Wednesday, February 17, 2016

On Egoism, the Self, Their Relation to Society and Its Relation to Them





This paper is dedicated to my family and educators, both intimate and distant.  For we all have some genetic bonds to each other, and we all are forever indebted to the great minds and wills who came before us.

I constantly saw the false and the bad, and finally the absurd and the senseless, standing in universal admiration and honour, and I thought to myself that, if those who are capable of recognizing the genuine and right were not so rare that we can spend some twenty years looking about for them in vain, those who are capable of producing it might not be so few that their works afterwards form an exception to the transitoriness of earthly things.
Arthur Schopenhauer, preface to Second Edition of World as Will and Representation.

Thesis Statement I – Rational and Ethical Egoism is a product of Classical or Metaphysical Idealism, poor mental health and bourgeois culture
Egoism for those who are uninformed has various definitions in the English language.  Unless I specify otherwise, I am referring only to Rational (that what is rational is only that which promote one’s self-interest) and Ethical (that what is ethical is what promotes one’s desires) Egoism, rather than Psychological Egoism, the use of the word as used by Freud or contemporary society conventionally.  Though many have spoken on one or both as separate topics, they are essentially the same concept.  The only major distinction is that Ethical Egoism aims to nullify most moral questions by making one’s own life and desires the only moral concern, while Rational Egoism confines reason to a self-centered box of only what applies to one’s self – at-least regarding social questions, the only questions of any real significance to human beings.  Ethical Egoism strictly speaking should not be defined as a branch of ethics because if one is acting solely out of crass and callow self-interest than an intellectual grounding for action is not necessary, and is uninvolved with ethics as properly understood – how one should act in-relation to others.
In this paper I discuss what I hold to be the two main psychological (that is sub-conscious forms in one’s mental-state) forms of Egoism – this is contrasted with Psychological Egoism as claim that all actions have the motive of one’s happiness or satisfaction on a subconscious level – which I label radical and cowardly Egoism.  The Radical Egoist is he who is persistently attempting to gain his own petty desires at any expense to others and believes in no conception of values outside of themselves and their own whims.  The Cowardly Egoist is someone who has their own benefit (or more specifically survival) in mind, but will not A) be as brazen as the Radical Egoist and will hide their Egoism and B) will not attempt to make a Machiavellian move in assassinating the king to build his own empire.  Instead, he continues to bow his head, not out of respect or acknowledgement of the virtue of the king, but because of either fear of persecution or desire to climb or remain secure in one’s social status; or rather to preserve the very social compact even if it is a wretched one bound in suffering and slavery in the case of Thomas Hobbes.
Egoism then is more of a state-of-mind than an explicit philosophy regarding reality.  The Egoist will of course argue philosophically as all who wish to validate their position using reason do, but Egoism first-and-foremost is a ideology that seeks to justify (as we will later see) individual actions and perception of disinterest or contempt towards others.  This mental state is not something that exists in a “vacuum.”  That is, it did not come from the ether, nor does it have no influence on the world and its people.  Much of bourgeois culture is filtered through the lens of Egoism, made explicitly in the aspects of Capitalism.
I will examine the various psychological “modes” of Egoism (which both argue for Ethical and Rational Egoism) both “ideologically” (that is what they explicitly argue) and “psychologically” (that is making the claim of the Skeptics that our beliefs are not ground primarily in reason but in psychology) and show the lack of reason in the former and health in the latter.
Thesis Expansion A – Examination of Stirnerism or “Radical Egoism” and its counter-part in Economics in their lack of objectivity, and therefore, their lack of cohesion with Materialism and “Scientific Ethics.”
Egoism can only come out of Idealism due-to the nature of the “self” as illusory in the fabric of Materialism.  By Idealism I do not refer to the epistemological Idealism of Kant or Schopenhauer; the notion that the mind does something to things that it “handles” and that Man can never see reality “objectively” for if that were so we would see the atomic bonds that bind things and it would be perhaps impossible for us to function.  I am referring to both Metaphysical Idealism (Dualism being included here) and more importantly the ramifications of Idealist notions and sentiments in psychology and politics in the broad sense of the term.  I am referring to Idealism as the notion that Man’s consciousness is his primary essence and that it is this that directs his matter (assuming the existence of matter in the sense of having a body) rather than Materialism, which claims the opposite.  By Materialism I mean essentially “Physicalism” or the view that everything is more-or-less atoms which must conform to physical law, rather than Geist, forms, or anything else fundamentally immaterial. 
The Egoist is one who views himself as a wholly “self-interested being” (Ego and Its Own p.xxiii[1]) who values nothing higher than his own subjective whims and therefore betrays both Materialism and ethics lacking in objectivity.  For (as we all know) the defining characteristic of Ethical and Rational Egoism is that either something is ethical only when it is beneficial (or at-least desirous) for the “self” or that only desired actions are “reasonable” ones.  However life is full of actions that we must take for common utility, and if such actions were not taken then many would drown and starve. 
If one were to ask “why should I save the drowning women?” there is in-effect nothing I can say to the Egoist – or rather I would not waste my time with an argument of reason since aid of others involves psychological health not deductive arguments.  Just as the Egoist can say nothing to me to fundamentally sway myself – all we can do with argumentation is momentarily bring doubt of one’s position into mind.  His mind operates in a way where to argue against Egoism is akin to arguing against cannibalism to a frenzied bear; all beings are set in their ways and as materialists all we can do is to improve the material conditions for their bodies and minds, so they can naturally change their states-of-being and become compassionate and virtuous souls.
The prime example of Idealist Egoism is the explicit Nihilism verging on Solipsism found in the writings of Max Stirner.  For though it seems like Stirner is saying much in metaphor, if we were to take much of what he’s saying literally, then he would in-deed be an absolute Solipsist (Ego and Its Own p. 8[2] & p. 343[3]).  In his most famous work, Stirner claims that all moral obligations and intellectual abstractions are “spooks” (Ego and Its Own p. 35[4] & p. 35-36[5]) and that many Atheist Liberals (using the classical definition of the word, though he in-a-sense uses that label for anyone who believes in universal human rights or ethics) who feel they are breaking free from Christian dogma are really still bound to it (Ego and Its Own p.23[6]). 
