Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Twain on self-approval There is only one impulse that ever moves a person to do things There is only one impulse that ever moves a person to do things.

Similar presentations


Presentation on theme: "Twain on self-approval There is only one impulse that ever moves a person to do things There is only one impulse that ever moves a person to do things."— Presentation transcript:

1 Twain on self-approval There is only one impulse that ever moves a person to do things There is only one impulse that ever moves a person to do things The impulse to “content his own spirit” and “win its approval” The impulse to “content his own spirit” and “win its approval” When people perform intentional actions, their ultimate goal is always to obtain the approval and contentment of their own ‘spirit’ (i.e., conscience, moral psychology) When people perform intentional actions, their ultimate goal is always to obtain the approval and contentment of their own ‘spirit’ (i.e., conscience, moral psychology) Call this the Gospel of Self-Approval. Call this the Gospel of Self-Approval.

2 But what about unselfish behavior and self-sacrifice? As the Young Man is eager to point out, there are many cases where it appears that people are behaving unselfishly, that they are sacrificing their own interest for the sake of other people. As the Young Man is eager to point out, there are many cases where it appears that people are behaving unselfishly, that they are sacrificing their own interest for the sake of other people. In these cases, people seem to be driven by a “golden impulse” of kindness and love. In these cases, people seem to be driven by a “golden impulse” of kindness and love. So there is a tension between these cases and the Gospel of Self-Approval. So there is a tension between these cases and the Gospel of Self-Approval.

3 Some cases of (apparent) unselfishness The old woman and the snowstorm The old woman and the snowstorm The frightened soldier The frightened soldier Motherly love Motherly love Philanthropists Philanthropists Missionary work Missionary work Tipping hotel staff Tipping hotel staff Women and children first Women and children first

4 Reinterpreting the cases The old woman and the snowstorm: The old woman and the snowstorm: the sight of the poor woman caused pain the sight of the poor woman caused pain if he hadn’t helped her, he would have felt terrible, sleepless guilt if he hadn’t helped her, he would have felt terrible, sleepless guilt after he helped her, he felt very pleased after he helped her, he felt very pleased The case involves a variety of feelings (pleasant and unpleasant) The case involves a variety of feelings (pleasant and unpleasant) Such feelings come from our conscience Such feelings come from our conscience

5 The true motive These conscientious feelings were what really determined the man’s decision These conscientious feelings were what really determined the man’s decision “If I don’t help her, I will experience very unpleasant feelings of guilt” “If I don’t help her, I will experience very unpleasant feelings of guilt” “If I do help her, I will experience very pleasant feelings of self-approval” “If I do help her, I will experience very pleasant feelings of self-approval” He didn’t help for her sake; he helped her for his own sake -- for the sake of avoiding unpleasant feelings and obtaining pleasant feelings. He didn’t help for her sake; he helped her for his own sake -- for the sake of avoiding unpleasant feelings and obtaining pleasant feelings.

6 Lincoln’s Reinterpretation Mr. Lincoln once remarked to a fellow passenger on an old-time mud coach that all men were prompted by selfishness in doing good. His fellow passenger was antagonizing this position when they were passing over a corduroy bridge that spanned a slough. As they crossed this bridge they espied an old razor-backed sow on the bank making a terrible noise because her pigs had got into the slough and were in danger of drowning. As the old coach began to climb the hill, Mr. Lincoln called out, "Driver, can't you stop a moment?" Then Mr. Lincoln jumped out, ran back and lifted the little pigs out of the mud and water and placed them on the bank. When he returned, his companion remarked, "Now Abe, where does selfishness come in on this little episode?" "Why bless your soul, Ed, that was the very essence of selfishness. I should have had no peace of mind all day had I gone and left that suffering old sow worrying over those pigs. I did it to get peace of mind, don't you see?"

7 Hobbes’s Reinterpretation “[Hobbes’s] brotherly love to his kindred has already been spoken of. He was very charitable… to those that were true objects of his bounty. One time, I remember, going into the Strand, a poor and infirm old man craved his alms. He, beholding him with eyes of pity and compassion, put his hands in his pocket, and gave him 6d. Said a [minister] that stood by - ‘Would you have done this, if it had not been Christ's command?’ ‘Yea,’ said he. ‘Why?’ said the other. ‘Because,’ said he, ‘I was in pain to consider the miserable condition of the old man; and now my alms, giving him some relief, doth also ease me.’”

