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 apurfectmeow
Joined: 11/19/2011
Msg: 66
No such thing as a selfless good deed?Page 3 of 6    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
Is it not human nature to do things out of need?
It doesnt matter whether we want to but choose to do so.
There is always an element of personal gain either way even if the outcome could be negative for someone else.
 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
 JustDukky
Joined: 7/8/2004
Msg: 70
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/27/2011 7:39:20 PM
If someone perceived a duty to perform an apparently altruistic act and performed it, is the motivation selfish? Please explain why or why not.
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 71
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/27/2011 8:56:16 PM

Chimpkarma even

:roll:


If someone perceived a duty to perform an apparently altruistic act and performed it, is the motivation selfish? Please explain why or why not.


Perceived a duty - Idiots interpretation: I believe I am supposed to do this even though it is not in my best interest.

Is that selfish: Yes

Why: Because I have had a drink and it feels like it :) But other than that it has no option but to be selfish. When the act does not result in the termination of feelings (death) the act will always have some form of emotional impact. When the act leans towards altruistic that does mean to do good for another so any altruistic act must benefit another. Any act that the perceiver can observe as being a beneficial good act will trigger some form of positive feelings making the act mutually beneficial. If they triggered negative feelings it would be pretty safe to assume that most likely mutual benefit was lost and therefor the act was not properly beneficially altruistic. This leaves only mutually beneficial altruistic acts and since the base desire is to feel some level of good we are always going to be stuck at selfish.
Now, this may be a good chance to steer the topic to my ultimate favorite question of all… Well, close to it anyway. ? Is the nature of Man Selfish. In Mans core. My assumption is that, yes, Man is by nature selfish.
I know the second question to this must always be, (and my favorite all time question), is man by nature good?
My assumption is that by nature, man alone is not good. Man by nature is selfish. This always leads me back to the answer that Altruistic deeds are by nature selfish and good. Doing well for another is the only thing that defines man as being good.
Sigh… This also leads to society and that the core of society is by nature “good.”
 JustDukky
Joined: 7/8/2004
Msg: 72
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/27/2011 10:22:10 PM

Any act that the perceiver can observe as being a beneficial good act will trigger some form of positive feelings making the act mutually beneficial. If they triggered negative feelings it would be pretty safe to assume that most likely mutual benefit was lost and therefor the act was not properly beneficially altruistic.


Doing one's duty has consequences which can be either good or bad, but one would have to ignore the personal consequences if one is to be dutiful. If one takes his duty seriously, his feelings on the matter are immaterial. Personally rewarding or not, the duty must be performed. If the duty was to perform an act beneficial to another without regard to any private feelings or consequences suffered on the part of the doer, how does that detract from the act being altruistic if the consequences for the doer are negative, or at least selfless in the sense that the "do gooder" is operating without regard to any feelings he may have?

As an example, suppose you were in a restaurant and a guy went postal, pulled a machine gun out of his violin case and started shooting patrons. You are apparently the only one there with a gun of your own, a little .38 with target ammo in it. You know instinctively that getting a round or two into him will at least slow him down and probably kill him after a short while. You also know that he'll immediately turn his gun on you and most assuredly kill you before he dies. The payoff is that fewer people will die at his hand. Your duty is clear, but is your motivation ultimately selfish? Would you not do it without the "benefit" of feeling good about saving others?

Whatever became of doing the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do?
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 73
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/27/2011 10:57:48 PM

As an example, suppose you were in a restaurant and a guy went postal


Unfortunately... If you do not jump out and shoot the bas*** you will have to live your whole life in regret at not having done the 'right thing'. It is impossible to seperate out some form of selfish aspect :)


Whatever became of doing the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do?


This is why I hate this question. It is also the reason why I consider man to be selfish by nature. Also the reason why I consider it good to be selfish.

Man being by nature selfish also leads to my assumption that man "aslone" is by nature not good. Without others to do good for there is no effort to be selfish or selfless. We are empty and alone and without purpose.

That is where "doing the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do" lives.
 apurfectmeow
Joined: 11/19/2011
Msg: 74
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/28/2011 12:43:28 AM
Human nature does cause us to become what we become.
I dont believe we just do the right things just to be doing them.
That to me is a conscious choice not a natural one.
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 75
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/28/2011 12:46:56 AM

Human nature does cause us to become what we become.
I dont believe we just do the right things just to be doing them.
That to me is a conscious choice not a natural one.


At what point did a conscious choice deviate from what is natural :)
 apurfectmeow
Joined: 11/19/2011
Msg: 76
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/28/2011 1:04:58 AM
I think natural behaviors do not require thought and are more through instinct. If Im wrong let me know; I learn lots from discussions.
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 77
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/28/2011 1:33:09 AM
Instinct is only a perspective level below thought.

