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View Full Version : Altruism, a possibility, a hope, or just stupid



Triskele
01-25-2007, 06:54 PM
heres where i have my question, i have been talking with a few friends and pretty much what we have surmised is that there really is no such thing as altruism, what we percieve to be altruism is really enlightened self interest, whether kind acts are made because they will get you into heaven, appease a guilty concience, make you feel good for an act well done, or just help your community, it seems to me that there is a base motive at the root of all charity. please, continue this, i would love to hear other peoples thoughts on this matter, in no way is this thought of mine complete:D

Neo_Sephiroth
01-25-2007, 11:56 PM
heres where i have my question, i have been talking with a few friends and pretty much what we have surmised is that there really is no such thing as altruism, what we percieve to be altruism is really enlightened self interest, whether kind acts are made because they will get you into heaven, appease a guilty concience, make you feel good for an act well done, or just help your community, it seems to me that there is a base motive at the root of all charity. please, continue this, i would love to hear other peoples thoughts on this matter, in no way is this thought of mine complete:D

Hmm...Yes...Yes...I see what you're getting at.

Altruism is the act of being unselfish and/or having a deep devotion of helping out others.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but are you saying that the people who follows the path of "altruism" do so because they want and/or is expecting something out of their good deed?

Hmm...Well, that is true for some, if not most, people in this world. I, however, do believe that there is such a thing as "altruism". You see, there are those out there in the world today that perform good deeds and expect nothing of it.

No five minutes of fame, expecting to get into Heaven, appease a guilty conscience, and so on. They do it just for sake of not seeing another human being getting hurt or suffer.

Oh, crap...I said "sake"....Oh, well, if you're going to bring that up...Then it's just silly.

Beside, "altruism" would still exist because there are those who still performs good deeds everyday...I think...

Umm...Anyway, the only way "altruism" would not exist is if no one perform any good deeds in the world at all.

Also, there are those who can see benefits from performing a good deed but still does not do so. Why? Probably because they don't care. Which also brings "altruism" to exists because of "egoism". The ones who sees an opportunity to help out those in need of assistence but does not do so because he/she values himself/herself more than that of the one in need of assistence also contributes to the existence of "altruism".

Neo_Sephiroth
01-26-2007, 04:00 PM
Wait... You're saying that, because of the existence of egoism, altruism is a sort of inevitability? I'm confused here. How do egoists create altruism?

I have to go to class, so that is all I can say at the moment. Thoughts?

Hmm...Altruism...Egoism...:idea:

No, wait...Okay...I'm drawing blank.:sick:

But lets see what I can pull out of this blank head of mine.:D

Egoism is basically self-interest. Cares only for oneself. Only help others in need (If he/she does so at all) if it benefits himself/herself.

Altruism is basically a caring and/or devotion of the welfare of others. Help those in need of assistence im, if not all, many different situations...Possibly naive...But that's not the point. Also expects nothing (Hopefully...But highly doubtful for most people) in return.

Okay...Now that I got that cleared up...Lets go!

Example: A hot chick is shopping in the grocery store...And I happen to "accidently" bump into her and she drops her purse, bags, and various produce.

There are two dudes are standing nearby that saw the incident.

Now, one of them is thinking "Should I help her out? What do I get out of it? Nah. She can pick those things up herself. Besides, she not THAT hot." So he walks passed her without lending a hand. Egoism? I think so.

The second dude, however, goes in to help. "Oh! Here, let me help you with those" *Picks up her falling things and whatnot*

Hot Chick: "Thank, you" *Smiles*:) Continues with her shopping.:blush:

Kind Dude: "No, problem" *Continues with looking at Maxim's magazine*:D

So, basically, if "Egoism" exists as you just saw from the example above, "Altruism" must exists as well.

Altruism can only exists if someone (Egoist) ingnores someone who's in need of assistence and/or require some assistence to make the process easier...But if another person (Altruist) saw someone in such a situation and helps out...It is because of Egoism.

For Egoism is born out of self-interest and selfishness(Choose to ingnore)...All the while, Altrism is born out of love, devotion, and caring for the welfare of others.(Choose to help)

Ugh:sick: ...Dude...I'm going to have to quit for today, man. If I go any further I'll probably confuse myself and forget what I was talking about...More then I already am, at least.:D

kilted exile
01-26-2007, 04:35 PM
Wow, Jamesian, reading that all I could think of was Scrooge querying whether the workhouses and poor law were still in operation.

I dont know what to say about that really (truly lost for words) Street People live terrible, miserable lives a fair percentage also have large psychological problems with schizophrenia and paranoia. They do not trust the hostels and people at the shelters. They truly are desperate, people who are the most in need are the ones most likely to ask for help, their pride has been broken and this is a last resort. These are not weak people, the problem is people's perception of them as a useless druggie or alcoholic - they are people: sons, daughters, mothers, fathers.

Not giving them money is not helping them, it is speeding their deaths.

**apologies for dragging things off-topic

SaGe
01-26-2007, 05:41 PM
heres where i have my question, i have been talking with a few friends and pretty much what we have surmised is that there really is no such thing as altruism, what we percieve to be altruism is really enlightened self interest, whether kind acts are made because they will get you into heaven, appease a guilty concience, make you feel good for an act well done, or just help your community, it seems to me that there is a base motive at the root of all charity. please, continue this, i would love to hear other peoples thoughts on this matter, in no way is this thought of mine complete:D
My thoughts are essentially the exact opposite of your own (or the thoughts for you and your friends, for the altruistic irony). I think that everyone is altruistic to at least some degree whether their actions are decided by a need to fulfill the will of others and provide them with satisfaction or a need to appease others in order to elevate one's own ego or sense of self-worth. I think that, despite a few exceptions (I hate to allude to Ayn Rand but the Howard Roark/Francisco D'Anconia/John Galt types), anyone who actively participates in modern, civilized society exhibits altruism.

Eagleheart
01-27-2007, 02:30 PM
If the requirements of altruism include self-effacement, then it remains in the domain of aesthetics indeed. The problem I see is that the demands of altruism are extending to a state in which the doer is no longer a separate individual, as every conscious motive is relegated to the "base and selfish"...Lack of self-interest I hold will soon seem to be equated with lack of personality...Totally effacing the interest of the doer is possible in one only condition- non-existence...It is altruistic to help someone, knowing you will feel better yourself and you are helping two persons, which makes you all the more altruistic. I think love and concern for others can only occur in relation to love and concern for yourself/as a member of the human race/ Lack of altruism is not concern for yourself, but concern Only for yourself...

*Classic*Charm*
01-27-2007, 07:14 PM
These are not weak people, the problem is people's perception of them as a useless druggie or alcoholic - they are people: sons, daughters, mothers, fathers.



I have to agree with Jameison and contradict the above statement.

I don't disagree that these are people. Clearly they are, but perception is the result of an impression. If one gives the impression of being idle and dependant, that is how they will be percieved by others. To clarify: For example, if I were to walk up to you and say something pointedly rude, and you later came across others of the same lifestage and situation as I and they also made pointedly rude comments, would you not come to the general conclusion that people who fit those criteria are upfront and rude? I'm not making any assumptions or judgements about you personally, simply that people are apt in general to turn first impression into a more permanent view if offered no contradiction. So, in the case of what Jameison was describing, if a person were to ask for money after having not earned it, the impression they give is that they are unwilling to work for what they believe they deserve. When others do the exact same thing as him or her, that leads to the perception that they are all alike. What I'm getting it is that the people- the sons, daughters, mothers, fathers- are contributing to the perception by not breaking out of it. If a person does not want to be percieved as "a useless druggie or alcoholic", than it is up to that person to give a different impression. I believe that a person's unwillingness to give a good impression and break a perception is weakness.

If a person gives a bad first impression, and offers no opportunity to reverse it, then the one whom he or she approaches has every right to deny them.

I am only applying this opinion to the example offered by Jameison.

kilted exile
01-27-2007, 08:57 PM
I don't disagree that these are people. Clearly they are, but perception is the result of an impression. If one gives the impression of being idle and dependant, that is how they will be percieved by others. To clarify: For example, if I were to walk up to you and say something pointedly rude, and you later came across others of the same lifestage and situation as I and they also made pointedly rude comments, would you not come to the general conclusion that people who fit those criteria are upfront and rude? I'm not making any assumptions or judgements about you personally, simply that people are apt in general to turn first impression into a more permanent view if offered no contradiction. So, in the case of what Jameison was describing, if a person were to ask for money after having not earned it, the impression they give is that they are unwilling to work for what they believe they deserve. When others do the exact same thing as him or her, that leads to the perception that they are all alike. What I'm getting it is that the people- the sons, daughters, mothers, fathers- are contributing to the perception by not breaking out of it. If a person does not want to be percieved as "a useless druggie or alcoholic", than it is up to that person to give a different impression. I believe that a person's unwillingness to give a good impression and break a perception is weakness.


I would suggest that most peoples impreesion of the homeless is not by any actual interaction with them the impression we are given of them by sections of the media leads to an already prejudiced opinion if we ever do interact with them, and are unwilling to allow them a chance to prove the impression wrong.

Also, just because someone is on drugs or has an alcohol addiction it doesnt make them any less human.

*Classic*Charm*
01-28-2007, 10:23 PM
I would suggest that most peoples impreesion of the homeless is not by any actual interaction with them the impression we are given of them by sections of the media leads to an already prejudiced opinion if we ever do interact with them, and are unwilling to allow them a chance to prove the impression wrong.

Good point. I will agree with you there. Most people are far too inclined to judge from secondhand knowledge, and far too self-important to allow themselves to be educacted to the contrary.


Also, just because someone is on drugs or has an alcohol addiction it doesnt make them any less human.

I never meant to imply that. Never. If I offend, it is entirely unintentional.

