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 MikeWM
Joined: 2/7/2011
Msg: 33
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?Page 2 of 6    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
The second example there however is a neutral action

But for the most part when altruism of selfessness is being discussed its in reference to "character"

So in that context only the first example is relevant, and the first example IS a purely cognitive and deliberate act. And thats where the discussion of whether or not something is truly "selfless" becomes heavily debateable

The last one even falls down within its own scope as its not uncommon for things that would fit that mould to also be conditional and not applied to all members of the species but only members of that particular pack or tribe

Apes have been known to kill the young offspring of competing tribes as have many other species of animal, whilst being protective of their own offspring

Plus the idea of defending the spreading of ones own genes is by itself a "selfish" act due to it being a "desired" occurence. But killing your own offspring so that a better genetic line would survive would be far closer to altruism even within the bounds of that definition once the "individuals genes" bit was removed as that term by itself actually introduces selfish reasoning to the definition
 Aristotle_Amadopolis
Joined: 12/8/2011
Msg: 34
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/26/2011 7:02:46 AM


Donating to a charity is an altruistic act.

Donating to a charity anomalously is more of an altruistic act.


So youre claiming that nobody who donates to charity ever feels good for doing so?

Did you just pull that out of the blue, because I am pretty I did not state or even imply that.

I would say that the vast majority feel good when donating, but I am implying there are at times motives for that donation. Like when you hire a PR company to cover your donation.


A real world example would be someone like Bill Gates, who retired from MS so he and his wife could give away his money, but you heard very little about his efforts manly due to the fact they do not go out of their way to publish what they are doing, where on the other hand you have people that will make sure the camera crew is right there to capture the event.

Both are altruistic acts and I am sure both feel better for doing it, but one is more of an altruistic act.
 JustDukky
Joined: 7/8/2004
Msg: 35
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/26/2011 8:14:26 AM

for the most part when altruism of selfessness is being discussed its in reference to "character"


When who discusses it? I for one never discussed it in those terms, but in terms of philosophy and social evolution.


in that context only the first example is relevant, and the first example IS a purely cognitive and deliberate act.And thats where the discussion of whether or not something is truly "selfless" becomes heavily debateable


Where does selflessness imply deliberation or cognition? Even if it does, why should it be contentious that someone would consider the greatest good achieved over the greatest good achieved for self? You are taking as axiomatic that every action stems from some form of self interest, which is in itself an assumption.


Apes have been known to kill the young offspring of competing tribes as have many other species of animal, whilst being protective of their own offspring


Irrelevant.


killing your own offspring so that a better genetic line would survive would be far closer to altruism even within the bounds of that definition once the "individuals genes" bit was removed


So you'll concede that the ancient Spartans, who regularly killed their own babies as an act of kindness if they considered them unfit to survive were performing selfless good deeds.

Question: If you came upon a car accident and a young child was about to burn to death, and nobody could pull her out of the car or save her, and she was screaming in agony as the flames licked over her body, and you had a gun, would you shoot her to spare her the suffering of death by fire, knowing that you'd probably be charged with murder, (or at least manslaughter) for doing so, or would you just let her burn and scream for awhile? What would be the right thing to do?
 Truthisee
Joined: 12/7/2010
Msg: 36
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/26/2011 8:36:21 AM

Question: If you came upon a car accident and a young child was about to burn to death, and nobody could pull her out of the car or save her, and she was screaming in agony as the flames licked over her body, and you had a gun, would you shoot her to spare her the suffering of death by fire, knowing that you'd probably be charged with murder, (or at least manslaughter) for doing so, or would you just let her burn and scream for awhile? What would be the right thing to do?


so this is where you stamp your feet and cross your arms huh, wonderful.

your action isn't selfless, no matter how much you want to believe it is, which of course rules out altruism.

hell, your continued posting in this thread rules it out, as you seek verification of your own belief, which of course is flawed, as there exists no selfless act.

keep swinging dukky, but the only person you've managed to convince, is yourself
 JustDukky
Joined: 7/8/2004
Msg: 37
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/26/2011 9:33:48 AM

so this is where you stamp your feet and cross your arms huh, wonderful.


I'm hardly having a tantrum over it; it just never ceases to amaze me that people who consider themselves logical continue to state their faith in an assumption as though it was the god's truth. It seems to me it is my worthy opponents in this discussion who are "crossing their arms" and "stamping their feet."


your action isn't selfless, no matter how much you want to believe it is, which of course rules out altruism.


