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The Selfishness of Selflessness

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posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 06:49 PM
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Originally posted by grimreaper797
For instance:
Selflessness-"I do not love, I am not happy, I have no reason to act out of personal gain. I will do for others, because nothing else I do has a logical reason behind it, since there would be no gain from the acts."
Selfless Sacrifice- "I love, I am happy, I love my job, but logic tells me the gain of giving all that up for others greatly outweighs the gain of continuing my selfish acts. "
Such a situation would be, you have a job, a loving family, and a great deal of money. You give all that up, and die, with no expectation of a reward via afterlife, to save a bus full of school children.


The issue with I have with this is that If you are in a place where you no longer gain from selfish acts, and the gain of others is of no value to you, why act logically?

You can't gain so you automatically start acting on logic only? You are only going to act logically if you care about or are otherwise motivated acting logically. Why would I care?

A question. Does the individual feel pain and sadness? Both of these things are negative motivators, both can play a large role in decision making, and both are automatically selfish/self-centred factors in any decision.
So in theory, even a person who feels no joy, can make selfish decision - ones based on preservation of self.

Happiness is only one motivator that goes into the process of decision making, so I put it to you that a person who feels no happiness can and will still do selfish acts.

[edit on 29-3-2009 by Welfhard]




posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 10:07 PM
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reply to post by Illusionsaregrander
 


Overall the tone I got from this post kind of felt like "this person is unhappy, here's a better approach to making decisions to change that."

This is not the case. For a moment drop all your assumptions. Drop the assumption that it is inherently good to be selfless. Drop the assumption that it is bad to not be happy. Drop the assumption that "everyone should be happy."

Approach Selflessness and Selfishness like you would any other trait. Some people have one, and some people have the other. It is that balance, or ratio, which allows the system of things to work in harmony.

If you try to push the idea that you should work toward a problem solving pattern that includes your emotions, you are basically asking everyone to put selfishness into the equation.

I will give an example that was referenced in this thread. Somebody mentioned the prisoners game:
Two people are faced with a choice. If they both stay silent, they both get 6 months. If they both rat on each other, they both get 5 years in prison. If one rats and the other is silent, the one that ratted goes free, and the one that remained silent gets 10 years in prison.

Now, the selfish act is to rat regardless. You either get nothing or 5 years. If you remain silent, you get 6 months or 10 years. Usually both people rat and get 5 years.

The character I am depicting would stay silent, KNOWING that the other person would probably rat. The reason being, they have no logical reason to do otherwise. Either this character bites the bullet and acts selflessly, or the character lucks out and the other person stays silent as well, meaning they both go the best possible valued choice.

So to sum it up.


you need to make it part of your rational process to consider your emotional response to your choices.

No, you don't. In fact, that was my entire point. The only way you can be defined as selfless is to NOT consider YOUR emotional response.

I'm not saying selfless is good or bad, or better than being selfish, just that in order to be selfless, that is how it goes. It has nothing to do with want. If you are selfless, you don't want anything, and don't really care how you are feeling. Whether you are happy or sad, whether a situation is horrible or great, none of it really matters to you.

As a result, you don't really worry about making decisions based on emotions, because they are irrelevant to you.



posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 10:28 PM
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Originally posted by Welfhard
The issue with I have with this is that If you are in a place where you no longer gain from selfish acts, and the gain of others is of no value to you, why act logically?


Because it is human nature to act logically. It's literally a separate part of the brain from emotions. You negate emotions, and all you are left with is logic. You wouldn't act illogically, only act on what you thought was logical.



You can't gain so you automatically start acting on logic only? You are only going to act logically if you care about or are otherwise motivated acting logically. Why would I care?


Acting logically has nothing to do with caring. Caring has to do with emotion. Logic is like "If I shoot him, his life ends, and I spend the rest of my life in a jail cell. That doesn't seem like anybody gained from that choice." In short, it is illogical to do that. It is cold, it is completely uncaring, but it is the logical mind set.

Your mind goes "Do I choose action A, action B, or no action at all." If the choice is devoid of emotion, and you refuse to pick the logical choice, how can you come to a decision at all? Choices are made on A. rational or B. emotion. If you don't act out of emotion, you must be acting solely out of logic.

