The Selfishness of Selflessness

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posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 01:41 PM
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reply to post by Welfhard
 


Everything is selfish and everything is selfless. Those who fail are proof of a better choice, or of a greater understanding. We use their mistakes to fortify ourselves. They are the soilder who jumped on the grenade for his squad.

How many hitlers does an evolving soceity need to see before it expands beyond it? How many killers or rapists? I think there is a number for all societys.




posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 01:44 PM
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reply to post by Wertdagf
 


I dont disagree with the definition Wertdagf, I was simply responding to the way both the Op's examples and the Christian comment I quoted were using the word.

Even the example the OP uses of selflessness meaning "sacrifice for the next generation" is not considered, "selfless" by those who study evolutionary behaviors. They would say it is still the act of the "selfish gene" ensuring that the genes will survive in the future, because the survival of the individual is a foregone conclusion. It wont.

I too am fascinated by altruism and selfishness, and have done a lot of thinking on it. I am not sure we can do anything that is not selfish in the sense of us deriving some form of benefit. Even the hermit I mentioned might just be trying to get the person in need back out of his area. Or not wanting them to die there and stink up the place. Perhaps not only would that hermit have to be annoyed by the act, and expect no God to reward him/her, but they would also have to act knowing that saving the other would kill them and they left no children, and were completely unrelated to the person being saved.

So, I dont disagree that it is more selfish to act as the wiki link suggests, your own good at the expense of others. But as outlined in the OP, I wonder if much of anything we could ever do would have absolutely no benefit to us.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 01:46 PM
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reply to post by Illusionsaregrander
 


yeah i thought abou tit more and came to a better understanding which i posted while you were responding. thats why i removed it.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 01:49 PM
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Originally posted by Illusionsaregrander
Even the example the OP uses of selflessness meaning "sacrifice for the next generation" is not considered, "selfless" by those who study evolutionary behaviors. They would say it is still the act of the "selfish gene" ensuring that the genes will survive in the future, because the survival of the individual is a foregone conclusion. It wont.


Well exactly but I was taking a more individualistic approach. The idea of love which is truly unconditional, seems like the closest thing to an immediate exception.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 02:11 PM
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As it stands, we are "selves" and can only operate from that "perspective". It doesn't seem to me to be a matter of perspective so much as a matter of conditions.
We can feel we are good people, or we can simply get a good feeling inside ourselves for doing what we feel is right. But selfishness can be the same. We can feel it is right, and we can feel good being that way. To me it all comes down to balance and need. If our needs are met, we can be generous. If they aren't we need to survive.
The less we need, the more giving we become as individuals and as a society.
If we feel we are being taken advantage of, we give less. If we feel good with a person and our conditions we are willing to give anything we can.
Compassion for ourselves, leads us to understand and have compassion for others. But we can only concentrate on another when we are at peace within ourselves. Helping others to have peace will bring us our own peace. What came first the chicken or the egg?



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 02:14 PM
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reply to post by Welfhard
 


Yeah, it is a difficult subject to really pin down because of all the levels of selfishness that are possible.

You, your genes, your group, your soul, etc.

It is still a cool discussion. I doubt we will arrive at any final conclusion, this debate has been raging for thousands of years that we know of, but it is still enjoyable reading and debating it.

Science is bringing us some fascinating information on morality, including selfishness and altruism.

One aspect of it I find most interesting in evolutionary terms are computer generated models of evolution that seem to show that pure altruism cannot survive. In an altruistic system, it is inevitable in evolutionary terms, that "cheaters" will arise, and attempt to benefit from altruism without being altruistic themselves. Once this occurs, if the more truly altruistic do not discriminate themselves against the cheaters, the cheaters will overrun to extinction the pure altruists every single time.

Cancer in the body is an example of the immune system failing to recognize and discriminate against "cheaters" who have arisen in a basically altruistic group. And we know how that ends if some form of discrimination is not introduced.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 02:25 PM
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reply to post by Illusionsaregrander
 


Sometimes you need to suffer to grow. Sometimes empathy will call for you to hurt somone or allow them to suffer. Empathy is cancer resistant....



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 03:16 PM
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All actions are determined by whether or not it will provide me more comfort than what I'm currently feeling, that goes for everything. Not helping someone might cause pain, so you help them to avoid that feeling and perhaps so that you can label yourself "a good person" when in fact no such thing, in the context of this conversation, exists.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 06:37 PM
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Very very nice thread.

The one thing I have learned and have taught my daughter is to give to those less fortunate.

She loves to help raise money and participate whenever possible in Red Cross events. It makes her feel good.

Do I do selfless things for selfish reasons? Absolutely!!

I absolutely never FEEL BETTER than when I am doing something for others... it gives me a rush! That rush is actually addictive!

When I am out on disasters with the Red Cross as a volunteer or going and doing things that ultimately help others - I am at my happiest!

Knowing it makes me feel completely happy - I have even told the Red Cross people, I do the things I do for selfish reasons.

You can not get the feelings, energy or happiness felt when doing things for others from any drugs or other mind altering source.

I love it!!

So, I stand up and say, I am one of the most selfish people there are.... I do it for my personal happiness!!

