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Re: Karmic Psychology

Dec 30, 1996 11:46 PM
by Tom Robertson

On Tue, 31 Dec 96, John Straughn wrote:

>When someone pursues
>their own interests without consideration of another's, particularly at the
>expense of others, they are being selfish.  Self-interest is perfectly fine,
>that is unavoidable, I agree.

Selfishness is only a vice if it is unfair to others.  Even the author of
"The Virtue of Selfishness" considered injustice to be wrong.

>However, I believe that a truer definition of
>unselfishness is considering others' interests and well-being before >pursuing and upholding one's own.

To put others ahead of self is what I call "doormat-ism."  Objectivists
commonly accuse Kant's saying that duty should be put ahead of self as his
meaning that others should be put ahead of self, but I believe they are two
distinctly different concepts, and I find it hard to believe that Kant, who
was mentioned favorably many times by HPB in "The Secret Doctrine," really
believed that putting others first was the ideal.  I consider justice, or
duty, which includes self-interest and the interests of others, to be the
ideal.  Olcott said that he put duty first in all his actions.

>And if one's personal self-interest harms another
>person in ANY way (intellectually, emotionally, physically, etc.), it would be
>"selfish" to continue to pursue the interest in question.

All actions uniquely affect others both negatively and positively.  If an
action harms others more than it helps oneself, it is wrong.  But to apply
the rule of refraining from doing anything which might hurt anyone in any
way would lead to complete inactivity.

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