A friend of mine asked me what I thought of the idea that people do everything out of selfish reasons. That supposedly even if you do altruistic stuff, you do it because you enjoy doing it, therefore it's really selfish.
Well, first of all, I never credited this ridiculous notion for a single minute because I am a living counter-example. And I'm not the only one either. There's plenty of people who are grim about the world, or depressed, or angry. For fuck's sake, your typical pre-industrial farmer would qualify. Think of the Amish!
Secondly, it's just the kind of self-justifying crap spouted by satanists aka right-libertarians aka market fundamentalists (those groups have remarkably high overlap). What it boils down to is they're saying they're selfish so they assume everyone else must be (a common psychological failing that everyone is just like you, called projection).
Thirdly, this notion is fractally wrong. It isn't just factually wrong or wrong on several levels (like the meta-level where satanists are just justifying being egotistical bags of shit or where they're projecting their psychological flaws on others), it is wrong at every possible scale of resolution. The whole idea is wrong, the concepts that make up the idea are all wrong, and every single detail they use to justify it is wrong too.
Annihilating The Distinction
For instance, let's presume for the sake of argument the satanists WERE right and that everyone did things just because they enjoy it. Then it would automatically follow that "selfish" can't refer to that fact because language is made to be USEFUL. If you have a word that applies to EVERYTHING, then it's not a useful word, is it?
The only thing that makes the word 'selfish' useful in language is to distinguish selfish from altruistic people. If you annihilated the distinction, that's like annihilating the word entirely. If absolutely every object in the universe were yellow then there would be no point to having the word 'yellow' in any language because 'being yellow' would be an intrinsic property of 'being an object' and only philosophers would ever think twice about it.
Well, that's what's wrong with the whole idea of this crazy misbegotten attempt to redefine the word 'selfish' to justify satanism (right-Libertarianism) and psychopathy (American "rugged individualism" and corporate CEOs). Now let's look at the concepts that make it up! Starting with "enjoyment".
'Enjoy' isn't some nebulous fuzzy word that you get to attach to everything. It is a fucking SPECIFIC word. Very broadly, it means deriving pleasure. More specifically, there's four levels of enjoyment.
- enjoying enjoyment - pleasure, sensualism (level 0)
- enjoying the things you enjoy - intense liking, Zen, hedonism
- enjoying caring about the things you enjoy - pride
- enjoying caring about whether the things you enjoy are going well or badly - love (level 3)
What THEY are talking about is level 0 and possibly level 1. Because they are retarded morons and really primitive throwbacks. To say that someone motivated by love is the same kind of person as someone motivated by intense liking ... is fucking ludicrous. It is a fucking INSULT.
Values Are Axiomatic
And to say that people are motivated only and solely by these things is FALSE anyways. It's turning the human mind inside out. People aren't motivated by sensations or feelings, that's the kind of crap morons like Marvin Minsky thought. People are motivated by fucking VALUES (satisfied or unsatisfied desires). And values are abstract. They're just saying "I care about X" where X can be ANYTHING. It can be something simple like physical pleasure, or sex, or love, or pain, or seeing pain, or seeing suffering. Going backwards, that's schadenfreude and sadism and masochism. And finally, some people exist that just value entirely abstract things, things like truth and justice.
It is AXIOMATIC that they care about these things. Yes they derive enjoyment from those things, but only because they care about them in the first fucking place. To claim that the enjoyment is the REASON they care is so fucking stupid and entirely backwards. Values TRIGGER emotions as signals to your conscious mind that your values are being violated or fulfilled or something else. Emotions do not cause values! That's like claiming theorems cause axioms to happen in math, it is fucking backwards!
Or claiming that the purpose of doing science is to get Nobel prizes. Or the purpose of sex for men is to fertilize women. Just because something's sometimes a byproduct doesn't mean it's the deliberate purposeful end-goal of the activity. That's called teleological reasoning and it's generally wrong. And when you have every possible thing (every possible value) causing enjoyment in SOME people. How the fuck can alleviating pain in person 1 and causing pain in person 2 both be caused by enjoyment in both people? How can the emotion of enjoyment (at any level) cause BOTH person 1 wanting to inflict pain AND person 2 to alleviate pain?
This stupid satanic / market economist crap isn't illogical, it's anti-logical. It's a Just So story by egotistical self-righteous slimebags and just about as believable as "elephants grew trunks because they wanted to reach higher branches" and (simultaneously) "pigs grew shorter legs because they wanted to reach roots". As if that were some kind of fucking explanation. It's a NON-EXPLANATION people! And it's a fractally wrong one to boot. And it's a moronic redefinition of words in the cause of self-justification by egotistical bags of diseased slime.