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Altruism (Read 1051 times)

Offline bonesquirrel

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Altruism
« on: December 29, 2014, 12:54:32 PM »
Do you believe somebody can perform a 100% selfless act?

Offline transparently

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #1 on: December 29, 2014, 03:26:26 PM »
I don't know... Do you think that love is selfless?

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #2 on: December 29, 2014, 09:57:27 PM »
Does dying to save a life count?

Offline Bob

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #3 on: December 29, 2014, 10:50:57 PM »
I've heard performing a selfless act can make that giver-person feel good, so they always get a reward that way. So no, along those lines.

I'd say yes though.  The feel good factor would only count for so much.
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Offline bonesquirrel

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #4 on: December 29, 2014, 11:59:04 PM »
I don't know... Do you think that love is selfless?

Oh absolutely. I mean there is lots one can benefit from loving someone. But mostly its about the reproduction, we are designed to want to reproduce and reproduction (and wink wink) makes us feel good, an gives us mini us.

An if your going to go down the whole "Love is pure/one emotion" thing then forget it. Love isnt even its own emotion, its just a bunch of other things combined, always starting with lust and attraction before "lets go to the beach". Love to me, is Lust with commitments + Financial and Psychological benefits.

Offline cwjalex

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #5 on: December 30, 2014, 12:46:41 AM »
Do you believe somebody can perform a 100% selfless act?

i think it's possible but i believe that almost every action has a selfish motive to some degree.  whether it makes the person feel good or gives them security, or a positive sense of their identity it is almost never 100% selfless. 

yesterday when i went to a convenient store there was this guy outside that asked me if i had any change and i gave him some.  i am trying really hard to figure out some degree of selfishness in this act but i can't really come up with one.  i don't have a lot of money but i figured this guy needed it more.  i felt like crap before i gave him money and i felt like crap afterwards.  i believe the only reason i gave him money was because i thought he needed it more than i did.  i am not saying i am some great philanthropist as i am the first one to admit that almost everything i do has a selfish motive but i am struggling to come up with one.  it was a handful of change, it meant almost nothing to me and i really don't think "feeling good" was any motive to do it.  when i give in larger amounts or big gifts i admit that feeling good is definitely a motive but the handful of change i'm not so sure.   it's not a big selfless act but i think it may still count as a selfless act.

i am a generous and considerate person that enjoys helping people but i admit that just about every action is done partly because it makes me feel good or it gives me security in my identity.  often i do kind things because i feel obligated.  a lot of people might think i am a terrible person because of this but i can't lie to myself.  i know the reason that i do a lot of good things is driven by selfish motives.  even when i gave the guy some change i admit that i could be wrong and that it was driven by some selfish motive that i can't identify. 

Offline bonesquirrel

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #6 on: December 30, 2014, 01:23:26 AM »
Does dying to save a life count?

Give me a scenario of such an act. Any, make one up.

Offline cwjalex

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #7 on: December 30, 2014, 01:27:42 AM »
Give me a scenario of such an act. Any, make one up.

a killer says he's going to kill one person but someone can take their place.  you choose to be killed instead of the other person and the other person is a complete stranger that you can't relate to in anyway.  this could be a selfless act...although i don't know if this scenario has ever happened.

Offline Bob

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #8 on: December 30, 2014, 03:22:51 AM »
" i am trying really hard to figure out some degree of selfishness in this act but i can't really come up with one."


If it made you feel good to do something for someone, that's the reward. 

You could give the money to someone anonymously, like to an organization.
Or if you just threw away the money, you end up in the same place.

I'm not a big fan of carrying coins around.  If you got rid of those coins, instant reward for you.


In any scenario, the person doing the good deed might feel good about themselves for doing that.  That might be their payment.


I remember a religious guy I ran into once.  He would do things for people but it was like he was adding up a good deed tally sheet.  He'd help you out, but it wasn't really to help you.  It was so he could add a notch in the good deed tally list.
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Offline transparently

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #9 on: December 30, 2014, 04:53:26 AM »
I remember a religious guy I ran into once.  He would do things for people but it was like he was adding up a good deed tally sheet.  He'd help you out, but it wasn't really to help you.  It was so he could add a notch in the good deed tally list.

This is even worse when the tally sheet happens to be a resume for entry into college/grad school.

Offline bonesquirrel

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #10 on: December 30, 2014, 05:33:14 AM »
a killer says he's going to kill one person but someone can take their place.  you choose to be killed instead of the other person and the other person is a complete stranger that you can't relate to in anyway.  this could be a selfless act...although i don't know if this scenario has ever happened.

