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Header: Jess Anderson in Madison Wisconsin
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Altruism vs Self-Interest
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My main motto, from the Chuang Tse, is: "A path is formed by walking on it."

I have devoted so much of my life's energies to activities and attitudes that I see as constructive or helpful for others that it would for me be antithetical to reject the notion of altruism. But many people do so, which has always perplexed me.

I see being generous and kind and helpful as directly serving my self-interest, presumably making the world a better, safer place not only for others, including especially those I cherish, but also for myself personally.

It's certainly not that I haven't wanted things: money, influence, any of a number of forms of self-aggrandizement. Indeed I have often thought that great wealth would be an enormous boon to my life, especially if it fell miraculously out of the sky, for example by winning the lottery when it was worth $100 million or something.

Fortunately, life has been pretty good to me, in material as well as other senses. I've had enough influence, recognition, success, and all that, and I really don't need it to feel content or complete.

But the lottery fantasy hasn't gone away either. I would create a foundation for artists, the idea being to find people on the cusp of a major breakthrough or leap forward in their work, but needing more resources than they could reasonably expect to assemble to bring it off. The search would be the fun part for me, I think. Ideally, the recipients would never connect me with the grant; it would drop from heaven, as the lottery had on me. It may be just as prideful to remain anonymous as not, but I don't think I care much about niceties of that sort.

[to be continued]

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