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Buddhism and Self-Interest Ethics

GeoLaureate8
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11/13/2010 10:04:03 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
I would like to discuss Buddhist ethics and the idea of self-interest. For example, mattrodstrom condemns Buddhism for adhering to higher (absolute) moral principles of good and treating others with compassion, and asks why he should do anything that doesn't serve his own self-interest.

However, Buddhism doesn't condemn self-interest (nor does it teach moral absolutism), in fact its entire ethical theory is based around self-interest, hence its goal to help oneself to cease suffering. What Buddhism does condemn is self-interest with the ignorance of interdependence. The idea that you can ignore the well-being of others and somehow think you can have well-being for yourself.

As the Dalai Lama rightly said: "Everything is heavily interdependent. Not only to nation to nation, but also continent to continent. So therefore, if you think from wider perspective, every part of the world is part of ourself. Taking care of others interests is actually taking care of oneself. My own interest, if there is some exist independently, then it can be justified, forget whether others exist. But in reality, not that. Your neighbor getting more prosperity, more peace, you'd get prosperity and you'd get benefit. If your neighbor suffer, ultimately you will suffer."
(Keep in mind, his primary language is Tibetan.)

====

Ask yourself, if you lived in a completely famished world, and you were surrounded by millions of diseased and dismembered human beings experiencing immense suffering and you were the only healthy person in the world, could you honestly enjoy yourself by acting in the world indulging in all of your appetites and desires??
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
mattrodstrom
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11/13/2010 10:11:08 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/13/2010 10:04:03 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
Ask yourself, if you lived in a completely famished world, and you were surrounded by millions of diseased and dismembered human beings experiencing immense suffering and you were the only healthy person in the world, could you honestly enjoy yourself by acting in the world indulging in all of your appetites and desires??

I couldn't... I happen to be compassionate.
(at least for the moment, that is... It IS remotely possible such things could change though... you know "samsara" and all that...)

However! I see absolutely no reason to think that someone who wasn't the least bit compassionate.. But Still had desires.... couldn't be happy in doing what he would in such a scenario.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
mattrodstrom
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11/13/2010 10:34:37 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/13/2010 10:04:03 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
As the Dalai Lama rightly said: "Everything is heavily interdependent. Not only to nation to nation, but also continent to continent. So therefore, if you think from wider perspective, every part of the world is part of ourself. Taking care of others interests is actually taking care of oneself. My own interest, if there is some exist independently, then it can be justified, forget whether others exist. But in reality, not that. Your neighbor getting more prosperity, more peace, you'd get prosperity and you'd get benefit. If your neighbor suffer, ultimately you will suffer."
(Keep in mind, his primary language is Tibetan.)

and I explained in the "ask Buddhism" thread how the ultimate interdependence of things (picking apart This very quote in fact!) isn't relevant to Ethics... and how the lama's last bit
Your neighbor getting more prosperity, more peace, you'd get prosperity and you'd get benefit. If your neighbor suffer, ultimately you will suffer."
is unsupported (as a General statement) too.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
GeoLaureate8
Posts: 12,252
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11/13/2010 10:35:53 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/13/2010 10:11:08 PM, mattrodstrom wrote:
I couldn't... I happen to be compassionate.
(at least for the moment, that is... It IS remotely possible such things could change though... you know "samsara" and all that...)

However! I see absolutely no reason to think that someone who wasn't the least bit compassionate.. But Still had desires.... couldn't be happy in doing what he would in such a scenario.

Ok, the last example relied on humans innate empathy, but what if we went with a different example.

Economic prosperity. People need the service of others to live. The only reason you eat food is because someone, somewhere else in the world has extracted or even prepared the food to you; they even delivered it somewhere near you. The only reason you have a house is because someone else who had the engineering knowledge designed and constructed it for you.

A human being is very dependent on other human beings for survival. And people can only provide the quality services you need if they are in a state of well-being. If the person at Burger King is depressed or suicidal, they will probably do a crappy job with my food.

