Image default
EDUCATION

THE SOCIAL VALUE OF SELFISHNESS

By Gabriel Boragina.

Aware that we are entering into an issue where value judgments are predominant, we do not hope to open a controversy regarding it but only to fix our position as precisely that value judgment implies.

b6

A little praxeology.

The presupposition of all action, said the good Professor Mises, is to pass from a less satisfactory state to one of greater satisfaction. This is precisely why the individual acts. Otherwise it would sink into the inertia of inaction (1)

Egoism is inherent to the human being, consubstantial with him and the engine of his life. There is not properly a good egoism and a bad one. Good egoism and bad egoism are value judgments, categories on which there may or may not be agreement. Selfishness, it is, it just is.

At birth we are naturally selfish. And although then we will continue to be so throughout our lives, (because to live it is necessary and essential to be selfish) one of the functions of education is to get used to the idea that there are others besides ourselves and that we need those others as much as those others need us. So we are taught to negotiate our egoism. But many are deceived by presenting us as a virtue the opposite of selfishness: altruism.

This conclusion is what many draw after the school years have passed. But in reality the intention of our teachers was not to lead us to lead our selfishness on the right path. The true intention of our teachers was to kill our egoism, stifle it under the clutches of what is called altruism (2)

The social educational plan is that we do not realize for the rest of our lives that we are essentially selfish. The vast majority of the time this educational plan is successful, but a disastrous success. What does that success consist of? In that internally we recognize ourselves as selfish and justify our selfishness, but instead we do not justify the selfishness of others and we reproach others and condemn the selfishness in others and criticize them for not being altruistic. This is the victory “a la Pirro” of socialist education in which we have been formed.

Selfishness is normally seen as that attitude by which I only care about myself and I am not interested in what happens to my neighbor.

But in order to clarify very common confusions in the debates we can try some classifications that can come to illustrate the social function that egoism has in a capitalist, liberal, open society, free entrepreneur, free trader, etc. We have been brought up in a society that condemns selfishness, from morals and from religion. Many things are understood by selfishness but the most popular is the pejorative conception of the term. It can be said that the popular notion of selfishness is one that says that being selfish is thinking, feeling and acting only in one and for oneself, but this is a facet of selfishness. Most of the time we think of ourselves. That is selfishness, it is true. But not always or all the time. We often think of others and others are, first, our loved ones, relatives, relatives, friends, etc. And so we can even take an interest in the entire society. In this case, society will be part of our egoism. When we offer our lives for a friend, relative, relative, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, son, daughter, we are selfish. We carry out a selfish act because, as the authors of the Austrian School of Economics explain well, it is in our interest that the life of our neighbor continue instead of our own. From this perspective the acts that we usually call altruistic are in reality and ultimately selfish. We carry out a selfish act because, as the authors of the Austrian School of Economics explain well, it is in our interest that the life of our neighbor continue instead of our own. From this perspective the acts that we usually call altruistic are in reality and ultimately selfish. We carry out a selfish act because, as the authors of the Austrian School of Economics explain well, it is in our interest that the life of our neighbor continue instead of our own. From this perspective the acts that we usually call altruistic are in reality and ultimately selfish.

In capitalism, (liberalism, open society, free entrepreneurship, free trade, etc.), egoism fulfills a social function, which it does not fulfill in interventionism, socialism, social democracy, anarchism, communism, totalitarianism, leadership, authoritarianism, collectivism, Nazism, fascism, etc. As Adam Smith explained well, through selfish acts, the individual improves his position and with it the position of others. The seller must satisfy the buyer if he wants to progress and earn money. To satisfy your egoism you must satisfy the egoism of the other. In capitalism, no one can prosper if the selfishness of their own and others’ of all those who intervene in society are not mutually satisfied. If the merchant sells rotten fish he runs out of customers, your sales drop and soon you go bankrupt if you persist capriciously in your attitude. Ayn Rand (2) would say that in such a case the seller did not act selfishly, because for Rand selfish behavior must necessarily pursue the good of the acting subject. I don’t know if it is so, which I have serious doubts about, but either way it’s good to know.

