Re: [asa] Elephant altruism

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Sun Nov 29 2009 - 11:16:47 EST

Hi Iain, Just curious, do you know (before reading this question) who coined the term 'altruism' and what it means in the context that he proposed? Let me note something perhaps interesting for many on this list in that one of the most prominent 'philosophers' of the 20th century in America, that being the Russian-born Ayn Rand, was staunchly, even madly against 'altruism.' Indeed it was a great enemy for her, in contrast to the 'naturalised' forms of 'altruism' more recently presented by Trivers and Pinker and other non-anthropic thinkers. In an interview with the American magazine Playboy (1964): “How would you define altruism?"   RAND: "It is a moral system which holds that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the sole justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, value and virtue. This is the moral base of collectivism, of all dictatorships.” – Ayn Rand Now you seem to speak of 'self-sacrifice,' Iain, in your questioning. But I don't get the impression that 'self' has the same meaning when it comes to (non-human) animals than when it comes to humans. How do you then address the issue of 'degree' vs. 'kind'? Collins, from your quotations, seems to side with a difference in 'kind' for human beings, while the 'consensus' in biology, zoology, taxonomy and other natural sciences sides with a 'only degree' difference for humans. Collins, the great TE, thus seems to be in self-contradiction with his 'scientific' perspective. Would he stand up for 'kind' (i.e. special, unique, image of God) against the naturalistic 'degreeists'? Gregory p.s. this weekend i was staying in an apartment with more than 30 elephants (and they were all quite nice)! __________________________________________________________________ Looking for the perfect gift? Give the gift of Flickr!

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Received on Sun Nov 29 11:17:23 2009

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