Humans have the concept of thought and animals can have the concept of instinct. Instinct is the desire to accomplish that may not necessarily contain a rational thought.

Humans also have the instinct to accomplish without natural thought. That would be the instinct to eat, to seek shelter, and what else?

It is not logical to separate humans from thought. Although it could be assumed that rodents have thoughts it is the complex thought of humans that we typically refer to as 'thought'.

So, although humans have instinct they are never completely instincts without thought. Especially in social situations. Note... social situations should not be described as mob situations which are on a different social level and separate from rational thought and instinct to act in one’s own self-interest.

So, although the natural behavior to eat does not require thought it does require thought to search out and find food. Especially if you consider that the food may be cooked. Rational thought does not exclude instinct. It includes it.
 apurfectmeow
Joined: 11/19/2011
Msg: 78
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/28/2011 1:47:18 AM
^Thank you kindly for the explaination and for being polite too~
 JustDukky
Joined: 7/8/2004
Msg: 80
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/28/2011 5:37:41 AM

Man being by nature selfish also leads to my assumption that man "alone" is by nature not good. Without others to do good for there is no effort to be selfish or selfless. We are empty and alone and without purpose.

That is where "doing the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do" lives.


I REALLY enjoyed that response, as you raised the issue that we largely (if not entirely) get our sense of purpose in the context of our social group. Life as the last man on earth would feel meaningless indeed. I couldn't help thinking how even the most selfish & self-serving measure their success in terms of others. How devastating it would be to them to inherit the earth and have nobody to keep it from.

More food for thought:

Man being the social animal that he is, it is natural that he would identify with his social group One might say that selfish concern for his own well-being is modified by this identification to the extent that sometimes concern for the well-being of others will override his own. I suppose one might say that the very definition of "self" becomes inclusive of others owing to this identification.

This concern can occur at the instinctive level (protecting the young), or at the emotional/rational level (moral duty). It does not however include the purely ethical level (duty to do "the right thing") for all that it resembles moral duty, because no emotional considerations enter into it, only the authentic holding to strictly ethical principles. In this case, I suppose the selfish consideration might be the potential shame of hypocrisy if one fails in his duty, but I would contend that a truly authentic man wouldn't be driven by fear of hypocrisy and simply do his duty. The question now becomes "Does the truly authentic man exist, or is he only an ideal?"
 abelian
Joined: 1/12/2008
Msg: 82
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/28/2011 8:32:51 AM

But individuals that partake in altruistic actions do not do action X 'because' (emphasis on the word 'because') they wish to satisfy some urge or attain pleasure or avoid pain as such; they perform action X 'because' they wish to attend to whatever need or desire they perceive a conspecific to possess.

I disagree with this. Consider an example where a person is drowning in a river. There are 50 people are standing around watching and 1 guy risks his life to save the drowning person. That would surely be considered an act of altruism at the level you are considering and I'm not dispiting that in the usual way people look at that your assessment would be inaccurate. However, by not peeling bak the layers further to understand the altruists reasons for doing something different than the other 49 people, you're overlooking the only interesting aspect of why he did what he did, which is what did he gain from it, consciously or subconciously.

If you were ask him why he did it, most likely he wouldn't really know other than something along the lines of him not being able to just stand by and watch someone drown because no one tried to do anything. Obviously, the first thing he gained was satisfaction from believing in his own ability to save the person drowning. The second was avoiding the sense of guilt he'd feel for allowing someone to drown without doing anything to save the victim. He may not be acutely aware of those things, but he is to the extent that he ``knows'' he couldn't just stand there and do nothing.

He may shun publicity for doing so and be very modest about rescuing someone, but deep down, his motivation was whatever psychological satisfaction he received from doing what he did. The only interesting question here is the psychological makeup that goes deeper than the superficial level of ``desiring to do good.'' Everyone does this to a limited extent. Have you ever gone somewhere with a friend even though you really didn't want to go? If so, you probably didn't go because you weighed the pros and cons of how going or not going would play out in the future. You probably did it because of some sense of obligation without asking yourself why you should feel obligated beyond not wanting to hurt someone's feelings. The interesting question is then what makes you feel better about not hurting someones feelings than not going somewhere you really don't want to go.

Why do people succumb to pressure from salesman when they really aren't sure they want to buy what they are being sold? For whatever reason, the salesmam knows what to say to get many people to feel guilty for ``wasting his time'' and/or whatever psychological buttons he can push. In that case, we don't call they buyer an altruist for doing the salesman a favor at the buyer's expense. We call the buyer a sucker.
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 83
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/28/2011 10:45:29 AM

This concern can occur at the instinctive level (protecting the young), or at the emotional/rational level (moral duty). It does not however include the purely ethical level (duty to do "the right thing") for all that it resembles moral duty, because no emotional considerations enter into it, only the authentic holding to strictly ethical principles. In this case, I suppose the selfish consideration might be the potential shame of hypocrisy if one fails in his duty, but I would contend that a truly authentic man wouldn't be driven by fear of hypocrisy and simply do his duty. The question now becomes "Does the truly authentic man exist, or is he only an ideal?"


