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Ethical Egoism

Cognisant

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My previous postings on this topic have been muddled as I was new to the concept, so let me try again.

What is morality?
Specifically what makes morality moral?
Fundamentally, philosophically, there is no objective basis for morality other than simple pragmatism, if you murder someone and I don't know them then it's not really any of my business, except for the fact that we live in a society with certain cultural norms like the fact that you can't just murder someone and get away with it. As a member of this society I have a vested interest in supporting its culture, more specifically the fact that you murdered someone challenges the norm that murder does not occur thus I am obligated by self interest to report you to the police and so ensure that the norm (and my safety) is maintained.

To say murder is a sin or intrinsically wrong based on supposedly universal principles, is just a roundabout way of coming to the same conclusion, I don't want to be murdered therefore murder is wrong. Sin is a funny one, sure murdering someone is a sin but being murdered isn't and being murdered is by definition not killing oneself so if someone believes they're in their chosen deity's good graces what have they to be worried about? And Kant's categorical moral imperative is a circular argument, you should do what is categorically imperative because it's the right thing to do and it's the right thing to do because it's categorically imperative, sure you can subscribe to this "universal principle" but most people don't so it isn't actually universal.

Then there's this whole thing about good deeds being selfless but people aren't actually selfless, well at least anyone old enough to have a concept of self and even then infants act with self interest on instinct. Really the only selfless person is one that doesn't have higher cognitive functions (i.e. a vegetable) by virtue of being essentially dead but for the technicality of having a heartbeat. Now I'm sure there's all manner of examples of people behaving in ways that aren't in their apparent self interest, say giving money to a charity for instance, but the fact is people don't act without motivation, it's Newton's first law of motion. When someone gives to charity the motivation to do so comes from a sense of social obligation or moral righteousness or self interest (giving to cancer research) or self interest by proxy (giving to breast cancer research when the women in your family are at risk of it) I mean it's not an automatic function like breathing, you need to exercise intent to actually do it.

So this whole thing about charity being selfless, what's that about?
Obviously if someone's pretending to help but not actually helping that's a problem, the problem being that they're not helping, not the spirit in which they're helping, which given that they're not helping doesn't matter either way. Indeed if they are helping does the spirit in which that help if offered really matter or does it only matter that help is being provided?

I think it does but not because help that isn't selfless isn't virtuous but rather because it is shameful when help is given under the false pretense of selflessness, that it's equally humiliating for the person receiving the help as it is supposedly virtuous for the person giving it. This is why I don't think charity should be practiced at all, rather as a matter of collective self interest we should all support (both by voting and paying taxes for) financial security as a public service, a "safety net" so to speak.

If you suddenly find yourself out of a job (because of a pandemic for example) that not only affects you but by affecting your participation in the economy that affects the economy at large. If you can't pay rent that affects your landlord, if you're changing your buying habits to cut back on expenses that affects local businesses. Now you might move in with relatives for a while and you might re-enter the workforce as soon as the quarantine ends but the cost of your temporary absence will have lasting effects on the economy.

If your landlord has several mortgages he might not be able to meet his repayments and if this is true for many landlords across the country the banks that loaned to them suddenly have a shortfall of income which affects their ability to meet their obligations and the funny thing about that is that banks aren't actually in the business of holding money, they take the money in your bank account and reinvest most of it. The money they don't reinvest is the reserve and when their obligations (people withdrawing money) exceed their reserves that means they don't actually have the liquidity to give people the money back and as soon as someone tries to take money out, money that they supposedly have, and they can't, everybody panics and there's a bank run and the whole house of cards comes crashing down.

Except that doesn't happen, the banks get bailouts from governments because governments fundamentally represent the interests of their taxpayers because governments get their money from taxes, no economy no taxes, no taxes no government. This is my frustration with the very concept of private insurance, a private company has no vested interest in you beyond your ability to pay your bills so if you make a claim you either don't need the money or it doesn't matter to them if you do. But a government does, if someone loses their job they don't just disappear and if they don't return to the workforce they're going to become a problem that's going to continue costing money and contributing none thus for a government it is absolutely essential that people have a safety net, just as it is absolutely essential to give banks bailouts when they need it.

