|A couple of thoughts struck me while reading the progress of this thread:|
1. As Rand stated, there is a tight relationship between the Kantian's denial of the validity of the senses and the Kantian's insistence that altruism and benevolence are equivalent: both are variants of the same kind of sophism. If I walk out of the door and 'see' a rolled-up newspaper out of the corner of my eye which is, in fact, a small pile of leaves, this is held to be proof that my sense of eyesight is unreliable - regardless of the fact that a closer look at the location of the mysterious 'paper' - by my own supposedly unreliable eyes - is precisely what shows that my earlier corner-of-the-eye glance was inaccurate.
The same thing applies to the sophistical link between rational selfishness and asociality. "Once upon a time, when I bumped into a Kantian, he and I began talking over the Iraqi war and things went pleasantly enough, even though he was somewhat uncomfortable when I kidded him about the duty of the United States to spread democracy. He got rid of his discomfort by kidding me that Kant, being a four-letter word, was not spelled H-E-G-E-L, and that I should remember that twice two still means four.
"The conversation proceeded smoothly enough until we came at somewhat of a loggerhead when the Kantian assured me that I was asocial at heart because of my commitment to ethical egoism. No matter how I framed my refuation, he didn't understand at all, so we decided to put the issue aside.
"The next time we met, things hit off even more quickly. He had spread around that I was his new 'asocial friend'; I laughed and we began discussing the Presidential campaign in the United States. This conversation went for an even longer time - because the earlier mention of Hegel had reminded me of Francis Fukuyama which I had vowed to bring up the next time we met - and once again I had to break off, dissatisfied, though this time it was because of the clock...."
If you look closely at this imaginary vignette, you'll see the same refutation-through-actions of a principle which seems to fit one's experience, but only fits that part of experience which sticks in the mind rather than that part of one's actions which one takes for granted. This is precisely why arguments with the "fallacy of the stolen concept" imbedded in them are so plausible: they provide a plausible explanation for our mistakes, which we are more prone to remember than the normalcy of everyday correct actions.
When the above is seen, you can almost imagine the cheeky-student brigade getting their hands on both of them:
Whelp #1: "Sir? I read this passage yesterday about why my sense were unreliable and it stuck right in my head."
Whelp #2: "Sir? I agree that it is my duty to study hard at my desk rather than waste my time in the usual way."
[Getting back to talking "at" each other....]
2. The Kantian's seemingly common-sensical impression that we supposedly 'hate' helping others is a result of our over-preparedness, or over-resourcefulness, relative to the norm. Since the Kantian assumes that altruism = mutual dependency, they interpret a dislike of being helped as instant proof that the independent man dislikes helping, too. When we disprove this through our actions, wee immediately move from "cold-hearted monster" to...
...a maipulable sap. "You want to get your way with one of those fellows? Just call 'em 'cold-hearted monsters' and see what you get out of 'em...."