Triskele
01-29-2007, 09:17 PM
c
Why must the motive be "base"? Can we really establish that self-interest is a bad thing??

no no, i do not think that base equates bad, nor do i argue that hedonism is a morally bad thing, but does that necessarily change the fact that most acts of "altruism" are actually done out of a need to feel morally superior, or some other personal motive.


it should also be considered that no one who receives such unearned rewards can be expected to have any respect for it. That is to say, it fairly "grows on trees" for them, if they can obtain it, so why bother to spend the hours and effort earning it? And, if such is the case, and an endless supply of funds "charitably" given for the sake of assuaging an unearned moral guilt on the part of the general public are available to one, then one certainly need not feel obligated to spend it discriminately.

the very nature of this situation is based on a few things that might not necessarily apply. consider the lack of dignity inherant in begging. for many people, begging is not even an option due to the degredation that results from it. also consider the lifestyle that results from begging/life on the street. you see, in assuming that these people beg to support a life of laziness and liesure, you assume not only an economic superiority to them, but also a moral superiority in that you are willing to work for money, and they are so lazy, have no work ethic, etc. so the example i think is perhaps a little biased in regards to your station in life as compared to them. but you also get at one of my basic premises, in that you may not actually be doing good in your charity, if such is true, than my case follows, that you are giving not for them, but for the feeling of moral superiority you gain from such a transaction.


I am of the opinion that what is good for the country is generally good for a individual citizen, and it can hardly be good for the country to have a great pool of hard-working people being "oppressed", so to speak, by poverty.

actually, you are i think wrong in this statement, for the economic benefit of a capitalist nation such as america, there needs to be a pool of untapped labor to keep wages, and thus all prices from skyrocketting. migrant workers, though bad for individual citizens, are actually a boon to the major corporations upon which the monetary strength of this nation lies.


Wait... You're saying that, because of the existence of egoism, altruism is a sort of inevitability? I'm confused here. How do egoists create altruism?

actually i am saying the exact opposite, in that with the existance of egoism, altruism, acts commited solely in the interest of others, necessarily cannot exist due to the inherant psychological benefit of that sensation that you have a moral superiority, and also the knowledge that your act of charity may benefit you financially in the future.+


My thoughts are essentially the exact opposite of your own (or the thoughts for you and your friends, for the altruistic irony). I think that everyone is altruistic to at least some degree whether their actions are decided by a need to fulfill the will of others and provide them with satisfaction or a need to appease others in order to elevate one's own ego or sense of self-worth. I think that, despite a few exceptions (I hate to allude to Ayn Rand but the Howard Roark/Francisco D'Anconia/John Galt types), anyone who actively participates in modern, civilized society exhibits altruism.

but in saying such you, i think are actually agreeing with me, it is the degrees that separate altruism from enlightened self interest, i am not saying that kindness has no place in this world, but merely that you do in fact benefit in some way from this kindess. altruism in my mind, is the shining and unadulterated kindness, committed without any thoughts of the self, and the merest hint of a thought to onesself, defines it as enlightened self interest rather than altruism


If the requirements of altruism include self-effacement, then it remains in the domain of aesthetics indeed. The problem I see is that the demands of altruism are extending to a state in which the doer is no longer a separate individual, as every conscious motive is relegated to the "base and selfish"...Lack of self-interest I hold will soon seem to be equated with lack of personality...Totally effacing the interest of the doer is possible in one only condition- non-existence...It is altruistic to help someone, knowing you will feel better yourself and you are helping two persons, which makes you all the more altruistic. I think love and concern for others can only occur in relation to love and concern for yourself/as a member of the human race/ Lack of altruism is not concern for yourself, but concern Only for yourself...


oooh, very good, i like where this is going, but i do have to interject. in realizing that you help yourself, i think that whether or not that is a good thing matters not, what matters is that you thought also of yourself, which means it is not altruistic. i think, thank you for the thought.

well, i think that is a fairly decent run, i fear now that i must return to my long delayed homework, sorry fellow thinkers, but the inevitable draw of the entralling possibility more high school homework gives me hope in these dark times.

cuppajoe_9
01-29-2007, 11:27 PM
The Selfish Gene is a good discussion of the genetic basis for altruism.

Triskele
01-30-2007, 12:56 AM
haven't read it, who is the author and what is the basic premis of this work.

dramasnot6
02-06-2007, 03:29 AM
I am afraid that “[elevating] one’s own ego or sense of self-worth” is not in the interest of the great impersonal “others” – and therefore not altruistic. I am afraid also that I have never measured my sense of self-worth by what I have done for others, and cannot imagine the placement of priorities that would lead to this. If you hold this deep belief in living and working for the sake of others – with no thought for yourself – then it gradually follows that you must be totally dependant on others as well; good luck with that one. Incidentally, in light of this, you should hardly “hate” alluding to someone who, in fact, escaped from communist Russia and gave no end of thought to such matters. One always does well to look to those concerned with being right than to those concerned with proving they are.
I very much agree with you here Jamesian. I do think that helping those who are most loved and closest to you contributes to measure of one's altruism, but only because I also hold the belief that love makes someone part of yourself. I greatly support the helping of strangers in need for the good of humanity, but don't think this has anything to do with self-worth or that one's morals should be judged by this alone. We shouldn't do things JUST for the good of others or to appear a certain way ,if we ourselves are reluctant to do these things. In a way it is more selfish then moral, although "selfish" may be too harsh a word.

Adudaewen
02-06-2007, 03:41 AM
Any good Christian knows that good deeds will get you into heaven about as fast as a "camel through the eye of a needle" to borrow a Biblical phrase. Altruism does exist. I have been fortunate enough to experience it first hand through my mother. She does things all the time for the less fortunate, and most of the time, no one ever finds out that it is her. She's not doing it for honorable mention, but because she has, as she says, "so much in a world where so many have so little." And that is the heart of a good Christian act, to do things because we are able, not because we are obligated in order to gain eternal life.
As for the homeless, I would never begrudge a person a hot meal, but trust is something that has to be earned. I would buy the meal myself and bring it to them, or blankets or clothes or whatever they are in need of. But I probably wouldn't give them cash. It may make me cynical, but at least I know their everyday need is being met, rather than wondering if they are getting drunk or high with my money.

dramasnot6
02-06-2007, 03:48 AM
Any good Christian knows that good deeds will get you into heaven about as fast as a "camel through the eye of a needle" to borrow a Biblical phrase. Altruism does exist. I have been fortunate enough to experience it first hand through my mother. She does things all the time for the less fortunate, and most of the time, no one ever finds out that it is her. She's not doing it for honorable mention, but because she has, as she says, "so much in a world where so many have so little." And that is the heart of a good Christian act, to do things because we are able, not because we are obligated in order to gain eternal life.
As for the homeless, I would never begrudge a person a hot meal, but trust is something that has to be earned. I would buy the meal myself and bring it to them, or blankets or clothes or whatever they are in need of. But I probably wouldn't give them cash. It may make me cynical, but at least I know their everyday need is being met, rather than wondering if they are getting drunk or high with my money.

Christian beliefs of Altruism are specific to people of that religion. Everyone has their own beliefs of what is "moral" and how to behave well, but what I think is more important to question is if there is a general standard of altruism for all of human kind?

Adudaewen
02-06-2007, 05:06 AM
I think all humans are born with a moral compass. It just makes biologic sense that you would want to aid those in distress, that you would give of yourself to improve your community, and that you would nurture not only your children but the children of others. These things ensure the survival of your species and lessen animosity and violence. From and evolutionary standpoint, I think that altruism can be seen as a survival mechansim for a human species. But people can be given a moral compass, but its up to them to follow it. And in our world today, its few and far between to see a truly good deed (and i'm including myself in that). We live in a "gimme gimme" world, and its going to be our downfall.

Lioness_Heart
02-06-2007, 02:01 PM
I think that it is very hard to be altruistic about big things, because they tend to be things that you think about and consider, so if you do something good, it is likely to be beneficial to you too.

However, over little, spur-of-the-moment things, I think that people can be altruistic, like if someone that you don't know and will never meet again is looking depressed, and you smile at them, and then they look a bit happier. It is a nice thing to do, but having not considered it, it is altruistic, as you haven't considered what is in it for you. People say that it is not, because it makes you feel good too, but if you don't consider this when you perform the good deed, then I think taht it is still altruistic, really.

Although I believe that it is good enough for people to do good things even if they are not being altuistic: the effect is still the same. But I want to believe that people can be altruistic. It makes the world seem a much nicer place :) .

dramasnot6
02-07-2007, 06:49 AM
We live in a "gimme gimme" world, and its going to be our downfall.

agreed. Look at global warming, isnt it already our downfall? ;)

Silvia
02-07-2007, 02:41 PM
I agree with those of you who said that altruism could be translated into egoism. Not that I want to be cynical or provocatory.
In my opinion it is important to help the others while it is not so important the reason why you do it. I mean, we can't act in a completely disinterested way, even if we are convinced of the opposite.
And, to tell the truth, I don't think it is something negative at all. It's just nature. The first person we have to take care of is ourselves.
When we give a beggar some coins, we can't help thinking about how good we are...we are altruist, yes, towards him and towards us.
Does this cancel our good action or ruin it? I don't think so!
Anyway, this is just my opinion!

Neo_Sephiroth
02-07-2007, 04:18 PM
Hmm...Yes...Yes...I see what you're getting at.

Altruism is the act of being unselfish and/or having a deep devotion of helping out others.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but are you saying that the people who follows the path of "altruism" do so because they want and/or is expecting something out of their good deed?

Hmm...Well, that is true for some, if not most, people in this world. I, however, do believe that there is such a thing as "altruism". You see, there are those out there in the world today that perform good deeds and expect nothing of it.

No five minutes of fame, expecting to get into Heaven, appease a guilty conscience, and so on. They do it just for sake of not seeing another human being getting hurt or suffer.

Oh, crap...I said "sake"....Oh, well, if you're going to bring that up...Then it's just silly.

Beside, "altruism" would still exist because there are those who still performs good deeds everyday...I think...

Umm...Anyway, the only way "altruism" would not exist is if no one perform any good deeds in the world at all.