I understand where you are coming from, but in this case of saving someone else s life in replacement could simply be because you feel that their worth is higher or more important then your own (which it may well be).

Take Sin City for example, you might not get this quote, but there is one in there "An old man dies, a young girls lives. Fair trade". This you might say is an act of altruism since he is interested 100% in the interest of the girl. But there is a small part of it that makes him kind of need to do the act, because he feels like his uselessness if he doesn't, its even in there "show her your not completely useless".

Yet another example would be say Gran Turino. *SPOILER ALERT* at the end, Clint Eastwood is shot dead and he did not actually benefit from it, but the Asian boy and his whole family did. But yet again, I feel like a big part of why he purposely died was because it was the only way he could feel truly at peace with himself.

I believe Altruism to be ones mental image, of what is truly selfless. Much as perfection, a man may conjure up an image of what they see as the perfect woman, even if he summoned the woman that is perfect to him, it would not be perfect to anyone else (or many others). So it is still with flaw, therefore not perfect. It is perfect in the brain of the imagining, much like an a person performing a deed that he himself thinks as Altruistic, when you put it into the physical world and take science into account, its not real

Offline bonesquirrel

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #11 on: December 30, 2014, 06:00:07 AM »
I've heard performing a selfless act can make that giver-person feel good, so they always get a reward that way. So no, along those lines.

I'd say yes though.  The feel good factor would only count for so much.

Can I please point out that the very definition of a selfless act is an act at which the actor benefit 0% and the receiver(s) benefits 100%. So the fact that the actors brains pleasure center is stimulated by performing the act, is actually a benefit to the actor, since pleasure is beneficial at least if we are discussing the action of performing something in the physical world.

An the next part is just as false, so your saying since the good is less than the bad it makes it Altruistic? That is not true, since like I just said, if the act was selfless, there would be no good factor for the performer, only the receiver.

Offline bonesquirrel

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #12 on: December 30, 2014, 06:02:59 AM »
" i am trying really hard to figure out some degree of selfishness in this act but i can't really come up with one."


If it made you feel good to do something for someone, that's the reward. 

You could give the money to someone anonymously, like to an organization.
Or if you just threw away the money, you end up in the same place.

I'm not a big fan of carrying coins around.  If you got rid of those coins, instant reward for you.


In any scenario, the person doing the good deed might feel good about themselves for doing that.  That might be their payment.


I remember a religious guy I ran into once.  He would do things for people but it was like he was adding up a good deed tally sheet.  He'd help you out, but it wasn't really to help you.  It was so he could add a notch in the good deed tally list.

This goes against your last comment and with my reply reply to it. Altruism does not exist in this sense, since one still receive a reward even if the reward is extremely smaller than the consequences.

Offline cwjalex

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #13 on: December 30, 2014, 02:04:54 PM »
I understand where you are coming from, but in this case of saving someone else s life in replacement could simply be because you feel that their worth is higher or more important then your own (which it may well be).

Take Sin City for example, you might not get this quote, but there is one in there "An old man dies, a young girls lives. Fair trade". This you might say is an act of altruism since he is interested 100% in the interest of the girl. But there is a small part of it that makes him kind of need to do the act, because he feels like his uselessness if he doesn't, its even in there "show her your not completely useless".

Yet another example would be say Gran Turino. *SPOILER ALERT* at the end, Clint Eastwood is shot dead and he did not actually benefit from it, but the Asian boy and his whole family did. But yet again, I feel like a big part of why he purposely died was because it was the only way he could feel truly at peace with himself.

I believe Altruism to be ones mental image, of what is truly selfless. Much as perfection, a man may conjure up an image of what they see as the perfect woman, even if he summoned the woman that is perfect to him, it would not be perfect to anyone else (or many others). So it is still with flaw, therefore not perfect. It is perfect in the brain of the imagining, much like an a person performing a deed that he himself thinks as Altruistic, when you put it into the physical world and take science into account, its not real

in my previous example i am saying there is no reason at all that the person gave up his life.  it's my made up scenario so i can say that this is true.  at the same time i recognize that it may only exist in this made up scenario and that in real life it doesn't exist.

Offline bonesquirrel

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #14 on: December 31, 2014, 11:45:09 PM »
in my previous example i am saying there is no reason at all that the person gave up his life.

But there was a reason, because he would feel good about himself if he were to perform it and feel bad if the person was shot dead when he knew he/she could have prevented it.

But like you said its unlikely one would give there life just because of this reason, so I doubt this situation would occur to reality. There would have to be a motive, like your pregnant girlfriend or even just some kid, compared to you thats like 80.

