Why Selflessness is Immoral

Selflessness or altruism means putting the interests of others above yourself.  Just as “selfishness” has negative connotations in society of self-interest at the expense of others, “altruism” is often thought of as kind or generous acts for others.  This view is wrong.  It is wrong because the originator of the term himself, Auguste Comte, meant it to mean precisely what it implies: acting for the sake of others with no thought to oneself.

It is this true original definition of altruism that I am using here, and I will use altruism and selflessness interchangeably.

Selflessness is irrational.  It is irrational because it demands that the beneficiary of your actions be others.  Does it suggest who these others should be?  That is a decision an individual would make for himself based on his personal values.  But, since altruism dictates that we should hold our interests or values in no regard when acting, altruism actually states that the personal value of the beneficiary be irrelevant to our action!  By this “logic” not only would giving money to a drug-dealing rapist be just as moral as giving money to an orphanage, it would be more moral!

Why is that?  It comes down to personal values.  To suggest that some people are more worthy than others to benefit from acts of generosity implies that one has made a value judgment oneself in such matters based on a personal evaluation of worth.  But acting in accordance with one’s personal values is a SELFISH act.  Choosing to help your friend over a stranger is a selfish act.  Choosing to save the life of your lover over the life of an enemy is a selfish act.  Going to work and spending your hard-earned money on yourself and not giving it to every beggar in the street who asks is a selfish act.  Conversely, giving help to an unknown over a friend would be selfless.  Giving up the life of your lover so that a hated person could live would be a selfless act.  Coming home from work and handing out £50 notes to people you see on the street would be a selfless act.  Selfless means “otherness”; it means the defiance of personal values.

Clearly, this is not the sort of moral guide most altruists have in mind when they talk about “selflessness” (although many altruists do, such as the religious), yet that is exactly what their “morality” means, and if they disagree they don’t understand their own moral position.

A perfect example of this self-contradiction is in a recent post by the humanist Ebonmuse:

Instead, what brings happiness is participation – interaction with the world and exploration of all it has to offer, our relationships to friends and loved ones and a larger community, and selfless labor for the good of others.” (Bold mine)

Notice that our friends, our loved ones, our community, our happiness, our interaction are cited as positive things.  Positive for whom?  Beneficial for whom?  For us!  These are selfish values.  They are a personal value to us, and we act on them because we derive benefit from them.  Yet Ebonmuse also insists that our labour be totally unrelated to personal value!  So which is it?  Should our actions be selfish or selfless?  You cannot have it both ways.

Proponents of “selfless morality” (a contradiction in terms) will fiercely disagree and claim that I am attacking a strawman or twisting their position.  But clearly I am not: to use any personal values as a guide to making decisions is a selfish act.  Selflessness requires the contradiction of personal values; it requires that one act for the sake of acting, for no personal benefit at all.  And if you disagree that this is the correct course of action you should not call yourself an altruist or promote selflessness.

The belief that an act (or anything) is good or bad in itself is intrinsicism.  However nothing can be good or bad in itself.  “Good” or “bad” provoke the question: good or bad to whom?  Which implies that someone or something can make a value judgment concerning the objective effect that something in reality will have in regard to their existence.  There is only one thing in existence that can do this: consciousness.  Moral value judgments arise because of a consciousness’ relation to reality.  This is simply, and self-evidently because, for there to be “good” or “bad” – value or non-value, there must be a valuer.

This personal evaluation of what is beneficial or detrimental to a conscious being has to be performed by that conscious being.  By identifying the type of being it is and its relationship to reality, a being can discover what is of value to its life and what is not; what is “good” for its life and what is “bad” – and this is what morality is: a code of values to guide actions.  That is why true objective morality is not a duty, or set of rules passed on by authority, or a guidebook invented by man.    It is something that can, that has to be, objectively discovered by humans; by each human.

For this reason, morality is a personal matter – it is a guide for each of us how to live our lives.  It is not an ethereal magical phenomena that arises through social behaviour; it is not determined by social norm or majority whim or evolutionary instinct.

Since morality is a code of values to guide actions, it is necessary that these values be rationally discovered – otherwise they would not correspond to reality and would therefore be useless as a guide to any action.  But selflessness would demand the contradiction of our values.  It would demand of us sacrifice.

The morality of altruism is the morality of sacrifice: the giving up of higher values for lower ones; surrendering what is of more value to you for what is of less or none.  Just as giving up £100 for £5 is irrational, so is sacrificing your values to non-values.  But the irrational cannot be the moral, since it is only moral values that can be a guide in our life.  Therefore, selflessness and altruism are positively immoral – they require the irrational nonsensical valueless abandonment of our values for a non-existence supposedly intrinsic immanent “good”.

