"Sustainably-high self-esteem" is the highest good. Obviously there are distinctions between having a high opinion of yourself without proper justification and actually possessing those qualities which sustainably lead one to feel a proper sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Specifically, it is those qualities which enable the spread of self-esteem amongst others in one's in-groups (organisms), and even beyond, those qualities which make others feel good about themselves so that they make others feel good about themselves, etc., ad infinitum, which are truly the most valuable qualities there can be. Of course, these qualities are tied to the natural world, in the ways which make us more successful organisms, and so they are the qualities most closely associated with having power, which is why power is often mistaken to be the highest good. And this is also why taking the means (power) as the end itself (s-e) often leads to false pride, and the destruction of s-e in others, and eventually (given enough time) in the self. The distinction here is between constructive power and destructive power, with the former being a proper means to the end and the latter not. Another consequence of this is that selfishness, seeing oneself as valuable in isolation of others, is destructive to the soul (by which of course I only mean the psyche and the emotional energies which provide us with s-e). As social beings, we need to see ourselves as belonging to a larger group (organism), and this means that the more we are able to include others within our own concept of the self, the more our s-e is tied up with the s-e of others. If we feel cut off from meaningful relationships with others, our feelings of self-worth dwindle. It is in both feeling connected to others, and feeling useful/powerful enough to them to engender mutually-reinforcing s-e, that we make our real living as human beings and achieve our full potential and full actualization of our values.
"What you must keep in mind is that it is not any single organism against which we should judge whether an action is right or wrong - it is against all possible organisms, present and future, to which we must look."
What you present is a logical fallacy. You cannot instruct people to rely on an unbounded data set- i.e., something which would take infinite knowledge to completely understand. The simple (and oft-encountered) practical result is that lack of knowledge will be construed as sufficient justification. If I "can't imagine" a world where the Hutu and Tutsi are close allies, is that firm enough to act on? Logical contradictions do occur, so how is a regular person to differentiate the truly impossible from the seemingly impossible quickly enough to make real-life decisions? Hence the basis for calling the above a fallacious proposal.
And, contrary to your statements, the very problem with eugenics was that it did engender a wide following at the time. It was the American eugenicists who spread such beliefs to Europe, and consequently to the Third Reich. And at the time, it made a great deal of organismic sense: who wouldn't want to strengthen the health and future potential of their peoples? Do we not cure illnesses, remedy handicaps, and encourage people to exercise and eat right?
This was dangerously enticing thinking in the midst of Nationalism because organismic thinking falls prey to the issue of relevance. Namely, who contributes to and draws from the Group resources (who are the Members)? It can't be everyone, not all at once, or the Group would be destitute in moments. The far-too-common reaction in stress and tight conditions is to cut off those who form the 'fringes' of a Group in order to consolidate resources. In the case of the above, the 'fringes' were the culturally un-integrated and physically incapable. Those damages were entirely within the grounds of Group thinking and were not at all reliant on competitive strategies.
To clear the air on a side point, Randian thinking is pure bollocks. It's really a bastardization of Contractual thinking into a pseudo-individualist presentation. The "rugged individual" idealized by so many of her followers is just a miniaturized form of Nationalism, which is only concerned with being the pre-eminent and superior power among crowds of 'faceless nobodies'. That is not Personal identity, and should not be confused as such despite the misleading terminology of modern propaganda.
And that's perhaps the strongest point I want to convey here: the "selfish" thinking you have reacted against is not, in fact, how people consider their personal interests! It expresses none of the friendships, the connections of blood or shared history, the search for similar ideas and interests, the reflection of memories and sentiment onto objects and pets... all of which are fundamentally central to how people view the world at a personal level. Is it "selfish" (by your use) to throw down $30 to go drink with your buddies for a night? Is it "selfish" to get into a fight with your teenage kid because they were out too late? Neither of those things make us feel good afterward, and both cost us individually, so why do we find them so easy to justify on a personal level? Because Personal value is not just assessed to the individual, it blurs across to people and things which share our identities.
Individuality and Personal thought are not your enemies on this, but neither are they something to ignore. The Randian "Kingdom of One" and the absurd universalization of Contractual thought which is espouses are, as we've both pointed out, completely flawed. It's in the normal vein of Contractual thought to produce universal conclusions in response to the unbounded possibilities of Others, so such overstepping isn't particularly surprising. That doesn't mean you should believe their tall-talk and treat Contractual thought as the only "mainstream" option. Personal interests and Populous interests are both major factors in modern society and they diverge from the Contractual "selfishness" at the most fundamental levels.
On a final side note, why "organicism"? Why not "organismic" or "organimism"? The inflection of it just has a very unpleasant flavor...
Okay, well, thanks for your comments, but we're just not going to see eye to eye here.
That kind of cutoff makes me feel like I've been preached at; that I listened to the 'sermon' and responded with certain critical questions about it, but all I received in reply was a repetition of the sermon (against the same straw men, no less) and eventually the 'authoritative closure' that brushes aside those questions which don't fit inside the "divine" scriptures.
