Thursday, February 12, 2009

Boarding Schools are Brill

...according to this article.

They quote actress Sienna Miller on the subject:

"At first, I hated being away from home, then I loved it. Boarding school teaches you not to be selfish."

Am presuming this is the same Sienna Miller? Had to laugh!

20 comments:

Leo said...

Schools wrongly teach people not to be selfish. Rational selfishness is good.

Carlotta said...

I am not sure that schools teach people not to be selfish...am pretty sure, witness the Sienna Miller story, that they teach them to be selfish, if in a thoroughly irrational way.

There was an explicit message at my brother's school that they were the best of the best, far superior to anyone else, that they had natural rights to everything that was the best in the world. Neither rational, nor good for the soul.

Leo said...

Selfishness is not sacrificing others to oneself, is being concerned with one's interests without sacrificing anyone.

That the word is commonly given a negative connotation, just shows how entrenched we are in altruistic morality.

The example of your brother's school is of a form of collectivism too. His group was given mystical superiority.

Carlotta said...

Leo, you know I know about rational selfishness - I presume you aren't talking to me here!

As regards the collectivism thing, you are wrong, I think. They were treated as a collective at times true, but they were also taught to be irrational, screaming, narcissistic individualists with psyhopathic tendencies. Many of them did manage to grow out of it, but many never have.

Leo said...

I know you don't understand it. Please don't speak as you do.

Anonymous said...

A couple of things!

That article read like a bit of advertising!! I worked for a while in a school that took in boarders and despite the fact this was an unusually 'family style' boarding school, it was still very upsetting to see children who were fundamentally being neglected. Staff can't replace good parents. I was involved in the hunt for a missing child who tried to go home, witnessed children banging their heads against the wall repeatedly in misery at being left, little children upset at being unkempt and having no privacy. Not to mention those initiation rituals - which DO still happen! So - eventually -they get used to it. People get used to anything. Is that any justification for making a decision that is in most cases unnecessary? Apparently 80% of over 11s choose nowadays, but when they realise they were mistaken do they have to carry on? I know one boy in one of these ultra luxurious public schools who was still hung out of the window by his room mate and had glass thrown at him - this was recent. All these people believe their own ludicrous propaganda.

Incidentally, I think Leo might be referring to Rand's 'Virtues of Selfishness' but imo most people interpret selfishness as being self-centred and self-serving to the detriment of other human beings.

D

Adele said...

"Incidentally, I think Leo might be referring to Rand's 'Virtues of Selfishness' but imo most people interpret selfishness as being self-centred and self-serving to the detriment of other human beings."


Yep. Rand redefined selfishness in order to pretend it was a virtue. Selfishness doesn't mean merely concern with one's own interests (which is, of course, good) it actually means being so wrapped up in one's own interests that one acts in an unprincipled way, ignoring the impact of our actions on other people.

If you change the meaning of a word so that it means something positive, then it's rather easy to argue for it being a virtue. It could have been interesting to have seen Rand attempt to argue selfishness as a virtue with the intellectual honesty of using the actual definiton and usual connotations of the word.

mand said...

Hi Carlotta, thanx for calling in at my blog on WordPress. Your blog looks good, strong and courageous AND informative. 80)

Carlotta said...

Thanks Mand. I thought the same of yours!

"It could have been interesting to have seen Rand attempt to argue selfishness as a virtue with the intellectual honesty of using the actual definiton and usual connotations of the word."

And yes, that would have been very interesting! Wonder why Rand didn't stick with the easier definition of "self interested", which I suppose needn't convey action to the detriment of others.

And D,
Goodness, it is TERRIBLE to hear of the things you witnessed in boarding schools. There should be an up to date expose of this sort of terrible situation. How on earth can it be allowed to continue? I feel certain this type of experience does terrible damage to attachment and trust, and builds damaging personality defences that can take years to resolve.

Adele said...