The sacrifice of values cannot result in happiness, since happiness is the lasting joy that arises from achieving our values.  Our values guide our actions, and ultimately every action has a purpose, and our ultimate purpose is: life.  There is only one alternative: death.  And since selfishly pursuing one’s own values is the moral guide to achieve happiness, selflessness is ultimately the immoral guide to achieving suffering.  Rational egoism holds life as the standard.  Selflessness’s standard is death.

46 Responses to “Why Selflessness is Immoral”

  1. Bill Says:

    I’m not sure I follow you completely. I do think morality is to a large degree selfish. However, I don’t think sacrifice and/or “selflessness” is completely lacking of morality. Humanity, has this tribalistic view of the world. At the nucleus is each individual, however the individual is dependent on the broader community, so reciprocating that help is important to ones own preservation. There does come times where a broader community is dependent on individual acts which may not actually be the best result for the individual rather the community. I do agree that often times these “less selfish” acts may result in death or injury, so they have a significant loss of “value” to the individual. Is the value lost to the individual worth the value gained by the community? I mean, I think it’s case-by-case. And I agree at the heart of it, this “community” must be important to maintaining a better life for the individual. Once, the community is elevated to a higher level than individuals (kind of like nationalistic communist nations) then I think that does become immoral. It’s through this interaction of scales of society as it relates to the individually lived lives, where morality and I suppose justice should be viewed. I’m not sure if I agree with you or not. I think maybe I’m just confused on how you determine when a sacrificial act is moral or immoral? Or do you always see it as immoral?

  2. evanescent Says:

    Bill,

    At the nucleus is each individual, however the individual is dependent on the broader community, so reciprocating that help is important to ones own preservation.

    It is true that humans derive many benefits from living together, however I wouldn’t use the word dependent as you seem to mean here. A rational being is self-reliant and does not parasitise off others. If by dependent you mean “freely choose to exchange values for mutual benefit”, I agree.

    There does come times where a broader community is dependent on individual acts which may not actually be the best result for the individual rather the community.

    This is exactly the kind of collectivist thinking that utilitarianism and altruism is based on. It completely disregards the existence of individual rights.

    Remember, a community in not an entity. A society is not a consciousness. Therefore, society has no values or interests in itself. Only individuals have consciousness – and only an individual can choose its own actions. Society cannot dictate to an individual how he/she should act just by majority voice – only a majority of individuals can try to tell an individual what to do, and they have no right to. What you’re suggesting is sacrifice of one individual to other individuals, but as the article explains, “sacrifice” is irrational and immoral.

    I do agree that often times these “less selfish” acts may result in death or injury, so they have a significant loss of “value” to the individual. Is the value lost to the individual worth the value gained by the community? I mean, I think it’s case-by-case.

    Again, you’re confusing the “collective” with individual. A collective is not a consciousness, therefore it has no values. When you say that the life of one individual is not as valuable as the life of many individuals, of value to whom exactly? Certainly it is the individual’s choice to value his/her own life. Values cannot exist independent of a consciousness to value them.

    And I agree at the heart of it, this “community” must be important to maintaining a better life for the individual.

    Society is beneficial for an individual, should the individual choose to live in one. That doesn’t make any individual the slave of a society.

    Once, the community is elevated to a higher level than individuals (kind of like nationalistic communist nations) then I think that does become immoral.

    Which seems to be what you were espousing above? Communist nations are the political realisation of the altruist morality.

    It’s through this interaction of scales of society as it relates to the individually lived lives, where morality and I suppose justice should be viewed.

    Morality applies to individuals and only to individuals. Now, Rights are a social issue as they apply to individual moral beings in a social context.

    I think maybe I’m just confused on how you determine when a sacrificial act is moral or immoral? Or do you always see it as immoral?

    Yes. Sacrifice, by definition, is irrational, and therefore always immoral.

    If one toils painfully to provide food for one’s family, that is not a sacrifice, because one values one’s family over the effort required to provide for them. Don’t confuse generosity with sacrifice. To “sacrifice” is to give up a greater value for lesser or non-value and this is what makes it irrational and immoral. As long as whatever action one takes, one acts consistently with the hierarchy of one’s values, one will never sacrifice; one will therefore always be acting morally.

