Samstag, 29. September 2012
Day 51 - Ayn Rand and my reactions to the words 'selfishness' and 'self-interest' (part 1)
I was watching a documentary about Ayn Rand and her philosophy of 'rational self-interest'. Her idea was briefly that through rational self interest, when each individual cares for it's very own happiness and not for the happiness of others, a society would become stable and the economy would provide wealth and well being for everyone, self regulating only through the self interest motivation of each participant. The 'rational' within this term can be referred to as 'based on common sense' and a responsible and ethical attitude, which means that the only self-regulation within that personal striving for self interest and your own happiness would be to consider the consequences of your actions for others in a way that your actions should not harm anyone else or interfere with another's self interest. This self regulation includes of course the rigorous rejection of any interference of that kind in your own personal pursuit of happiness.
Very interesting aspects, but I will not go into the practicality of this philosophy or discuss the attempts to implement it into our capitalistic system in this blog.
My point is the reaction I had to the words selfishness and self-interest.
I experienced during reading and watching about Ayn Rand an emotional reaction towards the use of the term 'selfishness' or 'self-interest' in such a, as I saw it, 'positive' way. I was surprised that it could probably be considered that self interest and selfishness could lead to well being for all, maybe even a society full of happy people without exception.
I was nevertheless totally aware of the implcations how the terms are used and what is meant by 'rational self interest', I am clear about the meaning and the considerations, it is not even new, 'do your own thing', 'mind your own business', do not interfere, sounds ok, no problem with that - but: is it even possible? Who decides where the chain of responsibility starts and where it ends? Is that my own business too? Then I am free to shift the borders of my perception of my responsibility and consequence whenever I like.
But we do live in a world that is highly and deeply interconnected, many borders are merely existing on paper, on the world market simple and seemingly meaningless decisions can cause an extraordinary effect on whole countries far away, each and every consumer decision in our society has consequences reaching across the whole planet, can we even dare to believe we could foresee the possible harm that our decisions and actions can inflict on others? Or ist the term 'rational self-interest' nothing more than an excuse, an attempt to avoid to state the appearing inability of the human being to change itself, to be trusted, to becöme a trustworthy, reliable, reasonable and happy part of a functioning society and thus taking the bull by the horns, saying: "let's do the only reasonable thing left: everybody RUN!"?
Those were excerpts of my self interrogations when I saw the documentary and read a little more about Ayn Rand. So, this is obviously not an expertise. I just want to make clear that I did not 'reject' the whole idea and stopped investigating just because of my 'reaction' to the term 'selfishness' and 'self interest'. I would have done that probably, many years ago, when I saw myself more as an idealist, a young philosopher myself, when I saw 'importance' in my personality and used any knowledge, any reading, any debate as an extension for my own self-righteous 'character'.
So still I had this reaction and a prejudices to tackle this philosophy with a suspicious mind from the beginning. It was merly a slight tension, a slight feeling and when I became aware of it I could literally face each single automated program of my mind starting to block my view on what is really happening. I could deliberately follow the attempts of my mind and thoughts to judge the 'person' Ayn Rand, to make up images, speculations about her past, history, trying to find suitable self justifying interpretations of her mimic in the video which could make her look untrustworthy and so on. My self-righteous Ego started to straighten itself, thoughts of arrogant sarcasm and scornful comments turned up.
As I said before, I could deliberately follow those steps and initialised programs and I did not allow them to determine myself. I know, as maybe everybody knows, how such judgemental thought patterns take place and how they develop until one is totally convinced that the thoughts, justifications and judgements are absolutely real and true, while in fact one is just blocking oneself from reality and betraying oneself just to defend an image of oneself as a personality that one has grown fond of.
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to charge the words selfishness and self interest with a negative value.
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to become determined by my emotional reactions towards words that I have judged and charged with a positive or negative value.
to be continued with self forgiveness and self corrective statements...
Link to the original documentary: