By-Two Kaapi in an oilfield

The weblog of Abhilash Ravishankar, India.


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Altruist/Egotist

Have you ever taken any decision in life wherein you have placed someone else higher than yourself and taken it in his/her interests, without the least bit of selfish interests?

1. An action is said to be altruistic only if totally free of selfish motives
2. A selfish motive can be found for every human action
3. Therefore no human action can be said to be altruistic.

But, I beleive that there can be instances wherein the selfish motive behind any decision can be sometimes very trivial or at least minor compared to the good impact it can have on somebody else.

It is altruism that has corrupted and perverted human benevolence by regarding the giver as an object of immolation, and the receiver as a helplessly miserable object of pity who holds a mortgage on the lives of others - a doctrine which is extremely offensive to both parties, leaving men no choice but the roles of sacrificial victim or moral cannibal...
- Ayn Rand, The Objectivist, June 1966


I agree. A true altruist cannot exist. Ha! Reminds me of these Bollywood movies wherein the hero sacrifices his girlfriend to some other guy just because he thinks that she will live better with him. Now, he is a partial altruist. As he stands to gain almost nothing - 'almost'. The only thing that he tends to gain is his personal satisfaction that his love was pure. Now, this makes him an egotist. This, makes me agree with Ayn Rand when Howard Roark said during his trial -
The egoist in the absolute sense is not the man who sacrifices others. He is the man who stands above the need of using others in any manner.

Yes, that's the idea. We are all egotists, but to reach the absolute sense - well, that's possible only in fiction.

And thats where I see myself at this point, wherein, I am forced to think whether I am right in taking a decision by keeping someone else's interests higher than mine. The reasons might be numerous.

Thinking of examples, what if your Dad always wanted you to be a doctor, whereas you wanted to be a Lawyer. Which one would you choose?
Arg 1: It's my life. My interests.
Arg 2: It's Dad who has who has fed me, taught me and made me the man I am now.

Pondering.....

2 Comments:

  1. Ajit said...
    Well.. Nice point.. But how about this..
    It really does not matter as to what choice you make.. What's more important is whether you are able to defend it!..
    And in the end, we will always be happy with the end results and only fools will sit and think about the negative opportunity costs that might have resulted!

    Happiness is really like the entropy of the universe... It keeps on increasing!.. Just because you are happy it does not mean that someone else has to be sad..!.. So i'd go for argument 1!
    Abhilash Ravishankar said...
    @Ajit:
    I believe in the principle that 'Whatever Happens - Happens for the Good'. And yeah, ultimately we must be happy with whatever we are, and whatever we have.

    Certainly, if we make a choice, we must be able to defend it. Why can't I buy Argument 2 and still defend it saying that it was my Dad's wish that I become a Doctor and so I am? It is just that we live in a world which smacks of ego and everybody round the street would scorn at you for not having become what you wanted to become.

    And yes, Happiness is entropy - and according to me so is suffering. I do not say that just because one is happy, another must suffer. But just that both the things are independent and both increase indefinitely.

    For argument sake, I said above that Argument 2 cannot be ridiculed. But truly deep within myself, I would root for Arg 1!

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