Saturday, October 31, 2009

SMALLVILLE: "An Orgy of Self-Sacrifice," or, the "O-Face" of Altriusm

"Clark, just stop, ok? I mean, your willingness to sacrifice yourself for others is a great strength, for sure, but when it comes to your own happiness, it's definitely a weakness." -Chloe Sullivan, Season 9, "Crossfire"

A line like this just makes me wish that, despite its virtues, the show will end sooner than later. The implications in that line alone just goes to show how philosophical confused this society really is. Do the writers not realize that self-sacrifice means the sacrifice of one's SELF, happiness and all? This is what you THINK you get:



But before you make your "O-Face*," consider what you REALLY get:


Some might say I should feel slightly forgiving; after all, Chloe does urge Clark to work towards his "own happiness." Glass half-full? No, because the implication is still that self-sacrifice is the noble ideal, which, if followed to its ultimate conclusion, will undercut any attempts at personal happiness. Or, better said by Ayn Rand, "The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing." (And if one swallows the pill of "duty" as prescribed by Immanuel Kant, one would drown in that half-full glass, since any attempt to find personal happiness in sacrifice will undercut the good deed.)

And if Chloe is soooo smart, why can't she reason through her contradiction? Because it's not a matter of intelligence, but evasion. Consider the following quote:

We have never made an effort to understand what is greatness in man and how to recognize it. We have come to hold, in a kind of mawkish stupor, that greatness is to be gauged by self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice, we drool, is the ultimate virtue. Let’s stop and think for a moment. Is sacrifice a virtue? Can a man sacrifice his integrity? His honor? His freedom? His ideal? His convictions? The honesty of his feelings? The independence of his thought? But these are a man’s supreme possessions. Anything he gives up for them is not a sacrifice but an easy bargain. They, however, are above sacrificing to any cause or consideration whatsoever. Should we not, then, stop preaching dangerous and vicious nonsense? Self-sacrifice? But it is precisely the self that that cannot and must not be sacrificed. It is the unsacrificed self that be must respect in man above all. -Gail Wynand in The Fountainhead

Besides, why drink from a half-full/half-empty glass of drool, when you can have a nice clean, full glass of non-contradiction?


* "You know what I'm talking about..."

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