ON USA ELECTION EVE IS SELFISHNESS WORSE THAN LEVELLING?


ON USA ELECTION EVE IS SELFISHNESS WORSE THAN LEVELLING?

Not according to philosophers Ayn Rand and Jordan Peterson. They regard self-responsibility for family, kith and kin as paramount. It does not deny the need to care for others but opposes collective responsibility, socialist levelling and altruism. Attitudes are entrenched, for example in Britain’s class system, illustrated in the photo from a Montepython skit.

It has taken a long time and many social experiments to forge minds of modern men and women. Aristotle regarded our ultimate end as happiness, by virtuous living, which existed in a mean state between excess and deficiency. Prodigality was excessive, stinginess deficient, but liberality was virtuous. Selfishness would have been excessive. 

John Stuart Mill acknowledged that individual freedom, of which selfishness is an aspect, has to be limited in the interests of the community. Nietzsche saw individual achievement as daring to oppose and endure hardships, such as social inhibitions, by the exercise of an iron will. It was the apotheosis of selfishness and when demonstrated by Hitler and Stalin, wilful selfishness lost popularity. 

Simone de Beauvoir regarded freedom as requiring respect for others’ freedom, as if selfishness had a responsibility to others. The notion of ‘selfishness’ encapsulates a priori individualism and opposes collectivism without implying a dearth of social responsibility.

Individualism has levelling as a secondary concern, with the social problem being the have nots, rather than the haves, who are derided as selfish. Selfishness, in these terms, is therefore better than levelling, because self-care does not make claims on others’ responsibility and care. 

This issue could be resolved by individuals taking responsibility for and helping disadvantaged persons, rather than by labelling others’ behaviour as selfish or needing to be levelled.  

What is your view?

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About martinknox

Materially minimalist; gastronomically prefer food I cook; biologically an unattached male survivor; economically independent; sociologically a learner and teacher of science; psychologically selfaltruistic; anthropologically West Country English tenant farmer; religiously variable; ethically case by case; philosophically a sceptical Popperian.

Posted on October 31, 2020, in democracy, Government and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on ON USA ELECTION EVE IS SELFISHNESS WORSE THAN LEVELLING?.

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