Is Charity Immoral?

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Ego
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Is Charity Immoral?

Post by Ego » Sun Aug 11, 2013 8:59 am

Hat tip to Felix for the reference to Slavoj Zizek:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpAMbpQ8J7g

Felix
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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by Felix » Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:17 am

I always post this video when Zizek comes up:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjIT5LPxzDE

:-D

vivacious
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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by vivacious » Sun Aug 11, 2013 10:09 am

In some interview or something Chomsky recently crushed Zizek, Lacan, et al. Or explained their own shortcomings.

Felix
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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by Felix » Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:19 am

Okay, I've watched the video now. I think what Zizek tries to say is not that charity is immoral, but that it is hypocritical to do charity work in a modern capitalist society. All it does is alleviate a bit some of the results of the system, thus preventing any real change (which would be the immoral part). By making charity and social welfare yet another product or a marketing angle, it cheapens the charitable act itself and makes it absurd. You can't buy your way out of an inherently immoral modern capitalism.
Had Ayn Rand ever bothered to read any philosophy besides skimming the Cliffs Notes to Aristotle and Kant, she would have probably had a heart attack out of rage reading Wilde's "The soul of man under socialism". :D

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1017

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Ego
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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by Ego » Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:41 am

Combining Zizek and Rand, would it be immoral to refuse the drunk the scotch that would ease his cravings while leaving it to him to solve the underlying alcoholism?

secretwealth
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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by secretwealth » Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:43 am

I haven't read The Soul of Man under Socialism in almost 20 years! Now I have my Sunday reading set up--thanks Felix!

Felix
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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by Felix » Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:44 am

Image

Tyler9000
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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by Tyler9000 » Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:45 am

When you start with the fundamental assumption that something (capitalism, for example) is "evil", then anything that doesn't actively work to destroy it is aiding and abetting evil. I can see how a rabid communist would not like personal charity for that reason.

I'm not a communist and I don't think capitalism is fundamentally evil, so the strawman is flimsy for me. IMHO, if more people would focus on personal charity than political utopias, the world under every government would be a better place.

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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by Felix » Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:47 am

Ego wrote:Combining Zizek and Rand, would it be immoral to refuse the drunk the scotch that would ease his cravings while leaving it to him to solve the underlying alcoholism?
Combining Zizek and Rand ... now you made my head explode. We're even. :D

I think here both would agree that it would be moral to refuse the scotch, but for opposite reasons.

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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by jennypenny » Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:49 am

I've never read The Soul of Man under Socialism. (I know...big surprise)

Could someone explain "It is much more easy to have sympathy with suffering than it is to have sympathy with thought." I get the first part but not the second, and I didn't pick it up in the video.

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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by Felix » Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:52 am

The destruction of capitalism seems to be yet another apocalyptic vision, similar to the destruction of government, peak something or the singularity. It all seems like a cheap excuse to get out of acting benevolent towards your fellow man while still feeling moral. This works for both Rand and Zizek in Ego's example.

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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by Felix » Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:54 am

I think what Wilde means: Having sympathy with thought would be staying principled and sticking to your utopian/apocalyptic vision, while giving in to alleviating immediate suffering means sacrificing the higher good to base emotions.

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Ego
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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by Ego » Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:57 am

Felix wrote: I think here both would agree that it would be moral to refuse the scotch, but for opposite reasons.
Would it be moral to refuse the smile train cleft palate surgery for the same reason?

Edit: Or, if acting benevolently toward my fellow man today causes (in my opinion) damage to future fellow men, should I do it?

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jennypenny
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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by jennypenny » Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:12 pm

Ego wrote:
Felix wrote: I think here both would agree that it would be moral to refuse the scotch, but for opposite reasons.
Would it be moral to refuse the cleft palate surgery for the same reason?

Edit: Or, if acting benevolently toward my fellow man today causes (in my opinion) damage to future fellow men, should I do it?
The cleft palate is different IMO because 1) the child isn't responsible for the condition, and 2) fixing it once fixes it for good.

On the other question, I find myself asking that question at the soup kitchen. As long as it's functioning to feed the poor in that area, there isn't a pressing need to solve the underlying problem of urban poverty.

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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by anomie » Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:14 pm

Philosophy by video. I love it.

So ..

Wouldn't living a non-consumerist ERE lifestyle actively oppose the capitalist system?

Would a defensible ERE position be that most charity is directed at helping people live a Western consumer lifestyle, so is not worthy of participation? Or have I mis-stated the role of charity in western society?

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Ego
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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by Ego » Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:37 pm

jennypenny wrote:The cleft palate is different IMO because 1) the child isn't responsible for the condition, and 2) fixing it once fixes it for good.
Those two conditions are true. But by donating the money to fix it are we:

1) Removing the shame or guilt we might be feeling for luring away their native-born physicians, those who would have fixed it in a functional system.

2) Removing any shame or guilt we might be feeling for systematically exploiting the parents, community, and nation through trade.

3) Removing the motivation to create external pressure on the society to solve it for themselves.

4) Removing the internal pressure to solve the problem themselves.

In short, are we enabling everything to stay the way it is? Are we creating a situation where we get to play the God of cleft palates?
Last edited by Ego on Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Ego
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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by Ego » Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:39 pm

Toska wrote:@ Ego

So if I think overpopulation is a problem, I should off my fellow man today?
That is an act. What I am talking about is refraining from action.

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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by Tyler9000 » Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:43 pm

Would a defensible ERE position be that most charity is directed at helping people live a Western consumer lifestyle, so is not worthy of participation? Or have I mis-stated the role of charity in western society?
I would say that about many government programs (like mortgage, cell phone, & new car subsidies) before I would about many charities. Look around -- there are many charities I'm sure you'd believe in. The beauty of the independent charity system is you actually have a choice of where your money and time is spent.

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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by anomie » Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:54 pm

@Felix - Thank you for posting the book link! http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1017
'...And so, try to shape your life that external things will not harm you. And try also to get rid of personal property. It involves sordid preoccupation,endless industry, continual wrong. Personal property hinders Individualism at every step' - Wilde paraphrasing Jesus , page 9
Jesus as revolutionary! my favorite Jesus of all.

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Re: Is Charity Immoral?

Post by thebbqguy » Sun Aug 11, 2013 7:26 pm

I didn't watch all of the videos or spend time studying the question, but my gut reaction is that not donating to charity is immoral to me.

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