Skip to comments.Love and Selfishness
Posted on 02/07/2002 6:58:30 AM PST by RJCogburn
Love and Selfishness
The False View of Love as Selfless and Unconditional Destroys its Sublime Value.
Every Valentine's Day a certain philosophic crime is perpetrated. Actually, it is committed year-round, but its destructiveness is magnified on this holiday. The crime is the propagation of a widely accepted falsehood: the idea that love is selfless.
Love, we are repeatedly taught, consists of self-sacrifice. Love based on self-interest, we are admonished, is cheap and sordid. True love, we are told, is altruistic. But is it?
Imagine a Valentine's Day card which takes this premise seriously. Imagine receiving a card with the following message: "I get no pleasure from your existence. I obtain no personal enjoyment from the way you look, dress, move, act or think. Our relationship profits me not. You satisfy no sexual, emotional or intellectual needs of mine. You're a charity case, and I'm with you only out of pity. Love, XXX."
Needless to say, you would be indignant to learn that you are being "loved," not for anything positive you offer your lover, butlike any recipient of almsfor what you lack. Yet that is the perverse view of love entailed in the belief that it is self-sacrificial.
Genuine love is the exact opposite. It is the most selfish experience possible, in the true sense of the term: it benefits your life in a way that involves no sacrifice of others to yourself or of yourself to others.
To love a person is selfish because it means that you value that particular person, that he or she makes your life better, that he or she is an intense source of joyto you. A "disinterested" love is a contradiction in terms. One cannot be neutral to that which one values. The time, effort and money you spend on behalf of someone you love are not sacrifices, but actions taken because his or her happiness is crucially important to your own. Such actions would constitute sacrifices only if they were done for a strangeror for an enemy. Those who argue that love demands self-denial must hold the bizarre belief that it makes no personal difference whether your loved one is healthy or sick, feels pleasure or pain, is alive or dead.
It is regularly asserted that love should be unconditional, and that we should "love everyone as a brother." We see this view advocated by the "non-judgmental" grade-school teacher who tells his class that whoever brings a Valentine's Day card for one student must bring cards for everyone. We see it in the appalling dictum of "Hate the sin, but love the sinner"which would have us condemn death camps but send Hitler a box of Godiva chocolates. Most people would agree that having sex with a person one despises is debased. Yet somehow, when the same underlying idea is applied to love, people consider it noble.
Love is far too precious to be offered indiscriminately. It is above all in the area of love that egalitarianism ought to be repudiated. Love represents an exalted exchangea spiritual exchangebetween two people, for the purpose of mutual benefit.
You love someone because he or she is a valuea selfish value to you, as determined by your standardsjust as you are a value to him or her.
It is the view that you ought to be given love unconditionallythe view that you do not deserve it any more than some random bum, the view that it is not a response to anything particular in you, the view that it is causelesswhich exemplifies the most ignoble conception of this sublime experience.
The nature of love places certain demands on those who wish to enjoy it. You must regard yourself as worthy of being loved. Those who expect to be loved, not because they offer some positive value, but because they don'ti.e., those who demand love as altruistic dutyare parasites. Someone who says "Love me just because I need it" seeks an unearned spiritual valuein the same way that a thief seeks unearned wealth. To quote a famous line from The Fountainhead: "To say 'I love you,' one must know first how to say the 'I '"
Valentine's Daywith its colorful cards, mouth-watering chocolates and silky lingeriegives material form to this spiritual value. It is a moment for you to pause, to ignore the trivialities of lifeand to celebrate the selfish pleasure of being worthy of someone's love and of having found someone worthy of yours.
Gary Hull, Ph.D. in philosophy, is a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute in Marina del Rey, Calif. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead
A great article and an opinion that I agree with entirely.
Did you even read the article?
Beg your pardon, Pilgrim. My sweetie, Ms. Eula Goodnight, certainly does.
Unconditional love is the highest form of love. But I believe in God. My definition is that God is love and that He loves me unconditionally. If you truly love someone, you should be willing to lay down your life for them. Is that selfish?
If love is defined without knowing God or knowing His nature, then it is indeed sad and selfish.
Remember how Orwell wrote about how the Burmese Communist Party came up with a written text that it's member were to use for marriage proposals ? When ideologues try to regiment their feelings along the lines of how they think people Ought to be, they say things as silly as this.
For richer for poorer ? In sickness and in health ? Or does Randian love last only so long as I am rich and you are young and pretty ?
It most certainly is and you will find it in God and a puppy, nowhere else.
If you truly love someone, you should be willing to lay down your life for them. Is that selfish?
The article doesn't dispute that. What it says is that love is selfish to a certain degree. If I am in love with a man, his happiness means everything to me but it is naive to say that how his love for me makes me feel doesn't matter to me. It matters greatly as it well should.
And what's wrong with that? Come on - reject the Kantian-Hegelian axis of evil. You can do it...
You are speaking of a spirtual 'Love Thy Neighbor' form of love. The piece is speaking mostly toward the love between a man and woman and that had better be offered discriminately, I hardly think you can disagree with that.
He loves us, even you
He even loves poor, heretical, little ole me? Gee, thanks.
If someone rejects Him, He will reject them. That rejection is refered to as damnation. That's a condition some miss.
Rand-ism is fine as far as it goes, but it doesn't go very far.
1.sensual love, that which stimulates the senses. ie: enjoying a sunset, eating a good meal, having sex.
2. family love, not sensual in nature. A mother's love for her children.
3. love of friends, not sensual, but brought about by common interests.
4. unconditional love or undeserved love, not sensual. Genuine concern for others. Not born of self-interest. This is the agape of the Bible. This is God's love for us.
I think that the author of this article is mixing unconditional love and senusual love to make his point. It just doesn't fly with me.
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