8 Reinterpretation generally What is the ultimate goal of seemingly unselfish actions? What is the ultimate goal of seemingly unselfish actions? The goal is not to help others The goal is not to help others The goal is (1) to avoid feeling bad (guilt) and also (2) to experience good feelings (self- approval) The goal is (1) to avoid feeling bad (guilt) and also (2) to experience good feelings (self- approval) It’s all about your own feelings It’s all about your own feelings The ultimate goals of seemingly unselfish actions are actually selfish. The ultimate goals of seemingly unselfish actions are actually selfish.

9 Twain again People’s consciences are different People’s consciences are different Some people care about public opinion Some people care about public opinion Some people care more about their family’s approval Some people care more about their family’s approval Some people care more about their moral convictions Some people care more about their moral convictions This is why some people duel and others refuse to duel. This is why some people duel and others refuse to duel. However they behave, they do it for the sake of avoiding guilt and obtaining self-approval. However they behave, they do it for the sake of avoiding guilt and obtaining self-approval.

10 Huck Finn’s conscience Huck was raised to believe that black slaves were the property of their masters Huck was raised to believe that black slaves were the property of their masters He thought it would be wrong to help them escape He thought it would be wrong to help them escape So when he helped Jim escape, Huck felt terrible -- his conscience tormented him and he thought he would go to hell for sure So when he helped Jim escape, Huck felt terrible -- his conscience tormented him and he thought he would go to hell for sure Then he had an opportunity to turn Jim back in to his owner Then he had an opportunity to turn Jim back in to his owner

11 Huck Finn’s conscience But Jim had become his best friend, and he couldn’t bring himself to betray his friend But Jim had become his best friend, and he couldn’t bring himself to betray his friend So he decided not to turn Jim in So he decided not to turn Jim in He decided he’d rather go to hell He decided he’d rather go to hell And then he decided that, so long as he was going to hell, he might as well be totally evil, and go the whole hog And then he decided that, so long as he was going to hell, he might as well be totally evil, and go the whole hog

12 How would Twain describe this? Probably he’d say that Huck had two parts of his mind competing Probably he’d say that Huck had two parts of his mind competing one part was what Huck recognized as his conscience (telling Huck to turn Jim in) one part was what Huck recognized as his conscience (telling Huck to turn Jim in) the other part was making him feel bad when he thought about what a good friend Jim was the other part was making him feel bad when he thought about what a good friend Jim was Huck’s conscience was divided, and in the end, he went with the stronger part Huck’s conscience was divided, and in the end, he went with the stronger part Huck did what he did in order to have as little guilt as possible Huck did what he did in order to have as little guilt as possible

13 Summing up Twain When you do something that helps other people, the only reason you do it is so you can avoid the unpleasant feelings that come from your conscience, and so you can obtain the pleasant feelings that come from your conscience When you do something that helps other people, the only reason you do it is so you can avoid the unpleasant feelings that come from your conscience, and so you can obtain the pleasant feelings that come from your conscience It’s all about your own feelings It’s all about your own feelings

14 Thomas Hobbes ( ) An uncompromising materialist: he thought that everything that happens is just the mechanical operations of material bodies in motion An uncompromising materialist: he thought that everything that happens is just the mechanical operations of material bodies in motion He claimed to be a good Christian -- but he thought even God was made out of matter! He claimed to be a good Christian -- but he thought even God was made out of matter! It wasn’t until age 40 that he discovered and fell in love with geometry It wasn’t until age 40 that he discovered and fell in love with geometry

15 Thomas Hobbes ( ) He wanted to set psychology and law on the firm foundation of mechanical science He wanted to set psychology and law on the firm foundation of mechanical science And he wanted to use geometrical methods to do it (start with definitions, and then derive theorems and laws) And he wanted to use geometrical methods to do it (start with definitions, and then derive theorems and laws) He is most famous for his book Leviathan, which focuses on psychology, politics, law, and Scripture. He is most famous for his book Leviathan, which focuses on psychology, politics, law, and Scripture.

