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Category Archives: Ethical Egoism

Beyond the chorus of indignation – The Jerusalem Post

Posted: October 24, 2019 at 11:28 am

Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Ras al Ain, as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Turkey on Wednesday.. (photo credit: REUTERS/MURAD SEZER)

The decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw American soldiers stationed in northeastern Syria from the Turkish border has been met across the board by a chorus of moral indignation. It has been termed a betrayal of the Kurds or an abandonment of allies.

This criticism was partly motivated by the widespread dislike and contempt in liberal circles toward the American president. Partly it was motivated by a genuine moral revulsion about leaving the Kurdish forces that fought together with America against ISIS, to face alone a Turkish powerful army.

International politics is a self-help system, meaning that each state has to take care of its own security and independence. The existence of small states is particularly precarious. For example, the Baltic states existed for only a short time between the two World Wars because Russian power was limited at that time. In the Middle East, Kuwait and Lebanon have been targets of a politicide campaign by their stronger neighbors, Iraq and Syria, respectively. The Kurdish entity in northeastern Syria was born as the result of a temporary power vacuum, as Syria and Iraq were weakened by domestic problems. The weakness of Syria also invited several Turkish conquests.

In short, reliance on powerful allies is not enough to survive in the Hobbesian world in which we live.

The Kurds should have known better and prepared for a rainy day. After all, the US has several times allied with the Kurds and then changed sides when its perceived interests demanded it. This happened in 1975 when Gerald Ford was president, and in 1992 when George H.W. Bush was president. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter even abrogated a formal agreement approved by the US Senate, a US defense treaty with Taiwan, as a price for improving relations with Beijing.

Thus, what Trump did last week accords with previous presidential decisions. Moreover, his intention to withdraw troops from Syria was announced more than a year ago. It is part of a policy approach initiated his predecessor, President Barack Obama namely, American withdrawal from the Middle East. This policy makes some sense as the US does not need Middle East oil and its military involvement in this region has been costly.

While Trump is not a reading man, his decision is in line with an old tradition that Thucydides, Machiavelli and Kissinger propagated, namely realpolitik. The expectation that states in the international system will act in accordance with ethical tenets is very nave. Generally, states pursue their interests in amoral perspective. States are not Mother Theresa. The only moral imperative is survival. Survival, security and prosperity for citizens is the goal. Egoism, not altruism, is the guiding principle.

Therefore, accusations that Trump is conducting an immoral foreign policy are off base. Presidents and statesmen should be judged by the success of achieving their states interests at the lowest cost, not by the morality of the measures taken.

It should be further noted that state interests are defined by state leaders. In democracies, such interests usually are in sync with societal preferences. And in fact, Trumps isolationist approach well reflects the sentiments of American society today. After several decades of sending US troops to the Middle East with little to show for the effort, America is tired of wars. American exceptionalism and missionary belief in the cause of democracy, that many admired over the years, seems to be in need of a break.

In any case, Trump never shared such noble instincts, and he clearly senses the negative mood in America about foreign adventures. By ordering the troops home, Trump is responding his public, and this may prove useful to him in next years presidential election campaign.

Trumps decision obviously affects Israels interests. The withdrawal of America from the Middle East allows for greater freedom of action of regional powers such as Iran and Turkey, which is bad news. Some Gulf states may gravitate toward Iran not a good development. Yet, Israel may also now enjoy greater latitude in pursuing its interests and in using force.

Instead of joining the chorus of indignation, Israel should adapt as quickly as possible to the new circumstances and find appropriate responses to a situation that, again, was not a real surprise.

Israel is very fortunate to have the US as an ally and to have a friendly president like Trump. But Israel has never relied on others for its national security. Israeli strategic thinking always has emphasized self-reliance. Today, as always, Israel must be prepared to act independently of Washington.

The writer is president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (jiss.org.il).

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US Expels Cuban Diplomats for Threatening National Security – Headlinez Pro

Posted: September 24, 2019 at 5:45 pm

Yell Division spokesperson Morgan Ortagus described the two individuals as abusing their privileges of attach.

The Cuban communist regime known as the pass a indecent calumny orchestrated by the reactionary, anti-Cuban Trump administration. Cubas Ministry of International Affairs debuted a chronicle attacking the USA for its change sanctions on the regime on Friday, in anticipation for next weeks U.N. Overall Assembly overall debate.

The Division of Yell this day notified the Cuban Ministry of International Affairs that the USA requires the coming near near departure of two individuals of Cubas Permanent Mission to the United Nations for abusing their privileges of attach, Ortagus mentioned in an announcement. This is on account of their makes an strive to behavior have an effect on operations towards the USA.

Ortagus didnt title the individuals expelled from the nation, but did yell that every one Cuban regime operatives on the U.N. mission will now if truth be told be restricted to the island of Broad apple.

We defend any and all makes an strive towards the Nationwide Security of the USA seriously, and ought to continue to look at any extra personnel who would be manipulating their privileges of attach, her observation concluded.

The Cuban regime has for a long time abused the few diplomatic ties its allowed within the USA for espionage and anti-American activities. In maybe the most renowned fashionable instance of Cuban spies threatening national safety, a bunch of agents identified as the Cuban five infiltrated the Cuban exile group in Miami and gave Havana intelligence that allowed the Castro regime to abolish four American citizens. The males Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre, Mario de la Pea, and Pablo Morales were flying ethical rescue missions in international waters when Castro agents shot their planes down; the Cuban fives intelligence gave the Cuban navy the data mandatory to search out the planes.

No subject being a sinister violation of international law, the Cuban government suffered no penalties for the murders. President Barack Obama freed the Cuban five to a heros welcome in Havana in 2014. Gael Garca Bernal is at display starring in a film glorifying the work the spies did to abolish the American citizens.

The Cuban International Ministry (MINREX) issued an outraged tweet consistent with the expulsion.

I categorically reject the unjustified expulsion of two officials on the Permanent Mission of Cuba on the U.N. and the hardening of restrictions of scoot on diplomats and families, International Ministry Bruno Rodrguez mentioned on Twitter. The implication that they committed acts incompatible with their diplomatic attach is a indecent calumny.

Rodrguez held a press conference Friday where he claimed he came upon out regarding the expulsion by intention of a U.S. diplomatic tweet. He claimed the pass introduced on absolute and packed with life rejection from our of us, our ministry, and our government.

It is fully unjustified and illegitimate to strongarm our diplomats, he complained.

Rodrguez went on to name the Trump administration a reactionary, anti-Cuban group that has hijacked American foreign coverage on Cuba and Latin America and accused Trump of lashing out at Cuba for electoral pursuits implying that strengthening national safety defenses would support Trump hold the 2020 election.

The Permanent Mission to the U.N. representing Cuba save out its maintain observation denying any wrongdoing, then admitting that American officials had notified it that the two individuals in inquire were caught enticing in destructive acts to U.S. national safety on September 12, about a week earlier than any statements on Twitter to that cease.

The point out mentioned that, unless Cuba lent data to present an explanation for [their behavior] in every other case, they [the U.S.] would demand for the required planning to occur for the departure of the two officials and their families within 48 hours, earlier than the high of the day on September 20, the observation learn.

The mission claims to own replied with their explanation for the officials behavior, but the U.S. aspect, in flagrant violation of the main tips of diplomatic protocol, determined to answer in a tweet.

The expulsions are acts of vengeance and impotence, the mission concluded.

The diplomatic scuffle comes on the eve of a week of debate on the U.N. Overall Assembly, where most of the realms heads of articulate are invited to defend the ground and discuss whatever they desire. America grants dictators and international criminals who withhold head of articulate attach immunity to back the match, ensuing in leaders delight in Miguel Daz-Canel who is now no longer the head of articulate of Cuba, but nonetheless holds the title of president addressing the assembly remaining 300 and sixty five days to bash America for imperialism.

Following a speech in which President Donald Trump entreated the realm to think again socialism, Daz-Canel contended that the realms horrors were the final consequence of capitalism, namely imperialism and neoliberalism, of the egoism and exclusion that accompany this vogue, and of an financial, political, social, and cultural paradigm that privileges that accumulation of wealth in few hands on the associated rate of exploitation and misfortune of the heaps.

While in Novel York, Daz-Canel enjoyed a widely known person-studded welcome organized by Robert Effect Niro and concluded the day out with a night of salsa dancing.

Follow Frances Martel onFacebookandTwitter.

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You say you want a revolution – Boulder Weekly

Posted: August 25, 2017 at 3:55 am

For journalist and author Don Lattin, the truth used to be simple, or at least it appeared to be. With capital T Truth as his professions first pursuit, Lattins spent a career diligently reporting his stories with a commitment to get at all sides of an issue. Until recently, he always wrote in the third person in hopes of providing expository and unbiased reports.

As a journalist, I am really kind of old school, Latin says. For most of my career, I was a dirty word because its not about me, its about the story.