A purely ethical level. What I think your leading toward here would be the next definition and one that I can't seem to recall the answer to :)

When I described "man alone" as being not good. I purposely didn't say evil. Your question starts getting to the point of what is man at his base nature. With that final question it is the basis for everything that follows. Is man good?

I held that "man alone" was not good. When alone there is no real point in having meaning. This ultimately leads to death without the continuation of the species so it would be challenging to say that there is good in it. Although, if you really want to have fun with this point, you might see that in this state of being alone is right about the point where the spiritual sense steps in and says that Man is not truly alone.

When we get back to your last question about the "authentic man" it sounds to me like you are actually referring to a pure 'ethical' man. One that operates in a direct line of good and purely rational. And your question wouldn't be, “Does one exist," but should rather be, "Can one exist?"

I do not believe so but should be interesting to see your take.
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 85
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/28/2011 11:43:23 AM

Interestingly, despite this perennial question almost always being framed in that way, it turns out that it is not the right way to pose the question.


Well, funny that its simplistic and that your arguments are that neither question works because man are capable of both. That seems a bit more simplistic. Of course they are capable of both. However, that does not answer the basic question.

The base question in absence of all other facts.
Is man selfish?
If yes then it should follow an assumption that as being a base nature the assumption of guilt / innocence and in justice it should be the default position that man is selfish and acts according to his own interests first above anything else until proven otherwise.

If no then the opposite should be true and the default position would be that man by nature is not selfish and if it is claimed against him that case must be proven beyond doubt.

The same can be said for if man is good or not.

The justification for not allowing the simplistic 'both' response is that to have the best possible laws one side or the other must be chosen as the default position. You shouldn't have both as foundations as that leads to a kind of confusing mess. Not unlike what we have today.

If I am good by nature as being judged default good by society and law then I am to naturally be trusted with my freedom to enjoy my day and strive towards my success with fewer concerns that my efforts will most likely lead toward the detriment of society.

If I am bad by nature as being judged default bad by society and law then I am to be controlled, watched, and restricted as being the highest benefit to myself and to society.

So, I would respectfully disagree that "having the capacity for both," answers the question sufficiently.
 TuffGuy666
Joined: 11/22/2011
Msg: 86
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/28/2011 2:54:26 PM
Have you ever came across the notion that there's no such thing as a selfless good deed?


Not long ago I was standing next to an old woman on a street corner. She started to lose her balance and almost fell into the street. In the nick of time I reached out and grabbed her, thus preventing her "spill", which undoubtably would have resulted in injury. I had nothing to gain.

Why wasn't that a selfless act?

On occasion I will pick up a stray dog and take it to the shelter. I have nothing to gain.

Why isn't that a selfless act?

you're actually (even on a sub-concious level) seeking assurance and respect


Maybe I am, maybe I'm not. How do we settle the issue?

By helping her, you are instinctively preserving your gene pool and that's more an evolutionary adaptive trait rather than just being altruistic because it makes you feel good about yourself.


That's ideology talking. How are you going to prove that assertion? (Evolutionary Psychology is largely Horsesh*t writ large.) I can't speak for anyone else, but I do altruistic acts because I value the recipient. It's about how I see them, not what they can do for me, or about preserving their DNA. An old lady on the street corner has no DNA worth preserving. But she has a consciousness that I want to help to avoid pain and suffering.




 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 88
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/28/2011 5:42:55 PM

The more illuminating question is, What are the underlying mechanisms that dynamically interface with all other relevant variables, and in so doing yield the behaviors in question.


Fortunately or unfortunately, you have chosen to exit the confines of human relationships :)

You’re leaving out the very basic sense of life with humans. The intelligence level is not flat. There are those that can function and thrive in an environment of infinite possibilities with chaos of organization where they find this state to be beautiful in its complexity and comforting without a definition.

However, that is not the general relationship that families live with, that neighbors have, that sports teams develop, and where communities work together and help out one another. I have managed teams of people and in groups the complexity of infinite choice is rarely productive. Having some sense of where to begin aligns people without a complex struggle.

When I walk in to your store to buy a loaf of bread, I do not consider the expansion of the universe and the organization of your cell structure. I want to buy some bread with a built in assumption that your bread does not contain mold and was actually baked today. Do I trust you because you are a good person or do I trust you because the government has inspected your store at some point in the last 6 months and found it to be reasonably clean?

