Ethical Individualism: Your Happines is Worth the Most

Another post I wrote a few years ago about one of the branches of ethics. Enjoy.

“That indolent but agreeable condition of doing nothing” – brilliantly said by Pliny the Younger, which wisdom acts as one of the cornerstones of Ethical Individualism. We believe that many people follow this principle to a degree in this world even though they are unaware of it themselves. These people are usually said to be forgetful, selfish, lazy, egocentric, greedy, and in more friendly words: laid-back and utterly enjoys fishing.

The Ethical Individualist tends to keep a positive attitude towards his own incompetency, especially when it comes to short-term memory. He is often considered to be street-smart, a scavenger, and a brute. In other-words, he is a survivor. He pillages the weak, trades with the strong; what he can’t remember, doesn’t exist; what he finds, is what he keeps. And of course, he likes to spend his days by the lake and fishing.

Most people mistake Ethical Individualism with Anarchy. Although similar, the statement is false. For example: an Ethical Individualist would never consider robbing a big bank. The bank is strong and therefore a true follower of Ethical Individualism would try to trade with the bank and rob the old lady coming out of the bank with her month’s pension in her purse instead.

If the Ethical Individualist doesn’t feel like going to school in the morning and instead wants to go fishing – he will. He will be considered selfish because now his lab partner will have to do without him and he will be considered a lazy and forgetful coward for not having done his English homework, skipping school and not facing the consequences of his actions. But to him, he is just enjoying life… and fishing.

Now one might also see Ethical Individualism as the ultimate ethical principle to follow. However it does have minor flaws. This is best demonstrated with another example: If our ideal Ethical Individualist wants to marry another person, he can no longer rely on Ethical Individualism for moral judgment. If the individual’s happiness depends on another individual, Ethical Individualism will not apply because according to the principle, it is oafish to depend on other people for your own happiness. This flaw is only minor because people “are dishonest and do not keep faith with [other people]” –Niccolo Machiavelli. These kind of foolish reliance will not occur often in this world, at least not by Ethical Individualists.

Another example would be using Ethical Individualism to judge the moral correctness of “A Modest Proposal“. To those who are not familiar with this work by Jonathan Swift, here comes a brief summary:

“The author argues, by hard-edged economic reasoning as well as from a self-righteous moral stance, for a way to turn this problem into its own solution. His proposal, in effect, is to fatten up these undernourished children and feed them to Ireland’s rich land-owners. Children of the poor could be sold into a meat market at the age of one, he argues, thus combating overpopulation and unemployment, sparing families the expense of child-bearing while providing them with a little extra income, improving the culinary experience of the wealthy, and contributing to the overall economic well-being of the nation.”
-Jonathan Swift

To the Ethical Individualist this brilliant proposal by Jonathan Swift is arguably satirical. This way the poor people would transform their former financial burden into a profit, all for greed of money and every bit selfish. The rich would then have a delicacy on the dinner table for them to enjoy. This form of enjoyment would almost match fishing. According to Ethical Individualism, Jonathan Swift is quite ingenious in coming up with this proposal, making him the ideal Ethical Individualist. Eating babies might seem barbaric and inhuman, but it has to be taken account that just because something is judged to be morally correct doesn’t mean one has to actually perform these deeds for other reasons. One might not enjoy eating babies, therefore one might consider it to be morally incorrect because, in the end, one should enjoy life’s pleasantries.

Enjoy life, and remember:
your happiness is worth a thousand times the happiness from others.

[pic: CC-BY-ND, jaroslavd]

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Josef Ohlsson Collentine

A transparent and kind American/Swede who likes cultural patterns and Social Media. A creative early-adopter who sports, discusses and explores. More about me
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