But whether he likes it or not, Lattin acknowledges that the world of journalism is changing, and fast. Hes ber aware of the rise of the blog-o-shepre, click-bait content and opinion pieces, and he worries that, in general, journalism is becoming too egocentric.

I feel [first person reporting] is often self-indulgent, he says. At its heart, the job is to go out and do actual reporting, which is hard and expensive, but really important. So yeah, you could say I am actually concerned about the direction journalism is going.

It isnt just the macro-level changes that concern him, but specifically how the rise of pseudo-journalism might discredit the more controversial subjects of religion and psychedelics he researches. When dealing with the scientific legitimization of things like God and altered states of mind, it seems to him ever more important to maintain a line of objectivity.

Lattins latest book is a long-form investigation into the ongoing wave of scientific research and an epic attempt to offer in-depth coverage of the ongoing renaissance in psychedelic science. Changing Our Minds: Psychedelic Sacraments and the New Psychotherapy is in essence an unbiased look at the recent history and credible prospects for using MDMA, psilocybin and ayahuasca to treat mood disorders and promote spiritual well-being.

But what started out as a straightforward journalistic pursuit got complicated when he found the scientific community was wrestling with its own questions of objectivity.

In writing the book, I found that there is a debate going on in psychedelic scientific and journalistic circles about how open people should be in talking about their own experiences, especially if you are breaking the law, Lattin says.

As a writer, what I struggled with in this book was when to get in, and when to get out, in terms of my story because it can begin to feel too self-indulgent. You want to be in it, to help the reader connect, but if youre in it too much it becomes self-indulgent.

Ultimately I thought it was important for me to experience the drugs and sacred plant medicines and to include that as a part of the narrative, although in limited measure. In the book, I am asking people to tell me very intimate details about their lives about their addictions, diseases and psychological intimacies. I felt I had to sort of do the same.

Coincidentally or not, considerations of egoism are not just prevalent in the ethical considerations of researchers, but in the nature of psychedelic experiences themselves. In treating certain psychological diseases like, psilocybin-assisted therapy for addiction is that the drugs allow people to transcend their ego.

Scientists think the mystical state achieved by consumers while on psilocybin is, essentially, ego dissolution. That is to say that, by way of the drugs, you are suddenly connected to this bigger thing through which you obtain unitive experiences, a sense of oneness and feelings of gratitude and selflessness.

To be sure, it can go the other way too, as a portion of users report feelings of grandiosity reporting feeling like everything in the world is revolving around them. According to Lattin, to which side the cookie crumbles depends on and speaks to the larger question of the whole human search for spirit thing.

Its like that Beatles song, Revolution, Lattin says. You say you want a revolution? You know, that you want to change the constitution? He pauses to laugh. Well, you know, youd better free your mind instead.

Back in my day, when I first started thinking and experiencing psychedelic culture, that was the idea, anyway before you get involved in politics you need to become more enlightened yourself. Thats all fine and good, but you risk becoming a navel gazer who is too self-indulgent.

It will be interesting to see how the psychedelic community will evolve in that way whether our conversations about evolutions in consciousness will be big enough to consider how it might change our world for the better and not just our own minds.

Clarification and correction: In last weeks column, Star power, the author said the species had no genetic precursors and that there were no near-genetic relatives of the plant. Cannabis sativa has an inconclusive taxonomic organization and evolutionary history and no definitive claims can be made to that end.

Also, Cannabis sativa is not the only plant in existence to display its gender physically as written in the column.

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Egoism: Examples and Definition | Philosophy Terms

Posted: August 9, 2017 at 5:00 am

I. Definition

You may think you already know egoism; but youre probably thinking of egotismself-importance, or self-centeredness. In contrast, egoism is the philosophical view that human beings do, or should, always act for their own benefit. Both words are derived from the Latin word for I ego.

Egoism and egotism are quite different. For example, egotists often talk about themselves a lot, not listening to otherswhich makes people dislike them. In contrast, egoists might act very humbly, and pay attention to othersbecause its in their best interests to make people like them and want to treat them well. Egotism is a character trait; egoism is a philosophy.

Even so, you might think that egoists must secretly be egotistsand a lot of philosophers would agree with you. But the point is that egoism does not necessarily violate our usual notions of what is right and wrong. We will return to this questionof whether egoism implies immoralityin other sections.

In fact, some of our highest ideals in the Western worldindividual rights, freedom, and democracydepend on ideas similar to egoism. All of these philosophies depend on the idea that humans normally do or should pursue their own welfare and happiness. The problem, of course, is when your welfare conflicts with someone elsesanother point well discuss below.

But whether you think egoism is right or wrong depends a lot on what kind of egoism youre talking about. The two main kinds of egoism are quite different; descriptive egoism just claims that human being do always act for their own benefit; while normative egoism claims that we should always act for our own benefit.

The most popular variety of descriptive egoism is psychological egoism, which simply claims that whatever a human being does, the ultimate aim is self-benefit. If psychological egoism is correct, it means that even when people appear to act for others benefit, with no concern for themselveswhich is called altruismtheyre actually doing it for their own sake. It doesnt mean that anyone is necessarily trying to be deceptive, or pretending, to help others (although thats a possibility of course). Psychological egoists would say that people may act altruistically because it will be good for them in the long run, or because it makes them feel good when they do it.

There are at least two main categories of psychological egoismdesire-based and objective. The first says that humans are always doing what they desire. For example, even if you say you dont want to do your homework, you do choose to do it; you have the option to not do it, and suffer the consequences. So, you do desire to do your homeworkjust not for its own sake.

But, this kind of psychological egoism seems to be trivially true; it doesnt say why we make what choices we do.

Other kinds of psychological egoism are called objective because they claim that we are always pursuing certain objectives. Some say we always act for pleasure. Others argue that we always pursue whatever we think will bring us the most benefit.

But most philosophers have rejected psychological egoism. For one thing it is probably unprovable because it is a theory about our deepest motivationswhich are private. How could anyone prove whether you help an old lady across the street only for her sake, or because it makes you feel good about yourself? You may not be sure yourself which it is!

But that kind of example is another reason most philosophers reject psychological egoismbecause human beings really do sometimes act for the benefit of others without expecting to any reward for themselves. Altruism; well come back to this debate in section III.

Normative egoism is not about what humans do, but about what they should do. Two kinds of normative egoism are well known:

Ethical egoists may argue that you cannot know what is best for anyone but yourselfand so it is immoral to try. If you try to act in reference to other peoples interests, rather than your own, you can easily do things those people wouldnt want, mess up other peoples lives, or just violate their right to decide what happens to them, which would be immoral. Ethical egoists also might argue that human beings are dependent on one another for survival, so therefore, it is your moral obligation to take care of yourself first, so that others dont have toand so that you have the ability to take care of them. In other words, whats in your best interests is ultimately in everybodys best interests.

Which brings us to rational egoism, which assumes that we should act rationally, which is egoistically. The most famous rational egoist, the writer Ayn Rand, argued strongly against sacrificing ones own interests for others. She argued that not taking full advantage of ones own freedom is immoral because it opposes the natural fulfilment of human potential, which is the best thing for everyone in a society. For example, if I dont work as hard as possible for my own personal success, then I might fail to accomplish many things that would be good for the world.

Nevertheless, many philosophers feel that rational egoism cannot provide a basis for ethical behaviorthat it is, rather, a justification for amorality (no morality), which could be very dangerous.

In the big picture, its worth noting that egoism has been a characteristically Western philosophy since at least Aristotle. Although there were a few ancient Chinese thinkers who had egoistic ideas, in general, egoism is much harder to justify in Eastern thought, where the ego (the personal self) is an illusion that one should try to get over!

In the west, Aristotle is cited for his early contribution to egoism, in the Nicomachean Ethics, where he points out that one must act for ones own benefit in order to be a good friend, or a good citizenbecause you cant do any good for other people if youre not in good condition yourself. However, Aristotle was not really an egoist, because he believed that it was the primary value of helping others that justified helping oneself.

The main ideas of psychological egoism started popping up in Europe during the Reformation (17th century) such as in the writings of philosopher, Thomas Hobbes (see next section for a quote). Hobbes (and others) argued that all voluntary actions are, by definition, egoisticbecause they are voluntary. So, humans are always acting for their own sakes, whether they think so or not.

Many philosophers shared this view during the 18th century, supported by the rationalism of the time. But David Hume, in his Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (Appendix IIOf Self Love), set forth some well-known arguments against it. Hume said that psychological egoism denied the reality of such important human feelings as friendship, love, compassion, and gratitude. He also argued that there was no reason to try to reduce the diversity of human motivations to one simple thing. And he pointed out, as many have, that both humans and animals have been observed to act, instinctively for others sakes.

Early normative egoism is often associated with the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche whose ideas about freedom, the will, and the superman, certainly seem to support egoism, and have been used that way, but Nietzsche himself rejected egoism because, he said, being an egoist would have the opposite of the desired effect; it would set other people against you, which is bad for your own success.