"Wonder why Rand didn't stick with the easier definition of "self interested", which I suppose needn't convey action to the detriment of others."


Because it wouldn't have been as controversial? That's my guess anyway. Seems to me, from reading the book, that she had more of an interest in shocking people than she did in making any serious philosophical arguments.

(Apologies for going so O/T!)

cosmic seed said...

Yes well I spent 3 years in one and I can say that they most certainly are NOT!

Leo said...

"Rand redefined selfishness in order to pretend it was a virtue."

Ayn Rand had no intention to deceive and she made no redefinition. She uses the literal dictionary definition of the world, removing the ethical implication she considers wrong:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/selfish

Home educators do the same with the word education. They interpret it to mean what they want it to mean because they cannot escape its use, due to compulsion in law.

They remove the popular ethical interpretation of the definition to fit their own philosophy. This is the dictionary definition of education:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/education

Note how in some entries it mentions "imparting", "teaching", "schooling", "instructing" and "the result of upbringing."

But going back to selfishness...

Ayn Rand explains in the introduction of her book "The Virtue of Selfishness":

"This concept [selfishness] does not include a moral evaluation; it does not tell us whether concern with one’s own interests is good or evil; nor does it tell us what constitutes man’s actual interests. It is the task of ethics to answer such questions."

Also check minute of 1:12 of this interview:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFy9A7WEzPA

"Use another word: self-esteem. The value of selfishness is that you esteem yourself as a value, that you live according to your nature, which means, by the judgement of your own mind. And you respect your own mind, you respect your own ability to do the right thing, therefore, you respect the possibility of being a morally virtuous person and you regard yourself as a value worth perserving."

"Wonder why Rand didn't stick with the easier definition of "self interested"

Because selfishness was a word used both for thieves and capitalists.

Because the word "selfish" is the antonym of "selfless."

Although it's natural for home educators to use "self-interested" as a positive, it's not commonly understood as such. There is no such thing as a healthy "self-interested" child for mainstream ethics. Such a child is diagnosed the fake illness autism. Children that are different from what they should be, as decided by adult experts, are "special-needs" not "self-interested."

Autonomous education is not understood by the majority of people, much less authorities.

"Seems to me, from reading the book, that she had more of an interest in shocking people than she did in making any serious philosophical arguments."

And it seems to me that you have more of an interest in slandering Ayn Rand than understanding her or making any serious philosophical arguments yourself.

Carlotta said...

"And it seems to me that you have more of an interest in slandering Ayn Rand than understanding her or making any serious philosophical arguments yourself."

Hang on...Who "you"... I do disagree with Rand's ontology. I think she makes a grave mistake with this and this is so fundamental that I cannot really take any of the rest of her ideas terribly seriously, so I guess I do have a history of dismissing much of what she says, but Adele who made the remark you criticise has no such history as far as I am aware, I don't think her points have been effectively refuted, and it would therefore be difficult to take her to task on for slander on that basis alone.

Adele said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carlotta said...

Great post. Bother...why doesn't that blog have an RSS feed!!!

Adele said...

Thanks, Carlotta. I wrote it last year but I kept it in drafts, and, reading it back, I can see why! LOL! It still reads like a first draft and I'm not happy with it, so on reflection am going to take that article down, along with my previous comment.

Sorry!

Carlotta said...

Nooooo...I need that post!

Adele said...

LOL! Sorry. Why do you need the post?

Carlotta said...

Because it says what I want to say without me having to say it!

I wanted to refer a friend of mine to it...she, like L, enjoys Rand a lot, and I think I haven't explained my objections very clearly to her either!

Adele said...

I'll see if I can get it properly finished at some point then and let you know when I do. What I've already written needs editing and cutting in length, and I'd also like to add other points and angles. I've focused too deeply on one point to the exclusion of others I think, so I'd like to rectify that before displaying the post. Will see if I can get it sorted and let you know if/when I do. :)