What I've been building up to is that morality on both an individual and societal level should be based on self interest, that we should do certain things not because they're the "right thing to do" but rather because we're being idiots if we don't. That as participants of a society we should establish safety nets for our collective benefit, because a society that's more resilient is one that will be less affect by changing circumstances and thus in the long term be more successful. And we shouldn't make people feel ashamed for receiving help by giving them charity but rather we should all be entitled to receive support from our society when we need it and I say that as someone who has never received government, rather it's what I pay my taxes for, to have the peace of mind that there is help out there for people who need it and for myself if I should ever need it.

It's a matter of pride really, I want to be proud of the nation I live in, proud of the society I'm a part of, that's my motivation for seeking the betterment of my fellows and it might sound selfless but really it's anything but, because you are my people and this is our world, lets make it one to be proud of.
 

BurnedOut

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Hey, Cognisant. This is besides the OP. I wish to have a conversation with you but I cannot figure how you to DM you to further explain some stuff.
 

EndogenousRebel

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I think what you (via proxy of others) describe as selfless just isn't a good definition of what most people (today) believe what selflessness is. Not that what they think it means should be what we think it is, and not that I think selflessness is a good virtue.

CEOs funneling their and their corporations money into their own non-profit organizations so that they can reap tax benefits AND keep the money they used to get it is a well known song and dance.

Then there is that golden rule of "do onto others as you would like them to do unto you." An effective coping and strategic rule that pleases our sensibilities right up to the societal level. "I don't want to be murdered, so I won't murder people. I want someone to report my murder, so I will report this murder." On it's own this is not selfless, you are correct. But holding this idea, even when it is against your interest, is what is selfless.

Think of chess, but not chess, no black or white, just the pieces and point values they have. We all have pawns that are worth 1 point, knights that are worth 3, so on.. If I sacrifice my pieces so that another may keep theirs, then I am not making a self-centred play. Of course you could argue that I am still garnering favor, making a strategic gamble, or some other theory, but it's still off-beat from centric thinking. But you're trying to get at this idea of selflessness as an ideal, pure concentrated selflessness.
This is where I'm getting into nondescript language because I don't feel like teasing apart the meaning. We do not know why one would make such a non-centric play, some unconscious bias lets say, naturally an imperfect move. If I understand you correctly, you're saying that it's impossible for someone to make a move that their brain doesn't believe serves or will serve themselves, whether it's rationality or superstition derived from our sensations or knowledge. I have to say that I somewhat agree, but there is something you don't conciser that I think changes the equation, and that being 'trust.' Where do we place trust in these decisions? Ourselves I think, we are trusting that our decisions will do something positive for us. How do we trust selflessly? By giving up control, not for any reason that leads back to us being weak, or trusting in someone else's undoubtedly selfish reasoning. I don't quite know where this leads, but I think it more than likely would come from a place where we aren't hedging our bets, not calculating, but KNOWING. Knowing that we will lose hard physical pieces that you value, like a knight or a queen, and that the sacrifice will only give you some piece of mind, which while you value, won't make up for the loss. I don't something like that if I'm making any sense.
 

Cognisant

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So you know how I made this point earlier in another thread about giving someone a fake cheque for a million dollars which makes them feel as though they lost a million dollars even though they never had it? I explained that this is how the appealing concept of an immortal soul is sold to people, they're told they have something awesome and then they don't want it taken away.

Moral selflessness is the same, if doing good is good then doing good solely out of the spirit of altruism is better right? We like the idea that someone could do something selflessly, it's more emotionally impactful than just doing the right thing to do because it's objectively the right thing to do. But the price we pay for this added appeal is that it diminishes the virtue of doing the right thing selfishly, of taking pride in where we live and being part of society.

In Australia we don't have all that much of a cultural identity, if you ask any Australian on the street if they're proud of Australia and being Australian they'll say of course they are, who wouldn't be? But an Australian will see trash on the street and just walk by it, they might look at it with a displeased expression but it's not their trash, not their problem, they want to do something about it but the stigma of being someone who picks up trash is too great.