16 Thomas Hobbes ( ) He argued that while men are originally free and equal, they must put themselves under an absolute monarch in order to avoid the conflicts and dangers of anarchy He argued that while men are originally free and equal, they must put themselves under an absolute monarch in order to avoid the conflicts and dangers of anarchy a combination of liberalism and totalitarianism a combination of liberalism and totalitarianism But why would there be so much conflict without government? But why would there be so much conflict without government? Because human beings are selfish to the core Because human beings are selfish to the core

17 Hobbes’s psychology of action Objects have effects on us sometimes we have desire for them, sometimes we have aversion from them sometimes we have desire for them, sometimes we have aversion from them whatever causes desire in me, I will call ‘good’ whatever causes desire in me, I will call ‘good’ whatever causes aversion in me, I will call ‘evil’ whatever causes aversion in me, I will call ‘evil’ The terms ‘good’ and ‘evil’ have meaning only in reference to desires or aversions The terms ‘good’ and ‘evil’ have meaning only in reference to desires or aversions From this you can derive all human passions (hope, despair, fear, courage, anger, kindness, etc.) From this you can derive all human passions (hope, despair, fear, courage, anger, kindness, etc.)

18 Human diversity Different people desire different things Different people desire different things But what explains this? But what explains this? Some desires are natural -- food, excretion Some desires are natural -- food, excretion Other desires come with experience Other desires come with experience Especially from education and upbringing Especially from education and upbringing And people are always changing And people are always changing

19 Voluntary action A great variety of endeavors compete within the human A great variety of endeavors compete within the human They can be balanced and summed against each other They can be balanced and summed against each other The last endeavor standing (Hobbes calls it the will) causes an action The last endeavor standing (Hobbes calls it the will) causes an action Because the action came from the will, it is a voluntary action Because the action came from the will, it is a voluntary action

20 Hobbes on Power Power is nothing but the ability to obtain some future apparent good Power is nothing but the ability to obtain some future apparent good that is, the ability to obtain something you think will satisfy your desires that is, the ability to obtain something you think will satisfy your desires So all sorts of things count as power So all sorts of things count as power strength, intelligence, money, reputation, technology strength, intelligence, money, reputation, technology

21 Hobbes’s Egoism “And therefore the voluntary actions and inclinations of all men tend not only to the procuring, but also to the assuring of a contented life, and differ only in the way, which ariseth partly from the diversity of passions in diverse men, and partly from the difference of the knowledge or opinion each one has of the causes which produce the effect desired.” “And therefore the voluntary actions and inclinations of all men tend not only to the procuring, but also to the assuring of a contented life, and differ only in the way, which ariseth partly from the diversity of passions in diverse men, and partly from the difference of the knowledge or opinion each one has of the causes which produce the effect desired.” “I put for a general inclination of all mankind a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.” “I put for a general inclination of all mankind a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.” “[O]f all voluntary acts, the object is to every man his own good” “[O]f all voluntary acts, the object is to every man his own good”

22 More on power “Competition of riches, honour, command, or other power inclineth to contention, enmity, and war, because the way of one competitor to the attaining of his desire is to kill, subdue, supplant, or repel the other.” “Competition of riches, honour, command, or other power inclineth to contention, enmity, and war, because the way of one competitor to the attaining of his desire is to kill, subdue, supplant, or repel the other.” “To have received from one, to whom we think ourselves equal, greater benefits than there is hope to requite, disposeth to counterfeit love, but really secret hatred, and puts a man into the estate of a desperate debtor that, in declining the sight of his creditor, tacitly wishes him there where he might never see him more. For benefits oblige; and obligation is thraldom; and unrequitable obligation, perpetual thraldom; which is to one's equal, hateful.” “To have received from one, to whom we think ourselves equal, greater benefits than there is hope to requite, disposeth to counterfeit love, but really secret hatred, and puts a man into the estate of a desperate debtor that, in declining the sight of his creditor, tacitly wishes him there where he might never see him more. For benefits oblige; and obligation is thraldom; and unrequitable obligation, perpetual thraldom; which is to one's equal, hateful.”

23 Hobbes’s Egoism - clarification All my voluntary actions are performed for the sake of obtaining a contented life for me, of obtaining power for me, of obtaining what is good for me. All my voluntary actions are performed for the sake of obtaining a contented life for me, of obtaining power for me, of obtaining what is good for me. This goes for all humans. This goes for all humans. This is what drives us to hurt and hate each other. This is what drives us to hurt and hate each other. This is why we need a government. This is why we need a government.

24 Reinterpretation (again) The ‘Alms to the beggar’ story (earlier) The ‘Alms to the beggar’ story (earlier) “Grief for the calamity of another is Pity; and ariseth from the imagination that the like calamity may befall himself; and therefore is called also Compassion, and in the phrase of this present time a Fellow-Feeling: and therefore for calamity arriving from great wickedness, the best men have the least pity; and for the same calamity, those have least pity that think themselves least obnoxious to the same.” “Grief for the calamity of another is Pity; and ariseth from the imagination that the like calamity may befall himself; and therefore is called also Compassion, and in the phrase of this present time a Fellow-Feeling: and therefore for calamity arriving from great wickedness, the best men have the least pity; and for the same calamity, those have least pity that think themselves least obnoxious to the same.”