The first philosophers to consider themselves egoists were Max Stirner and Henry Sidgwick in the 19th Century. But probably the most popular and controversial spokesperson for egoism was Ayn Rand, who set forth her arguments in The Virtue of Selfishness, and in novels such as Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Adapting some of Nietzsches rhetoric, Rand focused on rational egoism as a rejection of the sacrificial ethics of Christianity; she argued that it is wrong to sacrifice ones own interests for others because it is irrational: the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest. Thus, to her, ethical and rational egoism go together. Her perspective owes a lot to Nietzsches rejection of traditional morality and glorification of the individual will.

Over the past 30 years or so, egoism has faced stronger opposition than before because of scientific research showing that (a) humans and animals do have altruistic instincts, (b) selfish decisions are often not in your best interests, and (c) that altruistic behavior is consistent with evolution. When we were evolving, living in small tribes, most people lived around their many relatives, so doing things for others benefitaltruismcould actually spread ones own genes!

Egoism has always been a controversial theory, and we have sketched some of its debates in the previous sectionssuch as whether it can be moral or not, and whether it needs to be.

Another challenge to egoism is whether its even logically possible. Several philosophers have pointed out that it leads to self-contradictions and irresolvable conflicts. For example, Joseph Butler writes that it may be necessary to act un-selfishly in order to receive benefits, which makes egoism self-contradictory. However, we can get around this paradox by just saying that egoism is acting for long-term benefit.

A bigger problem for psychological egoism is that some behavior just doesnt seem egoistic in any sense. Say a soldier throws himself on a grenade to prevent others from being killed. Its hard to say how that could be in the soldiers selfish interests! Hes not going to benefit from it in the long run, or even be able to enjoy the feeling of being a good person. Egoists might argue that the soldier is deceiving himself if he thinks he acted selflessly; perhaps he was sub-consciously motivated to avoid feeling guilty if he didnt sacrifice himself. But then again, feeling that kind of guilt depends on having non-egoistic motivations, doesnt it? An egoist could also argue that since the soldier made a free decision to jump on the grenade, he was, by definition, following his own desires. However, that argument seems like a cop-out; it avoids resolving the question of why the soldier did it.

The major controversy about normative (ethical or rational) egoism is, of course, whether it can be truly ethical at all, since almost all people agree that an ethical system must encourage us to act for the benefit of other human beings. The main points of debate are whether it is desirable or possible to act selflessly, and whether rational selfishness is or is not really the best thing for others. The answers to these questions depend on answers to many other questions: how interdependent are human beings? Is individual freedom more important than social stability? Is individuality an illusion? So, this debate will doubtless not soon be settled!

Ethics has to recognize the truth, recognized in unethical thought, that egoism comes before altruism. The acts required for continued self-preservation, including the enjoyments of benefits achieved by such arts, are the first requisites to universal welfare. Unless each duly cares for himself, his care for all others is ended in death, and if each thus dies there remain no others to be cared for. Herbert Spencer

In this argument for ethical egoism, Herbert Spencer, a 19th century British philosopher, seems to echo Aristotles original justification for some degree of egoismthat a person needs to take care of their own needs and happiness before they can take care of others. Often accused of inconsistency, Spencer was an egoist who also believed that human beings have a natural sense of empathy and should care for each other, although at the same time, he believed that altruism was a relatively recent development in humans.

What interest can a fond mother have in view, who loses her health by assiduous attendance on her sick child, and afterwards languishes and dies of grief, when freed, by its death [the childs], from the slavery of that attendance? David Hume

Hume, a famous opponent of psychological realism, here gives an example that demonstrates several of his arguments against egoism. Hume pointed out that human beings have certain innate non-egoist instincts, such as the compulsion of a mother to sacrifice herself for her children. And even if she does so, selfishly, in order to feel good herself, that doesnt explain why she dies of grief after her child dies.

Altruism is the opposite of egoism the motivation or practice of doing things to benefit others, without expecting any benefit for oneself. However, most of the debates about egoism and altruism are not about whether its good to benefit others or not, which almost everyone agrees on, but whether egoism or altruism are actually beneficial, or even possible.

Just as psychological egoism could be rejected on the basis that its impossible to prove peoples motivations, many philosophers have questioned whether it is possible to prove altruistic motivations either. As descriptions of human nature, egoism and altruism seem to compete on equal grounds; you can pretty much always argue that any action was really motivated by egoism or really altruism, but you cant prove it.

As normative philosophies, about what people should do, most philosophers agree that ethical behavior is behavior which is good for people in generalso you might assume that altruism should win automatically. But there are some pretty good arguments that altruistic action depends on egoist motivations; you might not help that old lady cross the street if you didnt care about feeling good about yourself. And egoists may argue that its immoral to decide whats in other peoples best interests. On the side of altruism is the universal belief that morality means being good to others and the evidence that empathy, compassion, and altruism are natural instincts.

Many popular films feature egoist villainssociopaths who pursue their own gain without regard for others. But Heath Ledgers Joker in Christopher Nolans Dark Knight goes further. Late in the movie he actually sets up a version of The Prisoners Dilemmaa scenario from game theory which philosophers have used to explore the egoism versus altruism debate. The Joker intends to prove to all that his view of human naturepsychological egoismis true. He believes that one or both boats will try to blow up the other one in order to save their own lives, according to the Jokers rulesbut they refuse to cooperate, seemingly proving that humans are not entirely egoistic. Throughout the film, the Joker represents the egoist view as he repeatedly exploits his enemies egoism. But in the end, Batman supposedly demonstrates that altruism is real by taking the fall for a politician he doesnt even likefor the good of the people of Gotham.

Both of the Star Trek films featuring Khan, Captain Kirks worst enemy, explore the consequences of egoist versus altruist views. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, we learn that Khans murderous anger towards humanity is partly a result of Captain Kirks earlier action of marooning Khan and his people on a then hospitable planetwhich later suffered an environmental disaster killing most of Khans people. This is a clear illustration of the ethical egoists claim that trying to act in others interests may be immoral. Furthermore, Kirks failure to check up on Khan on the planet suggests that Kirk was not really acting altruistically, but rather egoistically, supporting the views of psychological egoism. Meanwhile, Khan believes that he has a natural right to dominate, based on his superior intellect and strength, a view commonly associated with rational egoism and Ayn Rand. Of course in the end, Mr. Spock demonstrates altruism by sacrificing himself to save the rest of the Enterprise crew, repeating an idea clearly meant to prove that altruism is more rational than egoismthe needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

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On Albert Einstein’s peaceful musings – The Livingston County News

Posted: July 28, 2017 at 7:03 pm

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One of the smartest people that ever lived, Albert Einstein, wasnt just a scientific genius; he was also one of the 20th centurys strongest peace advocates.

Einstein believed that, if there had been a stronger alliance of countries against fascism in the 1930s, the World War of the 1940s would have been prevented. Because of this, Einstein was a strong advocate of the abolition of war through the creation of a world government composed of nations that shared their military forces in order to prevent nationalist nations from starting wars. What follows are excerpts from some of his writings about peace

Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding. You cannot subjugate a nation forcibly unless you wipe out every man, woman, and child. Unless you wish to use such drastic measures, you must find a way of settling your disputes without resort to arms.

If unrestricted egoism leads to dire consequences in our economic life, it is still worse as a guide in international relations. Only the absolute repudiation of war can be of any use here. Without disarmament there can be no lasting peace.

The opposition to this unquestionably necessary advance lies in the unhappy traditions of the people which are passed on like an inherited disease from generation to generation because of our faulty educational machines. Of course the main supports of this tradition are military training and the larger industries.

This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of the herd nature, the military system. That a man can take pleasure in marching in formation to the strains of a band is enough to make me despise him. He has only been given his big brain by mistake; a backbone was all he needed. How despicable and ignoble war is. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder. Is it not terrible to be forced by the community to deeds which every individual feels to be most despicable crimes? Only a few have had the moral greatness to resist; they are in the true heroes.

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. In the light of new knowledge, a world authority and an eventual world state are not just desirable in the name of brotherhood, they are necessary for survival. Today we must abandon competition and secure cooperation. Past thinking and methods did not prevent world wars. Future thinking must prevent wars.

Taken on the whole, I would believe that Gandhis views were the most enlightened of all the political men in our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit... not to use violence in fighting for our cause, but by non-participation in what we believe is evil.

The way to joyful and happy existence is everywhere through renunciation and self-limitation. Where can the strength of such a process come from? Only from those who have had the chance in their early years to fortify their minds and broaden their outlook through study. Only if the statesmen have, to urge them forward, the will to peace of a decisive majority in their respective countries, can they arrive at their important goal. It is not the task of the individual who lives in this critical time merely to await results and to criticize. He must serve this great cause as well as he can.

