February 19, 2004

Anti-clericalism for the new millenium!

Posted by Curt at 09:14 PM in Geek Talk | TrackBack

The framework of ethics must be rid of this virulent latent sense of Marxist/Calvinist guilt which holds happiness and well-being to be somehow finite, of discrete quantities, and hence that the happiness of others and the happiness of oneself must be mutually exclusive. The upshot of this is that the concepts of duty and obligation become forms of self-negation, of self-immolation. In other words, one can only behave morally at the expense of oneself. Need I point out that this is all a hollow illusion? By this standard, the highest form of generosity is giving without deriving any sense of joy or satisfaction from it, i.e. how I feel when I pay my taxes, which can hardly be considered an act of altruism. No, the ones who are actually admired, perhaps because intution is wiser than ethics, are those who find their own happiness concurrent with the happiness of another or others, and who thus do themselves good even as they do good to others. This is neither a condemnation nor an exaltation of misanthropes, but they at least do not commit the folly of trying to win approbation through a generosity which brings them no joy, and which consequently could not win them any but the most superficial praise. Perhaps it suffices merely to echo a certain Chinese philosopher much wiser than any of us who once said that duty and personal happiness can be joined only through love.


Excellent point. If one can't find joy in fulfilling one's ethical obligations, one needs to seriously re-examine one's system of ethics.

Posted by: shonk at February 19, 2004 09:28 PM