You wouldn't care, but that would merely stop the emotional aspect of decision making, not the act of decision making itself.



A question. Does the individual feel pain and sadness? Both of these things are negative motivators, both can play a large role in decision making, and both are automatically selfish/self-centred factors in any decision.


Again, I think you have a very hard time being able to understand any being outside of your own experience. Not every individual feels and reacts to pain and happiness the same way you do. Some people might not react at all, some may react violently to what is suppose to be a pleasurable act.

If you are selfless, it doesn't matter if you are happy, or rock bottom. You don't care about what happens to you, or what you lose. It is irrelevant to you.



So in theory, even a person who feels no joy, can make selfish decision - ones based on preservation of self.


Obviously when it comes to things like drinking water and eating food, that is not a selfish decision, that is a "if I don't do it, I will directly die as a result, with nothing gained from it."

I need water to survive. If I don't drink water, that doesn't make me more selfless, that just makes me stupid. There is no third party in the situation. There is no third option. You either make the "Selfish" decision, or you commit virtual suicide by not drinking the water. Neither choice has anything to do with selflessness.

It goes right back to logic. If there is no third party to act selfless toward, the next most logical conclusion is to pick the selfish choice, as it makes more sense to live longer, rather than dying very shortly, with no gain to any party.



Happiness is only one motivator that goes into the process of decision making, so I put it to you that a person who feels no happiness can and will still do selfish acts.


You should rephrase that to "Happiness is the only one motivator that goes into the process of MY decision making" since this is all you are basing your statements on right now.

Emotions and Logic are the two basis for decision making. You are trying to paint a picture that emotions are the only way to make decisions. That may be the case for you, but not all people. Some people mix the two, some use solely emotion, some use solely logic. If you use solely emotions, every choice you make will be 100% selfish. If you use solely logic, every choice you make will be 100% selfless. If you mix the two, who know what you get, depending on how you go about it.

What is obvious is that when you use solely logic or solely emotion, one party gains a great deal, while the other party suffers immensely.

Now if one party is willing to endure that suffering because they feel it is the rational thing to do in their mind, that is a whole different discussion entirely.

[edit on 29-3-2009 by grimreaper797]



posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 11:01 PM
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reply to post by grimreaper797
 


Ok so you're saying that nihilism leads to the shutting down the parts of the brain involved in emotions. Just because someone cannot feel happiness, doesn't mean they won't feel negative emotions.

If you can 'negate emotion' when emotion is as much a part of what we are as logic is, then you should also be able to negate logic - not that I'm really saying one ought negate logic when one can nolonger gain.

You have already mentioned that a person who can't gain from selfish acts may still do things to delay death like drinking and eating.
Therefore doing what one needs to do to sustain life and avoid self destruction (which is the definition self preservation) are still a part of decision making even when one gains nothing.

One cannot gain from selfish acts so you say that selfish acts have 0 value to them. Well perhaps loss (destruction) from acts (selfish/selfless or otherwise) have negative value on the asumption that they have not committed suicide. The fact that they haven't committed suicide demonstrates that they are avoiding loss.

You may not pursue gain anymore, but that doesn't automatically mean you don't avoid loss.


If one makes decisions on this abstract value system, they will act selfishly, happiness or not.


Emotions and Logic are the two basis for decision making. You are trying to paint a picture that emotions are the only way to make decisions. That may be the case for you, but not all people.


The only people who don't make decisions based at least in part on emotions are people who are brain damaged. Having a working emotion system means you can't not make emotional decisions.




However I'm still at a loss as to how you conclude that decisions based exclusively on logic will only result in selfless acts. Preservation of self isn't logical?