(We're disregarding the previous example where food and such was magically just readily available, despite the fact that everyone was disabled and incapable of providing these things for you).
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
mattrodstrom
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11/13/2010 10:50:56 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/13/2010 10:35:53 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
A human being is very dependent on other human beings for survival. And people can only provide the quality services you need if they are in a state of well-being. If the person at Burger King is depressed or suicidal, they will probably do a crappy job with my food.

firstly... It's certainly Possible to survive as a complete loner... at least for a bit..

but even if it weren't...

I'm not saying there's no reason to generally wan't somewhat well groomed/healthy/happy/efficient people to deal with...

there certainly are... but if there's a sufficient amount of such people to serve the purposes which you would have them serve.. and Those people's existence is fairly secure....

AND you're a D-bag..

then there's no reason to help out anyone else.

like... lets say Egypt..

if you're Pharoah... you might want your personal servants to be healthy and happy.. educated... etc..

but the masses just need to be happy enough and controlled well enought to prevent revolt and support your armies.

and the poor starving orphans can die or be turned into prostitutes...
that is.. unless the Pharoah's compassionate.

then they'd either want to try to do something about it... or perhaps their Subconscious might try to suppress thoughts of such sad cases... so as not to have their compassion bother them too much :/
(We're disregarding the previous example where food and such was magically just readily available, despite the fact that everyone was disabled and incapable of providing these things for you).
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
GeoLaureate8
Posts: 12,252
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11/15/2010 11:03:49 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/13/2010 10:50:56 PM, mattrodstrom wrote:
At 11/13/2010 10:35:53 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
A human being is very dependent on other human beings for survival. And people can only provide the quality services you need if they are in a state of well-being. If the person at Burger King is depressed or suicidal, they will probably do a crappy job with my food.

firstly... It's certainly Possible to survive as a complete loner... at least for a bit..

Being alone for a short period of time doesn't constitute as *living* alone.

but even if it weren't...

I'm not saying there's no reason to generally wan't somewhat well groomed/healthy/happy/efficient people to deal with...

there certainly are... but if there's a sufficient amount of such people to serve the purposes which you would have them serve.. and Those people's existence is fairly secure....

AND you're a D-bag..

then there's no reason to help out anyone else.

You just acknowledged that we are dependent on other people.

like... lets say Egypt..

if you're Pharoah... you might want your personal servants to be healthy and happy.. educated... etc..

but the masses just need to be happy enough and controlled

Contradiction.

well enought to prevent revolt and support your armies.

and the poor starving orphans can die or be turned into prostitutes...
that is.. unless the Pharoah's compassionate.

then they'd either want to try to do something about it... or perhaps their Subconscious might try to suppress thoughts of such sad cases... so as not to have their compassion bother them too much :/

While this particular case may be true, it doesn't refute interdependence because interdependence applies to the microcosm as well, not just the macrocosm.
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
Zetsubou
Posts: 4,933
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11/15/2010 11:06:21 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/13/2010 10:04:03 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
However, Buddhism doesn't condemn self-interest (nor does it teach moral absolutism), in fact its entire ethical theory is based around self-interest, hence its goal to help oneself to cease suffering. What Buddhism does condemn is self-interest with the ignorance of interdependence. The idea that you can ignore the well-being of others and somehow think you can have well-being for yourself.

This is so self defeating it's not even funny.
'sup DDO -- july 2013
GeoLaureate8
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11/15/2010 11:13:26 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/15/2010 11:06:21 AM, Zetsubou wrote:
At 11/13/2010 10:04:03 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
However, Buddhism doesn't condemn self-interest (nor does it teach moral absolutism), in fact its entire ethical theory is based around self-interest, hence its goal to help oneself to cease suffering. What Buddhism does condemn is self-interest with the ignorance of interdependence. The idea that you can ignore the well-being of others and somehow think you can have well-being for yourself.

This is so self defeating it's not even funny.

I think you mean "self-affirming."
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,483
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11/15/2010 11:47:42 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
Actually, I've helped to build houses, so I would know how to build at least a basic domicile, and I can hunt/clean/season/cook my own food. The only reason that people "depend" on each other is because our society has developed that way. It's similar to how people who take a lot of drugs become physically dependent on them. Neither drugs nor other people are necessary to happy survival in any primary sense.
Ren
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11/15/2010 11:52:00 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/15/2010 11:47:42 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Actually, I've helped to build houses, so I would know how to build at least a basic domicile, and I can hunt/clean/season/cook my own food. The only reason that people "depend" on each other is because our society has developed that way. It's similar to how people who take a lot of drugs become physically dependent on them. Neither drugs nor other people are necessary to happy survival in any primary sense.