We have emerged from a world war in which we had to accept the degradingly low ethical standards of the enemy. But instead of feeling liberated from his standards, and set free to restore the sanctity of human life and the safety of noncombatants, we are in effect making the low standards of the enemy in the last war our own. Unless Americans come to recognize that they are not stronger in the world because they have the bomb, but weaker because of their vulnerability to atomic attack, they are not likely to conduct their policy in a spirit that furthers the arrival at an understanding.

Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace was established in 1972. For more information on the organization, go to http://www.gvcp.org. The preceding essay is the result of a collaboration among several GVCP members.

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The Courage to Face a Lifetime: On the Enduring Value of Ayn Rand’s Philosophy – IAI News

Posted: July 27, 2017 at 10:11 am

Over thirty million copies of English-language editions of Ayn Rands books have been sold since the 1940s, with many more in dozens of other languages, and sales have not slowed down [1]. This articles sub-title captures the heart of why her workespecially her fictionhas enduring appeal, despite academia and the popular press being generally...

Over thirty million copies of English-language editions of Ayn Rands books have been sold since the 1940s, with many more in dozens of other languages, and sales have not slowed down [1]. This articles sub-title captures the heart of why her workespecially her fictionhas enduring appeal, despite academia and the popular press being generally hostile even to the mention of her name. The quotation appears in the last part of The Fountainhead, Rands 1943 novel that put her on the cultural map. A young man recently graduated from college rides his bicycle through the hills of Pennsylvania, wondering whether life is worth living and whether he should pursue his dream of being a composer. He longs to see others achievements as tangible products of their quest for happiness, if only to see that its possible. Suddenly, he is confronted with a newly finished summer home community that seems to spring organically from the sides of the hills. He notices a man perched on a boulder who serenely gazes over the beautiful homes in the valley below. After finding out that the manHoward Roarkis the architect responsible for the scene before them, he thanks Roark and confidently rides off into his future armed with the courage to face a lifetime.

Many readers have been inspired by these words, amazed at the story unfolding before their eyes. Its unusual to encounter literature that embodies such benevolent, life-affirming values. This is an extraordinary kind of Heros Journey. Filled not only with heroes meeting challenges with the assistance of friends against ones foes, it also contains the message that philosophy mattersfor everyone. How well or poorly your life goes depends on whether you hold the right ideas or not. The Fountainheadas well as Rands 1957 magnum opus, Atlas Shruggedpaints a world where happiness and joy are attainable through using ones mind to pursue ones passion with integrity and to face and overcome obstacles with reality-oriented determination. Its a universe where achievement is possible; self-esteem is earned through productive work; and voluntary interactions foster intensely rewarding personal, social, and professional relationships. And its a reality that any person can choose to help create every day of ones life.

___

"Rand's work contains the message that philosophy mattersfor everyone. How well or poorly your life goes depends on whether you hold the right ideas or not." ___

Journeying through the rest of Rands corpusher fiction as well as her non-fiction philosophy, which she named Objectivismis challenging and rewarding. The essentials of Objectivism are: reality exists, we can know reality objectively through our senses and the use of reason, ones own happiness is ones highest moral purpose (egoism), limited government is justified only for the protection of individual rights, people should be free to trade the fruits of their work (capitalism), and the purpose of art is to project and experience in concrete form ones vision of life. Many people have been engaged and inspired by these ideas, ideally using them as springboards for further thought about whats true and how best to live. There are also many who reject Rands ideas, though few of those have bothered to read her work carefully (or at all) before passing judgment on it.

A small sample of vitriol hurled at Rands work in popular media includes: complete lack of charity; execrable claptrap and a personality as compelling as a sledge hammer; crackpot . . . an historical anachronism and a wretched novelist; an absurd philosophy and a total crock. [2] Both supporters and detractors of her work have also noted the derision that many philosophers have for it, dismissing her work contemptuously on the basis of hearsay or laugh[ing] out of the room anyone bringing up her name [3]. Add to the vitriol some of the oft-repeated myths about Rands views:

(1) She is Conservative and high priestess of the acute Right on the American political spectrum. [4]

(2) She takes Nietzschean individualism to an extreme. [5]

(3) In upholding selfishness, individuals should never care about anyone else, even regarding them as totally expendable tools to be manipulated. At best, charity or benevolence is a minor virtue. [6]

(4) She was an unabashed apologist for dog-eat-dog capitalism, allowing the rich to cozy up to government in plutocratic fashion. [7]

The ad hominem attacks above are best brushed aside into the dustbin of history. Mischaracterizations can be dispelled by examining Rands work for what it says. First, Rands views dont fit neatly into either the political Right or Left. She was a radical for individual rights who rejected the false dichotomy between personal and economic freedom, and rejected being labeled Conservative or Libertarian. A portion of the Rightnamely, some Libertarians and Tea Party membershave supported parts of Rands theory. However, a staunch anti-religion naturalist, she angers many on the Right by defending rights to abortion, free speech, and drugs regardless of her own stance on the moral worth of those activities. She angers the Left even more by opposing welfare-state redistribution and defending rights to private property and keeping ones income. [8]

___

"Rands defense of capitalism is grounded in her view of egoism. We each need to create the material and spiritual values needed to live as humans. We gain immeasurably through exchanging values voluntarily with others." ___

Regarding the second myth, Rand read some of Friedrich Nietzsches works when she was in college. She undeniably shares with him a polemical writing style and acknowledges that she admires his sense of mans potential for greatness. This is stated at the same time, though, as Rand expresses her profound disagreement with what she sees as Nietzsches mysticism, irrationalism, subordination of reason to the will-to-power, and malevolent view of the world. [9] Her greatest intellectual debt is owed instead to Aristotlemetaphysical and epistemological realist and defender of reason and virtue ethicswho she regarded as the greatest of all philosophers. [10]

The third myth vanishes when we examine Rands version of egoism. An egoist is one who regards oneself as the ultimatenot the onlybeneficiary of ones actions. Heroes in all of Rands novels risk their lives for the sake of valuesincluding other peoplethey hold dear. She defends ones choice to assist strangers in emergency and everyday contexts out of good will toward other living beings, so long as doing so is not a sacrificial duty that jeopardizes ones well-being. Rand even dubs as psychopaths those who are totally indifferent to anything living. [11] How does this square with egoism? It begins with a proper conception of the self. We are human beingsnot animalswith a reasoning mind to be integrated with ones emotions. Goals worth pursuing for ones long-term survival can be achieved only in certain ways, namely, by exercising virtues such as rationality, productiveness, pride, independence, integrity, honesty, and justice. These virtues demand the best of our selves, precluding the initiation of force against other persons or attempts to gain benefits from them through deceit or fraud. [12]

The fourth myth has been the most persistent, for defending capitalism on moral grounds requires fighting against millennia of prejudice against money-making. Think, for example, of the Biblical proverb of how its easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to gain entrance to Heaven or how Shylock is scorned for making money on loans in Shakespeares The Merchant of Venice. Rands defense of capitalism is grounded in her view of egoism. We each need to create the material and spiritual values needed to live as humans. We gain immeasurably through exchanging values voluntarily with others. Rand calls this the trader principle. Those who seek to gain resources through coercive meansthe ones Rand depicts as villains in her novelsare either private criminals or political cronies who violate individual rights. Genuine businessmen dont seek political favors or otherwise subvert the rule of law. When free to trade voluntarily, they innovate, produce job opportunities, and increase living standards. In short, they create wealth by applying their minds to the task of living, leading to win-win outcomes. [13]

___

"President Donald Trump is an alleged Ayn Rand acolyte", but being a fan of Rands work is not the same as understanding her views, applying them properly, or living up to them consistently in ones own life." ___

It should be apparent by now why so many people find Rands work appealing. Her views, thoughlike any otherscan and should be scrutinized, critiqued, and developed where needed. Philosophers who have taken her work seriously disagree about how to understand some of Rands key ideas. For example, there are rival interpretations of what she means by the claim that our ultimate aim is life, or survival as man qua man, and whether this is equivalent to eudaimonism, the view that flourishing (which centrally involves virtue) is our ultimate aim. [14] Some eudaimonists argue that virtue, not life, is the ultimate value and that it might conflict with egoism, which would create problems for Rands ethical theory. More than anything, though, Rands philosophical system is under-developed in some ways. She herself refers to her non-fiction collections as outlines, previews, and introductions to material that she had intended to write book-length treatments of (though she didnt end up doing so). [15]

Having addressed some of the most significant misunderstandings of Objectivism, we can ask: What accounts for the persistent hostility and misrepresentation? The reasons are several. Some people might assume that such depictions accurately represent Rands views, and then they repeat those falsehoods. Such individuals can instead withhold comment until dispelling their ignorance of the source rather than rely on someone elses judgments about it.