In Japan (at least the parts of it I've seen) the streets are almost always immaculate which for a city with the population density of Tokyo is astounding and the difference is that Japanese people pick up trash on the street and they do it because it offends them, it offends their pride as people of Japan, a pride that stems from a culture that hasn't been entirely corrupted by western notions of selfless virtue.
 

EndogenousRebel

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I recall that.

I'm not sure about aussie culture but it does interest me, my latest intrigue being the shoe-y. Fascinating stuff.

Japan from what I know was made into an American projection of what it wanted it's own ideals to be. We don't want to meet our ownstandards, but we will sure af make our "child" stand to them. This could be a gross insulting bias though and they might be that way anyways, I'm pretty sure you don't get willing kamikazes unless you have a strong honor system built in already.

But yeah, something I suppose I can add is that a lot of the value of doing altruistic things (even just claiming you did them) is that it gives you some sort of social credit. And some who don't capitalize on that do it because society deems it to be so. I'm sure this applies to being patriots and pious. In grade school we stand daily for a pledge of allegiance to God and the country, and in some, the states too. I'm sure you'll have a nive rabbit hole by googling situations that have spawned from teachers demanding students stand for it. Personaly know situations that end in fights. Think about that, even our supposed mentors make us abide to at least stand and sometimes, say the words out. 1984 was not ahead of it's time, it was a forecast.
 

Animekitty

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ego death is the closest I've come to selflessness.
I was no longer in control, a higher force was.
I was not under my will, and that is the point.
There was no resistance from me. it just happened.
Selfless acts do happen. something else is guiding you.
 

Cognisant

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In grade school we stand daily for a pledge of allegiance to God and the country, and in some, the states too. I'm sure you'll have a nive rabbit hole by googling situations that have spawned from teachers demanding students stand for it. Personaly know situations that end in fights. Think about that, even our supposed mentors make us abide to at least stand and sometimes, say the words out. 1984 was not ahead of it's time, it was a forecast.
In the US there seems to be this disconnect between how proud people are supposed to be and how proud of their country they actually are and that's a perfect example of it, you're told to stand daily to pledge your allegiance to a god that you may not believe in and a country that is arguably exploiting you.

The very concept of TELLING someone to pledge their allegiance is so fundamentally wrong and it utterly misses the point of why someone would pledge their allegiance, which by the way is a disturbingly militant thing for school children to be doing.

You can't just tell someone to be proud of something, you can force them to pretend they are but that's really not the same thing and it's alarming that so many people don't seem to understand that difference.
 

EndogenousRebel

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Selfless acts do happen. something else is guiding you.
I like this rendition

Yeah the pledge is normalized, but not only doing it, but ignoring it too. It likely does more harm than good to our nation's self-perceptions. I think a long time ago, the school system was decided to be a adequate system at letting people with merit rise up and be put in positions to take on the nation's problems. Never to be touched again

The pledge is for EZ money, lemmings. If anyone challenged it's existence it would be assigned as evidence that the country is failing, the left is insane, and our children are lost. I haven't heard a single good argument for it besides a model for how we will be made obedient.

People don't pay attention. The internet culture that was suppose to save us, in the main stream is trying to sell pictures of its own asshole and numbing itself with sensory stimulation. Most people that do pay attention are just complainers, no different from my childhood household who complain and argue but never do shit to solve problems.

Lol sorry this turned into a rant
 

scorpiomover

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My previous postings on this topic have been muddled as I was new to the concept, so let me try again.

What is morality?
Specifically what makes morality moral?

What I've been building up to is that morality on both an individual and societal level should be based on self interest,
AFAIK, Ayn Rand said that morality should be based on rational self-interest.

So it seems that you're saying that you agree with Rand's philosophy.
 

Cognisant

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I haven't read Rand's philosophy but that premise aligns with ethical egosim. In the latter case the definition of self is expanded to include anything one identifies with, e.g. as an Australian it is in my rational self interest to support the interests of my homeland insofar as those interests do not conflict with my personal interests.

