your action Clerisse
[13:22] Clerisse Beeswing: my ego and my psyche
[13:22] herman Bergson: Rand ignores a lot of empirical knowladge about the human being as social being...
[13:23] herman Bergson: For her we are plain individuals which are focused on our self-interest...gifted with that brilliant ratio that figures all out for us...
[13:23] Beertje Beaumont: how can a woman that thinks like that..have such an influence in the world?
[13:24] herman Bergson: never found any information about what she'd like to do with sick, mentally and physically handicapped people, old people, less gifted people...
[13:24] Velvet Braham: by writing bestselling novels!
[13:24] Clerisse Beeswing: she sounds very harsh
[13:24] herman Bergson: Well Velvet ....that is half the truth I would say....
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: hmm really strange way to see at people and think its the right thing to behave
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: so she basically is responsible for all bad things happening in the world now?
[13:25] oola Neruda: she does address those less fortunate people ... she says swim... or sink
[13:25] herman Bergson: Because Atlas Shrugged was translated in to Dutch only in 2007....50 years after it was published in the US
[13:25] herman Bergson: In Europe is ais basically unknown...
[13:26] herman Bergson: She wrote a bestselling novel that suited the American mind and way of thinking....I would say
[13:26] Mick Nerido: She has taken the cult of individual personality to an extreme logical conclusion...
[13:26] Velvet Braham: she's not responsible for the state of the world, but she predicted it
[13:26] herman Bergson: At least to an extreme conclusion, Mick
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:26] herman Bergson: She did not predict it.....
[13:27] herman Bergson: she stimulated the believe in the utopia of greed....
[13:27] herman Bergson: Influenced the right people...Greenspan, Friedman Hayek...
[13:27] herman Bergson: They liked her ideas.....
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: and from that it went straihgt down to hell
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: sort of
[13:28] oola Neruda: in a way, it excuses the competitive nature in some people... and in some...the competition is to be on top... she says go for it and excuses any means to get there...
[13:28] herman Bergson: Just look on Youtube....I'll give you a few URLs after class.....
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: oki
[13:28] oola Neruda: greed will take you a long way
[13:28] Beertje Beaumont: it's stupid to follow her fantasies
[13:29] oola Neruda: you believe what you want to believe
[13:29] herman Bergson: What you see is a load of movies tellin gthat there is too much government ...all American stuff....
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: I use to think, how can these people really sleep at night but guess they have no feel at all for others
[13:29] Beertje Beaumont: they dream of power and money Bejiita..
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: its strange cause i thought it was some instinct we had being social naturally
[13:29] herman Bergson: They believe they are right Bejiita....and then you sleep well :-)
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: but that seems not to be the case for many paople
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: hmm aa maybe
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: its not logical for me but then i'm totally opposite
[13:30] herman Bergson: When it goes wrong you invent a new theory which tells you that it still is right... ㋡
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: i care lot for others
[13:30] herman Bergson: That is normal, Bejiita ^_^
[13:31] Clerisse Beeswing: i do too
[13:31] Mick Nerido: my theory is that the suburbs and the auto allowed less close living and a more selfish lifestyle to florish
[13:31] herman Bergson: What Rand ignores completely is the social characteristics of the human being....
[13:31] oola Neruda: she was never a mother
[13:31] oola Neruda: or if she was.......
[13:31] herman Bergson: She makes us a skeleton with only a rational brain....
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: poor child then
[13:32] herman Bergson: even love is a business transaction in her opinion
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: she would for sure not been a good mother
[13:32] herman Bergson: I'll give you one URL where she explains this...
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: eee ok
[13:33] herman Bergson: the judge for yourself....
[13:33] herman Bergson: then
[13:33] Velvet Braham: It would have been interesting to see if her point of view changed if she had a child
[13:33] Clerisse Beeswing: not all people are cut out to be parents
[13:33] Mick Nerido: who were her parents?
[13:33] herman Bergson: Well that is one of the problems Velvet...
[13:34] herman Bergson: for the care for a child is regarded as atruistic behavior
[13:34] herman Bergson: or adopting a child?
[13:34] Velvet Braham: she emigrated from communist Russia.
[13:34] Velvet Braham: I think a lot of her viewpoint were formed by peoples' money and property being seized by the government.
[13:35] herman Bergson: Rand was an ardent opponent of all forms of collectivism....
[13:36] herman Bergson: For instance ...general healthcare was a no go for her...
[13:36] Mick Nerido: was she religous?
[13:36] herman Bergson: and at the momenet in the US...you hear people scream that they don't want Europena socialism.....
[13:37] herman Bergson: NO!!!! She was against all forms of religion! Mick
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: basically the rich should get care and surfive the poor just die
[13:37] herman Bergson: Because those religions preached altruism.....
[13:37] herman Bergson: and the most peculiar thing is...
