Since the publication of these chapters began, I have seen in libertarian papers several flippant remarks and attempted refutations.
We hear that Egoism is a very old thing, which is true; but that is one cause why the sour critics have missed understanding it, for they have gone to old books in which they found the idea of Egoism as viewed in the light of the science, philosophy and politics of past ages ; or they have gathered opinions from superficial writings. Many show absolutely no understanding of Egoism. It is an affair of objective classification of acts, they suppose. Thus if I have an apple and eat it, that is Egoism, they suppose. If I give the apple to my friend, that is Altruism, they suppose. How simple! Then I,. being an Egoist and liking to see some of my friends eat my apples , must not indulge in this pleasure unless I can stand certain persons’ charges of inconsistency. Let me give them a point : I select my friends .
My apples are not for everybody to help himself. Let me give them another point. The man who eats his own apple, not because he likes it, but because he thinks it is Egoistic to eat it,-not to talk of duty,-is only a deluded Egoist, by which I mean that he has missed being an Egoist in the definite sense in which I am using the word in these closing chapters.
One correspondent demolishes Egoism thus : that Egoism is Hedonism or Eudemonism, the pursuit of pleasure ; that it is absurd to say that the pleasure of professing Christianity outweighed the pain of being burned at the stake; that hence it is not true that the pursuit of pleasure is the greatest motive.
“The pursuit of pleasure,” is an expression which has conveyed to many persons the idea that Egoism consists for all men in satiating certain appetites ; but the truth is that philosophically “pleasure” stands for sovereignty-is used in contradistinction to servitude.
Egoists do not accept the state of mind of a Christian martyr as being normal. He believed that a crown of glory awaited those faithful to death ; that exclusion from the presence of the Lord awaited the “apostate.” Qualified by these beliefs undoubtingly held, how can we deny the martyr’s (deluded ) Egoism? The apostolic “fishers for men” baited their hooks with promises and threats addressed to self-interest and repeated : “Fear not them that ki1l the body,” etc.
Are only those who secure good bargains to be credited with the intention to secure them?
The critic makes a ludicrously false comparison when he sets the physical pain of burning against the mental pain of apostasy. At the moment when the Christian martyr made a choice of constancy to his religion and a crown of glory, he had not felt the physical agony of having his flesh consumed by fire.
As much as possible he fixed his thought on the promised heaven and thus lessened the anticipation of pain. Whatever pain there was in the expectation of burning it was not the pain of actual burning. We do not know what the final suffering was nor what the final thoughts were. We read of one on the cross, when too late, exclaiming : “My God, my God! Why hast thou forsaken me?” and we read that the servant shall not be above his lord. Moreover if the Christian martyr could be supposed to fully appreciate the pain of death that awaited him, he must also be supposed to appreciate as fully the hell which awaited the apostate and endless death in the lake of fire. How then must such a terrified believer decide on the Egoistic principle as distorted by his faith?
To us there is no more difficulty in his case than there is in the principle of gravitation illustrated by a ball rolling down an inclined plane when that is the nearest approach it can make to perpendicular descent.
But while we may suppose a martyr possibly logical in his course, given his absurd belief, we feel warranted in thinking that the majority of those who sought martyrdom were excited beyond the control of reason, as in the case with men acting under the dominion of passion in the commission of certain offences. Craziness is essentially an inability to weigh conditions and apprehend consequences .
Another thinks that Egoism kills sympathy and thus , he thi nks, hinders the care of children.
The prevailing opinion that general betterment depends upon increased sympathy is one which I am more and more decided to pronounce a stupendous error. Sympathy diverts energy from one channel to turn it into another. An illustration showing the ruin caused by an irrational excess of grief may cause some to re-examine their opinion. B was married three years ago. Lately his wife died, leaving a child a year old. B was so much affected by the death of his wife that he went to the cemetery day after day and lay down on the ground crying. There he contracted an infectious disease an d he also died, thus leaving the child an orphan.
Another is shocked at Egoism, as it has no reverence for anything sacred, not even for Feuerbach’s jugglery that “love is divine” and “man is godlike” or can be by thinking himself so. Also that Egoism puts no premium on “courage” but rather on cowardice.
It is well to be shocked in default of any other way of g(