Another very real equivocation that we deal with on a daily basis is the confounding of the profit motive with personally or collectively held values.
They are two different things.
The profit motive is also not always capitalism.
For instance in Ayn Rand’s view, (as this distinction tends to be absent from conservatism and even society at large) the profit motive and the motive to create and sustain one’s product or service are treated as one in the same. Hank Rearden in Atlas Shrugged even states that all he’s out for is to make money at one point. When, this is wholly incompatible with the rest of his actions which do things very often at ‘sacrifice’ of money for more spiritual and mental gains. This can be viewed in Wall Street 2, where Gordon Gekko realizes the values of human mutual aid in a very interestingly selfish way I think. Funny enough, even in the first one, Gekko’s values do indeed seem to be at one with his primary purpose: making money. But even he contradicts this in illustrating that “You don’t understand, its not the money, its the game.”
A show like Six Feet Under, on the other hand, is set in a philosophical landscape where individuals believe and know that the profit motive is not a valid primary aim for human life and hence this distinction is very well illustrated. The story is set from a small family owned funeral home business that’s struggling against their corporate competitor that is naturally only out to make money.
Very often the profit motive is one in the same with all one’s other values. Very often, it is not. In the times when it is not, one must never sacrifice the mind to the body. In order not to do this, one must understand this distinction. But in order to be a good objectivist in my own sense, one must act at a default that two are one, but at appropriate times when the spiritual and the material conflict, concrete particulars are to be expendable and not the tenets or desires of the mind.
(TANGENT: This is not to be misunderstood to mean that there are no materials that represent the mind’s work in terms of the object of what’s being valued. i.e. A painting purchased for one’s home reflects the conformity of the material with the mind in that one possesses it for spiritual reasons. If one’s painting is threatened to be burned or stolen, one might consider this a horrible thing in that they would not necessarily be able to replace that ‘mental-state,’ they can witness merely by looking above their couch. There are many other materials that do not possess the same congruence of the mental and the physical. These would include creature comforts and things built for more utilitarian use.
So when is it true that one is simply trying to ‘make money’ and living an absent life of hedonistic vacuousness? What drives them really, if I am asserting this to be incompatible to a rational mind? Who am I to say they aren’t living the most ideal life they’ve ever wanted?
Whether or not they are happy in this instance, is not in my view of objective concern since an organism can only value and be happy in terms of what it knows, and hence, happiness in the immediate sense is relative to what we know and are used to, and this is what makes the issue of personal happiness more complex. One is not happy in the higher overarching sense of a rational person if one is consistently limited to one domain. this is too large a subject to go on with here, but I should hyper link this later on and make another blog out of the subject of the margin of relativity in ethics.)
This was certainly true of Howard Roark, in The Fountainhead who would never divided his spiritual and material values.
Another example is in how society has fallen into the same equivocation as Karl Marx in believing that the only alternative to capitalism, is communism when had he had made a distinction between the profit motive and (ethics) values. It didn’t occur to me for instance that a revisionism of capitalism is even possible. i.e. a capitalism where good work is valued above financial gain.
Since we live in a society that is wholesale about the abdication and surrender of all values to the profit motive, it is hence, very easy I think if one tries to know this distinction well.
This is all coming out of my former view that the profit motive is always in some way at one with one’s values since making money is linked directly to survival. What we forget is that there are different kinds of survival. And that there is mental-spiritual survival as well as physical. I offer as evidence to my argument all of the daily teen suicides in which the mental-spiritual mechanism (philosophy) has been abandoned and in its place, now rests the sole reason for living: to make money. And since this is (I think) invalid to human existence being logical and volitional based, the profit motive cannot be the overriding priority of life, merely one of them.
The same alleged dichotomy is said to exist between selfish and selflessness. When, how can anything chosen by the self, be selfless if it is or has been indeed chosen by oneself? Indeed I hold this to be true. However, I believe that altruism as a component to philosophy is a value. That being established, selflessness does not exist, only two different kinds of values and two different resulting kinds of people with different ways of life.
Unlike the Objectivist view and very much like the generic view of objective philosophy and what I think it would hold true in terms of it, I believe that true altruists are people that derive most of their values and existence from social interaction. That being said, I think that altruism as a philosophy for man, is bunk. That is, altruism unlike perhaps republican democracy, cannot possible act as an all-encompassing philosophy. Notice however, that neither can egoism, only objectivism in this general sense.
I therfore believe that altruism is not the most efficient form of human existence when it is treated as the primary arbiter of one’s ethics. I therefore believe that though altruism is and must be a component of a rational enlightened selfishness, it is a disaster as the pilot being that social interaction is merely one dimension of a complete and therefore rational existence.