Also, there are those who can see benefits from performing a good deed but still does not do so. Why? Probably because they don't care. Which also brings "altruism" to exists because of "egoism". The ones who sees an opportunity to help out those in need of assistence but does not do so because he/she values himself/herself more than that of the one in need of assistence also contributes to the existence of "altruism".


Hmm...Altruism...Egoism...:idea:

No, wait...Okay...I'm drawing blank.:sick:

But lets see what I can pull out of this blank head of mine.:D

Egoism is basically self-interest. Cares only for oneself. Only help others in need (If he/she does so at all) if it benefits himself/herself.

Altruism is basically a caring and/or devotion of the welfare of others. Help those in need of assistence im, if not all, many different situations...Possibly naive...But that's not the point. Also expects nothing (Hopefully...But highly doubtful for most people) in return.

Okay...Now that I got that cleared up...Lets go!

Example: A hot chick is shopping in the grocery store...And I happen to "accidently" bump into her and she drops her purse, bags, and various produce.

There are two dudes are standing nearby that saw the incident.

Now, one of them is thinking "Should I help her out? What do I get out of it? Nah. She can pick those things up herself. Besides, she not THAT hot." So he walks passed her without lending a hand. Egoism? I think so.

The second dude, however, goes in to help. "Oh! Here, let me help you with those" *Picks up her falling things and whatnot*

Hot Chick: "Thank, you" *Smiles*:) Continues with her shopping.:blush:

Kind Dude: "No, problem" *Continues with looking at Maxim's magazine*:D

So, basically, if "Egoism" exists as you just saw from the example above, "Altruism" must exists as well.

Altruism can only exists if someone (Egoist) ingnores someone who's in need of assistence and/or require some assistence to make the process easier...But if another person (Altruist) saw someone in such a situation and helps out...It is because of Egoism.

For Egoism is born out of self-interest and selfishness(Choose to ingnore)...All the while, Altrism is born out of love, devotion, and caring for the welfare of others.(Choose to help)

Ugh:sick: ...Dude...I'm going to have to quit for today, man. If I go any further I'll probably confuse myself and forget what I was talking about...More then I already am, at least.:D


I agree with those of you who said that altruism could be translated into egoism. Not that I want to be cynical or provocatory.
In my opinion it is important to help the others while it is not so important the reason why you do it. I mean, we can't act in a completely disinterested way, even if we are convinced of the opposite.
And, to tell the truth, I don't think it is something negative at all. It's just nature. The first person we have to take care of is ourselves.
When we give a beggar some coins, we can't help thinking about how good we are...we are altruist, yes, towards him and towards us.
Does this cancel our good action or ruin it? I don't think so!
Anyway, this is just my opinion!

Alright, alright...Sivia is right.

Humans help out others just because of the benefits that they see for themselves. (i.e. redemption, ease guilty feelings, getting into Heaven, etc.) It's human nature.

But...In my last two post, I'm just saying that there MIGHT be someone out there that help those in need AND not expect ANYTHING out of it. That's all. I mean, c'mon! There's gotta be someone out there that helps out others just for the sake of helping out others.

But, you know what? In the end, I say this...If you're helping out those in need you've done a good thing. It's all good.:D

Silvia
02-07-2007, 04:55 PM
Originally Posted by Neo_Sephiroth
Hmm...Altruism...Egoism...

No, wait...Okay...I'm drawing blank.

But lets see what I can pull out of this blank head of mine.

Egoism is basically self-interest. Cares only for oneself. Only help others in need (If he/she does so at all) if it benefits himself/herself.

Altruism is basically a caring and/or devotion of the welfare of others. Help those in need of assistence im, if not all, many different situations...Possibly naive...But that's not the point. Also expects nothing (Hopefully...But highly doubtful for most people) in return.

Okay...Now that I got that cleared up...Lets go!

Example: A hot chick is shopping in the grocery store...And I happen to "accidently" bump into her and she drops her purse, bags, and various produce.

There are two dudes are standing nearby that saw the incident.

Now, one of them is thinking "Should I help her out? What do I get out of it? Nah. She can pick those things up herself. Besides, she not THAT hot." So he walks passed her without lending a hand. Egoism? I think so.

The second dude, however, goes in to help. "Oh! Here, let me help you with those" *Picks up her falling things and whatnot*

Hot Chick: "Thank, you" *Smiles* Continues with her shopping.

Kind Dude: "No, problem" *Continues with looking at Maxim's magazine*

So, basically, if "Egoism" exists as you just saw from the example above, "Altruism" must exists as well.

Altruism can only exists if someone (Egoist) ingnores someone who's in need of assistence and/or require some assistence to make the process easier...But if another person (Altruist) saw someone in such a situation and helps out...It is because of Egoism.

For Egoism is born out of self-interest and selfishness(Choose to ingnore)...All the while, Altrism is born out of love, devotion, and caring for the welfare of others.(Choose to help)

Ugh ...Dude...I'm going to have to quit for today, man. If I go any further I'll probably confuse myself and forget what I was talking about...More then I already am, at least.
I don't agree with you on this point, Neo_Sephiroth.
I don't think egoism and altruism have the same relashionship which exist between good-evil or God-Satan...I mean, you're not altruist because someone before you has been egoist...
I DO believe there are peole who are sincere in their altruism and help the others with all the best intentions.
But I'm still convinced they're not doing it"just for the sake of helping out"
John Donne said no man is an island...and that each one is part of the continent, of a whole, and that the pain of someone else affects me for I am part of this whole just in the same way he/she is.
This is the point, in my opinion.
If you are altruist, this means you want to prevent people from suffering anymore by helping them, right? because their suffering affects you as human being and because you want to feel part of that something.
Yes, you are sensitive, generous, helpful and....egoist somehow.

I say this because I believe we're all connected to each other, but you may think differently!!:D

Neo_Sephiroth
02-07-2007, 06:18 PM
I don't agree with you on this point, Neo_Sephiroth.
I don't think egoism and altruism have the same relashionship which exist between good-evil or God-Satan...I mean, you're not altruist because someone before you has been egoist...
I DO believe there are peole who are sincere in their altruism and help the others with all the best intentions.
But I'm still convinced they're not doing it"just for the sake of helping out"
John Donne said no man is an island...and that each one is part of the continent, of a whole, and that the pain of someone else affects me for I am part of this whole just in the same way he/she is.
This is the point, in my opinion.
If you are altruist, this means you want to prevent people from suffering anymore by helping them, right? because their suffering affects you as human being and because you want to feel part of that something.
Yes, you are sensitive, generous, helpful and....egoist somehow.

I say this because I believe we're all connected to each other, but you may think differently!!:D

http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h128/petesarah/Smilies/1132046227.gifOkay, okay...I give. I give.

*Sigh* You got me, Silvia.

I am an egoist and an altruist at the same time.

I help those in need not for a ticket into heaven but to help them out in their pain.

But, because of their suffering, I suffer as well. Why? I don't know. But I am a part of this world and I feel that if they suffer, I suffer as well, so I help them out as I feel that it would ease my suffering as well.

...*Whimpering*...

...Why? Please...No more. I give!!!http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b357/LoopyLiz4000/Smilies/8a707181.gif

Triskele
02-08-2007, 12:02 AM
[QUOTE=Neo_Sephiroth;328276]http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h128/petesarah/Smilies/1132046227.gifOkay, okay...I give. I give.

*Sigh* You got me, Silvia.

I am an egoist and an altruist at the same time.

I help those in need not for a ticket into heaven but to help them out in their pain.

But, because of their suffering, I suffer as well. Why? I don't know. But I am a part of this world and I feel that if they suffer, I suffer as well, so I help them out out as I feel that it would ease my suffering as well.

...*Whimpering*...

...Why? Please...No more. I give!!![Quote]

interesting, but to me, being an egoist necessarily puts you on the selfish side of the altruism/ enlightened self interest line, as long as you subconciously realize a benefit to yourself, you, at least to me, are not being altuistic, you are still putting good into the world, but that is hardly altruism.

Neo_Sephiroth
02-13-2007, 11:26 PM
So...You stand by your first statement saying that there is no such thing as "altruism"?

Adudaewen
02-17-2007, 02:59 AM
You know, I've been thinking about this ever since this thread got started and something has been bugging me. Shouldn't it feel good to do something good for someone else? I mean, it would be a little bit unusual if you did something that really made a difference in someone's life, and it didnt' make you smile, or give you the warm-fuzzies. So, what the hell, why can't you be altruistic and still get a sense of joy from your good deeds. I think you've earned a little bit of happiness, right?

hyperborean
02-17-2007, 09:44 AM
Guys like Nietzsche would ridicule you for saying that, but I can feel where you're coming from.

Here's a good website on altruism. It talks about how altruism is in our biological makeup to help kin. http://www.humantruth.info/altruism.html

Neo_Sephiroth
02-17-2007, 03:13 PM
You know, I've been thinking about this ever since this thread got started and something has been bugging me. Shouldn't it feel good to do something good for someone else? I mean, it would be a little bit unusual if you did something that really made a difference in someone's life, and it didnt' make you smile, or give you the warm-fuzzies. So, what the hell, why can't you be altruistic and still get a sense of joy from your good deeds. I think you've earned a little bit of happiness, right?

I know! When I do a good deed...Give me the warm-fuzzies, man!:lol:

Redzeppelin
02-19-2007, 12:07 PM
Guys like Nietzsche would ridicule you for saying that

Why not bring up a philosopher relevant to the discussion, one who carries it forward instead of one selected because of his aversion to the topic under discussion? Why respond to Adudaewen's post with something geared to diminish what she said? (I assume "she" - correct me if I'm wrong, Adudaewen.) I don't get inserting Nietzsche here if the only purpose of doing so is simply to tell someone else they're "ridiculous."

There are ways to name-drop that do not require diminishing someone else.

hyperborean
02-19-2007, 01:24 PM
And did you read the rest of my post! You are the one making a fool out of yourself. You are obviously showing hostility by criticizing every post I make on this forum.