I expect as much when talking with pastors, clergymen, rabbis, etc. but it's somewhat disappointing to run into it so easily here.
So what you're saying, Drake, is that you feel affronted? You feel as if you haven't been appreciated, as if you haven't been treated according to how you think you should have been, appropriately to the value you believe you represent? I.e. your motivations, to feel respected and appreciated according to your self-esteem, have taken a hit? :-)
Not quite, as it wasn't a self-focused reaction. I'd call it "bored by the predictable"; it's when the odds are against something really interesting happening, but there's still disappointment when it falls through.
I was betting against the shackles of concept-visibility, that our minds must rely on past experiences to envision or conceptualize new things. In the reverse, it's the issue that people have no awareness of that which they do not already know-- which forces essentially every debate to close at an impasse because of differences in experience.
My tack thus far has been to refine and polish high-level insights to such a degree that they provide instant recognition of matching experiences, regardless of the reader's background. While this should be possible, I've found it consistently foiled by the aperture of attention; people filter out anything they aren't expecting to hear, so there's never a chance to connect with their unrecognized experiences.
So my disappointment is at the triple-blind of concept-visibility: that we can't imagine without knowing, that we can't see without imagining, and that we forget what goes unseen.
My every attempt as yet to short-circuit that chain has failed, so I've had to conclude that my previous tack cannot succeed. Showing people insight, no matter how accessible, isn't sufficient. It's clear that I need a new way to attack this problem, but I admit to having no leads at the moment.
Enough detail for you?
Drake, all you have basically just said is, "I'm smarter than you are, I can just see things you can't", etc., blah blah blah. But you are right about one thing; we are at an impasse. Good evening!
What I said is that we possess different histories. We've seen different things, looked at different issues, and gathered different experiences. As a result, we have some overlap, but we also each have visibility in areas where we have diverged. You presented a picture, and I suggested additional pieces for it with the intent of gaining a broader picture myself once the pieces had been fit together.
Somehow the explanation of concept-visibility, no matter how softly I present it, seems to draw defensive reactions. Is it really that thorny of an issue to notice that we are finite and mortal beings (and hence have limitations)? Or is it driven by a perceived subtext of attitudes, status, etc. read into those words?
Well, perhaps the problem then, Drake, is that you only suggested that it was me who was somehow suffering from the blind spots you try to explain. If you were instead just saying that either one of us might be wrong, mistaken, or overlooking something which would have moved my discussion along on a more fruitful path, then you should have chosen much different language. From the language that you did choose, forgive me for thinking that you aren't being honest with me.
"My tack thus far has been to refine and polish high-level insights to such a degree that they provide instant recognition of matching experiences, regardless of the reader's background. While this should be possible, I've found it consistently foiled by the aperture of attention; people filter out anything they aren't expecting to hear, so there's never a chance to connect with their unrecognized experiences."
Uhhuh, and meanwhile what has my tack been, to suggest low-level insights as roughly and indecipherably as I can? You could have just said we are not seeing eye to eye, but attempting to explain why this is so in a meta-explanation of why people just don't understand stuff isn't suddenly going to reveal who is missing what. Perhaps it is you who is failing in this regard?
"Showing people insight, no matter how accessible, isn't sufficient. It's clear that I need a new way to attack this problem".
Yeah, people are so dumb. It's just so hard to get through to some people! Geez, if only there was a way to get people to realize just how stupid they are being! Wait, there's only two of us in this discussion. So, you or me?
it is not any single organism against which we should judge whether an action is right or wrong - it is against all possible organisms, present and future, to which we must look.
A point I would press further here - this is how we should judge which organisms we should wish to belong to, and which organisms we should shun. The ones that uphold the virtues of organicism, like tolerance, mutual respect, interconnectedness, a balanced approach between cooperation and competition, individualism and collectivism, organismic strength, willpower and self-restraint, organismic integrity, honesty, devotion (but not blindly), organismic motivation, a general affinity for others, and power distributions that both reward for hard work and talent (organismic powers) and motivate and empower across the whole organism, these are the organisms we should strive to belong to and become like. The ones that demonstrate intolerance or disrespect, fall too far to the extremes of competition or cooperation, individualism or collectivism, that impoverishes some of its members unduly or causes some of its organs or cells to atrophy and become stifled or starved, those that demand blind obedience or mistake weakness for strength, or strength for weakness, those that encourage dishonesty, or demand blind devotion, or ask for too little devotion, that are demotivating to its members, or engender misanthropy or hatred (or worship) of any kind, that rewards underhanded strategies (lying, cheating, stealing, etc.) and under-rewards real organismic virtues, or that favor and provide undue power to some of its organs or cells and not to others without organismic justification, those organisms should be shunned.
Why must these sorts of exchanges (almost) always result in an intellectual pissing contest? This is why I shy away from debate. Fact of the matter is no one individual will ever agree on everything, it's impossible. A healthy exchange of ideas is not only usful but neccesary, to cultivate the advancement of thought.
just my observation,
-cheers to both