The similarity in argument and mentality with Nietzsche and Rand is clear.  Nietzsche criticized secular philosophers throughout his philosophical works (particularly in the Gay Science if memory serves) with maintaining the “herd mentality” of Christianity, and Rand compares Communism (and generally secular ethics; which she damns as a “cesspool of altruism”) with Christianity by calling the latter the “mystics of spirit” and the former the “mystics of muscle (For the New Intellectual p. 138[7]).”  The rejection of any ethics outside of pure self-interest is clear; they hold that “ethics” as it is properly understood in our society is a chain of enslavement and servitude, not a tool of mutual advantage for all members of our species. 
There can be no objectivity here, and ironically, though all of them are vehement criticizers of “Liberalism” using one definition or another, they all fall-sway to the notion within Liberalism that one cannot give objective values or persuade one to value something they intrinsically do not.  This is most clear in Hume’s declaration that one cannot derive an “ought” from an “is.”  It becomes apparent then that Egoism is lacking in any type of Normativity outside of its own satisfaction.
However, this can also be seen in the implantation of the practices of both Individualist Anarchist economic theories (though various Individualist Anarchists not only share Stirner’s views implicitly in their economics, but explicitly as-well – Instead of a Book pg. 15[8]) and Laissez-Faire Capitalist notions.  I will focus on the Individualist tendencies of Benjamin Tucker because of his more explicit relationship to Stirner and because one could make the criticism that a State (which explicitly uses force) still exists in Right-wing Libertarianism and under a purely Egoist framework (among others) a State would not exist to cripple the unlimited freedoms of the sovereign (the individual).  If we are to assume the “will” or Ego is absolute, as it is in “Radical Egoism,” then we must assume there is no force other than the unbridled wills of other Egoists to hold back one’s selfish impulses as we pursue the conclusions of an Egoist society.
Under an Individualist Anarchist framework Positive Liberty (meaning freedom to rather than freedom from – or rather material resource being spent on ensuring the freedom of the citizenry) does not exist.  There is no social structure put in place to aid the downtrodden individual or even the most capable of individuals who like those who are mentally and physically retarded require proper social setting and structure to achieve their utmost potential.  Under a Tuckerist framework all management of resources, education and even the police (excuse me, privately-contracted security agency) are things which are to be run and owned privately and are suspect to the conduct and mentality of competition (Instead of a Book pg. 14.[9] & 15[10]).  This too is Idealist, for in ignoring Positive Liberty, Tucker is forgetting that human beings are animals, and what is best for all of us are proper relations and resources being organized and managed in a way that conforms to and heightens Man’s material nature. 
Individualist Anarchism also lacks objectivity, for while a social-collective owned by the workers will produce what is best for the community and is not tied down by competition, the Free-Market Anarchist (synonymous with Individualist Anarchist) has no such social ties and instead is tied to his or her own self-interest of producing according to his or her will.  He or she will be invested to stay in business to be sure, but could very-well do so by producing a cheap, poor product that the poorer members of a Individualist Anarchist society will buy and suffer from out of desperation, just as there are unhealthy things that are unnecessary (as opposed to alcohol being necessary for whiskey or sugar for chocolate for example) that plague us in Capitalist society.  There is also the detriment to the individual’s psychology and to the social atmosphere under Individualist Anarchism, but I shall come back to this in my second thesis statement.
Nozick is not an Egoist, but rather a Deontological Libertarian.  That is, he focuses on rights rather than the primacy of self-interest in his work Anarchy, State and Utopia.  He specifically derives his political philosophy from Immanuel Kant (who perhaps is the furthest thing from an Egoist there can be), so I won’t spend much time on him.  Only that he is a classic example of someone who doesn’t understand that something being voluntary is not a binary issue:  coercion and social status, opportunity and various (every, to some extent it could be argued) material factors play a role as well.  If Capitalists pay below a living wage for their hired-out labor and the worker is essentially forced to participate in a field outside his interests and live a life outside of his choosing he is, in essence, a slave of the Capitalists.  The façade of his life being voluntary is just that.  Also the Libertarian pipe-dream of a neutral State is simply that.  The history of the State is one of interest in human activity and bias.  It will likely favor the rich, (but in theory could actually put strong restraint amongst the rich, rather than what qualifies as such in Conservative and Libertarian circles) for they share much of the same aristocratic state-of-mind, as well as financial and cultural interests that are common to all who oppress the common and thusly share in the rewards of hierarchy, coercion and ignorance.
Nozick makes a fuss and plays the role of the drama queen about the Government not being able to interfere with an individual’s one and only life (Anarchy, State and Utopia p.33[11]), yet it is the Corporation who intimately alters a man’s living and very being.  Governments that pass mild regulations (against businesses for example) can only alter a man’s step and change his consciousness to the extent that the government is a part of his life for better or for worse. 
Thesis Expansion B – Examining Hobbes’ “Submissive” or “Defensive” Egoism, and how it too is lacking in objectivity, “scientific” ethics and a backing in Materialism.
Hobbes’ Egoism as I’ve alluded to is not the abrasive Nihilistic Egoism in the conventional sense that Stirner’s is.  However it still contains merits of the arbitrary in the sense that the rulers create justice by deciding what is just which logically follows if they A) create justice from the totality of the Social Contract and B) it is the totality and not the wisdom of the Social Contract that ensures or creates peace and what is just (Leviathan p. 58[12]).  That is what I mean by arbitrary.
Also for all others it is a type of “submissive Egoism,” in which one bows his head not out of respect for someone of superior virtue, but out of self-interest either as result of desire to boost one’s own social standing or out of fear.  The arbitrariness of Hobbes shows itself perhaps the most starkly where he is speaking of religious matters, and states that the children of Abraham can only obey God the way that Abraham and his direct descendents instruct (De Cive P. 87[13]). 
Even if we are to assume the existence of a Creator, or that this Creator has full and final authority over our lives (another unmerited assumption) it in no way follows that the word of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and so on must be referred to in all things.  This does not follow, for the Israelites would have no confirmation of when Abraham was speaking the will of God, and when he was speaking that of Abraham.  Without any degree of Skepticism, any huckster who makes the claim of Abraham and is believed would have the absolute right to be the ultimate word and leader over whole populations and eventually through inevitable bloodshed potentially the entire planet!  Ignoring this absurdity, the relativism here is clear.  This is in direct conflict with that which is argued in Plato’s Gorgias where he claims that the gods are to be referred to because they know what is right but cannot define what is right as many Christians believe to be the case in their God.
