Psychological Egoism needs clarifying, and upper-casing; that is to say, a proper definition. Lower case psychological egoism is an inevitability, which is why so few talk about it, or when they do talk about it, it tends to be thoroughly uninteresting. If the argument is only the statement, “we always act in our self-interest,” there’s nothing more to say. Or at least, it appears to be a tautological loop. In reality, Psychological Egoism is disguised as a redundant tautology. It is a pseudo-tautology because the specific content of it is self refining, which means that once we know the tautology of psychological egoism, we can then investigate and accelerate the process.
When we follow the logic of psychological egoism to the end, what is really being said is that our unconscious and conscious minds both work towards our self-interest, and are constantly refining what that self-interest is. This is the “egoic I”, that is to say, the egoic eye which is always looking out for itself. Once we identify with this “egoic I,” we can move self-interest into the realm of pure thought; which is to say, into a Hegelian Idealism (not a Fichtean Idealism, which decides “this is me” or “this is not me”).
Absolute Egoism contra symbolic order and the plane of spoken language
The cartography of the system of Absolute Egoism pushes the symbolic order askew (for more information on psychological cartography, click to see An Introduction to Psychological Cartography) . The symbolic order is the Lacanian function of how we make sense of the world, and how empty self-reference condenses to form reality. To look consciously at self-interest is to make ourselves an outsider because the Big Other functions to link interests. To be clear, Absolute Egoism isn’t suggesting Zizek and company are wrong when he points to the individualist nature of contemporary capitalism; rather, it is stating by practicing an Absolute Egoism that it eliminates an entire dimension of the symbolic order, it allows for the revolution, tweak, reinforcement of the symbolic order, or the incidentalization of it all together.
Absolute Egoism is a transcendent idealism in that it eliminates the maintenance of the symbolic order as the main point of its philosophical outlook. When egoism is taken from the dialectic back and forth of conscious and unconscious decision making and sublated (“sublated” for the non-Hegelians, that is, raised, challenged, negated, refined, negated, refined, challenged, etc) into the form of thought, that is to say, to consciously look at the dialectic between the conscious and unconscious, is to realize what is natural in man, through language. Furthermore, this is the only way to do so.
Absolute Egoism is an Idealism which is in essence, an ethical proposition
(what is good) on top of an epistemological proposition (what is true). Absolute Egoism is good because it is in the least contradiction with itself and what is true, and what is true is unavoidable Psychological Egoism.
- 1) Psychological Egoism is true, we act consciously and unconsciously in our self-interest
- 2) this self-interest takes the form of the dialectic between drives and ideals
- 3) ideals vary because humanity’s preference for personal feelings and ideals vary
- 4)drives do not vary, they are desire and survival
- 5) language determines an equilibrium between ideals and drives
- 6) Absolute Egoism is an idealism which maintains the movement between ideals and drives, and subverts external forces set to create disequilibrium in the subject
Absolute Egoism would do more effectively what people are doing already, which is to say having a conscious dialectical discussion with themselves about what exactly the nature of their self-interest, between their ideals and drives. That is to say, bring the Hegelian process into the realm of conscious thought, into Absolute Idealism. Ideals are subject to flux, but the drives are not. We express ourselves through language, an Absolute Egoism is what can give us a hold of ourselves.
This is of course, optional, one does not have to practice Absolute Egoism. One should keep in mind however, Psychological Egoism is not optional.
Psychological Egoism not an absurdity or a paradox, it’s pseudo-tautology, it has moving parts and can be accelerated or decelerated. It can be given gas or given a wrench in the spokes. You just have to be willing to give up your ghosties and take a look for yourself to see the wheels turning.