Oh, we can survive on our own.

It is simply farrrrrr more effective to do so together.

Because, as you mentioned, we'd have to revert to atavism in order to friggin survive individually. Not very practical.
GeoLaureate8
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11/15/2010 12:21:21 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/15/2010 11:47:42 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Actually, I've helped to build houses, so I would know how to build at least a basic domicile, and I can hunt/clean/season/cook my own food. The only reason that people "depend" on each other is because our society has developed that way. It's similar to how people who take a lot of drugs become physically dependent on them. Neither drugs nor other people are necessary to happy survival in any primary sense.

Yes, and I'm sure you can also develop a proper sewage system of complex pipelines, electrical system, air condition, and gas for your house as well. How about some roads, and a car. You can probably do that too, right? No.

I'm saying that you can't have the relatively luxurious life that you have now without the help of others. Sure, alone you can build a hut, hunt/gather your own food, and rub sticks together to make a fire, but you only resort to that because you are alone, and this proves my point. If everyone is working together, everyone gets increased benefit. That's just a fact.
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
Ragnar_Rahl
Posts: 19,297
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11/15/2010 1:14:38 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Ask yourself, if you lived in a completely famished world, and you were surrounded by millions of diseased and dismembered human beings experiencing immense suffering and you were the only healthy person in the world, could you honestly enjoy yourself by acting in the world indulging in all of your appetites and desires??
Mostly.

There's the one minor contradiction in that one of my appetities is a healthy attractive female to ****, and then there's the impossibility of getting any sort of necessary division of labor going there, but if you handwave economics since this is an imaginary world I'd still be capable of quite a bit of happiness. :P
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
Ragnar_Rahl
Posts: 19,297
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11/15/2010 1:16:44 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Economic prosperity. People need the service of others to live. The only reason you eat food is because someone, somewhere else in the world has extracted or even prepared the food to you; they even delivered it somewhere near you. The only reason you have a house is because someone else who had the engineering knowledge designed and constructed it for you.

A human being is very dependent on other human beings for survival. And people can only provide the quality services you need if they are in a state of well-being. If the person at Burger King is depressed or suicidal, they will probably do a crappy job with my food.
Depressed people work at Burger King all the time. Nummy.

yes, division of labor is a good thing, but this does not have ethical primacy, nor does it require that I seek to make everyone happy-- just those who offer me something.
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
Ragnar_Rahl
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11/15/2010 1:17:42 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
... just those who offer me something.
And only enough to get them to continue to offer what I want. :P
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
Cody_Franklin
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11/15/2010 1:35:49 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/15/2010 12:21:21 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
At 11/15/2010 11:47:42 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Actually, I've helped to build houses, so I would know how to build at least a basic domicile, and I can hunt/clean/season/cook my own food. The only reason that people "depend" on each other is because our society has developed that way. It's similar to how people who take a lot of drugs become physically dependent on them. Neither drugs nor other people are necessary to happy survival in any primary sense.

Yes, and I'm sure you can also develop a proper sewage system of complex pipelines, electrical system, air condition, and gas for your house as well. How about some roads, and a car. You can probably do that too, right? No.

Of course I can.

loljk

But, really: I can build an outhouse, I've actually learned how to wire a house from my dad and from a friend who is an electrician and specializes in solar energy, building a home underground renders air conditioning unnecessary, and I don't use gas. Also, I don't drive as-is. I'm an extremely dangerous driver, and I prefer to walk everywhere I go. I don't need roads.

I'm saying that you can't have the relatively luxurious life that you have now without the help of others.

And?

Sure, alone you can build a hut, hunt/gather your own food, and rub sticks together to make a fire, but you only resort to that because you are alone, and this proves my point.

Actually, I "resort" to it because I enjoy it.

