Tuesday 6 December 2011

Show me the asceticism!


I am sick and tired of people who do very well thank you - gain power and usually wealth - from 'good works' - especially those involved 'raising money' for supposedly virtuous causes.

This amounts to no more than extracting resources from others - by various means, some coercive - then redirecting these resources such that the manager of the process gets credit.

Show me an ascetic who does good work - someone who has minimal power and money, and either faithfully monogamous or strictly celibate - only then will I take them seriously.

Only an ascetic deserves acclaim for good works.

Otherwise those high status doers of good works are merely successful parasites.



Dennis Mangan said...

Why would sexual chastity have anything to do with it?

If, let's say, a Christian politician managed to get abortions banned, but was not himself chaste, that means he doesn't "deserve acclaim"?

Brett Stevens said...

It seems to me that most philanthropists are successful advertisers of themselves, much in the same way that people who are very PC are successfully advertising themselves.

I like your point that only someone who minimizes the self and focuses on the task is worth seeing as an actual asset to society. This is why different religious traditions have developed asceticism in parallel.

Personally, I favor us going back to a sense of self-interest. Altruism, philanthropy and charity are too often a disguise. I remember some guy in the Bible talking about how the left hand should not know what the right does when it comes to charity, lest it inflate the ego...

Bruce Charlton said...

@DM - Chastity is a part of traditional asceticism.

But the common sense aspect is that many people (especially men) engage in what one of my colleagues dubbed 'competitive altruism'


- in other words, it is 'sexy' to advertise your own 'altruism'/ generosity (even if using other people's money).

So, it is not *morally admirable* to do 'good works' if it has a pay-off in terms of sexual attractiveness leading to multiple seductions; hence for good works to be morally admirable it necessary for the doer of works to be celibate/ monogamous.

It does not really matter whether the person is consciously doing 'good works' in order to get more girls, or whether this is simply a result of unconscious instinct on both sides - but this is the reason why asceticism is the moral safeguard.

The Crow said...

A true ascetic has zero desire for acclaim.
Does what he does; forgets it.
When he forgets enough, he disappears into the wilderness and is never heard from again.
The true ascetic may be acclaimed, after his disappearance, but he never knows of it, and doesn't care.