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Altruism?
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genghiscant
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:26 pm    Post subject: Altruism?  Reply with quote

Altruism. Does it exist? I define altruism as pure selflessness.
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cyberman
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was an episode of Friends all about this. The problem is that it is impossible to tell.

Person A could say "I am performing this kind act and there is no gain for me".

It is very easy for Person B to say "Ah, but you will enjoy the feeling of self satisfaction" or "Ah but you think it will improve your chances of going to heaven" or "Ah but you might then get favours in return if you spread a feeling of goodwill and co-operation, so you could end up benefitting", etc etc.

But none of Person B's remarks prove at all that the act was not selfless, do they?

I do think that people perform acts of altruism, but as I say it is impossible to know for sure.
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genghiscant
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't believe that pure altruism exists because before every action a calculation is performed, no matter how brief.
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm in agreement with genghis - I doubt if there can ever be such a thing as pure selflessness, if the definition of pure is construed as "without absolutely any personal consideration whatsoever." I just don't think it's humanly possible.
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JMC
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shaker wrote:
I'm in agreement with genghis - I doubt if there can ever be such a thing as pure selflessness, if the definition of pure is construed as "without absolutely any personal consideration whatsoever." I just don't think it's humanly possible.


I think it can happen "in the moment", as an unconscious act. Any attempt to calculate a situation will automatically bring in concepts of "self" and "me".

So, an almost unthinking kindness can be called pure selflessness, but to be able to unconsciously think of others and not yourself requires a lot of per-programming so that it is habit. I do believe this happens to people occasionally and to some people almost always and is intricately connected with humility - because pride will always bring in thoughts of self and "I" which - as you rightly say - make any act of altruism impure to a certain degree.
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cyberman
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

genghiscant wrote:
I don't believe that pure altruism exists because before every action a calculation is performed, no matter how brief.


Is it possible for the outcome of that calculation to be "This will have more adverse effects than benefits for me, but I'll do it anyway, because these people need help"?
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Ketty
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can only speak as a woman from my own experience and I'm sure many women who are mothers can say that 'pure' altruism exists.  I also know from self-sacrificing things done for me, that it exists.
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ketty wrote:
I can only speak as a woman from my own experience and I'm sure many women who are mothers can say that 'pure' altruism exists.  I also know from self-sacrificing things done for me, that it exists.

Neuroscience would disagree with you there, and frankly, with all due respect, between you and neuroscience, my money's on neuroscience
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cyberman
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shaker wrote:
Ketty wrote:
I can only speak as a woman from my own experience and I'm sure many women who are mothers can say that 'pure' altruism exists.  I also know from self-sacrificing things done for me, that it exists.

Neuroscience would disagree with you there, and frankly, with all due respect, between you and neuroscience, my money's on neuroscience


Sorry, how does neuroscience show that the self-sacrificing things done for Ketty were not altruistic?
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The Boyg
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cyberman wrote:
Shaker wrote:
Ketty wrote:
I can only speak as a woman from my own experience and I'm sure many women who are mothers can say that 'pure' altruism exists.  I also know from self-sacrificing things done for me, that it exists.

Neuroscience would disagree with you there, and frankly, with all due respect, between you and neuroscience, my money's on neuroscience


Sorry, how does neuroscience show that the self-sacrificing things done for Ketty were not altruistic?


I don't know about neuroscience but Dawkins would suggest, backed by a reasonable amount of observational evidence, that seeming altruism between related organisms is inspired by the preservation of shared genes.

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