Reality clearly indicates that egoism builds and built the modern Western society that we have today and that it is in danger of extinction if the ideas of interventionists, socialists, social democrats, anarchists, communists, totalitarians, leaderships, authoritarians, collectivists, Nazis, fascists, etc. advance and consolidate.

We can say that in capitalism there is a social egoism that, supported by private ownership of the means of production, improves the condition of those who have the least.

When I give alms to the beggar who sleeps at the church door, I am acting selfishly: his satisfaction fills my ego and produces my own satisfaction. I also proceed selfishly when attacking someone in self-defense, revenge, etc. All action is selfish.

It is a mistake to oppose love to selfishness. The opposite of love is hatred and not selfishness. Otherwise you could play that anything is the opposite of anything and in this way the language and understanding between people would become something truly incomprehensible. Hence, it is important to fix our position so as not to leave room for misunderstandings.

It is said that loving is giving without receiving anything in return. This, from my humble point of view, is essentially wrong.

When I love I hope to receive something in return. What? People wonder, scandalized, what do I expect to receive in return? I hope to receive in return the satisfaction of experiencing that wonderful and gratifying feeling that is being able to give. That is what I hope to receive in return. If loving made me indifferent, if I didn’t care, if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t even bother loving, since with it I do not experience any feeling of well-being but pure indifference.

Needless to say, if loving caused me discomfort. But even so, if I seek that discomfort, if I am a masochist I am still selfish, since the product of masochism is precisely my pleasure. It’s what makes me feel better.

The same can be said in relation to hatred. If I hate, it is because I prefer that hate to love. But what is important to highlight here is that “I always prefer”. It is on this “I always prefer” that I apply the term egoism. Hate, love, indifference, etc., are simple effects of the main cause which is selfishness. I know this is difficult to visualize because of the brainwashing we have suffered through long years of education where we have become used to treating the word selfishness as the most despicable evil. We were never used to the idea that selfishness is inherent in human nature, and that it is an empty word if we don’t give it a contention. Such content can be hatred, love, masochism, sympathy, indifference, etc. But with these words we fill selfishness as an attitude inherent in man.

It is also selfishness that makes man fight in wars, have a lust for power, cheat, kill, hate, etc.

Between deciding, choice, selfishness, power, etc., there is no difference. All difference lies in how we use that selfishness. Like atomic energy, it has nothing good or bad about it. It is all about whether we are going to use this atomic energy to build medical devices or to build atomic bombs. The same energy can be applied to beneficial ends as to diabolical ends. And this resides simply in the values ​​that man has. And these values ​​are given by education, with which we come to lead to the real underlying problem: the educational one. Selfishness is neither good nor bad, it just is. What we must do is educate our children in the good use of that selfishness. That this selfishness is used to do all the good that is possible. In that this selfishness is used to love others, help them, and to love ourselves. That selfishness must be used to make that famous commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself” come true. Note that the commandment does not say “Love your neighbor MORE than yourself.” No. She commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. In the same way that we love ourselves. In such a way that the commandment presupposes that every individual loves himself first. So the commandment is clear when it says “Love your neighbor AS yourself”, in the same way, no more, no less. The commandment, in a word, recognizes selfishness as something inherent, essential and inherent to the human being. It does not deny it or reject it. He does not abhor him. It does not pass judgment on selfishness. It simply recognizes it as a reality, as a fact. You cannot work on the data, but if you can work on the content of that data. In such a way that the educational task will be to work on the content of that data and provide selfishness with noble ends and altruistic purposes.

This is why I also find Ayn Rand’s distinction between selfishness and altruism futile. And that’s why I say that selfishness can be altruistic, but it is not possible to speak instead of selfish selfishness because with that we are not saying anything in fact. Therefore, how easy it is for us to conclude that there is really no confrontation and contradiction between selfishness and altruism, even though we are aware that this will generate the criticism of many fanatical objectivists. My apologies to them (I know many personally) but I cannot agree with objectivism in that contrast that it makes between selfishness and altruism. Giving one’s life for another is as selfish as killing another.

