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I was rather excited when I learned that what I commonly consider to be the 'ENTJ philosophy' had a real name, and was a construct that existed not only within my own mind, but within the minds of others. And after reviewing the content of this site, my opinion is the same: all Objectivist principles work perfectly well and lead to well-adjusted, productive citizens. But I've been believing that for years, and it's never truly changed my actions; I remain a mildly pathetic altruist. My point is this: although I believe firmly that Objectivist principles could lead to what they say they can lead to, I don't follow them. I am fully aware that Altruism has purely a subjective and not a logical value; yet, I'm still absolutely altruistic. The best reason I could give is 'altruism for altruism's sake'; I fully acknowledge my stupidity and I'm going with it anyway. So, what about you? Do you follow Objectivist principles in every aspect of your life, or most? None? And if you don't, why not? Do you consciously choose inefficiency, like I do? Are your altruistic practices a product of the environment that you accustomed yourself to? I myself consider altruism to be a part of basic human instinct(if that's not a contradiction in itself). Do you find this to be true in your daily life, or do you find Objectivism to be more instinctual and natural?

asked Apr 10 '14 at 15:55

MAnder's gravatar image


The question explains:

... although I believe firmly that Objectivist principles could lead to what they say they can lead to, I don't follow them. I am fully aware that Altruism has purely a subjective and not a logical value; yet, I'm still absolutely altruistic.

A more accurate term for this approach is not altruism -- at least, not fully consistent, highly principled self-sacrifice -- but pragmatism. This is actually a question about pragmatism -- adherence to principles or not -- rather than altruism versus Objectivism.

For more insight on pragmatism, refer to the topic of "Pragmatism" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon. Here is a sampling:

[The Pragmatists] declared that philosophy must be practical and that practicality consists of dispensing with all absolute principles and standards -- that there is no such thing as objective reality or permanent truth....

A later school of more Kantian Pragmatists [held:] If there is no such thing as an objective reality, men's metaphysical choice is whether the selfish, dictatorial whim of an individual or the democratic whims of a collective are to shape that plastic goo which the ignorant call "reality," therefore this school decided that objectivity consists of collective subjectivism -- that knowledge is to be gained by means of public polls among special elites of "competent investigators" who can "predict and control" reality....

Compare this with altruism, as described in the Lexicon topic of "Altruism":

The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.

Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice -- which means: self-immolation, self abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction -- which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good.

The questioner, in contrast, sounds more fundamentally anti-principle than either a principled Objectivist or a principled altruist.

The formulation quoted above from the question also mentions altruism as having "purely a subjective and not a logical value...." "Logical" here appears to mean objective. So the questioner is again choosing subjective values over objective ones, which constitutes pragmatism. How, then, is the questioner expecting to be able to live, especially in the long run? Does he think it can be done without principles, and specifically without objective, rational principles? A person may be able to muddle along for awhile in that manner, but long-range productiveness and happiness across the span of a lifetime are impossible without objective principles. For man, reason and logic are not optional. If an individual tries to live pragmatically anyway, he will end up dependent on others. If an entire society tries to function that way, the whole society will be doomed as soon as it runs out of productive, rational victims to plunder and crush.

The question describes Objectivism as the 'ENTJ philosophy.' But I maintain that it is possible for highly principled altruists to be ENTJ, also -- or, to be more exact, principled altruism can hold great appeal for ENTJ personalities as well as for most other personality types, although other types may be more attracted to the actual process of living for and through others rather than focusing first and foremost on devoted adherence to strict, explicit principles. (ENTJ, as I understand it, basically refers to an expressive or extraverted "deep thinker" who likes adhering to principles, living a well structured life, and judging others by the same standard.)

The questioner seems to acknowledge that he is not a principled altruist: "I remain a mildly pathetic altruist." This sounds like pragmatism again. There are undoubtedly many pragmatic "Objectivist" aspirants (and dogmatic ones, too), but pragmatism and dogmatism aren't compatible with Objectivism, especially as time goes on and life's challenges increasingly demand consistently life-serving actions which only the guidance of objective principles can facilitate.

I myself consider altruism to be a part of basic human instinct....

Objectivism points out that man's choices of principles (if any), and which principles, are open to his free will. This is offered in Objectivism as an identification of a fundamental fact of reality, not some high-level abstraction pulled out of blue sky. And one's choices and actions have consequences for one's life, imposed by reality. Again, reason and logic are not optional for man's life, even though he is cognitively free to use them or not.

answered Apr 12 '14 at 00:05

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

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Asked: Apr 10 '14 at 15:55

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Last updated: Apr 12 '14 at 00:05