I didn't say I agreed with Nietzsche did I? I brought up someone that hated altruism in order to show a different perspective. I wasn't diminishing anyone, and your vicious posts aren't contributing to the topic, so cut it.

atiguhya padma
02-19-2007, 02:23 PM
If the provider of altruism benefits from their act in anyway, does this negate the act or make it less pure in some way?

If we are programmed to be altruistic towards those that share our genes, does this denigrate the idea of altruism?

If somebody is truly altruistic, does this mean they operate altruistically unintentionally?

If your 'altruism' is based on a moral set of rules that you follow for religious purposes, is this really altruism? Is this as altruistic as a non-religious person doing the same act out of instinct? or because they feel empathy?

Even if you act charitably incognito, you still know what you have done and can benefit from having good thoughts about yourself.

Redzeppelin
02-19-2007, 02:44 PM
And did you read the rest of my post! You are the one making a fool out of yourself. You are obviously showing hostility by criticizing every post I make on this forum.

I surely did, but the part I quoted was the part I wanted to address. No hostility intended. I asked a couple of questions and made what seemed to me to be a reasonable inferrence.

You're enjoyable to debate. Be complimented.


I didn't say I agreed with Nietzsche did I? I brought up someone that hated altruism in order to show a different perspective. I wasn't diminishing anyone, and your vicious posts aren't contributing to the topic, so cut it.

"Vicious"? Hmmm...

No - I need not "cut" anything. As I have had moderators explain to me before when I didn't like what was being said to me: once you put an opinion on a public forum, you ought to expect that it might be critiqued or challenged. I assumed this was understood.

Asa Adams
02-19-2007, 03:09 PM
I believe that Altruism lies in all of us, and to that point I suppose I do accept it's existence. What about this for example-

You see a needy child crying on the television. A tele-sponsership-call in show and what not. If at first inclination, your heart grieves for the crying child, does this not appear to be a seed of Altruism? Even if, for just a single moment, a spark rises in us, and we reach for the telephone and pocket book.
I am entirely unsure of what to make of this, whether its logical or not. But to myself it makes alot of sense. Even if it is a small, unworthy spark of Altruism, it is still remarkable.
What if there is born into this world, a person who can ignite said spark and carry it forth unto humanity. Could that be possible?

this is exciting. Good Posts everyone!

Adudaewen
02-20-2007, 12:57 AM
Guys like Nietzsche would ridicule you for saying that, but I can feel where you're coming from.

That is of course considering that I give a rip about what Nietzsche would have to say to me. ;) Please don't take this as an attack because I see what your intention was for your post, but I do agree with RedZepplin that there are ways to make your point without sounding condescending. I know that wasn't your intention, but that is the way that it came off.

Thanks Red, and yes I am a her ;)

hyperborean
02-20-2007, 04:48 PM
Looking at it now, I've realized I worded it poorly.

Redzeppelin
02-20-2007, 06:04 PM
Looking at it now, I've realized I worded it poorly.

Welcome to the club - I think it's a rite of passage here to do this (I've had my share for sure). :)

AstroCity
02-23-2007, 05:23 PM
Hello
I am really interested in this topic. i cant say that altruism doesnt exist. Maybe if there were more examples provided by some philosophers about altuism it would help.

After reading the previous posts i realized that euthanasia(spell check needed) was not mentioned. I dont believe that any person assisting in someones death generates a good feeling towards him/herself. Nor in any way can the assist in "suicide" have any form of selfishness. If i were to help a friend die do to "exceptional" and "extreme" circumstances, then i would do so solely for the purpose of helping him/her. i know the concept of euthanasia has conflicting views but i believe that it is revelant towards this discussion.

Adudaewen
02-23-2007, 05:46 PM
Hello
I am really interested in this topic. i cant say that altruism doesnt exist. Maybe if there were more examples provided by some philosophers about altuism it would help.

After reading the previous posts i realized that euthanasia(spell check needed) was not mentioned. I dont believe that any person assisting in someones death generates a good feeling towards him/herself. Nor in any way can the assist in "suicide" have any form of selfishness. If i were to help a friend die do to "exceptional" and "extreme" circumstances, then i would do so solely for the purpose of helping him/her. i know the concept of euthanasia has conflicting views but i believe that it is revelant towards this discussion.

Depends on how you look at euthenasia Astro. I think the majority of people, at least people I've talked to, consider euthenasia as murder. Whether someone wants you to kill them or not, the act of taking a life before their time still fits under at least my defintion of murder. The person who was assisting this suicide probably does not have anything but the best intentions, it does not however make the act right. That person is playing God in that situation, which is a sin. A pretty good example of vanity and egoism, really. This is of course according to most Judeo-Christian ideals.



Looking at it now, I've realized I worded it poorly.

I certainly won't be the first to cast a stone, hyper. Believe me, if I had a nickle for ever stupid, misguided post I've written, I'd be a rich woman. ;)

AstroCity
02-23-2007, 07:35 PM
ADUDAEWEN,

I do not believe that "every" person assisting in suicide thinks that they are God nor does in this situation "every" person can be defined by egoism. (there could be but not all. if we find even 1 sound eample or situation of altruism then we can state that it possibly exists.)

For example people place animals to "sleep" to prevent suffering. Clearly this is no attempt at playing god. Placing animal to "sleep" under "extreme" circumstances is also not animal cruelty or making the assistant feel like god, but is a definition of euthanasia.
If you can link euthanasia to "playing god" then i can also link "playing god" to helping a homeless man asking for money.
In helping out a homless man you are in control of the result which is, you either give him/her some change or not. this man is asking your for help because of his current situation and you are in control of what decision is made. I am sure i can go on but i dont want to deviate from what i wanted to argue.

In a sense i was just trying to create a similarity to helping a homeless beggar to euthanasia. Think of the homeless man asking for change you do not know him yet you helping him or not is up to you. the decision is made by you and the result of giving him/her money creates a non-altruistic feeling (you in this situation feel good about yourself).
if it was a situation where the result was death(euthanasia) then its result would again not be altruistic( you feel good because you did end his/her "extreme"sufferring).
(the above-mentioned resuslts could be the opposite and according to your personal beliefs still be altruistic. Example if you didnt help the beggar you felt good knowing he/she didnt spend it on beer. or you feel good that you didnt help him/her kill him/herself. )

if now, my best friend was homeless, he is sufferring, and i saw him/her asking for money i would be obligated to give it and still feel good as a result. the result would still not result in altruism.
in euthanasia the situation is different my best friend in "extreme" situation is suffering and i have a choice to help him/her. the result in ending their life i believe would be altruism. the act was solely selfless. my best friends death brings no form of good to me. yet i had a choice and both could be the right ones but helping to end his suffering would be selfless. .

Adudaewen
02-23-2007, 10:24 PM
First off, I find it very frightening that you are likening a hand out with euthenasia. It seems to display a lack of respect for life(I of course don't wish to say that you have a lack of respect for life, that is just how it comes off in your post). While you are in control of a handout, that is not the same thing as taking a human life, no matter what the situation is. As a Christian, I feel compelled to assist the homeless because God teaches us to take care of those who are less fortunate. Euthenasia is the taking of a life before it has run the course God has preordained to it. Suicide is of course, a sin in the bible. So is despair, it could be said, because it is doubting God's plan. Putting an animal is not the same, because animals do not have souls. I am an animal lover, and I don't want to sound like I am not sympathetic to them, but killing an animal is NOT the same thing as killing a human being.
Playing God does not include doing deeds for other people. God charges us with the responsibility to take care of others. God, however doesn't ever condone euthenasia. And whether a person thinks they are playing God doesn't matter because they are when they assist in a suicide. Just because a person doesn't think that stealing is wrong, is it then okay for them to steal? Ignorance of the law is no excuse( and that includes Biblical law).

AstroCity
02-24-2007, 01:45 AM
There are forms of euthanasia. I would more like to concentrate on Passive Euthanasia. for example removing life support. By doing this, the life support equipment is removed and nature takes its course. If i assist in removing this support then i am making a decision for suppose, a person i really cared for. i believe this decision to be selfless and unrewarding.

and i have the utmost respect for human life. however, i think that your assumption on disrespect towards human life("euthanasia") in my argument, i believe, could be aimed more towards a lack of respect for Christian beliefs, not human life. (And i do not have disrespect for life or religion and do apologize if i sounded like i did)

I also believe, using the above-mentioned example, that keeping a person on a machine for survival because if not for that machine the person would clearly not survive contradicts your opposition against euthanasia. in respect to Christianity, if one has a time and date for their death already written, then it would also be wrong to keep that person on a machine, because their time to die could have passed meaning the life support is keeping the person from running nature's course.
The machine is the assistant that is keeping the person from running nature's course
I am the assistant who removes the machine so that person can run nature's course.

Adudaewen
02-26-2007, 01:24 AM
I also believe, using the above-mentioned example, that keeping a person on a machine for survival because if not for that machine the person would clearly not survive contradicts your opposition against euthanasia. in respect to Christianity, if one has a time and date for their death already written, then it would also be wrong to keep that person on a machine, because their time to die could have passed meaning the life support is keeping the person from running nature's course.
The machine is the assistant that is keeping the person from running nature's course
I am the assistant who removes the machine so that person can run nature's course.

That certainly is an interesting perspective, and logically it makes a lot of sense. I guess that would all depend on a person's feelings toward life support. Most times, when a person is taken off of life support, it is because they have no brain waves and no/little chance of recovery. Are they truly alive at that point, or have they already died and their body is simply living on? Another question could be, if the body is a shell(as is held in most Christian beliefs) and there is no brain activity, is the soul still present? Intriguing questions.
You make a good point though.

B-Mental
02-26-2007, 01:40 AM
A muslim friend of mine from Nigeria and I were talking about kindness. I told him how when I was at my lowest financially and mentally...a complete doldrums, that I had given a bag of oranges to a homeless man. The man's response was to say, "God bless you." Abdul told me that his blessing may have been the "the most honest and sincere" blessing that I could receive. I think that to say that altruism is somehow less sincere because of any self affectations. Well, I am not buying my way into heaven, but I may have eased anothers hardship by a little.