Others read Rands work and disagree partially or entirely with her views. This is unsurprising, given that she challenges many sacred cows, including religion, altruism, determinism, collectivism, and subjectivism. While a relative few in this category engage in fair and honest discussion about her ideas [16], many either misunderstand Rand and end up mischaracterizing her views or willfully misrepresent them to dissuade others from taking her seriously. Its unfortunately easier to demonize ones opponents than to argue with them.

For others, their rejection of Rand is based less on the content of her views than on her sense of life. Its fashionable, especially among academics and public intellectuals, to be jaded, cynical, and ironic. Rands workwith its hallmarks of benevolence and heroismthankfully exhibits none of these. It instead offers a spirit of youthful optimism that provides resilience needed to achieve a good life and endure with grace lifes unavoidable challenges. In addition, professional philosophers are put off by Rands dearth of footnotes and bibliographical apparatus as well as her non-analytic, polemical style that attacks others views with little exposition of them.

___

"Whether one agrees with Rands provocative views or not, its valuable for philosophers to take them seriously and study them carefully. Her theory provides a systematic alternative to other schools of thought and challenges the academys conventional wisdom to keep us on our intellectual toes" ___

Yet others, who claim to be fans or supporters of Rands work, accidentally contribute to perpetuating falsehoods about her views. One need only look to a list of some prominent politicians and entrepreneurs to see this phenomenon. For example, President Donald Trump is an alleged Ayn Rand acolyte, accused of stack[ing] his cabinet with fellow Objectivists, such as Rex Tillerson and Michael Pompeo. In addition, Travis Kalanicks ignominious fall from the heights of Uber CEO-hood has been described as the latest Icarus-like plunge of a prominent Rand follower, and Andrew Pudzer, an avid Ayn Rand reader, withdrew from his nomination as Secretary of Labor due to allegations of worker mistreatment at his fast-food chains [17]. These individuals may have been inspired by reading Rands works to follow their lifes path. However, one is hard-pressed to call any of them Objectivists, since they either reject key tenets of Rands theory by being religious or have chosen to act in some ways antithetical to it by cutting crony deals or performing other vicious deeds. Being a fan of Rands work is not the same as understanding her views, applying them properly, or living up to them consistently in ones own life. There are plenty of good people living their lives in a principled waywhether as CEOs, teachers, or mechanicswho have been inspired by Rands ideas. Their moral decency doesnt make headline news, though.

Whether one agrees with Rands provocative views or not, its valuable for philosophers to take them seriously and study them carefully. Her theory provides a systematic alternative to other schools of thought and challenges the academys conventional wisdom to keep us on our intellectual toes. She reframes traditional philosophical questions in ways that cut through what she considers to be false dichotomies: mind/body, reason/emotion, moral/practical, duty/utility, intrinsic/subjective, nature/nurture. This leaves conceptual space to offer and defend a third way on a range of significant philosophical issues.

Rand offers Objectivism as a philosophy for living, not just contemplating, not just existing and getting by. We have minds equipped to deal with the world, a world where we can be efficacious. So long as there are individuals committed to their own happiness, voluntary cooperation, reaching for the best within themselves, and creating the social and political institutions needed for achieving these values in a free and responsible way, Rands work will continue to speak to countless numbers of people in all walks of life. But dont take myor anyone elsesword for it. Exercise the virtue of independence and read Rands work for yourself. Youll see firsthand what the enduring appeal is all about.

***

[1] Allan Gotthelf and Gregory Salmieri, eds., A Companion to Ayn Rand (Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell, 2016), p. 15 n. 1.

[2] Bruce Cook, Ayn Rand: A Voice in the Wilderness, Catholic World, vol. 201 (May 1965), p. 121; John Kobler, The Curious Cult of Ayn Rand, The Saturday Evening Post (November 11, 1961), p. 99; Dora Jane Hamblin, The Cult of Angry Ayn Rand, Life (April 7, 1967), p. 92; Geoffrey James, Top 10 Reasons Ayn Rand Was Dead Wrong, CBS News Moneywatch (September 16, 2010), accessed online at: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/top-10-reasons-ayn-rand-was-dead-wrong/.

[3] Neera Badhwar and Roderick Long, Ayn Rand, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (September 19, 2016), accessed online at: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ayn-rand/; James Stewart, As a Guru, Ayn Rand May Have Limits. Ask Travis Kalanick, The New York Times (July 13, 2017), accessed online at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/13/business/ayn-rand-business-politics-uber-kalanick.html.

[4] Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, Psyching Out Ayn Rand, Ms. (September 1978), p. 24. See also, e.g., Jonathan Chait, Wealthcare: Ayn Rand and the Invincible Cult of Selfishness on the American Right, New Republic (September 14, 2009), accessed online at: https://newrepublic.com/article/69239/wealthcare-0; Jennifer Burns, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 4.

[5] Stewart, As a Guru, Ayn Rand May Have Limits. See also, e.g., Gene Bell-Villada, On Nabakov, Ayn Rand, and the Libertarian Mind (Newcastle on Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2013), chap. 5.

[6] See James, Top 10 Reasons Ayn Rand Was Dead Wrong, Skikha Dalmia, Where Ayn Rand Went Wrong, Forbes (November 4, 2009), accessed online at: https://www.forbes.com/2009/11/03/where-ayn-rand-went-wrong-opinions-columnists-shikha-dalmia.html, and Michael Huemer, Why I Am Not an Objectivist, accessed online at: http://www.owl232.net/rand.htm, for the former view, and Badhwar and Long, Ayn Rand, for the latter.

[7] Gerald Jonas, Reviewed This Week (four sci-fi novels), The New York Times (August 30, 1998), accessed online at: http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/08/30/reviews/980830.30scifit.html. See also, e.g., James, Top 10 Reasons Ayn Rand Was Dead Wrong and James Hohmann, The Daily 202: Ayn Rand Acolyte Donald Trump Stacks His Cabinet with Fellow Objectivists, The Washington Post (December 13, 2016), accessed online at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2016/12/13/daily-202-ayn-rand-acolyte-donald-trump-stacks-his-cabinet-with-fellow-objectivists/584f5cdfe9b69b36fcfeaf3b/?utm_term=.d56b46b8c78c.

[8] Rands public policy views are scattered over dozens of essays, but a general synthesis can be found in John David Lewis and Gregory Salmieri, A Philosopher on Her Times, in Gotthelf and Salmieri, A Companion to Ayn Rand, pp. 351-402.

[9] Ayn Rand, Introduction, in her The Fountainhead, 25th anniversary ed. (New York: New American Library, 1968), p. x.

[10] Ayn Rand, The Objectivist Ethics, in her The Virtue of Selfishness (New York: Signet, 1964), p. 14.

[11] Ayn Rand, The Ethics of Emergencies, in Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness, pp. 43-44.

[12] Rand, The Objectivist Ethics, pp. 22-32.

[13] See Rand, The Objectivist Ethics, pp. 32-34, and Ayn Rand, What Is Capitalism? and Americas Persecuted Minority: Big Business, in her Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (New York: Signet, 1966), pp. 11-34 and 44-62.

[14] See, e.g., Allan Gotthelf, The Morality of Life, in Gotthelf and Salmieri, A Companion to Ayn Rand, pp. 73-104; Gregory Salmieri, Egoism and Altruism, in Gotthelf and Salmieri, A Companion to Ayn Rand, pp. 130-56; Neera Badhwar, Well-Being: Happiness in a Worthwhile Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014); Lester Hunt, Flourishing Egoism, Social Philosophy and Policy, vol. 16, no. 1 (1999), pp. 72-95; and Roderick Long, Reason and Value: Aristotle versus Ayn Rand (Poughkeepsie, NY: Objectivist Center, 2000).

[15] The task of developing Objectivist-inspired work that interprets and fleshes out lacunae in Rands system falls to others. See, e.g., Tara Smith, Ayn Rands Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006); Tara Smith, Judicial Review in an Objective Legal System (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015); and Allan Gotthelf and James Lennox, eds., Concepts and Their Role in Knowledge: Reflections on Objectivist Epistemology (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). All of these works engage with the wider philosophical literature in ways that Rand did not.

[16] One such exception is an excellent piece by John Piper; see his The Ethics of Ayn Rand: Appreciation and Critique, Desiring God (June 1, 1979; revised October 9, 2007), accessed online at: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-ethics-of-ayn-rand. A Christian who thinks that Rand is mistaken about rejecting theism, Piper nonetheless offers a careful, nuanced articulation of her ethical egoism. Would that all critics were to take such care with the views of their interlocutors.

[17] Hohmann, The Daily 202: Ayn Rand Acolyte Donald Trump Stacks His Cabinet with Fellow Objectivists; Stewart, As A Guru, Ayn Rand May Have Limits.

