kelley kwalker2 at
Mon Oct 23 09:53:17 PDT 2000

Justin Schwartz wrote:

>Kells, doll.

justin, honeypie

> Pardon me

well if you're going to be so polite, i'll wear the makelovetomebaby pumps!

>for going on like the former philosophy prof I am, or was. However, while
>you are right that egoism is not exactly a minority position in our
>society, you mistake several philosophical theories.

ayah. well, pardon me for getting all sociology prof on ya... :)

that's why i called it, following robert bellah et al., utilitarian individualism. it's not about philosophy, but about cultural habits of thought that are related to, though not strictly identifiable with, a body of scholarship. UI is "a form of individualism that takes as a given certain basic human appetites and fears--for Hobbes, the desire for power over others and the fear of sudden violent death at the hands of another--and sees human life as an effort by individuals to maximize their self-interest relative to these given ends. utilitarian individualism views society as arising from a contract that individuals enter into only in order to advance their self-interest. Utilitarian individualism has an affinity to a basically economistic understanding of human existence.

the authors couple this dominant strain in US culture, with another form of individualism, expressive individualism. EI arose in tandem and opposition to utilitarian individualism. it "holds that each person has a unique core of feeling and intuition that should unfold or be expressed if individuality is to be realized. this core, though unique, i s not necessarily alien to others or to nature. Under certain conditions, the expressive individualist may find it possible thru intuitive feelings to "merge" with others, with nature, or with the universe as a while. Expressive individualism is related to the phenomenon of romanticism in eighteenth and nineteenth-century American and European culture. In the twentieth century, it shows affinities with the culture of psychotherapy."

so yeah, they "bastardize" intellectual traditions--psychotherapy, romaticism, utilitarianism. but they do so, for good reasons i think, b/c they are trying to make a connection between those intellectual traditions and their manifestations in the thoughts, opinions, ideals, etc of ordinary people.

>I will also add that Chris, in a rather flatheaded way, is pushing a
>question that philosophers have discussed a lot going back to Plato: Why
>Should I Be Moral?

i agree with this characterization, yes. i disagree that his position is not moral. or, rather, i disagreethat the question chirs is posing is "why should i be moral"? i think chris's position IS a moral position. alan wolfe expands on this a great deal in _Whose Keeper?_ i see nothing fundamentally wrong with raising these questions. i just expect a lot more careful thought than has been provided here. it's depressing. seriously, i'm utterly depressed.

at dc-stuff i get to (and expect) to hear people talk about how feminists and liberals rule the world. i get to read about how all feminists want to be just like men and deny that there are or should be gender differences and that feminism and third world studies are the most powerful groups on campus. okay. but now i've got to read the same stuff trotted out here, where both of you should be able to engage in the convo in a lot more nuanced, careful and scholarly ways. in ways i know both of you to be capable of elsewhere...?

nevermind. i give up. i'm on the path to becoming just like carrol about this issue and i actually don't mind.



More information about the lbo-talk mailing list