Neo_Sephiroth
02-26-2007, 02:26 PM
A muslim friend of mine from Nigeria and I were talking about kindness. I told him how when I was at my lowest financially and mentally...a complete doldrums, that I had given a bag of oranges to a homeless man. The man's response was to say, "God bless you." Abdul told me that his blessing may have been the "the most honest and sincere" blessing that I could receive. I think that to say that altruism is somehow less sincere because of any self affectations. Well, I am not buying my way into heaven, but I may have eased anothers hardship by a little.

Agreed!:D

atiguhya padma
02-27-2007, 06:23 AM
<and there is no brain activity, is the soul still present?>

Adudaewen, if there is a soul, what is its relationship to the brain? I've never really understood the distinction between soul, spirit, mind and brain in religious thought (I say religious thought, because it seems to me that religion introduced the concept of soul and spirit). Mind and brain I can cope with: the mind is brain-dependent, an electrical side-effect of the brain.

If there is such a thing as the soul, and it isn't physical, then the problem is really how a non-physical entity can inhabit a physical one. Once you answer that question, then the body becomes irrelevant, as the soul, if it existed, could inhabit anything physical.

Anyway, to get back on track with this theme of altruism: euthanasia, in my opinion is a difficult problem. I don't believe that the person who performs the act of assisting someone to die, is not having some form of benefit from the action. I would say their suffering is far greater than their benefit, but anyone who puts paid to the suffering of a loved one, is reaping some form of benefit.

I have seen someone I cared for die. They died in pain. I know that I would have benefited from being able to put an end to that suffering, so it would not be wholly altruistic. However, he would have benefited far more than I.

Adudaewen
02-27-2007, 07:44 AM
<and there is no brain activity, is the soul still present?>Adudaewen, if there is a soul, what is its relationship to the brain?

In reference to the questions in my previous post, they were merely that. Questions. I don't kid myself that I have the answers to such. Those are philosophical questions that I don't feel myself qualified to answer. I firmly believe in the soul, however I will honestly say that I cannot prove my case. I leave that to persons much more intelligent and learned than I.

jab
02-27-2007, 12:01 PM
I haven't the confidence that an audience eagerly awaits a Socratic divulgance of my logical process, starting with fundamental premises and building a a 1000-step logical argument from it, each point of which is discussed until agreement is reached before moving on to the next step. I'm not sure [I]I[I] would even have patience for that.... If you are fascinated by my premises and conclusions, however, please let me know. It might be good for me myself to see how well my arguments look out in the light of others' scrutiny! For now, the executive summary:

Premise: Free choice is an illusion. Our brain is chemistry. The atoms, dopamine, neurons, etc., receive stimulation like all other elements in the universe, and react to those stimulations. That our human machine is so complex that it has elements that can recognize itself, can store ideas into memory, etc., does not mean that we aren't machines. The soul, if it exists, would not function differently than the brain--it would have a memory, value options that are made known to it through the senses and the memory, register urges, and make a choice--and so it is not relevant whether there is a soul. In a sense, we are what we are, whatever term we call it, and there is nothing outside of matter which influences matter because matter can only be moved by matter)

Premise: We evolved as a race into global dominance for learning the amazing power of delayed gratification and cooperation, which is a related concept as I define it: cooperation here to mean taking some losses from what I want in order to make the team strongest. I don't steal if you don't steal from me. We each give up something good (taking whatever we want or need) for something that later proves to be more valuable (security). This is the essence of social evolution in humans: realizing that societies are powerful and life-bettering, and that cooperation and delayed or abstained gratification--even altruism--is better for the whole, which in turn is better for me.

Conclusion: To speak of altruism as "real" or "not real" is not really an option: it is. It is a powerful character trait that humans, as a species, have learned to exhibit since natural selection would favor those who have an edge over others, and altruism, or cooperation, proves to be the mortar in the edifice of society. Whether we act cooperatively and socially (altruistically) cognizant of the fact that we gain from it (making it an act of selfishness) or not (making it a reflexive part of one's evolved character) is a matter of individual difference.

hyperborean
02-27-2007, 04:38 PM
I disagree with your "freewill premise", but I like your conclusion on altruism.

Redzeppelin
02-27-2007, 11:25 PM
Premise: Free choice is an illusion. Our brain is chemistry. The atoms, dopamine, neurons, etc., receive stimulation like all other elements in the universe, and react to those stimulations. That our human machine is so complex that it has elements that can recognize itself, can store ideas into memory, etc., does not mean that we aren't machines. ... and there is nothing outside of matter which influences matter because matter can only be moved by matter)

This fascinating argument eats itself (kind of like hyperborean's avatar): if all there is in the universe is matter, and all we are as human beings is a collection of chemical, neurological, biological and psychological processes, then why should anything you or I say be considered "true" - since we have no real control over said processes? We can manipulate those processes to a certain degree, but totally control them? No. So how can random chemical reactions and neurological-electrical "firings" produce truth?

And, if freewill is an illusion, are you telling me that you didn't pick the words you assembled in your post? Are you telling me that you were predestined to write those words, or that they were typed against your will, or that you didn't consciously choose them to express yourself with?

Asa Adams
02-28-2007, 12:24 AM
This fascinating argument eats itself (kind of like hyperborean's avatar): if all there is in the universe is matter, and all we are as human beings is a collection of chemical, neurological, biological and psychological processes, then why should anything you or I say be considered "true" - since we have no real control over said processes? We can manipulate those processes to a certain degree, but totally control them? No. So how can random chemical reactions and neurological-electrical "firings" produce truth?

And, if freewill is an illusion, are you telling me that you didn't pick the words you assembled in your post? Are you telling me that you were predestined to write those words, or that they were typed against your will, or that you didn't consciously choose them to express yourself with?

Excellent Point, Redzeppelin.

hyperborean
02-28-2007, 12:24 AM
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually agree with zeppelin!

ktd222
02-28-2007, 12:33 AM
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually agree with zeppelin!

In the end everyone agrees, whether it's agreeing on a point or agreeing to disagree:p

Redzeppelin
02-28-2007, 12:35 AM
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually agree with zeppelin!


I'm speechless. The apocalypse must be upon us... ;)

Neo_Sephiroth
02-28-2007, 12:41 AM
I haven't the confidence that an audience eagerly awaits a Socratic divulgance of my logical process, starting with fundamental premises and building a a 1000-step logical argument from it, each point of which is discussed until agreement is reached before moving on to the next step. I'm not sure I[I] would even have patience for that.... If you are fascinated by my premises and conclusions, however, please let me know. It might be good for me myself to see how well my arguments look out in the light of others' scrutiny! For now, the executive summary:

Premise: Free choice is an illusion. Our brain is chemistry. The atoms, dopamine, neurons, etc., receive stimulation like all other elements in the universe, and react to those stimulations. That our human machine is so complex that it has elements that can recognize itself, can store ideas into memory, etc., does not mean that we aren't machines. The soul, if it exists, would not function differently than the brain--it would have a memory, value options that are made known to it through the senses and the memory, register urges, and make a choice--and so it is not relevant whether there is a soul. In a sense, we are what we are, whatever term we call it, and there is nothing outside of matter which influences matter because matter can only be moved by matter)

Premise: We evolved as a race into global dominance for learning the amazing power of delayed gratification and cooperation, which is a related concept as I define it: cooperation here to mean taking some losses from what I want in order to make the team strongest. I don't steal if you don't steal from me. We each give up something good (taking whatever we want or need) for something that later proves to be more valuable (security). This is the essence of social evolution in humans: realizing that societies are powerful and life-bettering, and that cooperation and delayed or abstained gratification--even altruism--is better for the whole, which in turn is better for me.

Conclusion: To speak of altruism as "real" or "not real" is not really an option: it is. It is a powerful character trait that humans, as a species, have learned to exhibit since natural selection would favor those who have an edge over others, and altruism, or cooperation, proves to be the mortar in the edifice of society. Whether we act cooperatively and socially (altruistically) cognizant of the fact that we gain from it (making it an act of selfishness) or not (making it a reflexive part of one's evolved character) is a matter of individual difference.

Confusing...Though understandable to a certain extent. Don't mind me, I don't pride myself on being intelligent. "Ignorance is bliss.", they say.:D


This fascinating argument eats itself (kind of like hyperborean's avatar): if all there is in the universe is matter, and all we are as human beings is a collection of chemical, neurological, biological and psychological processes, then why should anything you or I say be considered "true" - since we have no real control over said processes? We can manipulate those processes to a certain degree, but totally control them? No. So how can random chemical reactions and neurological-electrical "firings" produce [I]truth?

And, if freewill is an illusion, are you telling me that you didn't pick the words you assembled in your post? Are you telling me that you were predestined to write those words, or that they were typed against your will, or that you didn't consciously choose them to express yourself with?

Not so confusing...The answers the questions, however, might be.:p

Now I say, let's hear what Jab's response is. This is very interesting.

Asa Adams
02-28-2007, 01:21 PM
I'm speechless. The apocalypse must be upon us... ;)

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

AstroCity
02-28-2007, 03:21 PM
in regards to JAB's second Premise. I am a little lost (very well written though)
"cooperation here to mean taking some losses from what I want in order to make the team strongest."
gotcha, this is not altruism but a delayed gratification.

"I don't steal if you don't steal from me"
i didnt get this example, this is not an example of "cooperation", there is no loss by your part and no gain either, this is actually just "ignore".

"This is the essence of social evolution in humans: realizing that societies are powerful and life-bettering, and that cooperation and delayed or abstained gratification--even altruism--is better for the whole, which in turn is better for me."
the act is in any way better for you, it is not altruism.