Rand herself incurs contradiction in her masterpiece “The Atlas Rebellion” when she quotes the dialogue between Dagny and John Galt, where Galt says that if they did something to Dagny he would kill himself, not out of altruism towards Dagny, but out of selfishness. The altruist does not exchange a higher value for a lower value as Branden says. What it does is a shift in its value scale. The error of the objectivists is that values ​​cannot be objectively fixed. It would take an omniscient mind for this. This is unacceptable on the human level. The scale of values ​​of the people is always, worth the redundancy, personal, individual. It strikes me as an act of the utmost arrogance that either Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden, or Gabriel Boragina establish in advance which values ​​are more important than others to others. That may be valid for us, but for no one but us. Hence, for me there are no objective values ​​and in the same way it is also impossible for an individual to sacrifice higher-ranking values ​​for lower-ranking values, for which an omniscient mind would be needed to establish for the human order in general first, what are values, and second when a value has a higher hierarchy than another value. Many totalitarian leaders tried to do it, being among the most famous and renowned, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, etc. and worse still many intellectuals, who little known popularly influenced in no less harmful way the minds of the crowds (Marx, Hegel, Keynes, Gramsci, Kelsen, etc.). This would be contrary to praxeology and would be denying the praxoeological assertion. but for no one but us. Hence, for me there are no objective values ​​and in the same way it is also impossible for an individual to sacrifice higher-ranking values ​​for lower-ranking values, for which an omniscient mind would be needed to establish for the human order in general first, what are values, and second when a value has a higher hierarchy than another value. Many totalitarian leaders tried to do it, being among the most famous and renowned, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, etc. and worse still many intellectuals, who little known popularly influenced in a no less harmful way the minds of the crowds (Marx, Hegel, Keynes, Gramsci, Kelsen, etc.). This would be contrary to praxeology and would be denying the praxoeological assertion. But for no one but us Hence, for me there are no objective values ​​and in the same way it is also impossible for an individual to sacrifice higher-ranking values ​​for lower-ranking values, for which an omniscient mind would be needed to establish for the human order in general first, what are values, and second when a value has a higher hierarchy than another value. Many totalitarian leaders tried to do it, being among the most famous and renowned, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, etc. and worse still many intellectuals, who little known popularly influenced in a no less harmful way the minds of the crowds (Marx, Hegel, Keynes, Gramsci, Kelsen, etc.). This would be contrary to praxeology and would be denying the praxoeological assertion. Hence, for me there are no objective values ​​and in the same way it is also impossible for an individual to sacrifice higher-ranking values ​​for lower-ranking values, for which an omniscient mind would be needed to establish for the human order in general first, what are values, and second when a value has a higher hierarchy than another value. Many totalitarian leaders tried to do it, being among the most famous and renowned, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, etc. and worse still many intellectuals, who little known popularly influenced in no less harmful way the minds of the crowds (Marx, Hegel, Keynes, Gramsci, Kelsen, etc.). This would be contrary to praxeology and would be denying the praxoeological assertion. Hence, for me there are no objective values ​​and in the same way it is also impossible for an individual to sacrifice higher-ranking values ​​for lower-ranking values, for which an omniscient mind would be needed to establish for the human order in general first, what are values, and second when a value has a higher hierarchy than another value. Many totalitarian leaders tried to do so, being among the most famous and renowned, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, etc. and worse still many intellectuals, who little known popularly influenced in no less harmful way the minds of the crowds (Marx, Hegel, Keynes, Gramsci, Kelsen, etc.). This would be contrary to praxeology and would be denying the praxoeological assertion.

From what has been said it appears that it is futile to be frightened and tear one’s clothes at the mention of the word selfishness as the worst of all evils. That philosophers review their own value judgments but do not intend to impose their value judgments on us as absolute and irrefutable dogmas. That is our intention in writing these lines.

Bibliography:

Ludwig von MISES. Human Action. Treaty of Economy. Third revised edition. Unión Editorial SA, Madrid, 1980.

Ayn RAND; “The virtue of selfishness”; foundations of “objectivism”. The philosophy of reason. With additional articles by Nathaniel Branden. Library of Objectivism.

Related posts

SEP: School at the Center

admin

How to Cut Down the Costs of Your Employee Training

admin

How to Keep Diploma Frames Safe During a Move

admin

Leave a Comment