I apologise for taking so long to respond and then some more for not having done this in alltogether more friendly 'cooperative' ( hehe) tone.
Originally posted by Illusionsaregrander
I disagree that Welfhard is projecting his own selfishness outward on this issue.
I was wrong of me to not be more specific in stating that we as human beings are more likely to think that others are as we are; it is after all the
basis of social interaction to project how we feel and would react onto others. That is why people find the world to be as they believe it to be and
why the original poster is apparently willing to admit to his less than 'stellar' expectations of the rest of humanity. In my experience good
people, that means the vast majority( as moderated by their means or absence of them) don't stop trying to be charitable and cooperative because
their efforts are not being reward as soon or as they may have expected.
I think we are using the term selfish, and selfless much more broadly in this argument than people do in common discourse.
I think it's the other way round as in common discussion selfishness is a distinctly bad thing and also presumed to be at least partially self
destructive. That's why religions are all based on selfless action thus in my opinion attempting to once again co opting our natural tendencies.
Always strange how faiths make themselves out to be the origin of morality or civil/moral standards of interaction when even the earliest records of
human beings shows our social nature; perhaps wild dogs ( who bring food to their injured and sick till they get better or die) believe in God too?
The average person would consider it selfless to give your lunch money to someone on the street and do without that day. We are taking into
consideration things like whether the "selfless" individual is actually expecting some reward.
I think the question should rather be 'when' they expect any kind of repayment in kind? Helping out in close social of family groups is naturally
more likely to be as good for you as it is the group but there are plenty of apparently 'selfless' action where the reward 'scheme' isn't in any
way distinct; perhaps we instinctively know that we may derive a long term reward but who's to say when or if at all? . Sure we can say that guilt or
a other emotions come into play but there are many ways to express such emotions that might be more obviously rewarding. I think it's very simplistic
to say or suggest that all of our actions are in fact selfish or self interested based on what has been said so far; it certainly doesn't seem to be
knowingly so in terms of planning.
Did they get a good feeling from the act? Do they believe they will be rewarded in heaven or by "karma?" Was someone watching them and they
now look good or noble in that persons eyes? Stuff like that.
So shouldn't this lead us to ask why people get 'good feelings' when they help others, believe they will be rewarded when they die (which they do
their best to put off for as long as possible) or find it necessary to impress others with their acts of charity? Let's rather ask why it seems to be
our nature to inspired/impressed when we observe the charitable/self sacrificing acts of others? Why don't the vast majority of us , if we were
selfish( knowingly or unknowingly), reject such acts as 'selfish' or worse? Why do our leaders get away with lying to us again and again and again
and again if we were not inherently trusting that they were mostly unselfishly trying make things better for everyone?
Commonly, we dont consider people who do things superficially selfless "selfish" but then we dont commonly go very deeply into that
Oh i think the majority is mostly taken in by superficial deceptive shows of 'selflessness' just as they are taken in by the sworn statements and
declarations of those they attempt to elect to better their communities. Perhaps you can see a way to argue that the problems of the world are due to
people being entirely selfish, instead of just being very much misrepresented in government, but as far as my reading goes actual polls of the world
population just consistently shows that people are by no means being represented by their so called elected officials. In fact we should ask what
planet their from.
We actually are not "all" about that, it isnt all about the good of the group. It is in large, "what is best for me" and the fact that we
are social of necessity means that "what is best for me" often is the same thing as "what promotes the competitive edge of my group."
Well perhaps it is time we deal with example's then as i can't seem to think of obvious critical examples where the good of large majority of the
group ( lets say tribe/nation, it becomes more interesting on tribal/national interaction levels) diverges significantly from that of what individuals
may expect at that moment in history. It seems to me that it is normally the minorities that have wildly diverging expectations or 'needs' that
creates societal upheaval and all that unsociable behaviour trough their uncompromising stance. But perhaps you have good examples?
I dont think selfishness is commonly considered to be bad for the individual and the group.
I can't think of a single instance where someone has been called selfish without ill will being intended. Being called a selfish person is always
used in a derogatory fashion where i come from but perhaps in the more 'evolved' capitalist societies, where self determination at the cost of
everyone else is acceptable, it may be considered a compliment or somewhat acceptable?
I think it is most commonly considered putting ones own interests ahead of the interests of all others.
Considering one's own interest and comparing that with those of your neighbours before choosing a compromise you think they will find acceptable or
understandable may be wrong but isn't in many cases selfish; doing what would benefit you economically, or otherwise, that leads to others being hurt
or economically disadvantaged is definitely selfish and normally. Basically this is why the current incarnation of capitalism can never be made to
work amongst social creatures.
I think selfishness is commonly considered to be "good" for the individual, and "bad" for others. I think a lot of what we have been
arguing here is that that is just too artificially simplistic.
What i am perhaps trying to suggest too subtly is that selfish actions can never be 'good' for a social creature; he may derive economic benefit,
temporary security or the admiration of others but it can not and does not lead to a emotionally stable individual that is accepted by his community.
That probably best explains why one does not meet happy selfish people?
How are our economies set up to benefit the group at the expense of the individual?
It's the other way round; the focus upon individual 'rights' , if they have economic power to gain their enforcement, comes at the expense of the
large majority of human beings on Earth. Certainly in some countries the numbers who can enforce these rights are large but in the main they were
created to defend the large majority of people.
If you look at human interaction, you dont see fundamentally cooperative creatures, you see creatures that are also trying to walk a line
between getting as much benefit as they can, while giving up the very least they can.
Well i don't see that but what i do see is masses of propaganda and 'cultural imperialism' that attempts to create this new 'norm' you have
apparently already accepted as intrinsic; the entire rest of human history not apparently playing much part in this conclusion. I see fundamentally
cooperative creates that are limited by their tribal brains that are perpetually trying to create groups ( 'part of my tribe'& everyone else) so as
to best make sense of the world. Our minds are not adapting as fast as the size of our 'tribes' have increased but we most certainly have loyalties
to far larger groups ( people we could never all meet) than we ever had before. I think that says something about shared identities and cooperative
behaviour as norm as i just don't see how the risk of dying for a nation of tens of millions ( plenty of others to die in your stead) can feature at
all in the mind of a fundamentally selfish creature.
Look how unwilling people are to consume less in order to "buy American" or buy less crap from WalMart to support local business and higher
local wages, etc.
They worked 8-10 hours a day at a job they overwhelmingly don't like so that they can ''buy American' to support the enrichment of the very same
American corporations who own the factories of the Chinese made goods? Why would people who are mostly unhappy about how life is just passing them by
( Americans can't be happy as happy people don't keep falling for the same imperialist claims of foreign enemies; Americans think their real and to
blame for their troubles hence their resentment) buy American instead of trying to fill the hole in their lives with as much cheap goods as they can
lay their hands on? Sure you could probably convince a satisfied happy individual to support a local producer at some cost to himself but just how
effective would even that be if the media of that town or nation kept telling that individual that he could feel even better if he just bought more
and more 'things'? Why are we surprised that people have become rabid consumers when we know that drug addicts will compromise their security and
prosperity to dull their emotional suffering for as long as they can?