Hobbes ultimately cannot be a Materialist whose understanding of Man’s material corresponds with the findings of modern science (particularly anthropology and sociology).  The Russian Anarchist Peter Kropotkin in his work mutual aid states what I would hope to be the self-evident, being the interdependent and social nature of human beings (The Essential Kropotkin P.170[14]). 
He also doesn’t fully understand the dynamics between Absolutist Monarchies – another trait he is not a Materialist.  His understanding of Monarchy and human society is idealist in nature.  Human beings have various forms of societies not due-to material conditions in economics (as Marx illustrates in the German Ideology) but because they choose to.  And Kings exist not as a product of the feudal system or consequence of Man’s Anthropological nature (either would fall under the nature of a Materialist description of political happenstance, but Hobbes provides neither) but because men chose (as a matter of rational nature) to submit to the rule of his majesty the Sovereign. 
Also, he clearly has a warped interpretation of human history if he wishes to contend that more bloodshed was or would be spread in a State of Nature (Leviathan p.58[15]).  Although barbarity without ideological justification or hierarchical approval or demand is in some places and periods common (once again because of poor material conditions) they do not begin to tip the weights of corpses and suffering on the scale of European Monarchism, Republicanism and Capitalism.  Also the fact that he believes without government humans would only cohabitate out of the desire to copulate (using the Indians as an example – Leviathan p. 58[16]) shows his sheer ignorance that befuddles the senses.  An alien with no human sentiment viewing us from afar could do an immensely better job of a theory of human motivation, action and nature.
Hobbes despite his supposedly empiricist and materialist credentials is someone who takes large assumptions with human motivation, general psychology, human potential and the very nature of ethics as nothing but an intellectual abstraction similar to Max Stirner.  The only difference ‘tween the two being while Stirner claims there is no “right” and leaves it at-that; Hobbes puts forward the notion that in a sense there is no “right” (or there is a right to such a degree it becomes a meaningless term) until it is made magically “true” or “real” by some sorcery of the Sovereign – whether King or God.  He also shares with the standard Egoist and Right-wing conception of Liberty (Leviathan p.59[17]), namely that it is only freedom from not freedom to, failing to include the social and material resource to be a truly freed being.  His bourgeois Idealism continues through his inability to comprehend – or ability to ignore – that in fundamentally un-free societies the forces that keep people in chains (e.g. powers of State, religion and finance) and in control tacitly (both deliberately and through natural consequence of power relations) influence Man’s reasoning and judgment, so they aren’t as free or capable to form dissent mentally (he of course is in favor of censoring dissent of the Sovereign socially – which will lead to curtailment of thought inevitably) than he may think.
Not only this, but he is not a true materialist for he lacks the mentality and understanding of the materialist outlook.  That is, Hobbes is a man that wants to solve the world’s problems by legislating and creating a social structure that forbids murder, theft and rape; rather than the materialist solution which is focusing on discouraging and removing the incentives and motivators for such crimes.  Even Anarchists can believe in the State in the short-term, and most (excluding some like Stirner) believe that murder is a crime.  The only difference is, Anarchists and Materialists understand what the man who believes in Government or God (in their fundamental essences) does not – namely we do not make the world a better place by damning someone who has caused suffering who is in-fact a fellow sufferer him or herself, a material being who needs to be given the proper tools to rehabilitate and improve their nature as we all do.
Thesis Expansion C – Findings of Psychology and Arguments from the Skeptic Tradition
The Skeptical tradition holds that humans maintain the positions they have not due-to the impartial scrutiny of argument and evidence, but largely because certain metaphysical, epistemological and ethical positions hold sway for one form of character or psychology, while another may find it repulsive.  Nietzsche too, is well known for his use of psychology in philosophical argumentation, particularly behind the creation of human values as seen in The Genealogy of Morals (The Nietzsche Reader p. 471[18]), and it is in-deed a useful tool of scrutiny – as long as it in no way substitutes the critique of the ideas themselves, and is merely an addition to said critique.  One can criticize Freud for not attaching his own psyche’ to his theories and the psychological ramifications of such detachment and grandiose sentiment, but that in-itself is not an argument against psychoanalysis.  It merely provides reasoning behind the belief or position of reality that has likely (hopefully) already been scrutinized.  That being said, I would like to briefly examine the psychology of the philosophers that purport Egoism and the standards and notions that I have mentioned above.
First off, what would we say about someone who is without moral sentiment?  That is, a sentiment of social ethic or preference in action that is rational and based on pure utility; that is, completely devoid of immediate personal or egoist benefit.  Ignoring the crass terms which immediately come to mind, I think many would agree that there is something lacking in such souls, something that is a defining piece of humanity and something that has made us successful as a species – despite the Egoist ‘Will to Power’ sentiment given in Nietzsche and similar sentiments given in Stirner and Rand.
This sentiment has backings in the empirical findings of psychology, for much of the cornerstones of the Egoist philosophers has similarities in their sentiments with qualifications with Anti-Social Personality Disorder (http://psychcentral.com/disorders/antisocial-personality-disorder-symptoms/[19]).  Ayn Rand is merely the most obvious case, there are perhaps literally hundreds of examples I could cite, but for the sake of brevity I’ll merely reference one: an interview she did in ’59 where she claimed that “most people are unworthy of love[20].”  Nietzsche, in his autobiography has chapters entitled things such as:  Why I’m so Great, Why I Write Such Good Books, and so on.  Max Stirner’s Egoism is the most consistently blatant (and self-declared obviously) in constantly saying that it is only “his” cause that has any value to him, and that not only are other people’s concerns meaningless or of no regard to him, but while finding no validity in human rights or ethics, he believes he has the “right” to do whatever he pleases, and though he never states as such explicitly, he essentially contends the entire Man-dominated globe (but while you’re making meaningless Idealist claims, why stop there?) is his property, and the only “just” or ideal association of people is one of Egoists who do not harm each other out of fear of the others’ ruthlessness (Ego and Its Own p.165[21]).