  3. Bill Says:

    Well, I was going to write a rebuttal. But, I have to think about this more. I think we see sacrifice differently, as well as the value that a community has for the individual. Well in anycase, looking at different definitions for sacrifice, it is a somewhat ambiguous term. I guess to be as basic as possible, it means giving up something. Now, whether that sacrifice is also couple with a cost-benefit analysis or what values may be gained by that sacrifice is more on the lines of my thinking. But, where we place the gained value, seems to be where we disagree. I do see value in community, so long as it is beneficial to individuals of that community. Maybe it is somewhat utilitarian, because I see that a loss to me that results in large gains to other individuals may be moral. Well, in anycase, I can see that my logic is not complete. Although, I’m not sure I’m wrong or you’re right either.

  4. Favela Cranshaw Says:

    Bill, aren’t you at all uncomfortable with such confusion and wouldn’t it be rewarding to be able to reach a conclusion about sacrifice with a good measure of certainty? Have you read “Atlas Shrugged?”

  5. Bill Says:

    No, I haven’t really read any Ayn Rand yet. I’ve been suggested it before. So maybe I’ll read it. As far as reaching a conclusion about sacrifice. Sure, I would like to be more certain than I am now about it.

  6. Burgess Laughlin Says:

    An independent individual is a trader. He trades values (spiritual or material) with other individuals in society. An example of an independent individual is a fine arts painter who sells his paintings to willing buyers.

    A dependent individual does not deal with others through trade. An example of a dependent is a slave–or a bureaucrat who enforces controls of business and is paid by tax money, that is, money taken from productive people without their individual consent.

  7. evanescent Says:

    Bill, although Objectivism is conclusively proven from its epistemology and metaphysics onwards, a book like “Objectivism – The Philosophy of Ayn Rand” by Peikoff would be excellent but heavy at first. For an excellent series of articles on the morality of rational egoism and why altruism is evil, I strongly recommend the short and inexpensive “The Virtue of Selfishness”; check out Amazon.

  8. Teddy D Says:

    Bill, Ayn Rand has a number of excellent non-fiction works such as PHILOSOPHY: WHO NEEDS IT? and THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS that discuss these issues in explicit terms. I would recommend any potential reader of Ayn Rand’s work start with them as they do a fine job of setting the stage for Objectivist thought. If you find yourself enjoying these works, ATLAS SHRUGGED is then definitely worth considering.

  9. Bill Says:


    Burgess Laughlin Says:
    16 February, 2008 at 11:53 am
    An independent individual is a trader. He trades values (spiritual or material) with other individuals in society. An example of an independent individual is a fine arts painter who sells his paintings to willing buyers.

    I think this is great for individuals to “trade values”. You seem to suggesting this in a capitalistic manner. But, of course this is a selfish trade.


    A dependent individual does not deal with others through trade. An example of a dependent is a slave–or a bureaucrat who enforces controls of business and is paid by tax money, that is, money taken from productive people without their individual consent.

    This brings up an example I had, of giving money through charity to the Red Cross or some other relief organization. I realize that I’m sacrificing my own money for such operations. However, If I am in a situation not too disimilar from that which my money and the Red Cross’s hard work is meant to relieve, then I may be regain value, potentially much more value, than I lost. Although, I don’t see this giving as purely for my own benefit, I think I realize that these organizations serve an important part in our society and I want them to continue. So, I don’t even see sacrificing as necessarily a selfless act or an immoral act.

    Now as far as dependency on government. Particularly, it seems your logic suggests that scientists, postal workers, and other occupations largely funded by tax money are immoral. I suppose if all this work was funded through individually donated money, you would find it morally acceptable and independent? So, do you think the democratic process (through which our money is redistributed) is immoral? How, can our society operate efficiently and soundly under anarchy? That’s merely a question, not suggesting there is something necessarily wrong with anarchy.

    As an aside, thanks to the other commenters and evanescent on reading suggestions.

  10. evanescent Says:

    Bill, by giving money to charity you are forgetting one thing, and that is, that the people you expect to benefit from your generosity are of value to you. If YOU didn’t care about people then YOU wouldn’t give to charity – therefore you are acting in accordance with your values. Assuming your values are rational, then giving to charity is moral. Therefore, what you give is NOT a sacrifice.

    Bill, the alternative with government is not democracy vs anarchy – that is a false dichotomy. We need government. The only question is: are individual rights negotiable or not? If not, then taxation is immoral and wrong. How we finance government is an interesting and complex question and I encourage you to read this: http://ergosum.wordpress.com/2008/01/29/financing-the-government-in-a-free-society/

    Anyone who makes a living off the property of others is being immoral. No one has a right to the property of others. No one.