Again, reliance on an unproved assumption to make that statement as though it were some sort of fact.


hell, your continued posting in this thread rules it out, as you seek verification of your own belief, which of course is flawed, as there exists no selfless act.


I don't seek verification of my own belief (another assumption and a value judgment on your part), as i've already found it true for myself. "There exists no selfless act" is just a repetition of the unproved premise.


keep swinging dukky, but the only person you've managed to convince, is yourself


Often being altruistic myself, and knowing my own mind, I require no convincing. However, it is quite obvious a huge segment of the population cannot be persuaded to question their own assumptions no matter what argument may be presented. I have seen little on this thread but a lot of question-begging and goalpost-moving to support a case that would be easily disproved with a single reasonable instance of altruism. Acceptance of that assumption borders on a nearly religious faith in a universally selfish nature of Man. Such is life. My "mission", if you want to call it that is only to argue, and I'll freely admit I do it for the purely selfish interest of loving to argue!

I note that while you quoted my question, you made no attempt whatsoever to answer it. Is it possible that your honest answer might contradict your assumption?
 MikeWM
Joined: 2/7/2011
Msg: 38
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/26/2011 9:42:11 AM

Both are altruistic acts and I am sure both feel better for doing it, but one is more of an altruistic act


if they get a "good feeling"from it then they gain

If they gain it cant be claimed to be altruistic

Hence my question that you quoted



Question: If you came upon a car accident and a young child was about to burn to death, and nobody could pull her out of the car or save her, and she was screaming in agony as the flames licked over her body, and you had a gun, would you shoot her to spare her the suffering of death by fire, knowing that you'd probably be charged with murder, (or at least manslaughter) for doing so, or would you just let her burn and scream for awhile? What would be the right thing to do?


For some they would prefer prison to the thought of the suffering

So their selfish choice would be to shoot the child

To others though, they would probably prefer to live with the memory of the suffering rather than sacrificingn their freedom. So they would make the equally selfish choice to not pull the trigger

Both would probably spend a LOT of time trying to convince themselves that whichever they chose was "best for the child" but chances are the real deciding factor would boil down to what they would prefer as the outcome

A similar thing also kicks in if their "decision" is based on what they have been taught to think is "right" in that scenario, because doing what "isnt right" whichever that might be would result in having to live with far more guilt as a result

So by acting on their conditioned response they would be benefitting on a personal level from choosing the easier of the two to rationalise after the fact
 Truthisee
Joined: 12/7/2010
Msg: 39
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/26/2011 9:52:08 AM

I note that while you quoted my question, you made no attempt whatsoever to answer it. Is it possible that your honest answer might contradict your assumption?


so I shoot the kid in the face, is it to ease his/her suffering, or is it because I want to ease his/her suffering?

so I let the kid burn to ash and dance around like some psychopath reveling in his/her screams, believing in my warped lil brain 'tis god's will and why the f uck should I care?

either way there is no selflessness associated with my decision.


"There exists no selfless act" is just a repetition of the unproved premise.



My "mission", if you want to call it that is only to argue, and I'll freely admit I do it for the purely selfish interest of loving to argue!



I have seen little on this thread but a lot of question-begging and goalpost-moving to support a case that would be easily disproved with a single reasonable instance of altruism.


your own words betray you, but just for kicks, and because I'm bored, how about posting one of those single reasonable instances..

hmm?
 JustDukky
Joined: 7/8/2004
Msg: 42
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/26/2011 11:23:07 AM

May not be selfless either, but who cares.


The question is, did you deliberate and think to yourself "Boy, it would sure make me feel like a good scout to stand in the rain and maybe throw my back out pushing this guy's truck.", or did you not think about any of that and simply see a man in trouble and want to help him (giving no regard to the consequences, either positive or negative)?

If your answer is the latter, your post ought to serve as at least one reasonable example of altruism (in my eyes anyway), since apparently at least, your ego didn't seem to be involved in your decision.