I of course am not the only one who has found the obvious: namely, that Nietzsche is a Reactionary par-excellence who conveniently finds psychological faults and motives unknown to the person themselves when it is someone who expresses values he is against (On the Genealogy of Morals, Cambridge University Press, 1994, p. 9[22]).  While Nietzsche and Rand criticize Secular Ethicists for psychological failings (Philosophy Who Needs it p. 70[23]) (or for things which would seem to be traits for severe mental disorders the way Rand describes the Left) from a purely empirical point-of-view (ignoring conventional standards, which A) reference to which is not a valid argument and B) the Egoists would complain somewhat rightly that due-to differences the great whole of society dislike them as the sheep dislikes the hawk; this however in no way shows the inherent validity of their own psychological character or their superiority in traits over their “altruist” or “slave-moralist” counter-parts) taking the point of only the strictest Consequentialist (for any assertion of preference or value even derived from empirical findings is not only scientific but carries the weight of humans who have a preference towards breathing air, eating tasty food and occasionally preferring universal justice and tranquility from time-to-time) standpoint that what is “right” is that which ensures the material prosperity and growth of all beings considered.  This of course is where we hit the first roadblock with the Egoists.  For with them Ethics (if it is a thing at-all) is not a thing that can be demonstrated empirically or is a figure of computation.  It stems from a deep-seated psychological conviction that he or she cannot be “enslaved to” or expected to act according to anything outside of their personal whims.
The Egoists’ fundamental disagreement is whether they should make the world a better place; or rather, whether or not they should do anything at all outside of what they want to do.  For them, personal preference is automatically of greater concern than the social utility and scientific values of what is best for the human animal – or rather for them, psychologically, it is as if other people do not exist. 
Having discredited Egoism and Egotistic sentiments both intellectually and psychologically, I’d like to move on to an alternative – the only valid interpretation of a Materialist outlook and ethic.
Thesis Statement II:  True Materialism for humans necessitates a Scientific and Naturalist code of ethics; as-well-as a mentality and ethos that corresponds with such ethics.
If we are to accept human nature as a material thing, as all sensible people with a scientific mind intuitively do, then we must create a scientific code of ethics that looks at what it is we should have (the Good) and observes how best over-time to attain the social conditions to have such Good be prevalent for and within all to the greatest extent possible.  If anything is “good” it must be A) certain phenomenogical states of being and B) those material conditions, specifically social and mental circumstances, which create such phenomenogical states of being.  For if anything in this Universe is to be valued by humans, it must follow that first-and-foremost the subjective states of the mind must be valued, for they are all Man has immediate access to and can appreciate in-themselves.  This is not “subjectivism” or ethical relativism.  For the mind is a natural product of physical law, and therefore conforms to such law as well as laws of biology and psychology.  Health and prosperity then, are merely a matter of scientific understanding and implementation of these basic forms of utility that precede and are a part of all others. 
Expansion A:  Egalitarianism and Social Anarchy as only legitimate models for expressing the Materialist mentality and ethic.
Egalitarianism is the only just and prosperous arrangement for all humans, for it is the only one that gives freedom, social (or material) equality and justice to all sentient beings considered.  Even in Individualist Anarchy, that social arrangement that propounds theoretically absolute and total freedom, there is hierarchy ‘tween employee and employer.  And wherever there is hierarchy and fundamental division in social arrangement, there will be psychological and cultural conditioning to such rulers which will maintain the “business-like” and bourgeois mentality of society which A) promotes Egoism and B) reduces Man’s phenomenogical states of being by lowering it to such a petty state, and reduces both our potential and our enjoyment and appreciation of life.  Acknowledging said mental conditioning is a staple of the true Materialist, and is perhaps one of the greatest contributions to philosophy by that infamous German Revolutionary Karl Marx (The German Ideology p. 37[24]).
Social Anarchism is the only Political Philosophy that promotes both complete Egalitarianism and a Naturalist mentality of the world and the people on it.  This is something that Kropotkin discusses (The Essential Kropotkin p. 60[25]) as many other Social Anarchists have posited before and since, implicitly giving evidence that Social Anarchism compliments, and could be argued forms out of, the Materialist mentality while Individualist Anarchism, Liberalism and other political philosophies come from the Idealist state-of-mind and understanding of things. 
To be a true Materialist, to have the mind and essence of a Materialist, is to believe first-and-foremost in Positive Liberty – as right, ethic and means of ensuring social peace and progress.  For as we aspire towards virtue, it is only the Materialist who asks the question:  Is one beloved because they are virtuous, or are they virtuous because they are beloved?   Though there are many an account of Anarchists reciting the wisdom I have, I’ll refer to my teacher Bakunin’s Three Lectures to Swiss Members (The Basic Bakunin p. 46[26]) where he describes the account of men and women living in his time, ours and in any where the bourgeois Liberal notion of “Idealist Liberty” reigns.
Progressive legislation in bourgeois society can benefit the masses and lead towards more intelligent, healthy people to be involved in the social movement towards liberation; but just as  the Church can never be a founding implementer of reason, so the State (Socialist or not) can never be, in its essence, a tool for absolute and complete justice and improvement in society, though a Church can have a school where a education of some merit is received, and Christian charities perform some good for mankind.  Kropotkin among others has said much the same (Essential Kropotkin p. 75[27]).  Under any hierarchical model, there will still be “non-material” relations that condition the mind and society regardless of ideological ethic.
Expansion B:  Virtue Ethics as the general ethic of Materialism and mentality of “Ethical Naturalism” and Anarchism – as long as respect for human rights are maintained.
Virtue Ethics is the only theory of ethics that incorporates the mechanism (or “mechanistic nature” of human beings) into the actions it takes.  That is, Deontology proclaims “do your duty!” Utilitarianism shouts “maximize happiness!”  The Christian ethicists of antiquity bellow “obey God and his holy word!”  Only with Virtue Ethics does the psychology and biology of what Man truly is takes a central role; rather than playing a back seat behind intellectual abstractions as it does with Utilitarianism.  It is the ethic that is fundamentally materialistic, for it deals with the psyche and habits (for a founding aspect of Aristotle’s ethics is based on a man’s habits – despite the fact that he believes that a thing can either be a product of its innate nature or become something due-to habituation but never a synthesis of the two.  The fact that he relies on rocks falling as example makes this absurdity – and the fact that if virtue exists at-all it must through Natural Selection be something that exists at-least potentially within the organism’s nature – self-evident.  Ethics p.20[28]) of all men and women (who are rational animals, and as Marx acknowledges in the German Ideology, are only rational to the extent that they are because they were given the conditions to become rational, having, yes, that capacity for reason in their genetics) and how their conceptions of the good relay both partially on their biological needs and on the culture that they live in.