    A government that protects individual rights in an objective manner is necessary. But it’s impossible to protect rights by violating them. So the alternative is not anarchy, it is a totally free laissez-faire capitalist society with a government that has no power except that to protect of its citizens.

  11. Burgess Laughlin Says:

    Particularly, it seems your logic suggests that scientists, postal workers, and other occupations largely funded by tax money are immoral.

    Nothing I have said suggests I consider these occupations to be immoral. What is immoral is the forcible taking of money through taxation. Mail delivery, for example, should be operated by private enterprises not socialist ones. It is now a monopoly, that is, a breach of the market by government in favor of one group.

    So, do you think the democratic process (through which our money is redistributed) is immoral?

    Yes. Democracy is a dictatorship by the majority. I support a republic in which a written constitution guarantees individual rights, especially the basic rights of life, liberty, and property. In such a republic there will be no taxation.

    How, can our society operate efficiently and soundly under anarchy? That’s merely a question, not suggesting there is something necessarily wrong with anarchy.

    It can’t operate efficiently under anarchy. Anarchy is evil, just as its sister, statism, is evil. Anarchy vs. statism is a false dichotomy. I support capitalism instead.

  12. Stephen Thomas Says:

    I read that several times to find something to disagree with. I couldn’t. Well said — I completely agree.

  13. chris Says:

    Self is conceptual. and you are blurring the concepts…

    If a woman saves her childs life nad give up..
    yes its selfish in the sense that her value of child is part of her “self”.

    But she has also given up the entire source of that value. her physical self. if she gives her life there is no more conceptual self of her all. She has given up every possible concept of her self for her child. hence selfless in her act.

    We could call every act selfish or unselfish.

    Your and my reasonings are circular here. This is because the concept of self is defined by the first person, individual.

    Trying to define what “self” is for everyone, objectively…thats whats irrational.

  14. chris Says:

    ..”if a woman saves her childs life by giving up her own”…
    sorry fo the typo

  15. evanescent Says:

    Chris said:

    Self is conceptual. and you are blurring the concepts…

    I’m not sure what this means.

    if a woman saves her childs life by giving up her own…
    yes its selfish in the sense that her value of child is part of her “self”.

    No, it’s selfish because the child is a VALUE to her.

    But she has also given up the entire source of that value. her physical self. if she gives her life there is no more conceptual self of her all. She has given up every possible concept of her self for her child. hence selfless in her act.

    I’m not sure what your use of “conceptual self” really means here, Chris.

    On the contrary to what you said, the fact that the child is of such value to the woman that she would risk or even give up her life for the child is a selfish act, because the child was of such PERSONAL SELFISH value to begin with. So much so that the woman would rather not live her life without the child.

    Now, a truly selfless act would be the woman giving up her life for her most hated enemy for absolutely no reason at all. Or sacrificing her child for the life of someone she despises.

    We could call every act selfish or unselfish.

    An act is selfish if it is consistent with the hierarchy of your values. An action that sacrifices your values cannot be in your best interest and is therefore selfless.

  16. chris Says:

    I think in an ideal society you’d be correct. “Selflessness’ would be Immoral. And I would agree with you in most cases of day to day life.

    But during War World II many North Germans hid the Jews and Mentally Challenged in their houses away from Nazi Officials.
    French resisted Vicy Occupation.

    More closer to where I live :a nine year old Amish girl gave up her own life to a gun man.. this act bought time, which in all probability saved at least 8 lives.(West Nickel Mine Shootings).

    I guess what i’m thinking here is..
    you can’t totally marginalize the individuals choice to morality.
    Individuals must find their own freedom-responsibility to find how they act on valuing. And circumstance play a huge role in any Act.

    Perhaps sometimes it is acceptable for a person to make an immoral act…As long as they are willing to accept consequence.

  17. evanescent Says:

    Hi Chris, what do you mean by “acceptable”? Morality is a guide to human living, and it tells us to act consistently with our values. To do what is right means to never sacrifice your values. Therefore, if life is your value, it is never acceptable to sacrifice your values, in other words: to be immoral.

    No circumstances ever excuse an immoral act. Morality can only be violated where force is present, in which case the actor is not responsible for their actions anyway. Inasmuch as an actor is responsible for their actions, they should always strive to the moral thing.

    Now, to use the example of the Amish girl, perhaps the people whose lives she wanted to live where of immense to her. I don’t know. But no human being is a sacrificial object for others, and giving your life up for others is NOT a moral act in itself. It depends on the values involved. This is because life and the preservation of values is the moral ideal. Whereas sacrifice is only the ideal if death is the ultimate end.

