I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world because they'd never expect it.
- Jack Handey
Besides the impracticalities of such redistribution, the problems here are also conceptual. Say I bought a fancy pair of shoes for my son. In light of the one-tribe calculus of interests, I should probably give these shoes to someone who doesn’t have any. I do research and find a child in a poor part of Chicago who needs shoes to walk to school every day. So, I take them off my son (replacing them with Walmart tennis shoes) and head off to the impoverished Westside. On the way, I see a newspaper story about five children who are malnourished in Cambodia. Now I can’t give the shoeless Chicago child the shoes, because I should sell the shoes for money and use the money to get food for the five malnourished kids. On my way to sell the shoes, I remember that my son has an important job interview for a clean-water nonprofit organization and if he gets the job, he’ll be able to help save whole villages from contaminated water. But he won’t get the job if he shows up in Walmart tennis shoes. As I head back home, it dawns on me that for many people in the developing world, Walmart tennis shoes are truly luxurious when compared with burlap sack shoes, and since needs always trump luxuries I’ll need to sell the tennis shoes too; and on, and on, and on.
One of the more deeply engrained assumptions of Western liberalism is that we humans can indefinitely increase our capacity to care for others, that we can, with the right effort and dedication, extend our care to wider and wider circles until we envelop the whole species within our ethical regard. It is an inspiring thought. But I’m rather doubtful. My incredulity, though, is not because people are hypocritical about their ideals or because they succumb to selfishness. The problem lies, instead, in a radical misunderstanding about the true wellsprings of ethical care, namely the emotions.
If I am to be utterly impartial to all human beings, then I should reduce my own family’s life to a subsistence level, just above the poverty line, and distribute the surplus wealth to needy strangers.
I submit that care or empathy is a very limited resource. But it is Rifkin’s quixotic view that empathy is an almost limitless reserve. He sketches a progressive, ever widening evolution of empathy.
...in some abstract sense, I agree with the idea of an evolutionary shared descent that makes us all “family. But feelings of care and empathy are very different from evolutionary taxonomy. Empathy is actually a biological emotion (centered in the limbic brain) that comes in degrees, because it has a specific physiological chemical progression. Empathy is not a concept, but a natural biological event —an activity, a process.
Of course, when we see the suffering of strangers in the street or on television, our heartstrings vibrate naturally. We can have contagion-like feelings of sympathy when we see other beings suffering, and that’s a good thing — but that is a long way from the kinds of active preferential devotions that we marshal for members of our respective tribes.
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
the universal proposition "I love you all" acquires the level of actual existence only if "there is at least one whom I hate" - the thesis abundantly confirmed by the fact that universal love for humanity always led to the brutal hatred of the (actually existing) exception, of the enemies of humanity. This hatred of the exception is the "truth" of universal love, in contrast to true love which can only emerge aganst the background - NOT of universal hatred, but - of universal indifference: I am indifferent towards All, the totality of the universe, and as such, I actually love YOU, the unique individual who stands/sticks out of this indifferent background. Love and hatred are thus not symmetrical: love emerges out of the universal indifference, while hatred emerges out of universal love.
The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man, who makes everything small. His race is as ineradicable as the flea; the last man lives longest.
'We have invented happiness,'say the last men, and they blink. They have left the regions where it was hard to live, for one needs warmth. One still loves one's neighbor and rubs against him, for one needs warmth...
One still works, for work is a form of entertainment. But one is careful lest the entertainment be too harrowing. One no longer becomes poor or rich: both require too much exertion. Who still wants to rule? Who obey? Both require too much exertion.
No shepherd and one herd! Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.
'Formerly, all the world was mad,' say the most refined, and they blink...
One has one's little pleasure for the day and one's little pleasure for the night: but one has a regard for health.
'We have invented happiness,' say the last men, and they blink."
--Thus Spake Zarathustra
Justice as fairness: all gender and no class?
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.--Leviticus 19:18
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