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: thats an awful wiev healtcare should be for everyone
[13:37] herman Bergson: when you look at all world religions....
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: but see clearly the signs here as well
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: going all wrong direction
[13:38] herman Bergson: one of their main focusses is the care for your fellowman....altruism as a virtue
[13:38] herman Bergson: An interesting observation...
[13:39] herman Bergson: There is a lot to see on Youtube....so I would say...have alook at the next URLS....
[13:39] Mick Nerido: Before there was health insurance religous organizations handled health care..
[13:40] herman Bergson: Hi Dusty....
[13:40] Dusty Kupferwasser: Hello
[13:40] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation...
[13:40] herman Bergson: See you on Thursday again...
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:40] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: interesting as always
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:41] Dusty Kupferwasser blushes
[13:41] Clerisse Beeswing: thanks professor
[13:41] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:41] herman Bergson: a bit late Dusty?
[13:41] Velvet Braham: thank you, professor!
[13:41] herman Bergson: Ah Rodney is in time...
[13:42] Mick Nerido: very interesing classs, thanks herman!
[13:42] Rodney Handrick: Hi Herman
[13:42] herman Bergson: Class was just dismissed Rodney !
[13:42] Rodney Handrick: Really? man...
[13:42] Velvet Braham: Well, gotta get back to Atlas Shrugged. It's a good re-read!
[13:43] Velvet Braham: the new one?
[13:43] Velvet Braham: I saw part 1
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: aa managed to download a copy of it so checking it out a bit too
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: makes u get the picture better
[13:43] herman Bergson: Yes the 2011 Part 1
[13:43] Velvet Braham: it is good, yes!
[13:44] herman Bergson: I had read the book....and the movie stood the test....
[13:44] Beertje Beaumont: thank you Herman..the ideas of rand are concerning me
[13:44] Velvet Braham: I read he book in high school, but it's a different story to me now
[13:44] herman Bergson: Yes Beertje....
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: hmm that last youtube makes a point, she seems completley insane for sure
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: at least have a very strange view on humanity
[13:44] herman Bergson: Just look at the Ayn Rand YouTube clip I gave you......
[13:45] Beertje Beaumont: yes i will:)
[13:45] herman Bergson: But look at all other stuff on Rand....
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: will be interesting checking then trough
[13:45] herman Bergson: She has a large group of zealous supporters
[13:45] herman Bergson: till today
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:45] herman Bergson: The Tea Party people is one of them
[13:46] Velvet Braham: gah
[13:46] Merlin Saxondale: Well, I will go, bye all
[13:46] Velvet Braham: bye Merlin
[13:46] herman Bergson: Bye Merlin
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: eee ok but is the tea party something good?
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: didnt remember what it was all about
[13:46] Velvet Braham: it was a couple hundred years ago
[13:46] Velvet Braham: now, not so much
[13:47] herman Bergson: In Boston it was an act of independence...1760 or so...
[13:47] Velvet Braham: a protest against paying taxes
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes was something like that
[13:47] herman Bergson: yes Velvet....
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: but wasnt that cause the taxes was awfully high
[13:47] herman Bergson: and now the Tea Party protests against almost everything that is governmental
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:48] herman Bergson: deregulation they call it....
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: hmm then its not so good
[13:48] herman Bergson: The oath of Atlantis....
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: seen the results here
[13:48] Velvet Braham: in the 1760's it was about paying taxes to England
[13:49] Velvet Braham: but having no vote
[13:49] Velvet Braham: no representation in government
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: they said here it would get cheaper and better but the opposite is true
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: turned into a nightmare
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: trains healthcare
[[13:49] Bejiita Imako: ect
[13:49] herman Bergson: Same here Bejiita...
[13:50] herman Bergson: Long live the Free Market....
[13:50] Velvet Braham: this is very interesting stuff
[13:50] herman Bergson: And I claim that it is a Utopia....
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: aa maybe cause to get it to really work this way is impossible
[13:51] herman Bergson: Well Velvet....Thursday same time same place next round :-)
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: its like saying - is +
[13:51] Velvet Braham: sweet. I'll see you all on Thursday!
[13:51] herman Bergson: You are welcome, Velvet
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: aaa cu soon
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: time to prepare for Qwarks party now i guess
[13:52] Nitro Fireguard: I must go now
[13:52] Nitro Fireguard: See you soon
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: aaa cu all
[13:52] herman Bergson: Ok Nitro....
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:52] Nitro Fireguard: and thank you for this interesting session :-)
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: was great
[13:52] Nitro Fireguard: byeeee
[13:52] herman Bergson: my pleasure...
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: you hit some interesting spots here
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:52] herman Bergson: It is pretty exciting Bejiita...
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: aaa indeed
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: and scary
[13:53] herman Bergson: yes...especially that