    Like I said earlier, please don’t confuse bravery, generosity, courage, fighting, resistance, or even risking your life with selflessness. All these noble acts require that one act SELFISHLY.

    To even use examples of people risking their lives to save others ignores the fact that the people to be saved where of value to the person risking his/her life. A truly selfless act would be the Amish giving her life to save that of the gun man!

  18. Ergo Says:

    Evanescent,

    Given what I know about the Amish and their objectively immoral, anti-life, anti-civilization code of morality, I can reasonably state that the Amish girl’s self-sacrificial actions were driven by her Amish ideology and was therefore immoral. It is very likely that she considered her sacrifice a virtue and a moral duty. Her actions are condemnable.

    If she wouldn’t have sacrificed her life, it would not have bought time to save the other 8 people. However, this possibility in no way imputes a moral obligation on the girl to commit the ultimate sacrifice. It is *not* her fault that the lives of the 8 people are in danger–that is the moral crime of the gun man. Therefore, if she selfishly chooses to save her own life instead of being a sacrifical animal to the Amish/altruistic moral code, she is *not* the one to be condemned or held responsible for the endangerment of the lives of the other eight people. It is *not* her responsibility and she did not create this situation that they are stuck in. Indeed, she should have first and foremost thought about saving her own life, and then taken quick and rational steps to mitigate the danger to the other eight people as much as she could in that moment (perhaps, by dialling 911 for the police. Oh, but the Amish are against using the services of civil society, in which case, they deserve their fate.)

  19. evanescent Says:

    Hi Ergo, I would have to totally agree with you here on everything you’ve said.

  20. chris Says:

    More debate on Morality, in Response to Ergos point:

    The Amish follow an oral tradition called Ordnung. In this tradition they accept what comes. They cannot influence what God brings…from their point of view.

    Many speculated, at first locally, That the girls would passively follow the gun mans control, as this acceptance if part of Ordnung.

    But thats not what happened… All the Amish school girls offered to pray with the gun man and wait for God., for example…

    When 9 year old Fischer implored to the gunman, to “shoot (her), let the the others go”…
    She was acting Against her moral obligation, in attempts to save her school mates…

    Remember these are the morals of her reality, what she was taught.

    She made a individual choice to go against the morality, based upon feeling.. in the heat of the crazy circumstance.

    Her consequence was an ultimate sacrifice…but its estimated universally by officials that she saved other lives.

    We cannot create a moral principle the works in every situation , because we cannot understand every situation until we experience.

  21. evanescent Says:

    Chris, I think you misunderstand the nature of principles. The very reason principles exist is because we cannot foresee every situation!

    It is precisely because man is not omniscient, and can only act to the best extent of his knowledge, that he needs moral principles which guide his actions.

    Moral principles are derived from a rational objective study of man’s nature, and what is in his rational self-interest over his life as a whole.

    Moral principles are not contextual or utilitarian. Morals are not based on feeling, happiness, or suffering.

    Morality is also NOT determined “universally” by other people based on the consequences of an action. And sacrifice is most certainly not the standard for morality.

    Here is an example of a moral principle: “no man has the right to the property of others”. This means that stealing is wrong. There is no circumstance that makes stealing right. There is no context that can override this principle.

    Here is another example: “man should act in accordance with his values and never sacrifice a higher value for a lower one” – this makes sacrifice of any kind immoral, no matter what the circumstances. There exists no circumstance where it is acceptable to sacrifice your values.

    Note: this all assumes that a person is FREE to make a moral decision. If freedom is not possible, morality is not possible.

  22. Snake99 Says:

    Some thinkers hold that there is no correct definition of right behavior, that morality can only be judged with respect to particular situations, within the standards of particular belief systems and socio-historical contexts. This position, known as moral relativism, often cites empirical evidence from anthropology as evidence to support its claims.[4] The opposite view, that there are universal, eternal moral truths is known as moral absolutism. Moral absolutists might concede that forces of social conformity significantly shape moral decisions, but deny that cultural norms and customs define morally right behavior.

    By your line of thinking Evanescent Jesus would have been immoral. Your insane. Being selfless simply means wanting nothing in return, it doesnt indicate morality or rationality what so ever. You personally might perceive/jugde it to be irrational but even that doesnt indicate immorality either. If I value human life in general, then sacrificing my life to save other people lives, part of my values, is rational and moral. Not seeking personal gain is immoral? I think you’re confused. You’re pretty much saying by being selfish your being moral.
    Being selfish means seeking personal gain.
    Selflessness is the opposite.
    Being moral means doing what YOU think is right. 2 totally different concepts.