BTW...Good for you! There should be a lot more people like you!
 Truthisee
Joined: 12/7/2010
Msg: 43
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/26/2011 11:29:05 AM
On the occaisions that I have done a good deed and felt good from it, I didn't do the act TO feel good. So despite reading all the posts in this threads from people for a better understanding of the words etc, I am still staying in the "eff off" camp :-)


*rolls eyes.

sure bud, you just keep telling yourself how special you are, or the righteousness of your particular space in the grand scheme of things but, you're missing the obvious.

you do these things because you want to, because on whatever level they make you feel good, now I don't have to break out the dictionary to give you a run-down of those particular words, right?

altruism is filled with many flaws, the most obvious being the sheer want of a selfless act. It contains the same errors in reasoning as any belief system, whether you want to believe it or not.

so eff off yeah, that's kinda what I was thinking.


 abelian
Joined: 1/12/2008
Msg: 45
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/26/2011 11:50:26 AM
I didn't want to have to go drive to some strangers on christmas eve to drop off his phone. I didn't do it to feel good either ... I believe I said as much in the post .... I did it because I reasoned that although it's only a lil going out of my way, for him to walk to up where I live would be a much bigger task.

You could have also just taken the phone home and let your friend worry about picking it up and I'm pretty sure you didn't do that because then, you would have felt like an ass. So, that is why you decided to return the phone to him in the first place, rather than let him figure out you had it and make arrangements to pick it up. Of your two choices to return the phone, you picked the one which was most convenient for you.

Even martyrs martyr themselves for selfish reasons, which is why you never see athiests marty themselves.

May not be selfless either, but who cares.

Right. Although acts are ultimately selfish at a deep enough level, it's possible to get too carried away thinking about it. On the other hand, it's sometimes useful to understand why one does what he/she does to change aspects of one's behaviour that have negative consequences.

-------
Jumping on a grenade is one.

Jumping on a grenade is an example of doing something because a strong sense of duty from upbringing/training overrides self preservation. I seriously doubt that anyone who has done that gave it a lot of thought and weighed the pros and cons beforehand.

VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 46
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/26/2011 11:58:57 AM
There are examples of selfless good deeds/acts. However, they seem to most often end in the death of the person doing it.

Jumping on a grenade is one.
 Truthisee
Joined: 12/7/2010
Msg: 47
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/26/2011 12:47:56 PM
I can't help but wonder why jumping on a grenade, or leaping out in front of a car to save someone is always the "go to" scenario.

psychological egoism does not equate with a selfless/altruistic act.

tho I would have to commend the training, I think you're watching a little bit too much captain america.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_egoism

interesting read.

IMO.

 JustDukky
Joined: 7/8/2004
Msg: 48
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/26/2011 12:59:26 PM

Even martyrs martyr themselves for selfish reasons, which is why you never see athiests martyr themselves.


I love that one because it is generally so very true. Virtually all western religions are based on the "carrot/stick" principle of an afterlife, so the reasonable presumption is that if one martyrs himself, it is to gain favour in the eyes of his deity, or at the very least to avoid a fate worse than death. Since atheism has its basis in unbelief, and I know damn few people who prefer oblivion to (apparently and inauthentically) accepting somebody else's fairytale. After all, they won't be punished for it after they die.

However, as a possible fly in the ointment; aren't buddhists atheistic by nature, seeing afterlives as further suffering and something to put an end to? I remember buddhist monks protesting the situation in South Vietnam by employing self-immolation. Isn't that a form of martyrdom (dying for a principle) by atheists? I'm not saying its necessarily selfless, though I think it's reasonable to suppose they burned themselves to death "for the greater good" and not to gratify egos they've spent a lifetime transcending (or trying to).


Although acts are ultimately selfish at a deep enough level...


The word "self" is too easily redefined, yielding new meanings to "selfish" and "self-interest." It can be expanded based on one's personal beliefs to include family, community, or even the universe itself. I prefer to define self (for the purposes of this discussion) as an individual's ego. Is it still correct to say that acts are ultimately ego-based at a deep enough level? What of the mothers who would happily sacrifice their lives for the sake of their children's survival? How could such acts come down to matters of personal ego?


Jumping on a grenade is an example of doing something because a strong sense of duty...


That says it right there...DUTY...In the minds of many, it is their duty to care selflessly for their family, or their community. I would contend that self-gratification or avoidance of unpleasant consequences enters into it very little, if at all.
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 49
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/26/2011 1:04:07 PM

can't help but wonder why jumping on a grenade, or leaping out in front of a car to save someone is always the "go to" scenario


They are the "go to" scenario because they fit. It seems annoying to go there but that doesn't take away the accuracy to the point. It is not Captain America. People have died many times for others and have been scared "**itliess" doing it. There would be cases outside of war but the stories are few and far between for what most of us know about.

