Occasionally I run into items Rand that I very likely ran into before, but on re-reflection catch me more deeply.
Q: “Ms Rand, why would anyone accept altruism (properly understood)?”
A: “Very few people actually do, but the theoreticians of altruism certainly do accept it. Most people ignore the question and simply try to get by in a totally amoral attitude. Most people do not have a consistent moral theory to guide them; a theory they understand, accept, and fully practice. But the reasons why they accept altruism are many. The main one is that men realize, so long as they have to make choices, that they need some kind of code of moral values; a code to guide their choices and the sort of values and goals they will pursue. They realize the need, yet they have not been offered any code of morality other than the altruistic one. In one form or another altruism has been the dominant moral theory of most societies of history. And such attempts as have been made by philosophers to devise a different code of morality have been so impracticable, so unsuccessful, that they could not offer competition to altruism. Most people are afraid to be left on their own in moral issues; they’re more afraid of it than in any other issue. Men are not afraid to be scientists and to stand alone in the face of nature, in cognitive issues. That is in issues of discovering new knowledge, but they are terrified in issues of values. In having to stand alone and define what objectively is right or wrong for men. That, I would say, is the most general reason why men accept altruism, or at least pay lip service to it, but there are many other reasons.” . . . “A man who would accept the theory of altruism necessarily has to regard himself as of no value. It is his self-esteem that he has to renounce in every issue. His self-esteem intellectually, his self-esteem spiritually, his self-esteem in the sense of the desire to make something of his own life, to achieve happiness or to achieve some kind of purpose which he desires. That is what he has to give up; the mere idea of looking at yourself as merely a means to the ends of somebody else, whether it is one other person or the total of mankind, implies lack of self-esteem. That is the start of accepting altruism, and the extent to which you attempt to practice you would have to destroy your self-esteem more and more. Now what most people do is that they abandon morality, they then decide that nobody can be perfect and that we’ll assert a model as best we can – I will not attempt to be a perfect altruist but I will feel guilty and give to others once and awhile, which really means an amoral kind of existence; the destruction of any firm principles of morality, and any firm base of self-esteem.”
As I finished listening, I was struck by an almost uncanny description of Warren Buffet at 26:18 into the recording.. Source link: The Psychology of Altruism