We use to operate on the assumption that the bakers bread was fresh. That has been replaced by ratings systems. In this case regulations are telling us that it is not wise to trust our baker. Instead we should trust in their judgment. Although, they never do quite address the problem of the baker cleaning up the week that the inspection was announced. For some unknown reason the inspection is not entirely random...

We all form snap judgments. Those judgments are formed from our base assumption of what we believe 'people' to be. Although I will acknowledge that this is entirely cultural. But that’s another topic :)

If you were building your own country would your laws assume the goodness of people or their badness. It really is that simple. All of the complexity can be accounted for but not until you have a base assumption.

Looking at the regulations for the baker. As long as there is an assumption of trust it is ok to announce the inspection and to assume that even while the inspector is not present conditions would remain relatively consistent. If the assumption is to not trust then our regulations have failed to serve the best interests by a lack of proper enforcement.

edit: Just realized I need to link this to selfless good deeds somehow :) It will help to answer if it is possible for a selfless good deed to exist. There, linked with a shakey stick.
 ohwhynot46
Joined: 6/28/2009
Msg: 89
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/28/2011 8:45:18 PM
Instinct may just as well be a level above thought, no? I do believe, and have seen selfless acts. In the long run, if one believes in karma, actions outside of the benefit of the individual performing them may well benefit that individual, but the performance of those actions, in & of themselves shows nothing in regards to the acting individual's motivating factors. Being reticent to admit that there are those who do perform selfish acts is nothing more than the exhibition of the nature of humans to admit that there exist those who truly care about humanity as a whole.
 pappy009
Joined: 2/3/2008
Msg: 92
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/29/2011 9:38:32 AM
Interesting post....at 60 yrs old and when I look back on things and events, I for myself have done a lot for different people and never asked for anything in return...thats just the way I am...and when I did offer help...I never did it for my own ego needs but out of compassion for the person who was in need....and every time I helped I didn't feel good about it until after the fact....when I realized that what was done was done out of concern and not my own pleasure...after all its not something that happens every day. Its easy to be nice and difficult if your not.
 apurfectmeow
Joined: 11/19/2011
Msg: 93
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/29/2011 10:07:16 AM
^ You filled your personal need to remain compassionate so you did in a way benefit from every experience.
 pappy009
Joined: 2/3/2008
Msg: 94
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/29/2011 10:55:24 AM
Don't we all. I guess what goes around comes around.
 apurfectmeow
Joined: 11/19/2011
Msg: 95
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/29/2011 12:12:26 PM
Yes it does and in the end I know I do what makes me happiest.
Sometimes thats helping someone; sometimes its helping myself.
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 97
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No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/29/2011 9:03:46 PM

Thank you for your comments, though.


Cheers. Let me know when the study is complete and the report is ready. Hopefully within a hundred years or so. Maybe just in time to see the solution to global warming. :)
 AddHomonym
Joined: 12/26/2011
Msg: 98
No such thing as a selfless good deed?
Posted: 12/30/2011 12:12:14 AM
I've always liked this question.
I'll tell you what conclusion I've come to on the matter...who really cares?

This is a serious question. Why even bother asking it in the first place? It occurs to me that the only people who could think up such a question are the ones most threatened by the ideals of altruism. "Altruists" would likely never bother to think or ask such a question because helping others is something that comes naturally to them.

And what of the answers? Yes, no, maybe so...what is in it for those of us who try to find an answer to the unanswerable...or rather something that has an infinite number of answers. My guess, it's a fun question to ponder for people who like to argue.

What I think is important in this discussion is not whether or not the "altruist" is truly altruistic in the most rigid of terms but what sort of actions will lead us closer to the greater good? For example, I couldn't care less whether someone calls me selfish for giving my money to a worthy charity, saying that "selflessness" cannot exist doesn't stop me from wanting to help people. Any donations I make or charitable work I may do is always done as anonymously as possible because of my selfish desire not to feel embarrassed and singled out. I also don't want my donations to be compared to other people's because I give what I can, when I can - if my donation is larger, I feel slightly foolish, if it is too small, I'd feel cheap and selfish. Donating anonymously always makes me feel just right.

I also understand that my participation in this thread (and especially my comments) would disqualify from being nominated "Altruist of the Year"...lol Perhaps the fact that no such award exists anywhere should tell us everything we need to know about altruism?

Is it better for society for some people to give and then boast about their generosity (as I'm doing, it seems) or are there very real benefits for having a more anonymous system?

I do what I choose to do because I believe it is the right thing to do and also because it makes me feel good to do so. I also believe that there is no more foul a taste than words of praise in one's own mouth.

Please excuse me while I go brush my teeth...lol

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