Selfhood Terminates Blind Man's Buff
Selfhood Terminates Blind Man's Buff.
G. B. Kelly appears to hit near the mark on egoism versus altruism. Both are facts, but the completely self-conscious egoist becomes such only at the end of a process, and after that he owns and enjoys his own powers so completely that he will not permit an idea to become his master. Such egoism produces acts which the altruist may mistake for altruistic acts, but the self-conscious egoist treats ideas as his property, takes them apart and examines them at his pleasure, and sees that they serve his purpose and do not make him their servant. The child is physically dependent. The youth becomes subject to the power of ideas. Pre-Christian society, wrestling with physical powers, corresponds to childhood in the individual. Christianity, rationalism, humanitarianism, communism, moralism,—idealism, in a word,— correspond to the enthusiastic dreams of youth. In that stage egoism is scorned, though it persists without general acknowledgment except as alleged baseness. To the humanitarian idealist it is the substitute for Devil, as Humanity is the substitute for God. The individual who finally becomes conscious of himself is, just as he is, a universe, — humanity itself. He then knows that he has been dreaming about a something which is, after all, himself. He is incomparable. The process of thought that brings him to recognize himself can nevermore be continued as a process in which himself would be only a factor, for he is a greater fact than his ideas. Henceforth ideas are simply his possession. True views are useful, but any alleged sacred Truth is romanticism, or rant. When he does an act which to others may look unegoistic, it is nevertheless to be tested by this: Is it genuinely the will of the doer,—his good pleasure? Then it is purely egoistic. The egoist who has become self-conscious knows what he wills, and does just as he wills so far as he can. He interests himself in any pursuit or neglects any without a thought that he is fulfilling or slighting any calling or mission or duty, or doing right or wrong. All such words are impertinent. Nothing is sacred or above him. He recognizes forces, and does the best he can to make himself master of what he wants. The mental processes of selfhood are not those of justifying any conduct, as with the idealist, or seeking what will conform to a standard or serve a cause; but thought becomes an instrument to determine what course will procure what is desired. Are the means the best adjustable to the end? They are adopted. Justification is a piece of superstitious nonsense. Having found the pearl of great price,— come to a recognition of self,—we never throw it away. We give away what we like to give away, because we like. We may give life itself. But to the last we do our own will. Right and wrong, crime and virtue, are simply people's ideas, of no consequence to the egoist except as such ideas make fanatics and dangerous people or make serviceable subjects. No one is a self-conscious egoist, to whom wrong in natural society means more than imprudence. The egoist, as an irrepressible, conscienceless criminal, is the coming force, who will destroy all existing institutions. Mark what is called criminal. It is always some action which is the retort to the egoistic pretension of a man or of an institution. It will make a great difference when many egoists become,fully self-conscious and not ashamed of being conscienceless egoists. Language is now Christian; so the egoist has no very appropriate means of expression. His will and pleasure is not, however, a cause, or matter to be pleaded and granted. Of course he will take unbridled liberty. Think of our language when its common expressions are such that people are asked to assume tho propriety of men's wearing bridles! And they do wear them. A few self-conscious egoists, such as popes, kings, presidents, legislators, judges, and generals, rule the world because other people are in confusion, as unconscious egoists fearing their own nature and believing they ought to obey ideas.