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The Courage to Face a Lifetime: On the Enduring Value of Ayn Rand's Philosophy - IAI News

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IDF Medics to Learn Groundbreaking Trauma Procedure – Breaking Israel News

Posted: July 17, 2017 at 4:01 am

Choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed. Deuteronomy 30:19 (The Israel Bible)

IDF medics operate a field hospital of injured Syrians near Israels northern border. (IDF Blog)

For the first time in Israels history, top surgeons throughout Israel and the Israel Defense Force (IDF) gathered to learn a new medical technique which stops bleeding in cases of trauma without an incision. Trauma specialists from South Africa, the US and Sweden came to the Holy Land to teach and demonstrate the groundbreaking procedure. The workshop took place on Kibbutz Lahav in Israels southern region, with eighty medical personnel in attendance.

LIBI USA is honored to have sponsored this trailblazing three-day workshop which will, no doubt, save lives in Israel and worldwide, shared Dr. John A.I. Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA, the official welfare fund of the IDF, with Breaking Israel News. It was also a unique opportunity for medical professionals to unite in Israel, as saving lives is a Jewish and Israeli priority.

Dr. Grossman referred to the Biblical commandment of pikuach nefesh, the preservation of human life. This commandment, derived from the Book of Leviticus, is so basic to Judaism is that it takes precedence over all others.

So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them. Leviticus 18:5

The Talmud emphasizes that one should live by the commandments, not die by them. One who is zealous in saving a life is praised and one who hesitates to save a life is considered as one who has shed the persons blood themselves, which the sages describe as piety of madness. In fact, to save and preserve a life, one must desecrate the Sabbath and even eat on the fast day of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year.

This is a new technique which requires specialized training in a controlled setting to master, explained Colonel (res.) Dr. Ofer Merin, Director of the Trauma Unit and Preparedness of Mass Casualty Events at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem and Commander of the IDF Field Hospital and General Staffs Surgical Hospital Unit, to Breaking Israel News. We are truly grateful to Dr. Grossman and LIBI USA for funding these life-saving workshops as simulated trauma scenarios with the use of REBOA are crucial to master this new technique.

Resuscitative Endovascular Balloon Occlusion of the Aorta, or REBOA, is used when a person is rapidly bleeding to death. It involves the placement of a flexible catheter balloon into the aorta to control haemorrhaging in traumatic injuries and then inflating the balloon, which stops the bleeding.

The head of the Trauma and Combat Medicine Branch for the IDF, Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Avraham Yitzhak, was part of the team of experts learning and assessing the effectiveness and practicality of using REBOA on Israeli soldier trauma victims. This important workshop united civilian and army surgeons to train in the cutting edge REBOA technology. Because of this workshop, the IDF might have an additional way to save lives, Dr. Yitzhak told Breaking Israel News. We are grateful to LIBI USA for sponsoring these days.

Dr. Yitzhak also discussed the IDFs commitment to pikuach nefesh. IDF physicians have three levels of oaths they take concerning the saving of lives, he said. We have the Hippocratic Oath, which every doctor in the world is obligated to uphold. In addition, we have the Oath of Maimonides and the oath of the Israeli Medical Corp, My Brothers Keeper.

The essence of the Oath of Maimonides, named for its originator, a 12th century scholar of Jewish law and philosophy, is to watch over the life and health of Gods creatures without egoism.

The essence of the Israeli Medics Oath is that medics will give everything, including their own lives, for the State of Israel and its people and will treat friend or foe alike, in all conditions, and never leave anyone in the field.

In Israel, we tend to be busy with trying to live fulfilling lives or dieing at the hands of our enemies, shared Dr. Yitzhak. IDF medics risk their lives to give correct care to everyone, including wounded Syrians across our border, humanitarian aid to people all over the world and even medical care to our enemies.

Unfortunately, we havent taken the time and arent good at explaining to the world how ethical, moral and valuing of life we are. This workshop helps to build that knowledge worldwide and gain life-saving skills in addition.

To donate to LIBI USA and support the IDF, please visit here.

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IDF Medics to Learn Groundbreaking Trauma Procedure - Breaking Israel News

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egoism | philosophy | Britannica.com

Posted: June 30, 2017 at 5:04 pm

Yoga

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Take this philosophy quiz at Encyclopedia Britannica to test your knowledge of the names of famous philosophers.

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axiology

(from Greek axios, worthy; logos, science), also called Theory Of Value, the philosophical study of goodness, or value, in the widest sense of these terms. Its significance lies (1) in the considerable...

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postmodernism

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indigenous religio-philosophical tradition that has shaped Chinese life for more than 2,000 years. In the broadest sense, a Daoist attitude toward life can be seen in the accepting and yielding, the joyful...

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the philosophy, religious worldview, and ethical principles of the Bantu peoples tens of millions of speakers of the more than 500 Bantu languages on the African continentas articulated by 20th-century...

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any of various philosophies, most influential in continental Europe from about 1930 to the mid-20th century, that have in common an interpretation of human existence in the world that stresses its concreteness...

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Odd Facts About Philosophers

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Jainism

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Brain Games: 8 Philosophical Puzzles and Paradoxes

Plato and Aristotle both held that philosophy begins in wonder, by which they meant puzzlement or perplexity, and many philosophers after them have agreed. Ludwig Wittgenstein considered the aim of philosophy...

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epistemology

the study of the nature, origin, and limits of human knowledge. The term is derived from the Greek epistm (knowledge) and logos (reason), and accordingly the field is sometimes referred to as the...

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Orwell vs Huxley vs Zamyatin: Who would win a dystopian fiction contest? – Scroll.in

Posted: June 25, 2017 at 2:01 pm

In a city of glass, where people who are just Numbers living in glass-brick houses, and everyones daily routine is determined by the Tables of the Hours set down by the Well-Doer, one particular Number, D-503, is developing a dangerous affliction. He is nurturing a soul. This could put his life and that of his loved ones in mortal danger, because in this future One State, where logic rules, sex is rationed and love banned, a budding soul is an indication of developing individuality and separateness. But the state believes: nobody is one, but one of. We are so alike...

We, Yevgeny Zamyatins chilling account of a future world state ruled by Reason is arguably one of the granddads of dystopia. Initially available as secret samizdat editions (1921) in the erstwhile Soviet Union, the book was smuggled out of USSR and first appeared in English in 1924 published by EP Dutton, New York. The novel was an immediate hit in western intellectual circles though its author, under attack from Soviet authorities, had to seek exile in France where he died in poverty. Here perhaps for the first time, fiction had engaged head on with the imagined workings of a totalitarian dictatorship in a manner never attempted before.

But did dystopian fiction really hit the road with Zamyatins We? Leaving aside the academic argument that any fictional work about a utopia has the elements of a dystopia embedded in it and that such writing about a utopia takes us back all the way to Platos Republic and Thomas Mores Utopia, let us look at this snippet from a short story written in 1891 by the well-known humorist author Jerome Klapka Jerome. A man has woken up from 1000-year-long sleep, and finds himself in London where he needs a bath:

No; we are not allowed to wash ourselves. You must wait until half-past four, and then you will be washed for tea. Be washed! I cried. Who by?

The State. He said that they had found they could not maintain their equality when people were allowed to wash themselves. Some people washed three or four times a day, while others never touched soap and water from one years end to the other, and in consequence there got to be two distinct classes, the Clean and the Dirty.

This story about London, 1,000 years after a socialist revolution, is a snapshot introduction to dystopia, where the best laid plans for a state of equality have resulted in completely undesirable consequences. Jeromes story seems to have influenced and inspired the anti-utopian fiction that followed.

A running theme and essentially what lies at the heart of all dystopian writing is the conflict of freedom and happiness. In Zamyatins book, the government of the One State (United State in Zilboorgs translation) has curtailed all freedoms. A poet talking about paradise tells the character D-503 how Adam and Eve were offered a choice between happiness without freedom, and freedom without happiness, and how they stupidly chose the latter. The government of the One State claims to have restored this lost happiness to its subjects.

Its a pity that this mighty little book is hardly ever discussed in this country. Our introduction to dystopian fiction has been through the works of two British authors Aldous Huxley and George Orwell. Some would of course mention here Jack Londons The Iron Heel, popular in the last century and of which a Bengali translation also exists. But for most others, it is the prophetic vision of Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four which between them, introduced us to the dystopian tradition a kind of writing, increasingly popular in our present times, when we always seem to be a step away from the scary possibilities of an anti-utopia.

Huxleys novel, published in 1932, which ended up in some of the top reading lists of our times, presents us with a nightmarish vision of a distant future where genetic modification, hypnopaedia and Pavlovian conditioning have created a caste-system based on intelligence and aptitude. The uncanny clairvoyance of this work and its literary brilliance have ensured its place in the pantheon of dystopia before which all practitioners of this form pay obeisance or offer a hat tip.

Numerous works come to mind and it could be a literary detectives favourite pastime to spot traces of Brave New World in the works of Margaret Atwood, to hear its echo in a scene from David Mitchell or perhaps to remember, while reading Doris Lessings Mara and Dann, how those bands of men in post ice age Ifrik (Africa) who all looked the same, resemble Huxleys Bokanovsky groups of individuals created from single embryos.