If our increased standard of living even amongst Capitalist exploitation has taught us anything, it is that Man’s primary virtue lies in intellectual pursuit.  As long as the findings of reason and science are implemented in society, there seems to be no limit to our species.  That however is where everything falls apart.  For bourgeois society, in the forms of Capitalism, Government and the Church do not act according to the findings of science and maximizing the utility for mankind, instead they act according to their own interests and their own ideologies.
The main virtue today’s great souls lack is the courage and determination to struggle to implement what reason has found to be an absurdity.  There are many brilliant and passionate men and women who pursue the sciences, and know that through Capitalism the world is dying and we (though the blame belongs to some more than others) are killing it.  They realize this, but despite how many realize it or find more and more data confirming Climate Change, among other things, the trends of both governments and Capitalism continually have us poison ourselves, essentially all organisms we have contact with and kill both billions of future children deprived of existence and the full potential of our species.  They can do little as scientists, but as men they must find the strength to abolish such a system (once again, I shall not go into methodology) and implement one where the findings of science and the best future for mankind can be found, can be realized, through collective collaboration of both individual and collective virtues. 
We all fundamentally agree that we should have a just and fair world (both due-to moral psychology and from applying “universalizing” thought experiments such as The Golden Rule, The Categorical Imperative and The Veil of Ignorance.  A Theory of Justice p. 17[29]).  That everyone should have the opportunity to pursue their best selves and live with dignity; the main reason severe conflict and disagreement exists is due-to the class and ideological nature of society.  Because of this, there is much squabble about the proper path, which sounds to those who do not know how to listen as if there is disagreement about the Ideal society; when in fact even the ignoramus knows the ideal, he simply speaks of its opposite through a combination of stupidity and being told lies – that is for we who are operating under a mentality that views the good end as the ultimate desire, rather than the satisfaction of whatever ideology one believes in (Ethics p. 39[30]).  One can be fooled and believe in Capitalism, but there is a difference between the buffoon who does, but is still on the whole psychologically ethical and the Capitalist who realizes that his existence is in contradiction towards the best of all ends for all, but justifies his existence through Egoism and holds his ideology and interests over the best of all ends (The Basic Bakunin p. 100-01[31]).
I close this portion by reminding the reader as beings equipped with reason, a specific biological nature and an existence that is defined by (at-least subjectively) specific and varied phenomenogical states of being, we must act in accordance to those actions which often (but not necessarily as Aristotle, Plato and Socrates argue) lead to higher states of being and higher material welfare for others – namely our virtuous ones.  For though we live in a bourgeois society where an emphasis is placed on “selfish” and “selfless” actions, truly there is little if any divide and (as Aristotle acknowledges) virtue is that noble quality, that gift of growth and happiness, that allows us to thrive personally and (or rather by) accomplishing in the only way accomplish has any real meaning, that is socially.
Under this reasoning Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics (if we ignore his discussion of the nature of slaves and women, which isn’t an essential aspect of Virtue Ethics) also plays very-well with Bakunin’s Collectivism and contention that Positive Liberty is essential for any meaningful freedom (Basic Bakunin p’s. 47&49[32][33]).
Expansion C:  An Aesthetic mentality (the counterpoint of Egoism) is the correct mentality both for individual phenomenogical state and for proper social arrangements
Now that I have explained how Virtue Ethics is relatable or a tool for Materialism and Anarchist Collectivism, I would like to briefly explain the phenomenogical state that best fits with Virtue Ethics and Materialism, in-regards to motivation and general mentality.  The mode-of-being that is Aestheticism is that which allows for the greatest implicit understanding of Virtue Ethics for the sentient organism.  It cannot be Egoism, for the Egoist will always pursue pleasure whether it be physical or psychological, and therefore is always at the beck-and-call of his petty whims and craving for satisfaction of the Ego – which is hardly a formula for health of organism or society.  Instead, Aestheticism has us look at reality as something we appreciate for its traits that do not apply personally to us.  That is, art, science and other higher more noble aspects of existence which allow us to see the universal or impersonal beauty in life that we paradoxically become very personally involved in.  The Social Activist who works with his comrades is not an Egoist though he attaches much of his sense of self to this effort for a better future outside of bourgeois existence.  He is not an Egoist for his goal is outside himself as is his sense of personal gratification.
It is someone who is practicing Aestheticism who is the true Virtue Ethicist; for they are pursuing their good in a way where excellence trumps happiness or Ego.  They are pursuing that which comes natural to those who have both the innate tendency and the environment to take such actions of virtue.  Which particular actions the individual will perform is a result largely (though other factors are involved) of their own particular psychology, culture and skills.
It is those who have the highest degree of the most-important and human of the virtues (namely intellectual virtue) who pursue the primary good of Man, namely knowledge of existence, which by definition is not how it applies to him, because for that he need merely to observe superficial surroundings and his and his fellows’ reactions.  We do as we please (rather than being confined to artificial law or dictate as the Egoists see social utility and Virtue Ethics) but in a mentality of aestheticism, that is, a mentality that focuses on knowledge and creation rather than pursuing self-centered ends of contentment and satisfaction. 
This is the primary distinction ‘tween Virtue Ethics (utilizing an aesthetic mindset) and Enlightened Self-Interest.  The Virtue Ethicist does good out of his nature, but those who believe in Enlightened Self-Interest still think of themselves (even if they are not explicitly Ethical Egoists) and are in essence (that is psychologically) Egoists with guilty consciences who wish to do good for others, but still tell themselves, “this will ultimately be best for me in the long-run.”  While this thought never occurs to the Virtue Ethicist.  Yes, Virtue Ethicists promotes and in-a-sense is the mechanism of promoting health and well-being for both the individual and the collective, but this understanding is far more implicit for the Virtue Ethicist.  While someone who believes in Enlightened Self-Interest must remind himself from time-to-time that his actions will ultimately help him as-well – revealing his true concerns and state-of-mind to reiterate. 