  23. Snake99 Says:

    Selfishness and selflessness are universally defined, morality is not.

  24. evanescent Says:

    Snake said:

    By your line of thinking Evanescent Jesus would have been immoral. Your insane.

    You’re right, the fictional character known as Jesus was immoral. He is immoral because according to the story he sacrifices his own life for crimes he did not commit (a betrayal of justice). He followed (or was) a God that punished people for crimes they did not commit. He executes people for disobedience and refusal to believe (the use of force against innocents, and restricting the proper use of man’s mind to reason and arrive at his own decisions). He holds all mankind accountable for the “crimes” of two people, who he knew would “sin” in the first place. And demands a morality that entails the abandonment of personal values (there are no other kind) in favour or sacrifical servitude to “god” or “others”. Yes you’re right, I do say Jesus is immoral.

    Being selfless simply means wanting nothing in return, it doesnt indicate morality or rationality what so ever.

    Being selfless means to act for others with no regard for oneself. But as I have explained above, this is an irrational course of action because it requires the sacrificing of our values to lesser or non-values. But since morality is a code of values to guide our actions, selflessly requires the abandonment of morality. Any selfless course of action, if consistently followed, results in self-destruction. A guide to action that cannot be applied consistently and holds your life in lesser or no regard cannot be used to live principally, and is therefore a useless morality.

    it doesnt indicate morality or rationality what so ever

    Yes it does, and the fact that you deny it means you think that the beneficiary of our actions be totally independant to making moral decisions! You are claiming that the values we should pursue be irrelevant to how we live our lives, even though it is the code of values that dictates how we should live our lives!

    If I value human life in general, then sacrificing my life to save other people lives, part of my values, is rational and moral.

    Sacrificing means giving up a greater value for a lesser or non-value. If you give up £5 to win £100, you have not sacrificed the £5! If you give up your life for a loved-one, someone of such important value in your life, that is not a sacrifice!

    Giving up your life or possessions to help or save a loved one is a selfish act. You must identify a selfish value in your life (your lover) and act to gain and/or keep them. It would only be selfless if the person you gave your life to save meant nothing to you.

    Not seeking personal gain is immoral? I think you’re confused. You’re pretty much saying by being selfish your being moral.

    Yes I am, and I think you’re confused because you haven’t read the article and comments properly. You are acting on the warped societal notion that selfless acts are moral. But that is the very position I am attacking! And I have explained why selfishness is a moral virtue, and selflessness is immoral.

    Being selfish means seeking personal gain.
    Selflessness is the opposite.

    Yes. Selfishness is acting to gain/keep the values necessary in your life. Selflessness is the giving up of values necessary in your life.

    Since the “good” is that which benefits man’s life and the “evil” is that which inhibits it, a course of action that demands sacrifice (selflessness) is a morality of death.

    Selfishness and selflessness are universally defined, morality is not.

    For selflessness and altruism in a philosophical context, see August Comte. Selfishness means “rational self interest”. This is not redefining words. This is what the words do and can only mean.

  25. evanescent Says:

    I meant to comment on this too:

    Being moral means doing what YOU think is right

    By this thinking, morality is a matter of subjective whim, and what is wrong or right at any point in time comes down to “what do I feel like doing?”

    Of course, this makes objective morality impossible and a guide to living of no matter. Principle falls to emotion, and rational thought to subjective idea.

    Objectivism is unique because Ayn Rand identified that morality isn’t a product of societal norm of personal whim or intrinsic value, but rather the nature of man and his relation to reality – a situation that has certain metaphysical consequences for “good” or “bad” to that man, and hence the need for a rational code of values to guide him: morality.

  26. Jeff Ross Says:

    I only read most of it, because I felt that I have received the message you were trying to reply, so If I should read all of it let me know when you adhere my reply.

    I practice Selfish Selflessness. I aim to be able to love everyone like I love my mother

    Have love for close friends the same as I have for enemies

    I would love to be Selfish enough to be thankful for the rewards and blessings that selflessness brings me. I hope this sounds good to you

    I don’t agree completely with morality because We are all of one being, and we each have different physical views of right and wrong. I love myself so much that I would love to love others equally.

  27. evanescent Says:

    Jeff said:

    I aim to be able to love everyone like I love my mother.

    If by “love” you mean a deep profound intellectual and emotional appreciation for another person based on their character and the values you share, I fail to see how you can force yourself to feel this way for EVERYONE. To do so, you would have to disregard their individual personalities and values, so what exactly would be left for you to love them for?

    Have love for close friends the same as I have for enemies.

    Well I don’t love my enemies. I hate them.

