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The Selfishness Debate: Ayn Rand vs the Dalai Lama

ftorres Wrote: Apr 27, 2012 9:51 AM
"I’ve always been puzzled by the Randian hostility to altruism." That's because you do not take altruism to its logical conclusion, Daniel. If everybody was perfectly altruistic, we would be giving each other anything required to live better, all the time. This means we would ahve to be passing the few goods that exist between everybody: "You take it, please!" "No, YOU take it, be my guest!" The result would be the end of humanity. Instead, PURE selfishness would mean each person would be looking at his or her self-interest, but that would mean, ipso facto: YOU HAVE TO TRADE. You cannot steal because you would onoy entice someone else to steal from you. You cannot kill because you would entice someone to kill you.
The Obama Timeline author Wrote: Apr 27, 2012 2:57 PM
There is a difference between "rational self-interest" and "selfishness." Regrettably, most people do not understand the difference. The result is that they feel guilty for being successful and/or resent others for being successful. If one is stranded on a desert island, rational self-interest is necessary for survival; it is hardly selfish or immoral. Placing that same person into a society with others does not change the logic of the morality. The difference is that in society then has a choice between survival via rational self-interest, and forcing others to provide for his survival. The individualists rely on rational self-interest; the statists/leftists rely on forcing others - and then they dare to call the individualists selfish!
The Obama Timeline author Wrote: Apr 27, 2012 2:57 PM
There is a difference between "rational self-interest" and "selfishness." Regrettably, most people do not understand the difference. The result is that they feel guilty for being successful and/or resent others for being successful. If one is stranded on a desert island, rational self-interest is necessary for survival; it is hardly selfish or immoral. Placing that same person into a society with others does not change the logic of the morality. The difference is that in society then has a choice between survival via rational self-interest, and forcing others to provide for his survival. The individualists rely on rational self-interest; the statists/leftists rely on forcing others - and then they dare to call the individualists selfish!
ftorres Wrote: Apr 27, 2012 9:53 AM
In other words, your interests would best be served by maintaining respect for other people's lives and property. So in their purest form, selfishness still leads to progress whereas altruism to ruin. This is not hard to conclude, so I don't understand your surprise.

I’m in Monaco for the 10th forum of the Convention of Independent Financial Advisors, a Swiss-based NGO that focuses on promoting an ethical and productive environment for private investment. I moderated a couple of panels on interesting topics, including the European fiscal crisis.

But I want to focus on the comments of another speaker, Monsieur Matthieu

Ricard, a French-born Buddhist monk. As you can see from his Wikipedia entry, he’s a very impressive individual. In addition to his other accomplishments, he serves as the French translator for the Dalai Lama.

During one of the dinners, we got into...

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