For this holiday we have had a series of altruistic acts being reported in Los Angeles. A group of people have been doing things such as paying off a layaway plan at Walmart for the people to get what they wanted for Christmas for their children. So far it seems most of these acts have been anonymous.

What people who are giving and attempting to do with anonymously and without reward is good and what they do should not be taken for granted and lessened by saying it was for the feelings however, there is no escape.

All acts are linked in some way to feelings if they are done to better another. The only act that has no outcome reward for the individual performing that act is because for them the outcome was death. This form of altruism is routinely exploited by terrorist types.
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 51
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/26/2011 3:40:04 PM

LOL...I didn't think at all. I just did


Actually, you sure it wasn't more along the line of, "Well, that would have to suck. I would hate to be in that position. Bet they could use some help. Then, awww crap this is going to suck!" :)

This is one reason I actually do not like this question at all. It's not a fair question and almost seems to have the intention of lessoning the value of people.
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 55
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/27/2011 12:06:02 AM
I like:

caused by the perception of those wishes or needs, and that it doesn't involve calculation


So, basically the only real gauge is in perception. Although not sure which perception is more relevant, benefactor or recipient?


simplification will capture all relevant cases, will not do


Again, this is true. However, I do have to throw a sign post up at this point and acknowledge that I have a very built in belief (even if it’s want to believe) in a spiritual type sense. It is easy for me to account for the simplification that there is a case higher then self that even includes death to justify an altruistic event which also does conclude to mean that the inevitable result is selfish which is also my belief that the nature of man is selfish.

So, I find no inconsistency in actions, thoughts, nor in outcomes. Being altruistic makes sense, is natural, and is a natural part of being a conscious human. Also, any selfishness derived should also be considered on the ‘just’ side of good.
 Kohmelo
Joined: 9/20/2011
Msg: 56
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/27/2011 12:36:17 AM
I tend to agree with Mr Igor's standpoint, however, in the event of an emergency situation, one rarely has the time nor the state of mind to consider their personal gains when acting. Because in my opinion the intent of the actor is significant, a situation where one does not have the time or presence of mind to consider their personal gains from their acts would meet the criteria of a selfless act
 Ubiquitous.
Joined: 11/7/2009
Msg: 57
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/27/2011 1:27:04 AM
Yea. It's called Psychological Egoism.

I remember a conversation Dukky and I had on this a year back or so as it related to charity.

Here's a syllogism:


Premise 1) What one does is what one values.
Premise 2) What one values is in one's subjective interest.
Premise 3) A person's subjective interest as their "self interest".
Premise 4) Altruism describes actions that do not correspond to the self-interest of the actor.

Conclusion 1) Therefore, every voluntary action one takes is necessarily in his/her self interest.
Conclusion 2) A truly altruistic act is impossible. A myth.
 abelian
Joined: 1/12/2008
Msg: 58
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/27/2011 2:12:48 AM
An illustration may help. Suppose that A comes across an item of food, and wishes to devour it all -- that is, in the absence of B, A would devour it all.

If B is present, however, A may choose to share the food with B (modifying the wish that would have been operative in the context in which B was absent), may do so because A perceives that B desires some of the food (or maybe that B needs some of the food), and may do so not from calculating that sharing will bring some further selfish benefit (for example, that B will then be likely to reciprocate on future occasions, or because one believes onlookers will witness the deed, hence according A with increased status).

I think you're missing the entire point.

Under these circumstances, A's desire to share is altruistic with respect to B.

The only interesting question is what psychology A has that would provide him/her with a greater sense of reward by sharing the food than if he/she did not share the food. A only shares the food because not doing so would be more painful in some way, whether that is due to conditiong from upbringing, a calculation or something else. Understanding what make A gets out of sharing the food is a key to A's psychological make up.

Successful con artists, especially tv ministers, understand that intuitively, which is why they are successful con artists. If I understand why A gabe up his/her food, I can always get A to give me food. Sinply giving up at the most superficial level and calling it altruism just misses the point of the exercise.
 MikeWM
Joined: 2/7/2011
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/27/2011 3:12:35 AM
I thought of another angle to this that I cant recall seeing earlier which pertains to non linear relationships

Many people "kind of" buy into the nonsensical notion of karma as and when it suits them. But even without a label attached to it theres many occassions where people do "selfless" things in the small picture either to repent things they have done in the past as a form of subconcious penance or with the hope that doing enough "nice things" will cause the looneyverse to pay them back manyforld (but hopefully not with soggy bread)
 --Zen--
Joined: 6/29/2011
Msg: 60
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/27/2011 5:40:26 AM
Many people "kind of" buy into the nonsensical notion of karma as and when it suits them.