If the interests of my family or friends conflict with the interests of my homeland I need to consider which are more important and to what degree. I may in general consider the interests of my family more important than the interests of my homeland however not to an absolute degree, indeed the two are intertwined.
 

DingusLord

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I immediately thought of Ayn Rand just from the tagline.

Also your epilogue is reminiscent of Bo Burnham's "From God's Perspective". The bridge specifically.
 

Cognisant

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Where is the pride, where is the honour?
To cheat at a game in a way that takes the fun out of it for everyone involved, a game where nothing is at stake except the fun being had, what kind of person does this? An honourless cur.

Now you might want to mock me for calling upon such an archaic notion and it's that falling out of fashion that's exactly what I'm talking about, should honor be out of fashion, is it not good to have pride in oneself and act accordingly?

This ties into what I've been talking about with ethical egoism, that it's a matter of pride and that far from being a sin having pride is one of the great motivators of moral behavior.
 

EndogenousRebel

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Cheating is seen as a feature, because everyone can cheat, so choosing not to cheat makes you a chump. Among the endless sea of information that the masses wash over their eyes, some of the easiest to see is that sociopaths seem to be having a good time. Pleasure is the most valuable thing apparently, if you get that, it means you're "winning" life. And in a world where our devices do everything for us, people's creativity on getting it has been waning for a long time. So they follow by example, though they may not be as cold as a sociopath, they will just shrug it off or push it down with "life be like that sometimes" and quickly take their attention away to something they can stomach more.

Chasing an internal satisfaction you can get from being "honorable" will get you laughed at because it has no material value. Hell, a lot of genuine feelings people have will get you laughed at. I was a carnival like festival on a university campus once, everything was free, you would get tickets for a raffle the more games you won. I made it a point to make every game there my bitch. One game was throwing the loop in a plastic ring onto a... bottle I think? I was there for maybe up to an 2 hours trying to beat this game. My friends went on to explore the rest of the carnival, people would stop by give the game a try and move on, the people hosting the games even switched out. When I finally did beat it and went to receive my one single ticket, the guy hosting it had an annoyed face, and the sore cunt told me "no one saw that." Something that just flat out wasn't true, so I just said "I did." Every time I think of this event, which happened 3-4 years ago I just get the biggest fucking smile and I don't give a fuck what anyone tells me, no one can take that away from me. I digress.

Today, pride is not something that pushes you to do the honorable thing, it's what I'd say someone assigned as pride so they can save face and uphold the "reputation" they think they want and have. Sportsmanship is for sport. Everything else is free game. Not everyone I know thinks like this ofc, it just seems like that's the zeitgeist right now and it's having it's toxic affects. I don't envy these people at all. It just makes me appreciate the people that I value in my life all the more.
 

Minuend

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To me I find there's no morality and all that stuff. But even so, people have feelings and they do have things that they feel is right or wrong. Based on their lives, the society they live in, personality etc. (Ofc, there are individuals who have emotional lives than differ from the norm, where they might feel satisfaction from suffering and what not)

I don't think we need a superior truth or guidelines to tell us what is right or wrong for us to want to try to have a system that dictates either. It's very ok and possible for humans to decide what's right or wrong depending on how the human usually function and our understanding of the world so far. It's very possible to have a system that strives to enforce certain values, even though there's nobody to tell them they should or that it's right. If you think that unnecessary suffering in another human being should be avoided, you don't really need a higher power to agree. You can just accept that's what you think and that's a value you have and a value you want in a society. Values are something to be evolved and gradually understood in a better fashion, it's something that changes depending on how humans understand reality

There's no reason we need to decide 1 factor should decide our value system. If the majority of people want a value system based on feelings, why not? There's no rule saying making a value system based on feelings is wrong. Why do our value system need to be what some people would consider "logical"? In a world of nihilism, there's no reason why we would value logic over emotion. It's all man made, after all.
 