If everyone is working together, everyone gets increased benefit. That's just a fact.

People trade value for other value. That's economics, which is nothing new. Perhaps you should go back to the drawing board and try again.
innomen
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11/15/2010 2:35:40 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/15/2010 11:47:42 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Actually, I've helped to build houses, so I would know how to build at least a basic domicile, and I can hunt/clean/season/cook my own food. The only reason that people "depend" on each other is because our society has developed that way. It's similar to how people who take a lot of drugs become physically dependent on them. Neither drugs nor other people are necessary to happy survival in any primary sense.

That's a pretty massive chasm between survival and happy. It is a very rare person who doesn't need other people in finding happiness. I would further contend that, although there may be exceptions, most people are kept relatively sane by other people in their lives.
GeoLaureate8
Posts: 12,252
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11/15/2010 2:41:27 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/15/2010 2:35:40 PM, innomen wrote:
At 11/15/2010 11:47:42 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Actually, I've helped to build houses, so I would know how to build at least a basic domicile, and I can hunt/clean/season/cook my own food. The only reason that people "depend" on each other is because our society has developed that way. It's similar to how people who take a lot of drugs become physically dependent on them. Neither drugs nor other people are necessary to happy survival in any primary sense.

That's a pretty massive chasm between survival and happy. It is a very rare person who doesn't need other people in finding happiness. I would further contend that, although there may be exceptions, most people are kept relatively sane by other people in their lives.

I don't know who said it, but the quote goes "To live alone one must be an animal or a god."

Human beings indeed need other human beings to stay sane, and especially needed to achieve happiness.
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
innomen
Posts: 10,052
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11/15/2010 2:57:00 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/15/2010 2:41:27 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
At 11/15/2010 2:35:40 PM, innomen wrote:
At 11/15/2010 11:47:42 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Actually, I've helped to build houses, so I would know how to build at least a basic domicile, and I can hunt/clean/season/cook my own food. The only reason that people "depend" on each other is because our society has developed that way. It's similar to how people who take a lot of drugs become physically dependent on them. Neither drugs nor other people are necessary to happy survival in any primary sense.

That's a pretty massive chasm between survival and happy. It is a very rare person who doesn't need other people in finding happiness. I would further contend that, although there may be exceptions, most people are kept relatively sane by other people in their lives.

I don't know who said it, but the quote goes "To live alone one must be an animal or a god."

Human beings indeed need other human beings to stay sane, and especially needed to achieve happiness.

Did you hear that???? Listen........ You....agree.....with something.......i said.....in the ........religion............forum.
mattrodstrom
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11/15/2010 3:15:12 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/15/2010 11:03:49 AM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
At 11/13/2010 10:50:56 PM, mattrodstrom wrote:
At 11/13/2010 10:35:53 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
A human being is very dependent on other human beings for survival. And people can only provide the quality services you need if they are in a state of well-being. If the person at Burger King is depressed or suicidal, they will probably do a crappy job with my food.

firstly... It's certainly Possible to survive as a complete loner... at least for a bit..

Being alone for a short period of time doesn't constitute as *living* alone.

french-american Trappers... pretty much did it.

but even if it weren't...

I'm not saying there's no reason to generally wan't somewhat well groomed/healthy/happy/efficient people to deal with...

there certainly are... but if there's a sufficient amount of such people to serve the purposes which you would have them serve.. and Those people's existence is fairly secure....

AND you're a D-bag..

then there's no reason to help out anyone else.

You just acknowledged that we are dependent on other people.

I acknowledged that it's generally in someone's interest to have a bunch of people to draw help from...

this doesn't mean that one ought to be "compassionate" as general rule.

and there are MANY potential cases (again, like Robber Zhi) where a base of Efficient and Productive people already exist whom D-bags can use as they will... to fulfill themselves.

like... lets say Egypt..

if you're Pharoah... you might want your personal servants to be healthy and happy.. educated... etc..

but the masses just need to be happy enough and controlled

Contradiction.

lol OK.


well enought to prevent revolt and support your armies.

and the poor starving orphans can die or be turned into prostitutes...
that is.. unless the Pharoah's compassionate.