    If you can love an enemy, then your love to someone you truly care about is worthless.

    I would love to be Selfish enough to be thankful for the rewards and blessings that selflessness brings me. I hope this sounds good to you

    It doesn’t make a lot of sense to be honest.

    I don’t agree completely with morality because We are all of one being, and we each have different physical views of right and wrong.

    We all might have different “physical views” of what the moon is made of, but that doesn’t mean it is made of cheese if me and you agree it is.

    All facts reduce to reality. Moral facts also reduce to reality, which means there are moral truths regardless of how many “grey issues” the relativists pretend there are.

    I love myself so much that I would love to love others equally.

    Love for oneselves is healthy, necessary, and moral. It is to hold one’s life as one’s highest value, to respect yourself and have pride in who you are and what you can accomplish.

    This is a purely selfish attitude, and is not compatible with loving others equally, as if WHO and WHAT they are had no bearing on how or if you should value them.

  28. Mark Says:

    People who you see as putting their needs behind others is being immoral is not logical. When in fact, these people don’t take the time to evaluate their motives. They simply are who they are. And no, they are not subconsciousness trying to improve their position in life.

    Trying to convince others of the immorality of selflessness, as you are, shows a total lack of knowledge and trust in the character of the persons you are criticizing. I suggest you see a doctor as well as a priest. Obtain treatment from the doctor and divine help from the priest. If successful, your eyes will be opened.

    You will find peace in a new way of thought!

  29. evanescent Says:

    Thanks for the tip, Mark. I can just see the conversation now:

    Me: “Doctor, I keep getting people visiting my blog who can’t seem to be able to read or understand rational discussion.”

    Doctor: “It’s not that bad is it?”

    Me: “It is. This latest guy seemed to think I was attacking individual peoples’ characters instead of the ethical system they tacitly accept.”

    Doctor: “Wow – that’s a pretty dumb error to make. Are you sure he even read your article properly?”

    Me: “Probably not…”

    Doctor: “Best to ignore those people then. You can’t do their thinking for them.”

    Me: “Cheers doc! Now about that rohypnol…”

  30. Selfless simpleton Says:

    Ugh… the choice to be selfless is in fact being selfish. It all depends on what you hold as valuable. With the subject matter being ‘money’ or other worldly posessions, ‘karma’, ‘spiritual enlightment’, or some other form of metaphysical payment, (even just the simple relese of endorphins) is the “product” said money is inadvertently “purchasing” for said consumer.
    To be ‘Selfless’ is more or less an excersize to remembering the actual value that worldly posessions (I.e. gold, money, ect…) truely asertain.
    In my own ‘personal’ opinion, an act of selflessness is a lot like (if not exaclty like) an act of love.
    I could go on for days, but seeing as there are a lot of long comments already posted, ill just keep mine short n sweet.

  31. evanescent Says:

    In my own ‘personal’ opinion, an act of selflessness is a lot like (if not exaclty like) an act of love.

    If an act of selflessness is an act of love then how do you explain what you wrote here:

    It all depends on what you hold as valuable.

    Being selfless means to act without self-consideration, in other words to forsake values. To be selfless, what you hold as valuable is irrelevant. But that makes the whole concept of love meaningless; who “loves” something they don’t value? Who “values” their house, or life, or lover, but not value them?

    ‘Selfless love’ is a contradiction in terms. If your love means nothing to you, how can you love it? Does one love a stranger as much as a spouse? Love is the most profound and selfish of all values. There is nothing more selfish than needing to have another person in your life.

  32. Jak Says:

    Good article sir. Its one I have read several times over a few months, its always refreshing.

  33. Ky Pugh Says:

    Stumbled onto the post doing a paper on altruism, thought I would put my two cents in….

    I am not going to pretend to be a great theologian, but I believe that your take on the immorality of Jesus’ altruism is hampered by your knowledge on the subject. By dismissing the account of Scripture as fictional, you remain ignorant of the content thereof, and therein lies your mistake. I’ll try to take these one at a time, so as to be clear.

    1.You’re right, the fictional character known as Jesus was immoral. He is immoral because according to the story he sacrifices his own life for crimes he did not commit (a betrayal of justice).
    1a. Your take on this is that Jesus :”took the heat” for something He did not do, which would be incorrect based on in-text analysis. 2 Corinthians 5:21 states that is simply that is not the case. As part of the deal between the Father and the Son, the entire debt of sin of each person, past, present, and future was placed firmly on Jesus’ shoulders.