Your conclusion states that it doesnt matter, it is "a matter of individual difference"

The problem is that we dont see others as we see ourselves. to perceive someone as a stranger causes you to lose sight of the fact that they are actually human beings.(im not that bright someone had to have said this before me)
i believe that one's free will is vital when distinguishing things not as they are but how they should be, not a stranger but a person. if the act of kindness was somehow predetermined then that wouldnt be altruism,nor would altruism exist, that would be i think determinism.

Sorry, Im new to this idea so im not sure if i am even on the right track..please correct me if necessary.

Triskele
02-28-2007, 08:37 PM
So...You stand by your first statement saying that there is no such thing as "altruism"?

that is correct i think, that altruism is a foregone conclusion but the goodwill between men is still essential. which is why i follow the train of thought that puts enlightened self interest before all other ideals

Triskele
02-28-2007, 08:39 PM
You know, I've been thinking about this ever since this thread got started and something has been bugging me. Shouldn't it feel good to do something good for someone else? I mean, it would be a little bit unusual if you did something that really made a difference in someone's life, and it didnt' make you smile, or give you the warm-fuzzies. So, what the hell, why can't you be altruistic and still get a sense of joy from your good deeds. I think you've earned a little bit of happiness, right?

yeah, that would be wierd, but normalcy is not exacltly the basis of this debate.

Triskele
02-28-2007, 08:42 PM
First off, I find it very frightening that you are likening a hand out with euthenasia. It seems to display a lack of respect for life(I of course don't wish to say that you have a lack of respect for life, that is just how it comes off in your post). While you are in control of a handout, that is not the same thing as taking a human life, no matter what the situation is. As a Christian, I feel compelled to assist the homeless because God teaches us to take care of those who are less fortunate. Euthenasia is the taking of a life before it has run the course God has preordained to it. Suicide is of course, a sin in the bible. So is despair, it could be said, because it is doubting God's plan. Putting an animal is not the same, because animals do not have souls. I am an animal lover, and I don't want to sound like I am not sympathetic to them, but killing an animal is NOT the same thing as killing a human being.
Playing God does not include doing deeds for other people. God charges us with the responsibility to take care of others. God, however doesn't ever condone euthenasia. And whether a person thinks they are playing God doesn't matter because they are when they assist in a suicide. Just because a person doesn't think that stealing is wrong, is it then okay for them to steal? Ignorance of the law is no excuse( and that includes Biblical law).


but i think that assisted suicide is a step forward in the preservation of human dignity, and so is actually maybe the closest thing that we can get to altruism, in that there is no benefit for us, merely the potential to do good for another human.

Triskele
02-28-2007, 08:48 PM
I haven't the confidence that an audience eagerly awaits a Socratic divulgance of my logical process, starting with fundamental premises and building a a 1000-step logical argument from it, each point of which is discussed until agreement is reached before moving on to the next step. I'm not sure [I]I[I] would even have patience for that.... If you are fascinated by my premises and conclusions, however, please let me know. It might be good for me myself to see how well my arguments look out in the light of others' scrutiny! For now, the executive summary:

Premise: Free choice is an illusion. Our brain is chemistry. The atoms, dopamine, neurons, etc., receive stimulation like all other elements in the universe, and react to those stimulations. That our human machine is so complex that it has elements that can recognize itself, can store ideas into memory, etc., does not mean that we aren't machines. The soul, if it exists, would not function differently than the brain--it would have a memory, value options that are made known to it through the senses and the memory, register urges, and make a choice--and so it is not relevant whether there is a soul. In a sense, we are what we are, whatever term we call it, and there is nothing outside of matter which influences matter because matter can only be moved by matter)

Premise: We evolved as a race into global dominance for learning the amazing power of delayed gratification and cooperation, which is a related concept as I define it: cooperation here to mean taking some losses from what I want in order to make the team strongest. I don't steal if you don't steal from me. We each give up something good (taking whatever we want or need) for something that later proves to be more valuable (security). This is the essence of social evolution in humans: realizing that societies are powerful and life-bettering, and that cooperation and delayed or abstained gratification--even altruism--is better for the whole, which in turn is better for me.

Conclusion: To speak of altruism as "real" or "not real" is not really an option: it is. It is a powerful character trait that humans, as a species, have learned to exhibit since natural selection would favor those who have an edge over others, and altruism, or cooperation, proves to be the mortar in the edifice of society. Whether we act cooperatively and socially (altruistically) cognizant of the fact that we gain from it (making it an act of selfishness) or not (making it a reflexive part of one's evolved character) is a matter of individual difference.


you are wrong on the "matter can only influence matter" premis. subatomic particles are constantly moving in and out of existance, which thus relegates all newtonian logic to be obsolete. and as far as the soul being a mere piece of machinery, does that place you in the eastern philosophy of Mu, or Wu, in which there is no individuality, and that all human suffering comes from our misconception that we are unique? your second premis is definitely what i think, that all acts of charity are actually acts of selfishness in their ultimate result. and as far as your idea on altruism, i think that you are bastardizing the definition of the word.

jab
03-01-2007, 05:03 PM
I'm planning on replying -- I'll be back in time. Right now work is overloading me, and I don't have time to reply thoughtfully! :( Suffice to say that there are some great observations and critiques of my premises and conclusion that I'd like to build on and clarify ASAP. Thanks for the great replies.

jab
03-05-2007, 01:26 PM
The three traits cooperation, delayed gratification, and altruism are distinct concepts, of course, and I offer both my apologies for muddling them earlier, and my salute the eyes out there who are keeping me accountable for the quality and understandability of my writing!

Cooperation is an association of persons or businesses for common benefit, which could be economic, intellectual, musical, whatever. Typically, cooperation is collaboration, in that the mutual assistance happens simultaneously; the "tit" and the "tat" of "tit for tat" is not necessarily, indeed usually is not, separated from each other by a large time frame. Or the "quo" in the "quid pro quo" is directly after the "quid." It is also relevant to point out that many times cooperation lends easily identifyable benefits. We're not talking about abstract "good" or "kindness". We're talking money, grades, lifing something heavy. Tangible and immediate "quo". And if that benefit doesn't appear in the partnership, we usually walk away. We sometimes go and sometimes don't go to study groups, the same with business partnerships, and other associations, for that reason. As a few of you so rightly pointed out, cooperation certainly is not perfectly correlated with either altruism or delayed gratification, as I suggested.

With respect to delayed gratification, however, the "quo" comes much later -- by definition. One pays out and has to wait to collect the deposit back, with interest of course. This is a higher order skill than cooperation, and not even all human master this trait, which I might argue is akin to patience and self-control over the, urges, or "witchcraft" as it is called in Plato's Republic. Psychologists have tested acquisition of delayed gratification by presenting a candy bar to a toddler, but promising 5 more if he doesn't eat it. Most fail. But those who don't get a tangible reward, one that they are aware of and looking forward to. So here, the "quo" you might say is delayed yet tangible, whereas with cooperation it is often immediate and tangible.

Altruism, on a society-wide level, is a trait that promotes survival. In colonies where it is practiced, people get helped out of hard times, live longer, more affluently, more healthfully, etc., because of the help they get when they're down for whatever reason, and this promotes general population health and reproduction and survival. But the payback, though profound on a society-level, is delayed and usually non-existent in terms of a physical payback to the agent who sacrifices himself for society or another. The "quid pro quo" structure doesn't really apply, as the definition of altruism constrains that one isn't doing "tit" for "tat", but just doing "tat"!

But the fact is that there is a benefit, though abstract, delayed, and often never personally rewarding for the agent. If a person does good hoping for a good reputation or some kind of reward, we agree that the agent was not being altruistic. If the agent is not acting with hope or expectation or cognizance of the potential of reward, and never receives a personal reward but only benefits his society, we can certainly call him "altruistic", I think. However, what if we take the middle road: the agent does end up being paid back, later, either abstractly or somewhat unrelatedly, yet the agent did the good he did unmindful of the possibility of payback. What then? I don't care what we call it. That's just a choice of semantics. Doing selfless good for others ("altruism") has an empirically verifiable survival benefit that will, by spreading into others' behavior, help you out, albeit usually in unrelated ways, in turn; and yet altruism cannot benefit, by definition, its practitioner. Is there a contradiction? Well, that's a personal choice of semantics if you ask me, and I don't care too much about that! I think not, though that depends upon how you want to define the word. That is a personal choice, and one I don't have much interest in. I care little about the terminology, so as long as the understanding of the relationship between agents is clear to me! One could simply point out that on any one given act of goodwill, an agent may not expect to receive remuneration; he may, in fact, receive it.

jab
03-05-2007, 02:35 PM
Wow. I think the best lesson we can learn from that last paragraph is that copying and pasting sections of material and selecting "publish" before proofreading is less than desirable. ;)

Triskele
03-05-2007, 06:44 PM
The three traits cooperation, delayed gratification, and altruism are distinct concepts, of course, and I offer both my apologies for muddling them earlier, and my salute the eyes out there who are keeping me accountable for the quality and understandability of my writing!

Cooperation is an association of persons or businesses for common benefit, which could be economic, intellectual, musical, whatever. Typically, cooperation is collaboration, in that the mutual assistance happens simultaneously; the "tit" and the "tat" of "tit for tat" is not necessarily, indeed usually is not, separated from each other by a large time frame. Or the "quo" in the "quid pro quo" is directly after the "quid." It is also relevant to point out that many times cooperation lends easily identifyable benefits. We're not talking about abstract "good" or "kindness". We're talking money, grades, lifing something heavy. Tangible and immediate "quo". And if that benefit doesn't appear in the partnership, we usually walk away. We sometimes go and sometimes don't go to study groups, the same with business partnerships, and other associations, for that reason. As a few of you so rightly pointed out, cooperation certainly is not perfectly correlated with either altruism or delayed gratification, as I suggested.

With respect to delayed gratification, however, the "quo" comes much later -- by definition. One pays out and has to wait to collect the deposit back, with interest of course. This is a higher order skill than cooperation, and not even all human master this trait, which I might argue is akin to patience and self-control over the, urges, or "witchcraft" as it is called in Plato's Republic. Psychologists have tested acquisition of delayed gratification by presenting a candy bar to a toddler, but promising 5 more if he doesn't eat it. Most fail. But those who don't get a tangible reward, one that they are aware of and looking forward to. So here, the "quo" you might say is delayed yet tangible, whereas with cooperation it is often immediate and tangible.