Also it should be noted that while Enlightened Self-Interest would be a perfectly adequate motivator for virtue in a rational and just society, in fundamentally unjust societies self-sacrifice is needed (obvious examples being the comrades who gave their livelihoods and lives for the social struggle whether it was utilizing violent or peaceful means).  Meaning that in our present day circumstances, asides from the forces of apathy and bourgeois culture, it is the mental fulcrum of self-interest that keeps the worker’s from revolution.  They are in fear of loss of what little they have (one of the main tools of the Capitalist to control the workers) and they act against their interests to promote or preserve their own!  This can also be seen in the poor who vote Republican (or Democrat, either way they are voting against their interests) against their interests, but their reasoning is not to promote some grand notion of justice or equality, but to “keep out the damn Mexicans stealing hard-working Americans’ jobs and to bomb the towel-heads so we’ll never have another 9/11.”  Or rather, they hang themselves so they might breathe freely.  One must abandon the concept of self-interest almost entirely for the whole of mankind to be saved; but the grips of bourgeois culture in the forms of their toys and their stimulation of the Ego prevent many from becoming mentally liberated – which of course prevents the social liberation necessary for mass mental liberation which is a requirement for social revolution.
The best comparison will be ‘tween the individual who lives to make money performing comedy and the great-souled comedian like George Carlin who performs comedy and makes money simply to continue.  Or as Socrates put it:  Base men live to eat and drink, and good men eat and drink to live[34].  Living meaning a life of creation and growth; rather than as a mundane stagnant existence of the endless cycle of desire and either brief satisfaction or disappointment which comes from the Hedonist-Egoist-Capitalist view of existence and mode-of-being.  An existence that as Kierkegaard points out though described and seen as a constant assault of hedonistic frivolities is defined as and results in a life of illness and despair. 
It seemed necessary to mention asides from Schopenhauer the other main philosopher who speaks of “aestheticism’s” effect on human action and psychology, though Kierkegaard is using the word in a way that is almost the opposite of Schopenhauer’s and my own use since it relates to a deeply sensual – i.e. egotistical and petty – mode of existence when Schopenhauer’s use is the precise opposite emphasizing the intellect’s capacity to see things outside of personal attachments and pleasures.
The best example of someone who argues for the aesthetic mindset is of course that old German curmudgeon.  With him compassion is the only true motivation for ethical action.  And though I don’t hold that to be true, he does show well that our Ego prevents us from connecting to things as they are, and acting in an impartial way that we would expect and hope others to act if they were in our situation.  For with Schopenhauer, the aesthetic mode of existence is the absolute and only meaningful escape from our transitory desires of petty Egoism (World as Will p.212[35]).  No longer are the concerns of sex, social relations, entertainment and other trifles on Man’s mind.  Instead, he no longer sees existence as a commodity to be “purchased” and consumed, instead, as something to be understood and appreciated as the thing in itself. 
This is the mentality of anyone who is truly passionate and invested in life rather than their own lives; those whose mode of existence is still raw and genuine, and hasn’t been made phony and shallow by bourgeois existence.  The raw soul will experience more anxiety and neuroticism, as depicted in Woody Allen movies, but paradoxically, the aesthetic state of being that removes all Ego from one’s existence, is also personally invested in the subject matter of interest for him or her.  This is more-or-less the dichotomy between the inward and outward turning Libido that Freud speaks of.
This mentality is not only crucial for our own higher states of subjective being, but for a higher state of being and prosperity in-regards to social existence; i.e. for others and the ethos or culture that they and we will find ourselves in.  Social Anarchism with its dedication to universal justice and implementing on scientific notions of prosperity (rather than individual whim based on the market structures of Individual Anarchism) is therefore required for aestheticism, and aestheticism is required for equality and universal prosperity.
I mentioned Individualist Anarchism in another segment, though the political construct of Liberalism too is not compatible with Aestheticism.  Unlike the Individualist Anarchists who are honest in their aims and mentality, in theorizing, the Liberals consistently speak of the trifecta-slogan of those once radical French – Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.  But instead they destroy all of them for the State, Capitalism and indirectly faith.  Faith and the evils of faith remain from poor material means, which persist on this Earth (the only real sin there is) because Equality is something that will never exist within Liberal (bourgeois) society as result of its support of the Capitalists among others.  Liberalism is merely the political philosophy of Capitalism.  It is Egoism that shies away from its true nature and logical conclusion – which we are seeing here in America. 
Liberty is nothing but a bourgeois lie as well.  It exists for the high, who can murder and be deemed sick with affluenza, but the poor are merely sick with poverty of the body and mind, and for that they receive only the sickening medications of jail and church, which only will keep the slave-class in the ghetto, both physically and mentally.  America, the laughably called bastion of liberty, has the highest incarceration number on this Earth – and mostly for victimless crimes; all for crimes where jail does nothing and the real cure is not suffering but help and growth. 
And Fraternity?  Ha!  Where is there an overwhelming spirit of compassion and brotherhood in Capitalist society?  In bourgeois society there is only apathy and intense concern for football games and the charade of an individual’s life which through Egoism becomes a game (will I win or lose?  Will I fuck her or not?  Will I get the promotion over my co-worker or not?  Will I make enough money to be able to control other’s lives?).  The morality of the low under Capitalism is simply a more material and realized version of the morality of the low in-effect under Christianity – namely servitude and acceptance of indignity and injustice as inevitable.  Though if help for the poor outside of Government aid exists anywhere in common culture (for there are many non-profit organizations which exist to help the poor and downtrodden that the masses do not know about) it is in the church, where the poisons of Idealism and Spiritualism are peddled along with the virtues of kindness and empathy.  Though there are some moral messages preached in a church, and there is indeed charity and hospitality abound, the food that the Church gives the poor will never justify or be equal to the self-nourishing health that is a free psychology and independent mind – two things the Church is radically opposed to through their teachings of Original Sin, a watching and judging God and servitude to that God.