then they'd either want to try to do something about it... or perhaps their Subconscious might try to suppress thoughts of such sad cases... so as not to have their compassion bother them too much :/

While this particular case may be true, it doesn't refute interdependence because interdependence applies to the microcosm as well, not just the macrocosm.

the big-scale interdependence of things is NOT relevant to ethics...

and the Small-scale interdependence of Benefit... does Not hold as a general rule. AGAIN like Robber Zhi.. or Pharoah... or even a dude who steals TV's from a local business.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
GeoLaureate8
Posts: 12,252
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11/15/2010 4:47:53 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/15/2010 2:57:00 PM, innomen wrote:
Did you hear that???? Listen........ You....agree.....with something.......i said.....in the ........religion............forum.

Yes, that is a first. :)
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
GeoLaureate8
Posts: 12,252
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11/15/2010 5:04:53 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/15/2010 1:35:49 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 11/15/2010 12:21:21 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
If everyone is working together, everyone gets increased benefit. That's just a fact.

People trade value for other value. That's economics, which is nothing new. Perhaps you should go back to the drawing board and try again.

Ok, so you concede?

Let me point out that, in an economy of multiple individuals trading value, a person has to do much less to get what he wants. It's like everyone is trading little value for more value, yet no one is at a loss.

Someone who merely lives alone has to work much harder to get what he wants because he has to work for everything he needs. In an economic environment, everyone works in one specified field, and it's much easier to focus on one task, and receive the currency that can then buy all the things that you need.
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,483
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11/15/2010 5:13:07 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/15/2010 2:35:40 PM, innomen wrote:
At 11/15/2010 11:47:42 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Actually, I've helped to build houses, so I would know how to build at least a basic domicile, and I can hunt/clean/season/cook my own food. The only reason that people "depend" on each other is because our society has developed that way. It's similar to how people who take a lot of drugs become physically dependent on them. Neither drugs nor other people are necessary to happy survival in any primary sense.

That's a pretty massive chasm between survival and happy. It is a very rare person who doesn't need other people in finding happiness. I would further contend that, although there may be exceptions, most people are kept relatively sane by other people in their lives.

Happiness doesn't require perfection of conditions.
Cody_Franklin
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11/15/2010 5:13:54 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/15/2010 2:41:27 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
At 11/15/2010 2:35:40 PM, innomen wrote:
At 11/15/2010 11:47:42 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Actually, I've helped to build houses, so I would know how to build at least a basic domicile, and I can hunt/clean/season/cook my own food. The only reason that people "depend" on each other is because our society has developed that way. It's similar to how people who take a lot of drugs become physically dependent on them. Neither drugs nor other people are necessary to happy survival in any primary sense.

That's a pretty massive chasm between survival and happy. It is a very rare person who doesn't need other people in finding happiness. I would further contend that, although there may be exceptions, most people are kept relatively sane by other people in their lives.

I don't know who said it, but the quote goes "To live alone one must be an animal or a god."

Aristotle said it. He did that to justify the notion that man cannot survive without the State, by the way.

Human beings indeed need other human beings to stay sane, and especially needed to achieve happiness.

Not categorically true.
Cody_Franklin
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11/15/2010 5:20:17 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/15/2010 5:04:53 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
At 11/15/2010 1:35:49 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 11/15/2010 12:21:21 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
If everyone is working together, everyone gets increased benefit. That's just a fact.

People trade value for other value. That's economics, which is nothing new. Perhaps you should go back to the drawing board and try again.

Ok, so you concede?

There's nothing to concede. It comes down to one of two ideas: either you're just naming economic principles, which means that there's no debate because you're not saying anything controversial, or you actually have the gall to claim that humans are fundamentally dependent on one another, which is a claim I've demonstrated is not categorically true.

Let me point out that, in an economy of multiple individuals trading value, a person has to do much less to get what he wants. It's like everyone is trading little value for more value, yet no one is at a loss.

Someone who merely lives alone has to work much harder to get what he wants because he has to work for everything he needs. In an economic environment, everyone works in one specified field, and it's much easier to focus on one task, and receive the currency that can then buy all the things that you need.

Mutual benefit from economic exchange =/= necessary interdependence