Altruism, on a society-wide level, is a trait that promotes survival. In colonies where it is practiced, people get helped out of hard times, live longer, more affluently, more healthfully, etc., because of the help they get when they're down for whatever reason, and this promotes general population health and reproduction and survival. But the payback, though profound on a society-level, is delayed and usually non-existent in terms of a physical payback to the agent who sacrifices himself for society or another. The "quid pro quo" structure doesn't really apply, as the definition of altruism constrains that one isn't doing "tit" for "tat", but just doing "tat"!

But the fact is that there is a benefit, though abstract, delayed, and often never personally rewarding for the agent. If a person does good hoping for a good reputation or some kind of reward, we agree that the agent was not being altruistic. If the agent is not acting with hope or expectation or cognizance of the potential of reward, and never receives a personal reward but only benefits his society, we can certainly call him "altruistic", I think. However, what if we take the middle road: the agent does end up being paid back, later, either abstractly or somewhat unrelatedly, yet the agent did the good he did unmindful of the possibility of payback. What then? I don't care what we call it. That's just a choice of semantics. Doing selfless good for others ("altruism") has an empirically verifiable survival benefit that will, by spreading into others' behavior, help you out, albeit usually in unrelated ways, in turn; and yet altruism cannot benefit, by definition, its practitioner. Is there a contradiction? Well, that's a personal choice of semantics if you ask me, and I don't care too much about that! I think not, though that depends upon how you want to define the word. That is a personal choice, and one I don't have much interest in. I care little about the terminology, so as long as the understanding of the relationship between agents is clear to me! One could simply point out that on any one given act of goodwill, an agent may not expect to receive remuneration; he may, in fact, receive it.

i am definitely with you on your pointing out of cooperation, delayed gratification, and altruism, but again, i think that there is a fourth catagory that explains your statement that altuism is in existance in our society, and that is enlightened self interest. while they do claim to say that it is purely for the good of other people, that is not true. the first way that they benefit is through the reciprocated kindness of other people parroting good behavioral patterns, also along with this, is the fact that often times the community they are in will become better as a whole, and so they will have a better life on a communal/social level. the second way is in a form of addiction/obsessive compulsive behavior patterns. the "altruistic" person feels good, and often superior to the person that they are helping, and so to regain this sensation of moral superiority, and guilt assuagement, they continue their charitable actions. the benefit from this situation is certainly less concrete, but present none the less.

jab
03-06-2007, 08:01 AM
the first way that they benefit is through the reciprocated kindness of other people parroting good behavioral patterns, also along with this, is the fact that often times the community they are in will become better as a whole, and so they will have a better life on a communal/social level. the second way is in a form of addiction/obsessive compulsive behavior patterns. the "altruistic" person feels good, and often superior to the person that they are helping, and so to regain this sensation of moral superiority, and guilt assuagement, they continue their charitable actions. the benefit from this situation is certainly less concrete, but present none the less.

Well put! That's what I wish I had said.

In one species of spider, the mother allows her young to eat her. There is no payback for this behavior to the mother, I would say. Her genes have this instinct encoded because it serves to ensure their passing on. The genetic pattern is acting with enlightened self interest, I suppose, if you want to grant cognition to DNA. Many ancient cultures viewed offspring as a form of immortality for the deceased. How do you want to view it? If the mother spider is dead after her death, she seems to reap nothing from her death; only her offspring do. Is this instinctual behavior altruism?

Matrim Cuathon
03-06-2007, 06:15 PM
altruism is a false concept. people feel good helping others. its gives them a boost. even if they have no material motive.

Triskele
03-06-2007, 06:42 PM
Well put! That's what I wish I had said.

In one species of spider, the mother allows her young to eat her. There is no payback for this behavior to the mother, I would say. Her genes have this instinct encoded because it serves to ensure their passing on. The genetic pattern is acting with enlightened self interest, I suppose, if you want to grant cognition to DNA. Many ancient cultures viewed offspring as a form of immortality for the deceased. How do you want to view it? If the mother spider is dead after her death, she seems to reap nothing from her death; only her offspring do. Is this instinctual behavior altruism?

i disagree, this is not enlightened self interest because it is not a choice, the spider being a basic species, thus it is not a choice and so cannot be altruism. this is actually the question adressed in "clockwork orange" (or at least on of them), in that if people are doing good involuntarily, is it actually doing good? however you are right if a human were to do this, thus being a concious choice because we can deny instince, the continuation of a species being the benefit that the mother recieved.

iloveamano
03-06-2007, 07:15 PM
I think this whole philosophy bases itself on the nature of man being fundamentally good. And I would agree, that is to say, if the nature of man is good then it should logically follow that altruism is possible. But I would also agree if Man's nature is corrupt that it is not possible, or that if it's neutral or non-existent it is again not possible.

jab
03-07-2007, 12:38 AM
Just to point out, there's not anything do agree or disagree with in my last post, as I was asking a question without implying an answer that I favor. As I said ever so (embarrassingly) redundantly before, at this point one is simply choosing the precise definition of altruism one wishes. Therefore, the differences between which nuances of the definition we want to keep or reject (for whatever reason, either because we think it is a "better" definition, or because it is more consistent with the majority of scholarly usage, or because it is more aligned with historical usage, or because it makes more sense in light of one's other philosophical convictions, etc.) are constraining our choice as to whether "altruism" is possible or not. Saying "altruism = x" and that "x isn't (or is) possible in this (or any) circumstance," "and so altruism isn't (or is) possible" simply proves your definition of altruism (if your logic is cogent). This discussion, then, is all about defining altruism. It isn't immediately obvious that the argument is in the definition because 1) very subtle nuances are sometimes at work making the huge differences in our results, and 2) to make things more complicated, science, psychology, and lay-parlance all have different takes on the word that are influencing us according to our field of exposure and interest.

To my delight, the kind of close scrutiny we are engaging in has been most helpful in seeing these differences and helping me see the consequences of each definition. I feel greatly benefited by the different angles to the concept you (pl.) have pointed out. Let us all explore carefully the implications of each other's lexicographal decisions.

Various types of selfless behavior which we have encountered on our way I now present in review. It would be nice to come up with a more precise set of terminology for these conditions. Perhaps they will take shape. For now, here are the five definitions I've noticed (add more if I've forgotten any):

#1 Acting volitionally for the good of the community without any anticipated or actual personal benefit.
#2 Acting volitionally for the good of the community without any anticipated personal benefit. [The omission of "or actual" is important.]
#3 Acting volitionally for the greater good when one's own benefit is relatively paltry. [This is surprising candidate! But it intrigues me! Heretofore we have demanded that there be no remuneration, which seems like an easy assumption. That should be our danger sign. However, if one were picking definitions based upon what best delineates the important distinctions of the psychology of action (a debatable presupposition itself), it would perhaps follow that if a reward is, to a certain to-be-determined degree, "paltry" in comparison with the loss of the sacrifice, then it is natural to assume that the agent had not acted in order to receive the reward in any way, or at least that all of the act did not happen because of self-interest, but rather that some other "pure" impulse may have cause the action; the "rewards" are inconsequential or insufficient in explaining the motives for acting.]
#4 Acting purely instinctually for the good of the community without any actual personal benefit.
#5 Acting purely instinctually for the good of the community when one's own benefit is relatively paltry.

Each of these definitions of altruism carry pre-suppositions. I carry the pre-supposition that evolutionary forces explain our altruistic behavior and that, therefore, altruistic behavior must have a "benefit". However, I don't (yet!) accept the conclusion that we shouldn't choose to use the word "altruistic" for describing certain behavior.

First, as I said in an earlier post, sometimes the "altruistic" gene may benefit itself and not the agent, which leads one to the question of whether instinctual behavior deserves the title "altruistic". Triskele has implied that he is prepared to argue against it. I'd concur, for my own reasons, if we assume free will exists, since then it would be a useful distinction. But if free will doesn't exist, I'd like to keep the word "altruism" and we'd therefore have to take a biological approach to the definition to keep it in, which I "just want to do". How's that for laying bare a ridiculous, emotional presupposition.

Second (what is this a list of, again?....), each individual act may or may not be linked to a reward, even if evolutionary forces have created a propensity towards doing good: (a) a reward may not come in some circumstances; (b) expectation of reward, perhaps more germane than actual reward, may certainly be absent; (c) the amount of reward may be so small that it doesn't constitute enough of the decision.

In other words, evolutionary forces may have programmed us to actually be good. See this article from Stanford for an elaboration (near the end) http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/altruism-biological/.

To leave my own points, I'll bring up Matrim's pithy entry, which assumes (perhaps rightly) that all behavior can be explained entirely in terms of enlightened self interest. (A counter-argument is implied in definition #3 and in my above in my own argument's part [c]). Even if Matrim successfully argues his thesis that the "boost" is always the full component of the motivational force in all situations for doing good to others (eliminating #1 and #4 since there is always "actual", and of course eliminating #3 and #5), one could still argue that #2 is an acceptable definition of altruism. This definition, moreover, could be a definition that is a "real" and not "false" concept.

Thoughts? Anyone still reading this?.... Would that indulgence be a clear case of altruism? (Haha.)

Triskele
03-09-2007, 02:49 PM
Just to point out, there's not anything do agree or disagree with in my last post, as I was asking a question without implying an answer that I favor. As I said ever so (embarrassingly) redundantly before, at this point one is simply choosing the precise definition of altruism one wishes. Therefore, the differences between which nuances of the definition we want to keep or reject (for whatever reason, either because we think it is a "better" definition, or because it is more consistent with the majority of scholarly usage, or because it is more aligned with historical usage, or because it makes more sense in light of one's other philosophical convictions, etc.) are constraining our choice as to whether "altruism" is possible or not. Saying "altruism = x" and that "x isn't (or is) possible in this (or any) circumstance," "and so altruism isn't (or is) possible" simply proves your definition of altruism (if your logic is cogent). This discussion, then, is all about defining altruism. It isn't immediately obvious that the argument is in the definition because 1) very subtle nuances are sometimes at work making the huge differences in our results, and 2) to make things more complicated, science, psychology, and lay-parlance all have different takes on the word that are influencing us according to our field of exposure and interest.