One of the primary ways they do this is to teach them that justice is derived off of punishment (or suffering) and that suffering (whether based off of explicit punishment or the implicit punishment of being poor that the majority must suffer through every day) is justified through the notion of choice.  We do not believe in “fundamental” choice (i.e. free will), or that ethical action should be seen as a painful choice between personal desires (though there will always be, at-least for many much of the time a conflict between desires) and the welfare of the human race that is the divide between the Egoists and the Idealists of religions and nations.  For as I already alluded to in my section on Virtue Ethics, the virtuous man is one who naturally, that is, by his nature, performs virtuous action rather than being instructed by ideology.  While the Egoists cripple Man to his most base nature and say it is divine, the preachers of divine codes of conduct (whether it’s the laws of celestial or earthly force) remove Man’s essence (his material nature) from his actions and say he must “renounce” rather than grow and choose to be a good boy (Basic Bakunin p. 175[36]).
In conclusion, I’d like to state that though it seems very-likely our species is doomed, we still are always capable of changing the world for the better.  Though the future is set, we do not know it in detail, so we should always act as if it is not.  The only meaning of our lives is the virtue-of-being I previously described, which indirectly would allow our species to exist forever.  But since such virtues are not being used (or are being used to their own diminishment and lack of efficacy in society) in systems of Capitalism and Government, all we can do is continue to practice said virtues whilst we can.
The most we can achieve now is a greater form of life before it’s lost; a greater degree of appreciation of life before it, and we, are gone.  But this is ultimately not a radical alteration from the position every human being on our planet has always been in.  It is tragic, but acceptable if we remember that it is a fortunate set of circumstances (at-least for many, for those who do not suffer to the point that it would be better if they never existed at-all, which too, is the state of life for many) that we were even able to exist, and exist in the state where we could create, think, laugh, appreciate and explore at-all.  We must accept collective death as inevitable, and strive for a better world despite this.  Or as Camus put it:  The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.[37]  But perhaps I am terribly mistaken and am merely claiming what seems to me inevitable so as to escape the fatal guilt of being able to save mankind but failing to do so (Freud Reader p. 616[38]).


[1] The divine is God’s concern; the human, man’s.  My concern is neither the divine nor the human, nor the true, good, just, free, etc., but solely what is mine, and it is not a general one, but is – unique, as I am unique.  Nothing is more to me than myself!
[2] If I destroy their corporeity, then I take them back into mine, and say:  “I alone am corporeal.”  And now I take the world as what it is to me, as mine, as my property; I refer all to myself.
[3] In the unique one the owner himself returns into his creative nothing, of which he is born… If I concern myself for myself, the unique one, then my concern rests on its transitory, mortal creator, who consumes himself, and I may say:  All things are nothing to me.
[4] The People is a higher essence than an individual, and, like Man or the Spirit of the People.
[5] But it is not only man that “haunts”; so does everything. The higher essence, the spirit, that walks in everything, is at the same time bound to nothing… haunting spirits in review, if they were not to come before us again further on in order to vanish before egoism… sacred the truth, sacred are right, law, a good cause, majesty, marriage, the common good, order, the father land, and so on.
[6] But, even granted that doubts, raised in the course of time against the tenets of the Christian faith, have long since robbed you of faith in the immortality of your spirit, you have nevertheless left one tenet undisturbed, and still ingenuously adhere to the one truth, that the spirit is your better part, and that the spiritual has greater claims on you than anything else.  Despite all your atheism, in zeal against egoism you concur with the believers in immortality.
[7] As products of the split between man’s soul and body, there are two kinds of teachers of the Morality of Death:  the mystics of spirit and the mystics of muscle, whom you call the spiritualists and the materialists… No matter how loudly they posture in the roles of irreconcilable antagonists, their moral codes are alike, and so are their aims: in matter – the enslavement of man’s body, in spirit – the destruction of his mind.
[8] Nor does the Anarchistic scheme furnish any code of morals to be imposed upon the individual.  “Mind your own business” is its only moral law.
[9] Protection they look upon as a thing to be secured, as long as it is necessary, by voluntary association and cooperation for self-defence, or as a commodity to be purchased, like any other commodity, of those who offer the best article at the lowest price.
[10] In the matter of the maintenance and rearing of children the Anarchists would neither institute the communistic nursery which the State Socialists favor nor keep the communistic school system which now prevails.  The nurse and the teacher, like the doctor and the preacher, must be selected voluntarily, and their services must be paid for by those who patronize them.
[11] There are only individual people, different individual people, with their own individual lives.  Using one of these people for the benefit of others, uses him and benefits the others.  Nothing more.  What happens is that something is done to him for the sake of others.  Talk of an overall social good covers this up.  (Intentionally?)  To use a person in this way does not sufficiently respect and take account of the fact that he is a separate person, that his is the only life he has.  He does not get some overbalancing good from his sacrifice, and no one is entitle to force this upon him – least of all a state or government that claims his allegiance (as other individuals do not) and that therefore scrupulously must be neutral between its citizens.
[12] In this war of every man against every man nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have no place there. Where there is no common power, there is no law; and where there is no law, there is no injustice.
[13] For Abraham alone could teach them who was the God of Abraham, and in what manner he was to be worshipped.  And they who after Abrahams death were subject to the Soveraignty of Issac or Jacob, did by the same reason obey them in all things without sin, as long as they acknowledged, and profest the God of Abraham to be their God.
[14] Sociability and need of social aid and support are such inherent parts of human nature that at no time of history can we discover men living in small isolated families, fighting each other for the means of subsistence.  On the contrary, modern research … proves that since the very beginning of their prehistoric life men used to agglomerate into gentes, clans, or tribes… For thousands and thousands of years this organization has kept men together, although there was no authority whatever to impose it.
[15] Even if there had never been any time at which individual men were in a state of war one against another,
this is how kings, and persons of sovereign authority relate to one another at all times. Because of their independence from one another, they are in continual mutual jealousies. Like gladiators, with their weapons pointing and their eyes fixed on one another, sovereigns have forts, garrisons, and guns on the frontiers of their kingdoms, and permanent spies on their neighbours—this is a posture of war, as much as the gladiators’ is. But because in this the sovereigns uphold the economy of their nations, their state of war doesn’t lead to the sort of misery that occurs when individual men are at liberty from laws and government.
[16] For the savage people in many parts of America have no government at all except for the government of small families, whose harmony depends on natural lust.
