Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Autoism versus Altruism

[This is a Vlog post, so the text below is a transcript of the video.]

A lot of times when people talk about the virtue of selfishness, they do it in the context of having to defend themselves from people who say that there's an unequal earning capacity and maybe this person does not deserve to earn as much as they do, and maybe, in fact, they should contribute more or give back more or give back to society. And it's the Ayn Randian concept of the virtue of selfishness that says: "No, We don't have to give back. I mean, after all, we haven't taken anything away from anyone. This is what I earned, and so it's okay."

All right, then. Yes, there is that aspect of the virtue of selfishness, but there's a lot more to it, and if you read The Fountainhead, and you see how Roark stands up for his architectural ideals, and how he turns down good, paying jobs just because he does not want to alter his design, then you see that there is a great deal more to the virtue of selfishness than just doing that which pays the bills or earns you a lot of money. It has to do with integrity. And if it's okay to turn down work that you really need in order to pay your rent, then aren't you being, perhaps, what other people might consider a saint?

So what is a saint? Is a saint an unselfish person, because he doesn't consider his own profit on the marketplace? Is a saint somebody who throws his life away -- somebody who ends up on the cross, maybe, for his beliefs? Or is a saint someone who looks inwardly to determine what is valuable, rather than outwardly?

In Our Lady of Kaifeng, Father Horvath has this idea of autoism rather than altruism. Now, of course, the term autism had not yet been coined or was in the process of being coined, and he wasn't aware of it, so he called it autoism, because he simply etymologically deduced that the opposite of an altruist would be an autoist. And he tells Marah that she's a saint because she's an autoist -- because she listens to her inner voice rather than to the voice of society. And that's where sainthood comes into play.

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  1. I commend Marah for being able to follow her heart, especially since society, and small groups often do not want you to do that. I remember sometimes being excited about something, and then you tell someone, and they try to play down the importance of something you care about. I never enjoyed that, so I found more often I would not tell certain people about things I wanted to do. It was not that I was changing my actions for them, but the energy was just not positive.

    1. Hi, Julia. I know that feeling, too. Sometimes I feel there is no use sharing certain ideas, impulses or just feelings when the people around are so obviously not open to a given point of view. It's almost as if they warn us in advance: "You realize that if you feel this way, you are not okay?" The whole political correctness movement is a case in point. How can we explore an idea when we aren't even allowed to express it?