25 Reinterpretation (again), cont’d “Desire of praise disposeth to laudable actions, such as please them whose judgement they value” “Desire of praise disposeth to laudable actions, such as please them whose judgement they value” “Desire of fame after death does the same” “Desire of fame after death does the same”

26 Reinterpretation - clarification Why do I help poor people? To feel better. Why do I help poor people? To feel better. Why do I sometimes feel bad for other, unfortunate people? Because I imagine that the same misfortune might also strike me! Why do I sometimes feel bad for other, unfortunate people? Because I imagine that the same misfortune might also strike me! The more powerful I am, the less likely I’ll be struck by misfortune, so the less pity I have. The more powerful I am, the less likely I’ll be struck by misfortune, so the less pity I have. Why do I do the right thing? Because I want other people to praise me. Why do I do the right thing? Because I want other people to praise me.

27 Psychological egoism It’s a theory about human nature -- about how humans work It’s a theory about human nature -- about how humans work Psychological egoism: Every human action is ultimately driven by a selfish motive. Psychological egoism: Every human action is ultimately driven by a selfish motive. experiencing pleasant feelings experiencing pleasant feelings avoiding unpleasant feelings avoiding unpleasant feelings getting others to praise you getting others to praise you getting a good reputation getting a good reputation

28 Not just cynicism or pessimism If you’re cynical or pessimistic about human nature, you’re likely to hold that most people are lousy selfish finks. If you’re cynical or pessimistic about human nature, you’re likely to hold that most people are lousy selfish finks. But psychological egoism goes further and says that every action ever performed by any human is selfishly motivated. But psychological egoism goes further and says that every action ever performed by any human is selfishly motivated.

29 The threat to morality Morality sometimes requires us to behave unselfishly. Morality sometimes requires us to behave unselfishly. But, if psychological egoism is true, we’re not able to behave unselfishly (just due to human nature). But, if psychological egoism is true, we’re not able to behave unselfishly (just due to human nature). So if psychological egoism is true, it’s impossible to live up to our moral requirements. So if psychological egoism is true, it’s impossible to live up to our moral requirements.

30 Arguments for psychological egoism My motives: Any action I perform will be driven by motives that are mine, and not anyone else’s. So I am always seeking something for myself and not anyone else. My motives: Any action I perform will be driven by motives that are mine, and not anyone else’s. So I am always seeking something for myself and not anyone else. Pleasure of achievement: Whenever I get something that I want, I feel pleasure -- a feeling of satisfaction. So the reason I went after it in the first place was simply to get that pleasant feeling. Pleasure of achievement: Whenever I get something that I want, I feel pleasure -- a feeling of satisfaction. So the reason I went after it in the first place was simply to get that pleasant feeling.

31 Arguments, cont’d Self-deception: We’re often wrong about our own motives. We often trick ourselves into believing that we’re more noble and virtuous than we really are. So it’s likely that our hidden motives are really selfish ones. Self-deception: We’re often wrong about our own motives. We often trick ourselves into believing that we’re more noble and virtuous than we really are. So it’s likely that our hidden motives are really selfish ones.

32 Arguments, cont’d Moral Education: The way you teach children to behave is by punishing them with pain and rewarding them with pleasure. It seems as though people won’t cooperate without getting some benefit for themselves. So this is probably just human nature in general. Moral Education: The way you teach children to behave is by punishing them with pain and rewarding them with pleasure. It seems as though people won’t cooperate without getting some benefit for themselves. So this is probably just human nature in general.

33 Arguments, cont’d Evolution: According to basic evolutionary theory, the organisms whose traits get passed along are the ones whose traits help them to survive and reproduce in their (often competitive) environments. So only the most selfish organisms will survive, and their selfishness will be inherited by their offspring. So selfishness is a biological inevitability. Evolution: According to basic evolutionary theory, the organisms whose traits get passed along are the ones whose traits help them to survive and reproduce in their (often competitive) environments. So only the most selfish organisms will survive, and their selfishness will be inherited by their offspring. So selfishness is a biological inevitability.


Download ppt "Twain on self-approval There is only one impulse that ever moves a person to do things There is only one impulse that ever moves a person to do things."

Similar presentations


Ads by Google