BurnedOut

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Specifically what makes morality moral?
Morality is a kind of an irrational action that is done under the pretenses of rationality. It is an action that guards emotions over logic and pragmatics. To be more conventional, it is a violation of utilitarianism at certain points. Now read the next annotation.

I don't see the need of analyzing morality with logic. It seems like there is some kind of morbid fascination in labeling morality as a function of utility whilst simultaneously acknowledge that love, affection and care are genuine human emotions. Obviously, the existence of love as a genuine emotion grants weight to the argument that selflessness is a real thing and that it is does not bring any utility - not even emotional one (as some advocates of optimism may advocate because a positive emotion is not as worth as a greater amount of resources in the future)

Then, there is another argument which seeks to argue that morality cannot exist as a universal premise and if it does, it utilitarian because we all want someone else's selflessness.

Is it really impossible for someone to not wish too much bad for the world or the immediate surrounding for no reason? If love exists as a genuine emotion which can be extended in limited amounts (and hence altruism is considered only private in nature), is there a logical reason to presume that love cannot be extended to the entire world although not in the greatest amount but just a general wish for the world to be happier? You know that I am not talking farrago. Everybody has a general desire for a better world that is not driven by some feeling that he/she will be rewarded.

I feel that a lot of philosophers treat morality with some kind of a pure dose of a priori reasoning and then interpreting all the selfless actions of an individual as egoistic. An independent examination of somebody's selfless actions can actually reveal that those actions were indeed selfless and not driven by a utilitarian motive.
Fundamentally, philosophically, there is no objective basis for morality other than simple pragmatism, if you murder someone and I don't know them then it's not really any of my business, except for the fact that we live in a society with certain cultural norms like the fact that you can't just murder someone and get away with it. As a member of this society I have a vested interest in supporting its culture, more specifically the fact that you murdered someone challenges the norm that murder does not occur thus I am obligated by self interest to report you to the police and so ensure that the norm (and my safety) is maintained.
I fail to see why reporting a murder cannot occur of a feeling of horror, outrage and that it should not happen to anybody else, let alone yourself.

Laws came into existence not only because they served utility but also also ensures the primal need of an individual of a stable environment wherein there is some equivalence and respect for everybody. With the utilitarian arguments, it can be possible to prove that stable environments are not truly utilitarian because everyone is deriving less utility than they would have in an unstable environment. Utilitarianism at its most utilitarian results in a grossly stratified society because the utility, as measured as some unit or material, can be extremely high in a stratified society than in a stable and equity-promoting environment.

Now, conventional human nature is driven by greed. However, everybody is not so malignant as to have everybody kneel to them. There is a desire of more material but I don't believe that there is a desire for a degraded human condition. Therefore, a normal man will psychologically prefer an environment where his fellows are not in a degraded condition.

These are not utilitarian arguments for selflessness. These are basic human emotions that do not need justification per se to exist. A human's preference for these emotions do not arise out of a will for such a condition but an innate psychological desire that is irrational because it does result into a better off condition logically.

This is because a human psychologically requires a happy environment but is biologically compelled into fighting for his greed. What utilitarian considers the notion of greed and not the psychological need of a human for a better and more equitable environment. He then goes on the justify that the greed fulfils all the psychological needs of an individual because more resources = more happiness. That is empirically true but then the argument fails when human sentience and general irrational emotions of love, injustice, hatred are considered. Let me also add that humans sometimes do things that can result into a better world not because they want it but because sometimes they really care for others and really wish good for them.

Therefore, this is a not a utilitarian justification for selflessness because the end does not in the end cause more utility or causes more happiness necessarily. It is just irrational in both aspects - ends and means.