[17] The proper meaning of LIBERTY is the absence of external obstacles. Such obstacles can often take away part of a man’s power to do what he wants, but they can’t get in the way of his using his remaining power in obedience to his judgment and reason.
[18] A self-contradiction such as that which seems to occur in the ascetic, ‘life against life’, is – so much is obvious – seen from the physiological, not just the psychological standpoint, simply nonsense.  It can only be apparent; it has to be a sort of provisional expression, an explanation, formula, adjustment… the ascetic ideal springs from the protective and healing instincts of a degenerating life which uses every means to maintain itself and struggles for its existence.
[19] Individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder frequently lack empathy and tend to be callous, cynical, and contemptuous of the feelings, rights, and sufferings of others. They may have an inflated and arrogant self-appraisal and may be excessively opinionated, self-assured, or cocky. They may display a glib, superficial charm and can be quite voluble and verbally facile (e.g., using technical terms or jargon that might impress someone who is unfamiliar with the topic). 
[21] Therefore we two, the State and I, are enemies.  I, the Egoist, have not at heart the welfare of this “human society,” I sacrifice nothing to it, I only utilize it; but to be able to utilize it completely I transform it into my property and my creature; that is, I annihilate it, and form in its place the Union of Egoists.
[22] The values Nietzsche wishes to subject to a revaluation are largely altruistic and egalitarian values such as pity, self-sacrifice, and equal rights. For Nietzsche, modern politics rests largely on a secular inheritance of Christian values (he interprets the socialist doctrine of equality in terms of a secularization of the Christian belief in the equality of all souls before God).
[23] Communists, like all materialists, are neo-mystics: it does not matter whether one rejects the mind in favor of revelations or in favor of conditioned reflexes. The basic premise and the results are the same.
[24]The conditions under which individuals have intercourse with each other, so long as the above-mentioned contradiction is absent, are conditions appertaining to their individuality, in no way
external to them; conditions under which these definite individuals, living under definite relationships,
can alone produce their material life and what is connected with it, are thus the conditions of their
self-activity and are produced by this self-activity. The definite condition under which they produce, thus
corresponds, as long as the contradiction has not yet appeared, to the reality of their conditioned nature…
[25] Anarchism is a world-concept based upon a mechanical explanation of all phenomena, embracing the whole of nature – that is, including in it the life of human societies and their economic, political and moral problems.  Its method of investigation is that of the exact natural sciences
[26] The right to freedom, without the means of achieving it, is only a ghost.  And do we not love freedom too much to be satisfied with its ghost?  We want reality.  But what constitutes the real basis and the positive condition of freedom?  It is, for each individual, the all-round development and full enjoyment of all physical, intellectual, and moral faculties; consequently, it is all the material means necessary for each individual’s human existence.
[27] Just as the churches cannot be utilized for freeing man from his old superstitions, and just as the feeling of human solidarity will have to find other channels for its expression besides the churches, so also the economic and political liberation of man will have to create new forms for its expression in life, instead of those established by the State.
[28] …moral virtue comes about as a result of habit, whence also its name (ethike) is one that is formed by a slight variation from the word ethos (habit).  From this it is also plain that none of the moral virtues arises in us by nature; for nothing that exists by nature can form a habit contrary to its nature.  For instance the stone which by nature moves downwards cannot be habituated to move upwards, not even if one tries to train it by throwing it up ten thousand times…
[29] It seems reasonable to suppose that the parties in the original position are equal. That is, all have the same rights in the procedure for choosing principles; each can make proposals, submit reasons for their acceptance, and so on…
Together with the veil of ignorance, these conditions define the principles of justice as those which rational persons concerned to advance their interests would consent to as equals when none are known to be advantaged or disadvantaged by social and natural contingencies.
[30] We deliberate not about ends but about means.
[31] …the masses’ prejudices are based only on their ignorance and totally oppose their very interests, while the bourgeoisie’s are based precisely on their class interests and resist counteraction by bourgeois science itself only because of the collective egoism of its members.  The people want but do not know; the bourgeoisie knows but does not want.
[32] Only through this conversation and in it can animalistic man transform into a human being.  His individuality as a man, his freedom, is thus the product of the collectivity.
Only through collective labor does man emancipate himself from the tyrannical pressure which the natural world exerts on each person; individual labor, impotent and sterile, can never subdue nature.  Productive labor, which has created all wealth and our entire civilization, has always been social, collective labor.  But until now it has been unjustly exploited by some individuals, to the detriment of the working masses.
[33] We are tired of all fables, religious and political.  The people are tired of living on phantoms and fables.  This diet stunts growth.  Today they demand reality.  Therefore, let us see whether there is anything real for them in the exercise of political rights…
Have they been able to give every child born in their midst an equal education?  No, this is impossible.  For the children of the members of the bourgeoisie, superior education; for those of the people, only primary education, and in rare occasions a little secondary education.  Why this difference?  For the simple reason that men of the people workers in the fields and cities, do not have the means to support their children, that is, to feed, clothe, and lodge them for the entire duration of their studies.  To obtain a scientific education, one must study until the age of twenty-one, sometimes twenty-five. I ask you, what workers are able to support their children for so long a time?  This sacrifice is beyond all their means, for they have neither the funds nor the property necessary, and they live from day to day on a salary which scarcely suffices to support a large family.
[34] As quoted by Plutarch.
[35] I return to our discussion of the aesthetic impression. Knowledge of the beautiful always supposes, simultaneously and inseparably, a purely knowing subject and a known Idea as object. But yet the source of aesthetic enjoyment will lie sometimes rather in the apprehension of the known Idea, sometimes rather in the bliss and peace of mind of pure knowledge free from all willing, and thus from all individuality and the pain that results therefrom.
[36] Political idealism is no less absurd, pernicious, and hypocritical than religious idealism, of which it is moreover only a different form: its worldly and terrestrial expression.  The State is the younger brother of the Church – and patriotism, the virtue of and cult of the State is but a reflection of the cult of the divine.  According to the precepts of the idealist school, which is simultaneously a religious and political school, the virtuous must serve God and devote themselves to the State.
[37] The Stranger.
[38] If we are to die ourselves, and first to lose in death those who are dearest to us, it is easier to submit to a remorseless law of nature, to the sublime 'AvdY"1J [Necessity], than to a chance which might perhaps have been escaped.

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