Doing Good And Doing Well

Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by ibshambat, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. ibshambat

    ibshambat Well-Known Member

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    One of the most pernicious arguments I have ever heard stated is that, if you are getting some benefit for yourself from doing good, you are not actually doing good. It is time that that be refuted.

    The world as it stands to be impacted by you consists of yourself and other people. If you benefit yourself and other people, then you positively impact upon the world. There is no contradiction here. The people doing this don't just benefit others and don't just benefit themselves, they benefit both – and, as sum total, the world. So that when Elon Musk gets tons of money from selling environmentally responsible technology, he is benefiting the world – both others and himself - and is doing the right thing by any measure. He deserves every bit of what he gets for himself by producing technologies that benefit people and the environment. He is not a hypocrite; he is a hero.

    This ethic is summed up in one statement: Do good and do well. Do what you can to benefit the world, and there is no shame in benefiting from it yourself.

    An even worse claim I've heard is that if someone gets a good feeling from doing altruistic acts, then he is not really being an altruist. Unbelievable nonsense. Maybe it should feel good to do good. Maybe that is what is meant to happen in a rational universe. On another subject, what damn business is it of yours if someone feels good doing something for as long as the good is done?

    There is absolutely no contradiction between doing good and doing well. Certainly there are some on the Left who impugn capitalism; I do not. Business has produced many good things. However there is also merit to things besides business, and business itself owes to many people such as scientists, teachers, military and police, which libertarians and some on the Right tend to forget. And while there are many charitable efforts that are corrupt and incompetent, the one in which I am involved – the Salvation Army – is neither.

    This poisonous thinking has gone so far that I once heard a guru say that altruism is based on being three years old and your well-being depending on others. I have news for this person. The Salvation Army does not consist of three-year-olds. It consists of honest, responsible adults working to make the world a better place. Nor do they possess a “victim consciousness.” They act boldly and decisively, and they have done many things requiring strength and courage. Much more so than most people who have these beliefs.

    Do they get a good feeling from doing what they do? Whether or not they do, they should. Once again, doing good should feel good. If feeling good is the motivator, then who cares? Once again, what business is it of yours how someone feels about themselves for as long as the good is done?

    So it is time that there be a serious response to such claims, as they are absolute poison to society. There is nothing contradictory between doing good and doing well, and there is nothing contradictory between being altruistic and feeling good doing it. It should feel good to do good, and if you are doing good you have the right to benefit from it yourself. And in people such as Elon Musk and Bill Gates we see the two working together to achieve spectacular benefit.
     
  2. Swensson

    Swensson Devil's advocate

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    You seem to be confusing the arguments again. Whether charity counts as altruism or not is more or less an academic dispute. Neither conclusion states that they shouldn't be doing it, or that it is our "business" to pass judgement on it.
     
  3. ibshambat

    ibshambat Well-Known Member

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    I've heard people discredit altruistic efforts because of this. The results on society have been bad.
     
  4. Swensson

    Swensson Devil's advocate

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    What do you mean by discredit? I don't have a problem with thinking of charitable people in terms of their own interests without concluding that it's a bad thing.
     
  5. ibshambat

    ibshambat Well-Known Member

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    For as long as you don't conclude that it is bad.
     
  6. bricklayer

    bricklayer Well-Known Member Donor

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    It is good to do well, but only to the extent that it allows one to do good.

    Charity is to will for another as one wills for oneself.

    Love is a complex of understanding, affection and charity. That is why love always benefits the beloved. The role of charity in love is beautifully expanded upon in the thirteenth chapter of first Corinthians in the new testament.

    Charity is the volitional aspect of love. Charity has its impetus in the will.

    God acts in His own best interest to the benefit of others. Jesus went to the cross because he was left to believe that obedience to the Father was in his best interest. Acting in one's own self interest is a Godly, a Christlike, characteristic. That written, we are often dead wrong about what is actually in our own best interests. Selfishness is being wrong about what is actually in one's own best self interest.

    Acting in one's own best self interests will always benefit others. Selfishness will ultimately not benefit anyone, not even oneself.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2018 at 10:24 PM
  7. Swensson

    Swensson Devil's advocate

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    I doubt that anyone thinks it is actively bad to do good for selfish reasons. However, I can see how you might say that such a person doesn't deserve as high praise as if they would do it without the reward.
     
  8. tecoyah

    tecoyah Well-Known Member

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    Karma incarnate. Be good to others and good comes to you. Treat people with respect and you will be respected...it's a win-win.
     

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