THE PHILOSOPHY OF EGOISM XIV

STIRNER 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duty is that which is due. I ought is l owe or l owed. Some duties I assume for duties assumed by others toward me. This is reciprocity.

 

Some alleged duties the Moralist tells me that I ought to a knowledge and perform from a sense of Duty. If J then say that it is a superstition he perhaps severs himself for the moment from the superstitious crowd and claims that it is only a generalization, meaning fitness, saving tiresome repetition of analysis ; it is my interest after all. He is somewhat disingenuous here, for if it be only my interest embodied in a thought-saving generalization, it will bear analysis and always come out as my interest. But he has the “social organism” in mind, to the preservation of which my individual welfare is to be subordinated, according to his idea. The “social organism” idea has captured him and he is using decoy argument to obtain from me a Nsacrifice of myself to his idol, his spiritual monster.

 

A man is hired to do certain work, and that is then called his duty ; or exchange of services grows into a mutual understanding; the debt is first on one side and then on the other, and what at any time is expected, to balance the account or turn the scale as usual and create another claim so as to continue the mutually advantageous arrangement or understanding, is also called one’s duty. Where service is compulsory it is likewise called duty.

 

Moralism, when it has gained enlightenment enough to reject slavery to a person, under the subjection of mind overawed by physical force, denies that the slave’s duty is Duty. But if the slave has yielded his mind to his master the phenomenon is clearly that of Duty. When the Egoist is conscripted he does not argue that his assigned duty is not Duty. It is servitude contrary to his interest, and this consideration is enough. The fact that some slaves are governed by a sense of Duty furnishes the plainest evidence that Duty is mental slavery.

 

But the Moralist will claim for Duty that it is not always mental slavery. It is true that he can confuse the issue by using the word Duty to describe all those habitual actions in the doing of which no immediate benefit to self is thought of; but let us keep to the plain sense. Duty is what is due. The domination of a fixed idea begins when one admits something due and yet not due to any person or something due without benefit coming to one in return; and of course when a return benefit is calculated upon the idea is interest.

 

When interest is sublimated so as to lose sight of self it assumes the form of love in the absence of oppression. Evidently the presence of fear in the causative circumstances corrupts the sublimating process and. results in the oppressive sense of Duty. It is possible for the Moralist, finding a series of admirable actions which are well-nigh perfect love or gratitude, to call these Duty, on an examination which will show that were the doer to study his conduct he could find in it the elements which would serve to construct a wise scheme of reciprocal duties.

 

If the Moralist talks of Duty when the fact is spontaneity,- whether gratitude, love, overflowing pride or generosity advancing to aid all that is seen to make for our good, he talks at random.

His system of thought has predicated that men need to be controlled by a sense of Duty. Let him  stick to that or leave it. We deny it. The doctrine of hell-fire was long upheld under the same idea that it was needed to control men. Moralistic Duty is the hard- ened dregs of fear.

 

Generosity is the overflowing fullness of a successful, satisfied and hopeful individuality.

 

“I ought” is no stumbling block to the intelligent Egoist. Two persons are playing at draughts and a bystander says of one : “He ought to have captured the man to the left, not the one to the right.” There is no sense of moral obligation conveyed in the remark. It is assumed that each player is trying to win, and the words “he ought” introduce a suggestion of what was wanting to produce the result.

A pirate endeavoring to capture a merchantman and taking the wrong course would say : “I ought to have sailed on the other tack. ” To whom was the obligation? To himself. So men speak of their duty to themselves, meaning the attending to supplying what is lacking to their welfare.

 

These words duty and ought are not words to be rejected. They are in constant correct use in everyday life, and it is not th e use of the Moralist, but it can be observed that every humbug politician harps on the “sacred duty” of the citizens to do this or that,-something that he and his party are interested in and that he cannot readily prove to be to the interest of the citizens addressed, or he would do so instead of trying to get them with him on an appeal to “sacred duty.”

 

 

 

 

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