I realized that your last post was on connected to the previous argument, but I responded to it with my own fallible opionion because it does bring up an interesting addition to our semantic discussion of altruism… “Free Will”. This interesting point should be taken into consideration because there is no actual proof that god exists and so along with this the conception of free will is taken into doubt. With free will in doubt I find that the question of altruism becomes ever more convoluted (and thus to me far more interesting.) its true that this forum has been relegated to a question of language, but to me that is hardly trivial because language shapes the reality we live in, and influences the concepts that we can master.



To my delight, the kind of close scrutiny we are engaging in has been most helpful in seeing these differences and helping me see the consequences of each definition. I feel greatly benefited by the different angles to the concept you (pl.) have pointed out. Let us all explore carefully the implications of each other's lexicographal decisions.

I also, not only that, but you have used the word “lexicographal” which is actually lexicographic, but even so, is not something I see every day.



#1 Acting volitionally for the good of the community without any anticipated or actual personal benefit.
#2 Acting volitionally for the good of the community without any anticipated personal benefit. [The omission of "or actual" is important.]
#3 Acting volitionally for the greater good when one's own benefit is relatively paltry. [This is surprising candidate! But it intrigues me! Heretofore we have demanded that there be no remuneration, which seems like an easy assumption. That should be our danger sign. However, if one were picking definitions based upon what best delineates the important distinctions of the psychology of action (a debatable presupposition itself), it would perhaps follow that if a reward is, to a certain to-be-determined degree, "paltry" in comparison with the loss of the sacrifice, then it is natural to assume that the agent had not acted in order to receive the reward in any way, or at least that all of the act did not happen because of self-interest, but rather that some other "pure" impulse may have cause the action; the "rewards" are inconsequential or insufficient in explaining the motives for acting.]
#4 Acting purely instinctually for the good of the community without any actual personal benefit.
#5 Acting purely instinctually for the good of the community when one's own benefit is relatively paltry.

Yes, yes, I think that these five definitions do carry the thread of our conversation thus far fairly effectively. And I agree with you in the third one, because while the individual does necessarily benefit from this exchange, they do so with the conscious knowledge that the cost far outweighs the gain, which is perhaps the closest thing that humans can get to true altruism. There is one thing though, I question whether the evolution of altruistic instincts is actually biological. I would argue that it is in fact anthropological in that I think that enlightened self interest came about on a large scale with the advent of organized religions and their inherent social messages. If you take a look you can see common threads of social justice throughout most of the major religions of the world. Then it is merely a question of the chicken and the egg, whether religion spawned conscious social actions, or the instinct was there and had revealed itself in human society through the organized religions of various cultures.




First, as I said in an earlier post, sometimes the "altruistic" gene may benefit itself and not the agent, which leads one to the question of whether instinctual behavior deserves the title "altruistic". Triskele has implied that he is prepared to argue against it. I'd concur, for my own reasons, if we assume free will exists, since then it would be a useful distinction. But if free will doesn't exist, I'd like to keep the word "altruism" and we'd therefore have to take a biological approach to the definition to keep it in, which I "just want to do". How's that for laying bare a ridiculous, emotional presupposition.

Here it is again, the question of free will. This is not so much as black and white as it may appear, this is because we have to deal with the concepts of fatism, predestination, free will, and determinism, do we have free will, but the outcome is predetermined/ is everything just a pattern and we have no actual choices, simply social programming? Do we have total free will? Or can we only choose major things, but the rest is just how we are raised? Perhaps not so emotional as unbased thought, which is also an interesting topic.

Yes, yes I am still reading it, but I have the sneaking sensation that I am the only one.

Triskele
03-09-2007, 02:50 PM
am i the only one that finds it ironic that to post these things we have to go to "quick" reply.

Triskele
03-09-2007, 02:58 PM
excellent article, it really plays into what we are talking about, i will formulate a reply, but i need to digest it first.

atiguhya padma
03-12-2007, 06:15 AM
Regarding altruism and freewill:

Firstly, it would seem that altruism can be a biological instinct. We are statistically more likely to sacrifice ourselves for a cousin than for a complete stranger, simply because we have more common genetic material. See Matt Ridley's The Origins of Virtue.

Secondly, with respect to freewill, I always have a problem with reconciling the idea of the law of causation with the premise of freewill. The Online Oxford English Dictionary has this definition for free will:

<• noun the power to act without the constraints of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.>

This definition seems to suggest that freewill is independent of causation, if you equate "constraints of necessity" or "fate" with the law of causation. As nothing can both 1) exist in a Universe where causation dictates every event that takes place or could possibly take place and 2) be independent of causation, it would appear that freewill like religion is a myth.

Triskele
03-12-2007, 02:12 PM
Regarding altruism and freewill:

Firstly, it would seem that altruism can be a biological instinct. We are statistically more likely to sacrifice ourselves for a cousin than for a complete stranger, simply because we have more common genetic material. See Matt Ridley's The Origins of Virtue.

Secondly, with respect to freewill, I always have a problem with reconciling the idea of the law of causation with the premise of freewill. The Online Oxford English Dictionary has this definition for free will:

<• noun the power to act without the constraints of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.>

This definition seems to suggest that freewill is independent of causation, if you equate "constraints of necessity" or "fate" with the law of causation. As nothing can both 1) exist in a Universe where causation dictates every event that takes place or could possibly take place and 2) be independent of causation, it would appear that freewill like religion is a myth.

well said friend, but if free will is a myth, than the individualist policies that America is founded on would also be rendered fiction, as would every govornment policy based on the assumption that humans have choice. but here is the thing, humans can act out of necessity, but they can also act completely irrational. take for example the monks that set themselves on fire, or the priests that stay in meditation for so long that they starve to death, or explorers, of thrill seekers. none of these occupations are instinctual, and all either result in the death of the individual, or at least hold the potential for such a result.

jab
03-15-2007, 09:25 PM
Thanks for the heads up on the word lexicographic. I couldn't find the correct adjectival form of the word "lexicography" in my dictionary, so I took the liberty of making one up. I was confident the meaning would be clear!

Until the last month I've assumed that the parents of religion are possibily some combination of truth, self-serving twists of the truth, or evolution, which would create a false religion that has some sort of survivalist benefit, which as we've discussed would be the social justice, cooperation, delayed gratification, and/or altruism religions all not coincidentally promote to generally the same degree as their success.

I would have argued last week that even if religion created these characteristics (instead of evolution), as the novel (to me) chicken/egg aspect of this issue opens as a possibility, that even then, in the end natural selection is still the main cause of the traits, not religion, for it is the survival benefit of the traits would have allowed the traits to survive. Cooperation, et al have would have died out out shortly after coming into existence if only religion and not natural selection favored it.

However, I just read an article at the NYTimes website about a few thinkers who suggest that religion has no survival benefit at all; rather it is a "misfiring"--or, less negatively, a side-effect--of other traits that we evolved for their survival benefit.


"Some cognitive scientists think of brain functioning in terms of modules, a series of interconnected machines, each one responsible for a particular mental trick. They do not tend to talk about a God module per se; they usually consider belief in God a consequence of other mental modules." <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/04/magazine/04evolution.t.html?ex=1330837200&en=be2b80235e0bbc91&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink">Evolution and Religion: Darwin's God</a> NYTimes March 4, 2007

Triskele
03-22-2007, 10:48 AM
Thanks for the heads up on the word lexicographic. I couldn't find the correct adjectival form of the word "lexicography" in my dictionary, so I took the liberty of making one up. I was confident the meaning would be clear!

Until the last month I've assumed that the parents of religion are possibily some combination of truth, self-serving twists of the truth, or evolution, which would create a false religion that has some sort of survivalist benefit, which as we've discussed would be the social justice, cooperation, delayed gratification, and/or altruism religions all not coincidentally promote to generally the same degree as their success.

I would have argued last week that even if religion created these characteristics (instead of evolution), as the novel (to me) chicken/egg aspect of this issue opens as a possibility, that even then, in the end natural selection is still the main cause of the traits, not religion, for it is the survival benefit of the traits would have allowed the traits to survive. Cooperation, et al have would have died out out shortly after coming into existence if only religion and not natural selection favored it.

However, I just read an article at the NYTimes website about a few thinkers who suggest that religion has no survival benefit at all; rather it is a "misfiring"--or, less negatively, a side-effect--of other traits that we evolved for their survival benefit.

<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/04/magazine/04evolution.t.html?ex=1330837200&en=be2b80235e0bbc91&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink">Evolution and Religion: Darwin's God</a> NYTimes March 4, 2007


but if religion is only the brain neurons misfiring then why do all cultures have some form religion or spiritual philosophy. and if all of these are mistakes, then why have religions always led culture and mass amounts of people. if religion is a evolutionary mistake than it is a mistake that grew into the key of human society. i think this may be one of the evolutionary quirks that draw out the strengths of a species.

Bii
04-17-2007, 04:38 PM
As regards whether 'altruism' exists I think I have probably 'marked my cards' as a hedonist in other threads (i.e believing that all human actions are motivated by self-interest), but that being said I still believe that altruism exists. Perhaps we need to shift the goalposts a little and, rather than thinking of altruism as an 'unselfish' act, instead think of it as the capacity of an individual to gain pleasure from helping others. So, if I do a good deed for a stranger, and that makes me feel good about myself, it is still altruistic as the primary cause of my action was to generate pleasure from helping another. This is as opposed to either 1) not helping the stranger or 2) helping the stranger but grumbling and groaning and considering it a chore or a 'duty'.