Posts Tagged ‘egoism’

How many times have you ever heard someone say that they want a love that is unconditional?  That love itself is selfless?  Has no strings attached?  No preconditions?  I say hogwash!

First off, most people that tell you this are generally people who are telling you what they ‘desire’ in a loving partner. The same people will tell you that love itself is a form of desire. Yet ‘desire’ is a form of want and want a matter of selfishness.

When someone is describing the ‘kind of love’ they desire (want) they are essentially telling you what their selfish desires are. Thus it is a bit odd when their ‘selfish’ desire is to find someone ‘selfless’.  Furthermore, when they describe such a partner, it is generally implied that they have the full intention of offering the same kind of ‘un-conditional’ love in return.


Love is of course an emotion. I was a big fan of Leo Buscaglia growing up for a number of reasons. He used to host various television shows and series on the topic of love as well as published a number of books on the subject which I read. Buscaglia described love as a ‘learned’ emotion and discouraged people from using terms such as ‘falling in’ and ‘out’ of love. In fact, he often went on to describe most if not all emotions as being ‘learned behaviors’ and I share this way of thinking.

Consider this. Our minds are rather complex mechanisms that process various stimuli and information on a number of different levels. As we go through our lives our minds create concepts to allow us to sort through the various individual and combined sensory data that our various sensory organs collect for us. For more complex combinations of multiple concepts, our minds will create an amalgam as a new concept. For example when we see a fist sized white leather ball with red stitching we think ‘baseball‘ rather than ‘fist sized white leather ball with red stitching‘.

In our early years we are taught many concepts before we can attach words to those concepts and many of these concepts are the fundamental building blocks on which the rest of our lives will act out. Various schools of psychology place a great deal of emphasis on this early development as key factors in the formation of our personalities and traits. Many of our concepts for emotions are formed at this time in the manner of the way a foundation is formed under a house, and we build upon those concepts over our lives.  But how often do we stop to look at what that foundation is actually made of?

Emotions themselves are learned behaviors and responses, often quite complex combinations of multiple multiple sensory data that relates to either past experiences (concept formation) or to notions we have formed through our process of learning (fantasy scenarios).  If you are told over and over and over again that Love is a magical feeling and is some kind of mystical state of bliss, if you hear or see many stories told in books and movies about fantasy love scenarios that make you feel good (remind you of past experiences or fantasies) you will incorporate those into your fuzzy-wuzzy feel good conceptualization of ‘love’.

Then when you meet someone who’s behaviors and interactions inspires enough of those many many combined concepts that helped you build your notion of love combined with your own excitement, or apprehension, nervousness, shyness, sexual arousal or other factors – woah, it feels like those concepts your brain pieced together over the years! This must be love!!!

You so want love to be ‘magical’, like you have been told over and over and over again, that you don’t stop to realize you have been hyperventilating and your adrenaline is spiking as you are trying to work up the nerve to ask that cute girl for a kiss.  You conform to your concept and believe it to be ‘real’ magic.

Love is a Concept

When in fact you step back and look at all the various factors of what you both believe and think are parts of what love actually ‘is’, if you are honest enough with yourself and thorough enough in the integrity of your reduction of the concept as you know it, you will find that in fact it is based on real factors.  Factors that are for the most part based on things that you consider of benefit to you, but in some cases that you were either convinced were something they aren’t or that may even be irrational in nature.

So if love is just another amalgam of multiple concepts, then you can not only rationally approach the concept but you can strive to both control it and seek to maximize it.  As an ethical egoist, my suggestion of course is to optimize it rationally to your maximum benefit.

So is Love really Un-Conditional?

As I described above, most people that describe love as unconditional ‘seek’ out that form of love.  i.e. they desire it.  They place as a condition, the pre-requisite that the person they seek shares their (flawed) view on what love is.  And upon doing so, they do so by way of selfish reasoning!  The sad part is, that means they are half way there – but they never quite make it the rest of the way.

The truth is that none of us would really ‘want’ a ‘selfless’ love or for someone to love us ‘unconditionally’. For someone to do so absolutely without condition it would mean they gain no individual benefit from doing what is considered ‘loving behavior’ whatsoever.  Just stop and think what this really means:

  • They are not with you because they ‘want’ to be with you, but out of a sense of duty to their concept of what ‘love’ is.
  • They don’t do things for you because they desire you to be happy, but because they feel obliged to do it.
  • They cannot have any pre-conceived notions at all of what ‘they’ think is right or even what ‘you’ think is right. For you to ‘want’ is just as ‘conditional’ as for them

Does it sound a bit robotic?  A tad idiotic?  It’s being mutual slaves out of obligation to self-sacrifice. It makes you ponder that the ultimate ‘unconditional love’ is a suicide pact.  Who wants that?

As for me, I ‘want’ a selfish lover. And I seek to be a selfish lover. When I am with someone, I desire someone that I ‘want’ to be with and take great ‘joy’ in being with them – and them with me.  I selfishly crave a partner that greedily craves my company. I willfully desire to offer of myself to them in exchange for their offering of themselves to me.  I want them to be happy, because it brings me joy for them to be that way. And I fully expect them to meet my pre-condition of seeing love the same way.

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Originally posted on Facebook Notes

OK, in case you haven’t figured out by reading my other notes, I love cosmology and ontology – i.e. philosophy. Question everything! To quote Aristotle, the “unexamined life is not worth living”. A subject that seems to keep getting bounced off me as of late is the concept of power, who has it, how they get it and what they do (right or wrong) with it.