True to the dystopian school, the question of freedom versus happiness is also central to Huxleys plot. There we find a primitive world of freedom and instincts existing within the ordered dystopia of the World State, in an electric-fenced New Mexican reservation from which we get John or The Savage, one of the principal characters of the book. Again, in one of many poignant scenes of this novel, the sleep-learning specialist, Bernard Marx and the foetus technician, Lenina Crowne, hover over the dark frothing waves of the English channel in their helicopter, and Lenina says:

I dont know what you mean. I am free. Free to have the most wonderful time. Everybodys happy nowadays.

He laughed.

Yes, Everybodys happy nowadays. We begin giving the children that at five. But wouldnt you like to be free to be happy in some other way, Lenina? In your own way, for example; not in everybody elses way.

Quite obviously the similarities between We and Brave New World are not hard to find and in fact, while reviewing Zamyatins book, George Orwell went so far as to say Huxleys novel might have been partly derived from We, which Huxley later denied.

In fact this equally applies to Nineteen Eighty-Four, which seems to have drawn quite a bit of inspiration from the Russian novelist. Charringtons antique shop and the shabby little room upstairs which has preserved an old world charm seems to echo the Antique House in Zamyatins We, just as the character OBrien, who pretends to be a member of the secret Brotherhood working against Big Brother in Nineteen Eighty-Four reminds us of the character S-4711, one of the Guardians in We. But the DNA of dystopian fiction has many common sources and certain foundational themes, so it is nothing out of the ordinary to discover traits of one work in the storyline or characters of another.

Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four, published in 1949, a book stamped for ever in the psyche of all freedom-loving individuals, was set in the dehumanised totalitarian state of Oceania ruled by Big Brother. Here the protagonist Winston Smith works at the Ministry of Truth, which is responsible for propaganda. Similarly the Ministry of Peace is responsible for War while the Ministry of Love conducts torture and maintains law and order.

Surveillance, the cruelty of the state and the Partys quest for absolute power are the running themes of Orwells novel, which brings it closer to Zamyatins We, while the dystopia of Brave New World, milder on the surface but with an ending equally dehumanising, is managed through genetic engineering, mental conditioning, fostering of consumerism and the use of the magic drug soma.

Like the other two books, Nineteen Eighty-four also delves into the freedom-versus-happiness question. As the protagonist Winston Smith is incarcerated and tortured in the chambers of the Ministry of Love by the large and burly OBrien, who is an Inner Party member, many thoughts pass through his mind:

He knew in advance what OBrien would say. That the Party did not seek power for its own ends, but only for the good of the majority. That it sought power because men in the mass were frail cowardly creatures who could not endure liberty or face the truth, and must be ruled over and systematically deceived by others who were stronger than themselves. That the choice for mankind lay between freedom and happiness, and that, for the great bulk of mankind, happiness was better.

Greater good and happiness have almost always been the guiding principle for utopias which have often morphed into dystopias depending on what we are looking for. In her essay about Brave New World, Margaret Atwood lucidly illustrates this point when she writes:

Brave New World is either a perfect-world utopia or its nasty opposite, a dystopia, depending on your point of view: its inhabitants are beautiful, secure and free from diseases and worries, though in a way we like to think we would find unacceptable.

In our present times when the assaults on freedom by despots, increased surveillance from the humble CCTVs to the Five Eyes Alliance, climate change and its looming dangers, new gene technologies and the frankenfood threat and above all runaway consumerism have pushed us closer to dystopian scenarios, we find Huxley and Orwell drawing hordes of readers. Let us take a little time to look back at these three foundational works of a robust literary tradition.

A few weeks ago a certain method of ante-natal care with its roots in ayurveda, championed by the Garbh Vigyan Sanskar project of Arogya Bharati, was in the news for promising the best babies in the world. This drew the criticism it deserves. Critics cited ethical issues and lack of scientific knowledge but the fact remains that genetic engineering has reached a stage where we are only a few decades away from creating so-called designer babies using methods like Easy PGD (Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis). Brave New World naturally comes to mind as does Margaret Atwoods works.

It is the year 632 AF (After Ford), Henry Ford having acquired a god-like stature, we are in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre where humans are produced in bottles, and, using various techniques right from the embryonic stage, are predesigned to be intelligent, stupid, morons, hard workers and so on.

The opening chapter sets the tone with powerful descriptions that blend scientific language with evocative use of words. The Director of the London Hatchery, Thomas, is showing some students the facilities for storing bottled embryos which are subjected to various shocks, chemical stimulations and processes that will slot them into lives of Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas or Epsilons the lowest in the caste rank:

And in effect the sultry darkness into which the students now followed him was visible and crimson, like the darkness of closed eyes on a summers afternoon. The bulging flanks of row on receding row and tier above tier of bottles glinted with innumerable rubies, and among the rubies moved the dim red spectres of men and women with purple eyes and all the symptoms of lupus. The hum and rattle of machinery faintly stirred the air.

The story is plotted at one level around the conflicts between the Alpha-plus sleep-learning specialist Bernard Marx and Thomas, the Director. Everyone feels that there is something wrong with Bernards conditioning because he is not reconciled to his destiny of a super-intelligent Alpha like the others. He doesnt enjoy wasteful games like Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy, is averse to promiscuous sex which is the norm, and is not happy with his condition, unlike other citizens of the World State. The Director has warned him a few times, threatening to send him off on exile to Iceland but things havent changed.

At this juncture Bernard and the foetus technician Lenina go on a holiday to the New Mexican reservation of Malpais where, they come across the ageing Linda and her son, the yellow haired John (the Savage), among the villagers. It turns out that John the Savage is the Director Thomas naturally born child. Thomas had abandoned Linda after he lost her in a storm while on a visit to the reservation.

The hard contours of a dystopian society do not yield easily to the literary approach but Brave New World is a master class in how it should be done. With its carefully etched characters, the scintillating wit, a brilliant mix of irony and laughter, and the well-oiled engine of a plot centred on the tensions between Thomas, Bernard and Lenina, this book easily surpasses the other two in literary qualities if not also in the diamond-edge of its satire.

Bernard sees an opportunity to teach the Director a lesson. He brings John and Linda back to London with him where, in a hilarious scene, the Savage, runs and falls on his knees before the Director and a roomful of Hatchery workers:

...John! she called. John!

He came in at once, paused for a moment just inside the door, looked round, then soft on his moccasined feet strode quickly across the room, fell on his knees in front of the Director, and said in a clear voice: My father!

The word (for father was not so much obscene as with its connotation of something at one remove from the loathsomeness and moral obliquity of child-bearing merely gross, a scatological rather than a pornographic impropriety); the comically smutty word relieved what had become a quite intolerable tension. Laughter broke out, enormous, almost hysterical, peal after peal, as though it would never stop. My father and it was the Director! My father! Oh Ford, oh Ford!

John The Savage, who has read only one book in his life The Complete Works of William Shakespeare becomes somewhat of a celebrity; an oddity in fact for his language is peppered with the quotes from the Bard, in Londons elite circles. But he finds the life of this brave new world, quoting from Shakespeares The Tempest, hard to digest, falls in love with Lenina, openly incites rebellion by throwing away soma rations, and finally meets a sad end.

In his Foreword to a new edition of the book written in 1946, Huxley wrote that if he would write the book again he would give the Savage a third option between the primitive Indian reservation of New Mexico and the utopian London. This would be in a place of decentralised economics, human-centric science, cooperation and the pursuit of mans Final End. Such a society he did attempt to portray in his last book, Island, which never climbed the heights of Brave New World.

Orwells novel, unlike Huxleys, foregrounds the harshness of totalitarian rule and the political philosophy that begets such a monster. While the Huxleian dystopia is a sort of soma-infused, predestination-soaked, pseudo-paradise, in Orwells Oceania and Airstrip One (England) deadly torture and surveillance by the Thought Police (which is always on the lookout for thoughtcrime) helps to maintain public order.

There is continuous war among the three world powers, Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia, and rocket bombs fall now and then on London. Big Brother, whose picture is everywhere, rules Oceania with an iron hand where, at the Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith works at revising historical facts.

The ruling political ideology is Ingsoc (English Socialism) and power belongs to Inner Party members (with Big Brother at the top) followed by Outer Party and finally the hapless proles who dont count for much.

Winston begins to keep a diary in his room, away from the gaze of the two way telescreen, where he records the internal restless monologue running through his head, his observations and innermost thoughts. He knows that if this is discovered he will be put to death. Yet he writes on the beautiful creamy paper, DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER.

The story develops slowly and the beginning drags a bit where the way of life in Airstrip One lived through the characters, the iron hand of the Party, the worship of Hate and the workings of the various ministries are drilled into the readers mind in a mechanical fashion. Perhaps this treatment suits the subject and is meant to echo the heartlessness of the ruling powers and the emptiness of lives, giving the reader a sense of all that is lost in this Orwellian anti-utopia.