Offline j_menz

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #15 on: January 01, 2015, 12:43:31 AM »
he would feel good about himself if he were to perform it

Only if they missed.
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Offline cwjalex

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #16 on: January 01, 2015, 01:18:18 AM »
But there was a reason, because he would feel good about himself if he were to perform it.

by saying that it would make the person feel good about themselves you are answering your own question by presupposing that it is impossible to perform an action without self gratification.  you are creating a circular argument that says altruistic acts are performed for selfish reasons, therefore they must be performed for selfish reasons.  you make it impossible to disprove by always claiming that at the very least there was a certain amount of pride or satisfaction gained.  how could it be any different since when we accomplish what we set out to do we logically feel satisfied?  a theory that claims to tell us something about the world should be falsifiable.  if every situation is compatible with the theory then there is no way to prove if the theory is true or not and therefore doesn't tell us anything distinctive of how things are.

i personally don't think this egoistic view of altruism is necessarily always true.  just because someone gains pride or satisfaction in an act doesn't mean that they performed the act for the purpose of experiencing these feelings.  people can perform altruistic acts because they want to help others.  in my previous fictional scenario the person was not motivated by positive feelings because that was part of the scenario.  in a fictional scenario we can make these assertions.  in real life you can't always know the motives behind every action.  you say a given action isn't a 100% selfless act because it is motivated by self interest.  like i said before, the problem with this statement is that it cannot be proved.  

Offline bonesquirrel

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #17 on: January 02, 2015, 02:14:50 PM »
by saying that it would make the person feel good about themselves you are answering your own question by presupposing that it is impossible to perform an action without self gratification.  you are creating a circular argument that says altruistic acts are performed for selfish reasons, therefore they must be performed for selfish reasons.  you make it impossible to disprove by always claiming that at the very least there was a certain amount of pride or satisfaction gained.  how could it be any different since when we accomplish what we set out to do we logically feel satisfied?  a theory that claims to tell us something about the world should be falsifiable.  if every situation is compatible with the theory then there is no way to prove if the theory is true or not and therefore doesn't tell us anything distinctive of how things are.

i personally don't think this egoistic view of altruism is necessarily always true.  just because someone gains pride or satisfaction in an act doesn't mean that they performed the act for the purpose of experiencing these feelings.  people can perform altruistic acts because they want to help others.  in my previous fictional scenario the person was not motivated by positive feelings because that was part of the scenario.  in a fictional scenario we can make these assertions.  in real life you can't always know the motives behind every action.  you say a given action isn't a 100% selfless act because it is motivated by self interest.  like i said before, the problem with this statement is that it cannot be proved.  


You seem to have a different definition of what Altruism is. You think that Altruism is an act where the performer has no motives to perform. What Altruism is, is an act that the performer receives no benefit, period.

I never said that someone who performs such an act has a selfish motive. I simply said that they DO benefit from it in some shape or form, no matter the motive. I am not concerned with motive, only with what the benefits are.

An as for it being impossible to prove, it is possible an already has been proven. Performing (or preparing to/attempting) a good deed stimulates the pleasure center of our brains, that's a scientific fact and I can link you studies if you wish.

Altruism is about what the performer receives, not what he thinks he will receive.

Offline cwjalex

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #18 on: January 02, 2015, 08:14:56 PM »
. Performing (or preparing to/attempting) a good deed stimulates the pleasure center of our brains, that's a scientific fact and I can link you studies if you wish.


link the study.  even if a study supports that idea it cannot say that every good deed always stimulates the pleasure center of the brain.  i'm willing to bet that even if studies exist it only tests a small amount of people and does so in very specific ways.  it cannot predict how every single person would behave and react. take psychopathy for instance, although it is not common there are still many people who are psychopaths that don't feel the same kind of empathy that most people feel.  i can easily imagine that although for most people good deeds stimulate the pleasure center of the brain, it doesn't necessarily hold true for everyone and every good deed.

Offline outin

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #19 on: January 02, 2015, 09:21:45 PM »
i can easily imagine that although for most people good deeds stimulate the pleasure center of the brain, it doesn't necessarily hold true for everyone and every good deed.


Of course it's not. The results of any kind of a study in human sciences are generalizations and there will always be anomalies. But people want generalizations and models and of course to a certain extend they do increase our understanding.

One viewpoint that hasn't been mentioned yet is that sometimes one does a good deed simply because it's not much trouble and there's really no reason not to. Yet it may be a big deal to the one on the receiving end. It's not always easy for an outsider to judge whether some kind of relevant self sacrifice is really present.
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Offline Bob

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #20 on: January 02, 2015, 09:43:57 PM »
Another angle... In a population -- human, animals, anything living, etc....  If you help someone else, you might be helping yourself out.  Or maybe not you, but someone else you'd like to help.  You/A know B.  You help C who helps out B.  Something like that.