One of the things that keeps bringing it up is the obvious, politics. I tend to examine just about everything and anything by breaking it down to basic truths. I tend to think it is a basic truth that any form of governmental control attracts and/or breeds within it power hungry people. And as they say, power corrupts. It’s just the nature of the beast. (although I am prone to disagree with this on face value.  Instead I think ‘the nature of power attracts corruptible men’.  And by consequence, ‘corruptible men should be granted as little power as possible’)

This led me to consider the nature of power and then in turn led me to the following conclusion:

No man has power over another without it being granted or taken and allowed.

Let’s start with the second part because the two concepts really have to go together. Once someone has power, the most likely means to get more if they are corrupt is to take it. If they have no power in the first place other than what was granted to them by someone (or a group of someones), then the only way they can take power unwillingly from one of those someones is for the rest of the someones to ‘allow’ them to get away with it.
But of course the easier way to get power is to have it given to you. This led me to another consideration. What is the easiest way to get someone to give away power? There’s one simple answer that repeats itself throughout our society and history:

convince them that there is something greater then themselves or their own self-interest

Without drawing specific conclusions on whether each is right or wrong, good or bad, we can see examples of things deemed ‘greater than one’s self’ in everything from religion (god) to environmentalism (earth/nature) and even collectivism/marxism (the state).

As a note in conclusion, all of this sounds kind of selfish – well guess what? it is! But it does not have to be a denunciation of the things we find good in any or all of the above. After all, ideas do not gain support if there is not some truth or good in them.
So how can you put your own self-interest before everything else and still exist in society? Simple! Simple because it is in our self interest to maintain and improve our environment, it is in our self interest to be on good terms with our neighbors and for our neighbors to share a similar social and financial status (not identical, but similar). I could go on, but I think you get the idea – self interest does not preclude being a good citizen, good neighbor or good patron to our world – but denying self-interest is the quickest way to grant someone else (potentially tyrannical) power over you.

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I stumbled on this old posting earlier tonight on one of the Objectivist groups I used to frequent (dated 3/22/2004):

What a day I have had. I just finished reading “We the Living” on the same day I got a notice that I was not going to be called back for an interview on a job I was seeking that I ‘thought’ I was well qualified for.
So here I was commiserating over the melancholy end of that Rand novel and even feeling guilty in a way. I took great interest in the subject in that I am a fan of Rand, a life long objectivist (even before I knew there was a word for it) and due to the setting – as my mother’s family was from around the borders of Poland and Ukraine and fled for the U.S. around the time of the Bolshevik uprising.
While I found myself feeling getting angry in this here election year to hear all the pretense of class warfare against the backdrop of the ‘true’ suffering portrayed in this excellent portrait of a post proletariat uprising, as aforementioned, I found myself guilty that – even though the characters are of a work of fiction, they no doubt represent a real time, a real place, of real suffering and real individuals who probably met the same fates and burned with the same desires. Yet here in my life, with no true suffering to compare, “what have I done to live up to their example? To ‘live’ as they lived? With the desire and burning for living as the essence of their being?”
I know, you are thinking, ‘what does this have to do with a posting in a dating forum or a rejection email about a job? Well, serendipity has a sense of Irony. I just left a job which lasted for 5 months. Prior to that, I was a victim of the .com crash and was essentially unemployed for 25 months with nothing but a few contracts and some fortunate circumstances to help me survive. Heretofore whenever I received a rejection, I just moved on to the next job.
At the same time, when someone would ask me “how are you doing?” my answer was almost consistently “I am surviving” – and that was more telling than any casual observer might ponder to understand, if they should care.
So, today, amidst reading the final chapters, I receive the rejection. For the first time ever I asked them for an explanation of why they were not interested in having me back for a second interview. In the meantime, I finished the book through tears and anguish and joy and confusion. I was emotionally wrought by the time I was through and left …. well, just in a daze of thoughts, emotions, sad yet reflective. And feeling guilty! Feeling guilty and questioning myself if I have, if I do live up to those objectivist principles I hold so dear.
That was until I got home. An email response awaited my question. Paraphrasing, he said in essence that they were very impressed by my skills and experience. That they thought I would be very well qualified… technically… for the task they had in mind. But then he went on to describe how I was too ‘domineering’ – in essence too independent and self-motivated to solicit a desire to have me back.
I have been grinning like a Cheshire cat ever since. So many rejections over 25 months and I turned to myself to find ‘fault’ – this may only be one representation of one employer, but I know it likely is akin to many over that period – over periods prior and jobs I left or was asked to leave. I am too into ‘I’ to be attractive to the corporate collective.
Sure, I will still seek work – and I have decided to also seek more opportunities where I am not dependent upon or accountable to someone else’s whim. I went to the store after reading the email, almost dancing on the way. Someone at the counter who recognized me as a ‘regular’ there, asked me “how are you doing today?” Without hesitating I told her with a smile too big for the question asked and said with great enthusiasm “I am alive! My dear, I am alive!!!”
So tomorrow will be a busy day as I set some more wheels in motion to take care of those mundane material needs, but for now I set forth to search the net for places where like minded folks may be hanging about.
Out of sheer disgust, I went into my normal ‘chat’ venues – more to mock them – and asked “so who wants to talk about objectivist philosophy and the epistemological review of their application in the real world?” Some guy answered that he has an 8″ penis and someone else mentioned they wouldn’t mind meeting a 14 year old boy! Ahh the internet!
So here is where I ended up! Sorry if I rambled on, but I felt it was important to describe my mindset before asking if any females out there understood. If any would like to talk more about what it’s like to be ‘alive’ as I feel at this moment!
Let’s be selfish! ‘I’ would love to hear from you if you understand….

Just for the record, I am now working for another company doing computer consulting and I have consequently been placed onsight with that very company. I can see now they were right – I would have been way too self motivated for the work they do which amounts to little more than assembly line programming from cookie-cutter program code. It seems I won’t have as much contact with that coding environment but will instead be working as a middle-person between project managers of two different companies. It’s a curious turn of events to say the least…

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