Oh, the other benefit, is the people you help... you bring some happiness and assistance into their lives, which is being proved in the most postive way possible, by your own happiness in doing it!



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 06:52 PM
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If I do something nice for someone else.... like the OP's example of letting someone ahead of me at the grocery store because they only have a couple of items..... it is NOT because I hope that in the future someone will return the gesture and I will benefit. It is because of the moment... only the present moment and empathy toward the person in line. If you do something with a future benefit to yourself in mind, it tends to backfire. It really should stay in the present tense, and that way it is genuine.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 07:17 PM
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you have a point, as i believe there are only two types of people in the world - those that practice Service-To-Self, and those that practice Service-To-Others!

imagine how much greater that world would be if we were ALL Service-To-Others!!


lots of people talk about bad karma, but obtaining good karma is just as easily possible!


peace!



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 07:19 PM
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Originally posted by Wertdagf
Although it hurts me when others are hurt or makes me happy when others are happy, if i see myself as others can it be called selfish? A selfish act towards your own infinite universal body?



Being conscious of self is ok. Being self conscious is different, and taken too far is not a good thing.

I'm hurting real bad Wertdagf. Do you feel it? I'm sure the universe is writhing in pain for me and right along with me about now. I'm glad I am not the only one feeling it, otherwise I might start feeling overly special.

Anyone care to walk a mile in my shoes? You might find yourself to be in the shoes of the walking dead.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 07:30 PM
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Originally posted by adrenochrome
you have a point, as i believe there are only two types of people in the world - those that practice Service-To-Self, and those that practice Service-To-Others!

imagine how much greater that world would be if we were ALL Service-To-Others!!


lots of people talk about bad karma, but obtaining good karma is just as easily possible!


peace!


I learned a long time ago that there are three kinds of people in the world. 1. Those that make things happen.
2. Those that watch things happen.
3. Those that say,"what happened"

As for service to others, I'm all for a participatory economic system of government where service to others is the way to equality and prosperity. But the basic needs of the people must be met so that everyone has a sense of self worth and dignity. This includes food, shelter, education, health care, and opportunities for self improvement and advancement. No more Mr. and Mrs. Consumer deluxe or keeping up with the Jone's.
Check out this link.

www.newformulation.org...




posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 07:34 PM
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Nice, I did one of these topics for my Theory of Knowledge essay.

I concluded that we must all accept the fact that humans are selfish, unless the individual has some sort of a disorder that prevents logical thinking.


Nature has literally PROGRAMMED into our genes the so called "survival factor."



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 07:39 PM
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reply to post by John Matrix
 


What just happened there?



I agree. And to Questioningall, I agree with you too. I am admittedly selfish on many levels. But I also tend to derive more pleasure from selfless selfishness than selfish selfishness.

I also feel good when I do things for others. Most of the time. But I do also do things for others when it doesnt feel so good too. I have an 82 year old neighbor who often will call me to come up and help with this that or the other, and even on the days I would rather be doing something else, I go.

And sometimes I also feel that helping someone is the wrong thing to do, (if they are too dependent but capable of helping themselves,) and in those cases I think the highest good is served NOT helping them, even if it pisses them off and I have to hear what a jerk I am.

Selflessness is not a clear cut thing, it is a very complex dance of weighing your own highest best interests against the highest best interests of others.

I tend to think it is not just selflessness that matters, but very discriminate selflessness. You have to sort of use your intuition to guide you in the right times to give and the right times to refuse.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 07:39 PM
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Originally posted by Welfhard

Originally posted by John Matrix
The good that I do is not to bring glory to myself, but to glorify the divine creator who has already given me a reward which I do not deserve. By grace I have been saved through faith. From a greatful and thankful heart I seek to do good.


...Way to wreck the party, kill joy. Are you people completely incapable of original thought, I ask you?

[edit on 28-3-2009 by Welfhard]


I flagged your thread to ease the burden of your pain. A gift from "my people" to "your people".

BTW: My people have many original thoughts.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 07:43 PM
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Originally posted by Welfhard

Selflessness is Selfishness.

[edit on 28-3-2009 by Welfhard]



well finally someone else figured it out,

it just proves that its not being the most selfless person, its actually appearing to be the least selfish,

when you truly realize this ideal, the world becomes a much darker, but far more interesting place.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 07:49 PM
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I don't know how relevant it really is, but this does remind me of a debate that we had not too long ago on whether it is really better to give than to receive. www.abovetopsecret.com...



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 08:00 PM
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Originally posted by Illusionsaregrander
I tend to think it is not just selflessness that matters, but very discriminate selflessness. You have to sort of use your intuition to guide you in the right times to give and the right times to refuse.


If I do a good deed with no expectations, then it is unselfish.
If I do a good deed with expectations attached, then it is selfish.
The Lord works in mysterious ways. One might have an evil intention, but the Lord can work it for the good. All things work for the good of those who love the Lord.



posted on Mar, 28 2009 @ 08:02 PM
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reply to post by Welfhard
 


I've thought of this before, though I never thought it would be brought up on ATS...
You're right, every action is selfish - it has to be.

If you sacrifice your life for your son, you're only doing it because it's your son.
If you sacrifice your life for someone else's son, you're only doing it because you want to be the guy that sacrificed his life for someone else's son.





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