Now, tell me, if a selfless action or genuine altruism is impossible.
To say murder is a sin or intrinsically wrong based on supposedly universal principles, is just a roundabout way of coming to the same conclusion, I don't want to be murdered therefore murder is wrong. Sin is a funny one, sure murdering someone is a sin but being murdered isn't and being murdered is by definition not killing oneself so if someone believes they're in their chosen deity's good graces what have they to be worried about? And Kant's categorical moral imperative is a circular argument, you should do what is categorically imperative because it's the right thing to do and it's the right thing to do because it's categorically imperative, sure you can subscribe to this "universal principle" but most people don't so it isn't actually universal.
It is not a circular argument because irrationality is a feature of human beings and that lends to their sentience. So morality is irrational and it clearly has a basis for its emergence although its basis cannot be properly understood but the basis stands independently and does not circularly depend on existence of morality derived from it as a proof for its own existence.

Obviously if someone's pretending to help but not actually helping that's a problem, the problem being that they're not helping, not the spirit in which they're helping, which given that they're not helping doesn't matter either way. Indeed if they are helping does the spirit in which that help if offered really matter or does it only matter that help is being provided?
So, you see a random guy helping an old man cross the street and you deduce that he's doing that because he's going to be old and would like help crossing the street one day himself or because it makes him look good.

How rational is that? This is the point I am making, unless rationality is based on the existence of irrationality, it is irrational too.

I think it does but not because help that isn't selfless isn't virtuous but rather because it is shameful when help is given under the false pretense of selflessness, that it's equally humiliating for the person receiving the help as it is supposedly virtuous for the person giving it. This is why I don't think charity should be practiced at all, rather as a matter of collective self interest we should all support (both by voting and paying taxes for) financial security as a public service, a "safety net" so to speak.
Why? Do only corporates donate to charity? I believe that a great deal of not-so-rich people provide to charity. If they were only proxies for corporates, I am unsure if the government would continue to allow them to exist as charities in the first place.

If you suddenly find yourself out of a job (because of a pandemic for example) that not only affects you but by affecting your participation in the economy that affects the economy at large. If you can't pay rent that affects your landlord, if you're changing your buying habits to cut back on expenses that affects local businesses. Now you might move in with relatives for a while and you might re-enter the workforce as soon as the quarantine ends but the cost of your temporary absence will have lasting effects on the economy.... if someone loses their job they don't just disappear and if they don't return to the workforce they're going to become a problem that's going to continue costing money and contributing none thus for a government it is absolutely essential that people have a safety net, just as it is absolutely essential to give banks bailouts when they need it.
I did not quite understand how this answers your proposition of a safety net solving this particular problem. UBI exists for USA and they help the country in building assets.

What I've been building up to is that morality on both an individual and societal level should be based on self interest, that we should do certain things not because they're the "right thing to do" but rather because we're being idiots if we don't. That as participants of a society we should establish safety nets for our collective benefit, because a society that's more resilient is one that will be less affect by changing circumstances and thus in the long term be more successful. And we shouldn't make people feel ashamed for receiving help by giving them charity but rather we should all be entitled to receive support from our society when we need it and I say that as someone who has never received government, rather it's what I pay my taxes for, to have the peace of mind that there is help out there for people who need it and for myself if I should ever need it.
I don't understand what you really have against charities. Logically if the government disallows charities, the money will not necessarily flow into providing more social securities or spending into liabilities like this.

I look at it this way -
There are charities and they help in building productive capacities for the country. A poor guy aptly fed can contribute to the economy. An orphan getting some education can contribute to the economy. A bunch of oldies dispelled from their homes don't require the gov to pay for them in the form of social security to a great extent. That saves money for the economy, etc, etc.

So, why cannot morality exist for the sake of it? (Which is actually morality than quid pro quo)

Addendum 1
Then if humans prefer a more equitable and stable environment, why do they act like assholes?
>> Because they are still greedy motherfuckers. That does not mean that they do not have flashes of enlightenment and altruistic behaviours.
 

ZenRaiden

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Plant a seed into your garden and it will grow if you water it. That tree will grow fruits that you can eat. Plant weeds and you will have weeds. They grow fast, but they are still weeds.
The values you live by are yours to have.

Philosophy is love of wisdom.
Wisdom is not just random arbitrary assumptions and arbitrary conclusions.

The smarter you are the easier it is to convince one self and others.
So that makes your truth the truth. Then again it easily does not have to be the truth.

So it goes....
 
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