Winston falls in love with Julia who works in the Fiction Department, churning out novels and finds a refuge for both of them in a little room above Mr Charringtons antiques shop. In this little shop and the room above it, the old world of beautiful objects seems to be preserved in a time capsule.

It was a heavy lump of glass, curved on one side, flat on the other, making almost a hemisphere. There was a peculiar softness, as of rainwater, in both the colour and the texture of the glass. At the heart of it, magnified by the curved surface, there was a strange, pink, convoluted object that recalled a rose or a sea anemone.

What is it? said Winston, fascinated.

Thats coral, that is, said the old man. It must have come from the Indian Ocean. They used to kind of embed it in the glass. That wasnt made less than a hundred years ago. More, by the look of it.

Its a beautiful thing, said Winston.

It is a beautiful thing, said the other appreciatively. But theres not many thatd say so nowadays.

But soon Winston and Julia are snared by OBrien, an Inner Party member who pretends to belong to the secret Brotherhood conspiring the downfall of the Party. OBrien arranges to send him a forbidden book The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, by Emmanuel Goldstein, which he reads in the apparent safety of the room above Charringtons shop. But soon enough they are arrested.

Torture follows, Winston confesses to real and imaginary crimes and the final defeat comes next when he and Julia betray each other. With this defeat of love it seems there is nothing left to defend anymore. And surely enough, we find a changed Winston in the final pages.

The enduring quality of Orwells novel flows from the lengths he goes to in describing the propaganda machinery, the degree of surveillance, the means of torture, and the dehumanising effects of totalitarianism which includes among other things, children spying on and reporting against their parents and the development of a precise official language called Newspeak, much of which, in various degrees, are to be found in the world today. And once again, all these powers lording over these dystopias concur on one singular aspect they are enemies of freedom. Freedom is Slavery is one of the party slogans of Big Brothers Oceania.

Zamyatins We, like Nineteen Eighty-Four begins with a somewhat flat narration and almost one-dimensional characters which we soon realise is a way to portray how human beings have been reduced to cogs in a wheel and. in this case, just numbers. But here we do have a slightly curious plot to draw our attention.

The narrator, D-503, is the builder of the spaceship Integral, which will carry the message of happiness from the One State to other worlds with the hope of subjugating their inhabitants to the rule of Reason. The book is a collection of records kept by the narrator and is marked by mannerisms and a curious mathematical vocabulary which is an echo of the rule of logic and mathematics that guides the life of the numbers inhabiting the earth and which also establishes the fact that D-503 is a mathematician. This is from a report in the State newspaper and as we have seen in the other works it begins with an attack on freedom and an emphasis on the desirability of happiness:

One thousand years ago, your heroic ancestors subjected the whole earth to the power of the One State. A still more glorious task is before you: the integration of the indefinite equation of the Cosmos by the use of glass, electric, fire-breathing Integral. Your mission is to subjugate to the grateful yoke of reason the unknown beings who live on other planets and who are perhaps still in the primitive state of freedom. If they will not understand that we are bringing them a mathematically-faultless happiness, our duty will be to force them to be happy. But before we take up arms, we shall try the power of words.

In this future state, Guardians, who are the secret police, keep tabs on everyone and crime is punished with torture and execution by The Machine. Sex is rationed with a system of pink slips and, as the story progresses, a female number, O-90 with lovely blue eyes is assigned to D-503. People are allowed to lower the curtains of their transparent apartments only for these assigned hours of physical intimacy.

But soon enough our narrator meets another woman, I-330, whip-like with dazzling white teeth, and gets strongly attracted to her. They have a tryst in his flat where, breaking the rules, they smoke and imbibe a greenish alcoholic drink, probably absinthe.

I-330 invites him to the Ancient House which is at the edge of the Green Wall that surrounds the city of glass. Meanwhile the whip-like woman, who is a secret revolutionary belonging to the MEPHI, impresses upon him to take command of the trial launch of the Integral and land it outside the Green Wall. The plan succeeds but the Guardians have infiltrated their ranks and so they have to return.

The Wall, border, fence, etcetera constitute a standard trope of dystopia, separating the realm of civilisation and happiness from the areas inhabited by primitives, where reason still doesnt have a foothold. Where, often, independence, driven out from dystopia, has found a somewhat comfortable refuge.

Family is another structure that those in power in these anti-utopias hate because it represents what Bertrand Russell in The Scientific Outlook a book which some say might have had an influence on Huxley describes as a loyalty which competes with loyalty to the State. Sure enough, family bonds are tenuous in Nineteen Eighty-Four, where it has become an extension of the Thought Police while in Brave New World and We, the family unit no longer exists.

The rule of logic and mathematics in every sphere of life in Zamyatins novel is echoed in D-503s descriptions I noticed her brows that rose to the temples in an acute angle like the sharp corners of an X, while the growing irrationality within himself is thus recorded, Now I no longer live in our clear, rational world; I live in the ancient nightmare world, the world of square roots of minus one. The square root of minus one as all students of high school maths know is the imaginary number i which in this context would stand for individuality and separateness to be contrasted with the faceless collective We of Zamyatins world.

On the Great day of Unanimity each year, when a farcical election is held to return power to the Well-Doer (Benefactor in future translations), it is suddenly found that many have risen in dissent, refusing to vote for the leader. The MEPHI has spread its roots and a ruthless counter-offensive begins. Large sections of the population, including D-503, are subject to The Operation to remove the centre of fancy from their brains which will turn them into human tractors. In the end, the narrators fate is somewhat similar to Winstons in Nineteen Eighty-Four, while I-330 and others are tortured and sentenced to death.

Zamyatins We is a book that grows upon you as you read it for the first, second or third time. With its mathematical similes, the cold antiseptic settings through which faceless numbers, robbed of imagination and independence, go about fulfilling their duties to the state, always under the shadow of the Well-Doer and his murderous Machine, the book reminds us about all that is precious in our lives, all that is worth fighting for till the last of our breath.

There have been many debates as to who was right about the future Orwell or Huxley? It has been pointed out that with the fall of the Soviet Union the Orwellian world of a totalitarian dictatorship collapsed for ever. But still in corners of the world like North Korea, we find situations that seem to be taken straight out of Nineteen Eighty-Four, just as in Trump-era United States, we find echoes of censorship and control over facts imagined by Orwell.

However, in predicting the course science might take, and in imagining the possibility that humanity would squander away freedom at the altar of desire and consumerism, Huxleys Brave New World stands out as a book more conscious of the pulse of rulers and ruled alike.

In his 1958 book Brave New World Revisited which among other things predicts how thw population explosion will become a strain on the worlds resources, Huxley, comparing his dystopia to Orwells, wrote:

The society described in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a society controlled almost exclusively by punishment and the fear of punishment. In the imaginary world of my own fable, punishment is infrequent and generally mild. The nearly perfect control exercised by the government is achieved by systematic reinforcement of desirable behaviour, by many kinds of nearly non-violent manipulation, both physical and psychological, and by genetic standardisation.

Huxleys insights that non-violent manipulation works far better than terror and that the trivial pleasures of a consumer culture will steal freedom from us are an apt characterisation of our times. Neil Postman beautifully summarises the work of these two authors, when he writes:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture.

Reading these three books and reflecting on the above words, it wouldnt be a thoughtcrime to believe that we are already swimming breathlessly in the choppy waters of a dystopian present.

Rajat Chaudhuri is a Charles Wallace Trust, Korean Arts Council-InKo and Hawthornden Castle fellow. He has advocated on climate change issues at the United Nations and has recently finished writing his fourth work of fiction about environmental disaster.

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Orwell vs Huxley vs Zamyatin: Who would win a dystopian fiction contest? - Scroll.in

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Mailbag: The limits of ethical egoism – Albany Democrat Herald

Posted: June 23, 2017 at 6:03 am

Richard Hirschi's June 14 letter quoted Ayn Rand as if her words were holy writ. Rand disciples should see on Google "Problems with Ayn Rand's philosophy." They'll find several logical fallacies in her position of ethical egoism.

Also, they should consider the current occupant of the White House, a perfect example of egoism run amok. Everything is about him, either for him or against him. He is centered on praise and attention at all times. These are also the characteristics of spoiled kids. Everything is about what they want, and what they hate. If they don't grow up and accept society's norms, they'll be Mr. Trump or Ayn Rand (who was a lot like Trump in her private life).

We who have grown up are not thieves, as Rand claimed, nor are we collectivists, as Hirschi wrote. We own property, stock, businesses, etc. We just want to avoid what happened to Kansas under Gov. Brownback. The state cut taxes for the rich and businesses, forcing steep cuts in funding for public schools, highways, and other needed services (check it online). It didn't improve the economy as promised. It just left the state broke, with a lousy credit rating.

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Mailbag: The limits of ethical egoism - Albany Democrat Herald

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