Or... It removes any negative feelings you feel or would feel.  (although this is still a reward really)  If you see someone suffering, you help them, you don't have to see them suffering anymore. 


Haha... So would a person need to be completely unaware of what they're doing and completely unaware that they're doing something that benefits someone else?  Then it's completely selfless?  The doer-person feels absolutely nothing about the task they do?  Otherwise, they'd have some awareness and could feel good about themselves for what they did.
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Offline swagmaster420x

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #21 on: January 02, 2015, 10:03:35 PM »
Definitely impossible to do 100% selfless act unless you have no brain. People have too many thoughts in their stormy heads, and it's completely unfeasible for an individual thought to be selfless let alone thousands of them. People's number one instinct is to view the world with respect to their own self. Being selfless is inconceivable.

Offline bonesquirrel

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #22 on: January 03, 2015, 06:48:32 AM »
link the study.

I think a better idea would be to link you this, which covers multiple angels. Look at the very bottom for references. - http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic526279.files/Schwartz%202003.pdf

Offline cwjalex

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #23 on: January 03, 2015, 07:38:38 AM »
I think a better idea would be to link you this, which covers multiple angels. Look at the very bottom for references. - http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic526279.files/Schwartz%202003.pdf

i read the article and nowhere does it mention a study that shows doing good deeds light up the pleasure center of our brains.  that article supports the idea that altruism is possible, everywhere really, and that the egoist view is really cultural that is created rather than being human nature.  Here is a section of that paper:

"Taken together, these phenomena, and many others like them, make it clear that
altruistic behavior, whether dramatic or mundane, is not the least bit unusual. Helping,
comforting, sharing, and cooperating occur in children and adults. They occur in school
and in the home. They occur among acquaintances and among strangers. Although such
behavior does not always occur, it occurs sufficiently frequently, in sufficiently diverse
settings, that to deny the existence of genuine altruism requires extraordinary acts of
creative interpretation."


Offline bonesquirrel

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #24 on: January 03, 2015, 07:53:36 AM »
http://www.brainhealthandpuzzles.com/brain_effects_of_altruism.html - The title name is dumb, but the information in it is good.

Offline cwjalex

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #25 on: January 03, 2015, 10:53:41 AM »
An as for it being impossible to prove, it is possible an already has been proven. Performing (or preparing to/attempting) a good deed stimulates the pleasure center of our brains, that's a scientific fact and I can link you studies if you wish.

can you link me a study that would indicate that it ALWAYS stimulates the pleasure center of the brain?  for everyone for every good deed?  is there a study where they have tested this for very small actions and that 100% of people are affected in this way?  if not then some people could still perform some actions without receiving any benefit and the answer to your original question would be yes.

Offline j_menz

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #26 on: January 03, 2015, 11:11:05 AM »
If I were to gain greater pleasure from being nasty than nice in a particular circumstance, is it fair to say that just because being nice gives me some small satisfaction it is not purely altruistic, given I have forfeited greater pleasure?

Ie, shouldn't the sum be %Altruistic = k(%Inconvenience - % Convenience) + j(% Satisfaction Foregone - % Satisfaction obtained) ?
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Offline swagmaster420x

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #27 on: January 03, 2015, 06:31:10 PM »
This question is seriously stupid! Of course altruistic acts are possible, but it's just as clear that 100% selfless acts don't exist in any capacity. Humans are adapted to survive; if being kind and compassionate only helped others and never ourselves, we would not see that trait in ourselves as it would have been not just useless but detrimental to have. It's a favorable quality (karma manifests in
Many real ways) -- that's why we have so many people who are good hearted people! Common acts of compassion are, without doubt, driven by an instinct that is PARTIALLY in one's own interest. Just think about it. Even if you are about to perform the most "selfless" act in the world, which is at your huge expense, you'll be telling yourself "this is something a good person would do" and then as a corollary "if I do this I will be a good person" which is not a 100% selfless rationale. I would say any reason you can think of for doing anything is NOt 100% selfless.

Offline minimax

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Re: Altruism
«Reply #28 on: January 04, 2015, 05:00:25 PM »
Do you believe somebody can perform a 100% selfless act?

Drop the egoism and You will have Your answer - there is no need to believe anything then.

Unless one goes through the process of self-realization there is no way one can act selflessly. The motive is usually hidden, not perceived - as you act in duality. Only when there are no others, there is true love and selfless acting - as whatever You do, you do if for Yourself. You know for 100% that One is all, and All are One. There is no duality then, .... and you just play the game ... in consciousness.