    2,He followed (or was) a God that punished people for crimes they did not commit.
    2a. Again, simply not the case. Most theologians will tell you that although we are all born with a sin nature, we are not held accountable for sins made before the time that we can rationally choose whether or not to transgress the law of God. I believe this is called the “age of accountability’.

    3.He executes people for disobedience and refusal to believe (the use of force against innocents, and restricting the proper use of man’s mind to reason and arrive at his own decisions).
    3a. Even if you believe the entire Bible is fiction, you can only judge Jesus in the context in which he is presented- a worldview based on certain truths (God is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, ie-God is God, so he gets to make the rules.)

    4.He holds all mankind accountable for the “crimes” of two people, who he knew would “sin” in the first place.
    4a. This was partially refuted in rebuttal 2a, but here we must address the all-good and all-knowing aspects of God. I don’t know how it works,(Quite frankly, if you did believe in a God, would you really want to be able to understand EVERYthing about him. After all, if you did, then you might as well be God.) but I believe that the former Pope in Dan Brown’s novel illustrated it best through the comparison between the parent/willful child and God/humanity.

    Ancillary notes:
    -There was no direct benefit to Jesus making the sacrifice that He did.
    -He sacrificed for the entirety of humanity, not just His select few. John 3:16-17, John 4:2, 2 Timothy 5-6, 1 John 4:14
    -We all have free will in whether or not we want to buy what Jesus is selling.

    I realize that this approaches the question through a theological/biblical view, but I believe that as you think that this is all fiction anyway, you won’t mind me using in-text citations…..

  34. Ky Pugh Says:

    All that being said, I really liked your analysis of the subject, even if I happen to disagree :D

  35. mhell Says:

    wow… REALLY? Try reading up on Taoism… And seeking harmony with NATURE… Although A Dualistic approach is wonderful for debate, the balance of the two is what fuels my inner peace and sense of well-being… An intellegent person is capable of dissecting the meanings of words, and reorganize the meanings to prove their competancy in the Oral and written language… Well done…But, LIVING in harmony, for me, is a WAY of BEING… And, like a tree in a storm, if it does not bend, it will break. There, I sacrificed a few moments of my time. I hope youre not offended by my immoral act of kindness.

  36. evanescent Says:

    I can’t say I’m offended or not, MHell, since your comment had nothing of substance for me to agree or disagree with. You can use words like “balance” and “harmony” to vaguely refer to concepts you’ve stolen from an objectivist view of existence (like “nature”) – this might have some meaning to you but will largely be irrelevant to others.

    Though I assume, from what little I could decipher from your post, that if a tornado swept towards you, you’d be happy to stand still and embrace being one with nature? Or feel the “harmony” of being frozen in the Arctic or baked in the Sahara? I assume computers and electricity-powered homes are also part of this harmony with nature you enjoy?

  37. lisseur pas cher Says:

    lisseur pas cher…

    […]Why Selflessness is Immoral « e v a n e s c e n t[…]…

  38. DethHarmonik Says:

    I am Irrational, not by choice, nor by reason, but due to the fact that my eternal instincts are governed by a big heart. As much pain and disbelief my Selflessness brings me, I have no choice but to pick myself up again and continue to have faith in what shall inevitably disappoint me. In the end… It pains me to be a Leo, yet I Embrace it.

  39. evanescent Says:

    I imagine that’s the sort of quasi-poetic rhetoric that might impress a New Age mystic, but it makes no sense. You might as well say that you starve yourself because you love food.

  40. tod michel Says:

    It is very simple people:
    you must understand both selfishness & selflessness. You must master them both to conquer either or both.

  41. evanescent Says:

    Yes, one must master breathing and drowning to conquer either or both. Or I could faceroll on my keyboard and form a more cogent sentence.

  42. Tod L.Michel sr. Says:

    You sound like a person who is wound around the edges.I shall pray you some relief.Also in closing will your book on proper sentences be in heaven or hell.answer: Niether what happens in this world stays in this world. I will admit the need for an editor you are clearly capable I think. But that being said would others who know more than I say you are Qualified.

  43. evanescent Says:

    I tried to think of a sarcastic comment about how the only people who comment on my blog lately are imbeciles – but couldn’t think of a way to phrase it so it wouldn’t backfire… so decided on any unfunny observational comment instead. I really truly wonder why I even bother anymore.

  44. Graduation From Rehab | My So-Called Peachy Life Says:

    […] always positive things for me. Although I don’t necessarily agree with everything from this post, it defines some of the negatives of selflessness quite well. Evanescent writes, […]

  45. tmn31_09 Says:

    I really enjoyed reading your blog. Interesting!!


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