By George Herbert Palmer
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Additional resources for Altruism;: Its nature and varieties; the Ely lectures for 1917-18,
Received an unexpectedly large payment and am particularly well off, I might easily take pleasure in handing a But that is an half-dollar to a beggar. feeling amusement, not a gift. I have experienced no loss. For both money and beggar I cared little, but the momentary sense of munificence was agreeable. The act was one of pride rather than generosity. On 32 GIFTS 33 the other hand, I give a friend a book I love, one that has deeply influenced my and I hope may influence his. He has no means of obtaining a copy elsewhere.
Of course, we cannot give properly unless we understand the case, and the larger our understanding the greater is our obliga tion to aid. These simple truths illuminate some moral perplexities. I read a while ago of a famine in China. Crops had failed and there was wide-spread suffering. Tragic tales were reported. In the next column of the paper was an account of air plane construction. I found both columns interesting. The same day a man I knew broke his leg. An awful affair I hurried ! to his bedside else than curred to and could think of nothing how I might help.
Should honor man as man. Why, then, regard an American sufferer more than a Chinese ? Because he is my countryman. But that rests philanthropy on selfishness and makes the needy person s relation to me of more consequence than his suffering. The no tion of patriotism which masquerades as a virtue should be denounced as a vice. All will recognize in such an argument a valu able protest against narrowness. will accept the principle on which But few it rests. GIFTS All men are not alike. Relation to 53 me does constitute a special moral claim.
Altruism;: Its nature and varieties; the Ely lectures for 1917-18, by George Herbert Palmer