|This is a very interesting thread. Altruism versus benevolence. If one does not distinguish betweenthe two, there is no benevolence, because Rand identifies altruism as the driving force behind the culture of evil. That is why many new Objectivists get freaked out by the fringe Objectivists who believe that Objectivism is a philosophy which provides a moral basis for being an asshole (it doesn't).|
Let's use an example of a drowning man (a stranger, let's say). If you judge it to be in your best interest, you morally let him drown, because you have absolutely ~no~ moral duty to help anyone but yourself. If it is not a threat to life and limb, and you are possessed of a benevolent spirit, you help him short of jumping in the freezing lake yourself. If you are an altruist, the only moral choice is to jump in the freezing lake, and ideally, 'heroically' die while saving the stranger.
SOLO makes much of how important benevolence is to sense of life. Either benevolence is a virtue (moral issue) or not. Helping a drowing man you never met doesn't help you at all, may get your clothes wet, and wastes your time. If there is not ~some~ selfish rationale for doing it, then it is immoral to do so. I understand Matthew on this one--appreciating your own life means you should understand how precious each man's life should be to him. Fostering assistance between men is nice--its nice to think that if the shoe was on the other foot, someone would throw you a rope. But making it a moral imperative is the first step down the road of morally requiring someone to sacrifice something of their own--anything, whether it be a moment of their time, a thought, a telephone call--to others, unearned, and so must to rejected as immoral. Benevolence is immoral. Good thing our forebears were not Objectivists, because the species never would have survived.
Ok, so many of you will know that the above is me being sarcastic.
(Edited by Scott DeSalvo on 10/09, 8:53pm)