Karma is grossly misinterpreted in western world. Main goal for many gurus is the absence of Karma. Only in total neutrality you can achieve nirvana.

I believe in essence selfishness is a necessary quality. Absence of it means lack of underlying basic fears such as self preservation. One must realize selfish needs and weigh them accordingly.
 MikeWM
Joined: 2/7/2011
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/27/2011 6:40:55 AM
I think MetD mentioned something important

I think a lot of the "ooh look how good I am because I do "selfless" shit that makes me feel all warm and gooey inside" crowd miss is that just because its far from being "selfless" DOESNT mean its "bad"

Something being a "good deed" doesnt magically stop being good just because the person doing it benefits in some way FROM doing it. All that is being discussed is the "selfless" aspect of it, not whether its objectively a good or bad thing although some do come across as though if something isnt viewed as being "selfless" it is also then being seen as bad in some way too which might be part of the reason theyre so overly defensive of it

Or perhaps the good feeling they get from being soooo "selfless" only makes them feel good when not challenged for being a selfish reasoning.

Either way, its still two different facets of the occurence, one combined facet that dictates the external value of the act. Because even the most self serving of actions can still be "good" to another person if they benefit from it overall or it improves their life in some way so that even a high interest mortgage is "good" despite being one of the most obvious forms of "self serving" actions in society
 MikeWM
Joined: 2/7/2011
Msg: 65
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/27/2011 9:35:15 AM
A trailing thought on the topic would be this

Life is about balance.

In life although many would "like" to live without regret, recrimination or mistakes thats rarely the case

I have tended to see it as a kind of bank account for most people in terms of good/bad/selfish or selfless things where sometimes you will be (or just feel) in the red, and others squarely in the black

Very few people are comfortable with a huge inbalance on the negative side of the equation, and so when they can they will tend to try and equalise the balance to compensate for times where what they did, had to do or just needed to do didnt quite sit right with what they would have "preferred" to have been able to do. But thats just life

Also following on from my karma comment, some people do on some level believe the way to have good things happen is to do good things, so theyre kind of playing the "good deed lotto" hoping that either by weight of numbers or by chance one of them will mean they win a luxury holiday or something along those lines

None of those are bad outlooks. And infact if nobody ever did anything that was "selfish" the world would be pretty devoid of good deeds and a much worse place because of that

And if the only self benefit from a deed is to feel better about yourself even that is objectively a "good" thing too.

Infact everyone only doing things that give them a negative self image or even a neutral one wouldnt exactly be a good thing for humanity either

So its really just the technical point of "selfless" I have been pondering, not trying to suggest that a selfish presence alters the effect of the act itself if thats clearer
 MikeWM
Joined: 2/7/2011
Msg: 67
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/27/2011 10:04:28 AM
It could actually be argued that the whole concept of "altruism" is a method of control really

Most religions tend to preach selflessness whilst being extremely self serving, greedy and power mad. Even governments tend to encourage the poor to be "altruistic" whilst giving the rich a free pass to hoard wealth

Infact it could be argued that the main advanatage of convincing people its a "good" thing is that it means the already rich people in a society have to worry less about the "not rich" people causing the wealth to become more easily distributed by being far more selfish and self serving

Funny how many religions are absolutely knee deep in wealth despite telling their followers they should give till it hurts

How many celebs who drive a charity event give more than a tiny fraction of their wealth to the cause? Many ONLY give their time.

But even where they do give cash its often overshadowed by a normal everyday working person giving £10 as a percentage of net worth and the impact it would have on each persons daily life

So is the concept itself all it appears on the surface or one that has been conditioned into the "peasants" as a way to help ensure they remain peasants?
 MikeWM
Joined: 2/7/2011
Msg: 69
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/27/2011 4:23:29 PM
I wonder if the chimp studier ever restricted their food supply to the point of a severe shortage then monitored how "socially altruistic" they were

Survival is pretty much always the overriding instinct

And in a pack animal your survival might be dependant on another pack member, who is likely to be far more likely to help you if you have done similar in the past

So what is classed as "altruism" could simply be a subconcious savings account of "good deeds" on the offchance that you might need one in return at some point

Chimpkarma even
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