I always get a bit tired of the old ''altruism doesn't exist, you do it because it makes you feel good''. Even when the respective person
genuinely thinks he acts in this manner out of perceivably genuine compassion that 'desire to help' could be turned around by saying 'you're
acting out your desire'. I sometimes find myself in that circle of thinking as I sometimes read or hear something that makes me at first genuinely
want to congratulate, offer my condolences or wish a person all the best after which I suddenly think:
Is it about me or about the other? I want to offer some kind of 'support' to the other person, but am I actually burdening them with my intent? I
FEEL out of compassion or empathy or whatever it is a need to say this... ==> enter the loophole.
It's one of those circles or loopholes to which there's no answer for me but it makes me sometimes refrain from saying something like 'all the
best' etc. Even though the other person probably appreciates it and likes being seen, heard and acknowledged.
I think this is one of those things that can be pondered about into oblivion without any definitive answers. It probably leads to more cynicism
without actually offering an answer about the motives of a person. It's a bit like the question ''are there people who are genuinely themselves or
are they also creating a reputation?'' The invisible and ungraspable nature of subconsciousness makes that you can theorise forever... without
finding an answer, because even if you honestly feel or think a way, who says you aren't tricking yourself? Who says that it isn't part of your
desire to appear a certain way? (as in genuine, honest, empathetic, etc etc)
I have a certain issue with the moral implications behind intentions. They aren't really
there, but they're implicitly assumed because people
have assumptions and associations connected to certain words and motives such as 'selfishness' and on the other hand, 'altruism' or 'selfless
deeds'. Let's say a person does a seemingly selfless deed but it's proven that deeply within the psyche, it's about a certain kind of
self-gratification; now that would give it (to most) a kind of cynical twist, as in: see? Altruism doesn't exist. It's all about the ego.
But let's let go of the association with 'self = sin'. We then have:
A person doing a good/great deed. He or she is self-motivated eventually but does it from a genuinely perceived
intention of empathy,
compassion and good will.
Then I ask: what does it matter? Isn't what you want
that eventually defines you as a person and give definition to your amount of ethics and
kindness? The desire to help may eventually be self-motivated, but the fact on itself that it gives you a good feeling, and that you genuinely feel
you want to help a person shows what you are.
You aren't the one who desires to rule over others, to kill others for their money, you don't want to take advantage of them for your own gain.
I think that makes the whole point of 'is it selfish or not' rather vain. It's simply not about that.
It's not IF it gives you a good
feeling, it's about WHAT gives you a good feeling and your perceived honesty and sincerity in acting a certain way.
I think we're focusing so much on the 'selfish versus selflessness' that we forget to look a bit further or take a new angle.
Society probably encourages altruism because it puts people off that you can be selfish, yet not harmful. People seem a bit uneasy at the mere thought
that for instance, a person has no empathy yet is harmless. (a specific, theoretical person) It puts them off, which is exactly the reason we lose
ourselves in words such as 'eventually we're selfish'. We fear selfishness or that the other doesn't give a sh** about us and our feelings so this
whole discussion seems to make many people feel either uneasy or cynical, which is, as explained above, a shame in my opinion.
The mere fact that seeing selfless deeds happen, seeing someone care for another etc makes us feel good and fuzzy says something.
Even if we
look at these things to feel good and fuzzy (which is self-motivated, eventually). That that makes you feel good says something, just like it says
something if you feel good and fuzzy reading about the massacre at Babi Yar (which would be self-motivated as well, but it's completely different).
That most people probably feel horror reading about it (I felt for days as if I was a bit damaged by reading into it) is perhaps somehow vaguely and
theoretically deductible to a sense of self-preservation or however you want to twist it but that's imo a too far stretch to get cynical over.
And I don't think society is actively encouraging good deeds, that's my bit of cynicism on the matter