[edit on 29-3-2009 by Welfhard]



posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 11:15 PM
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selfless actions are not selfish

if anything is done with expectations, whatever it is, then it is just not a selfless action in the first place, so that debate is based on a wrong assumption, turning things the wrong way round.

the real question is
"are you really doing this selflessly ?"

if answer comes anywhere close than "it makes me feel good", "i expect to get the same treatment" then it is just not selfless, but in no ways this means selfless actions are selfish. You are discarding the possibility of purity by lack of consciousness about what is "action", "why are you doing what you you do the way you do it ?".

selfless actions are possible indeed; there is huge gap between pretending and being.
between what seems and what is.

bring on the real stuff :

why are we always pretending ? and never are really real ?



posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 11:23 PM
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Originally posted by ::.mika.::
selfless actions are not selfish

if anything is done with expectations, whatever it is, then it is just not a selfless action in the first place, so that debate is based on a wrong assumption, turning things the wrong way round.

the real question is
"are you really doing this selflessly ?"

if answer comes anywhere close than "it makes me feel good", "i expect to get the same treatment" then it is just not selfless, but in no ways this means selfless actions are selfish. You are discarding the possibility of purity by lack of consciousness about what is "action", "why are you doing what you you do the way you do it ?".


You're sure about that? There is nothing for us in truly selfless actions, no benefit, unless you believe that there really is a greater good, something that is not only more important than you but something that even you value more than yourself. You will only do truly selfless acts if you value others more than yourself. BUT in that case your selfless acts will be appealing to your values and will cease to be truly selfless.

[edit on 29-3-2009 by Welfhard]



posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 11:28 PM
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Originally posted by Welfhard
Ok so you're saying that nihilism leads to the shutting down the parts of the brain involved in emotions. Just because someone cannot feel happiness, doesn't mean they won't feel negative emotions.


You are saying that perspective is shutting down parts of the brain, that is illogical and unlikely. It is parts of the brain failing to work the standard way, that leads to the perspective.

In other words, it is not the perspective which is shutting down parts of the brain involved with emotions, it is a difference in the part of the brain dealing with the emotions that leads to the perspective. That is only logical.

Our perspective is based on experience. If your experience is severely limited in emotional response, or even devoid of it, than obviously a perspective on the world which has little emotional basis is likely.

Basically, you got it mixed up.



If you can 'negate emotion' when emotion is as much a part of what we are as logic is, then you should also be able to negate logic - not that I'm really saying one ought negate logic when one can nolonger gain.


The ability to negate emotion is no more controllable than your ability to negate or control logic. You cannot control your logic capabilities. You cannot control your emotional capabilities.

If emotion is negated, via biological or psychological reasons, than logic will take over mostly, or completely. If logic is negated, emotions take over as the primary decision tool mostly or completely.

Ever meet somebody incredibly illogical? It isn't something they control. Usually they make decisions off of emotions, because their brain essentially negated logic.

It isn't something you consciously do, or are in control of, its more or less part of who you are.



You have already mentioned that a person who can't gain from selfish acts may still do things to delay death like drinking and eating.
Therefore doing what one needs to do to sustain life and avoid self destruction (which is the definition self preservation) are still a part of decision making even when one gains nothing.

One cannot gain from selfish acts so you say that selfish acts have 0 value to them. Well perhaps loss (destruction) from acts (selfish/selfless or otherwise) have negative value on the asumption that they have not committed suicide. The fact that they haven't committed suicide demonstrates that they are avoiding loss.


You keep assuming that selfishness and selflessness is decided based on solely whether you gain or not. This, in itself, is a self centered viewpoint.

Just because you gain from a choice does not make you self centered. Selflessness is choosing the choice that has the most value (point), regardless of whether it is good or bad for you. Just because it is not bad for you, does not make the act selfish. To assume so, is selfish in itself.

Present a selfless person two choices. Survival or death. They will choose survival. If you say survival or death, but you will die saving a family. They will choose death. Both choices were selfless.

The reason being that selfless isn't whether or not YOU gain or lose as a result of your choice, but logically picking which choice has the greatest value or point.

You are defining selflessness as which choice do you gain the least from. By that mindset, you would again be selfish, just in a destructive manner. A selfish choice is a choice based on whether YOU gain. A selfless choice is based on which choice has the most gain or point to it, regardless of whether it is you who gains or not. Usually it won't be you, but that doesn't mean it is impossible.

The point is a selfless choice is a choice made based solely on logic, and nothing else, completely disregarding yourself, and treating it as though you have no part in it. If you are the one that ends up gaining from it, so be it. If it ends up you are the one who loses the most from it, so be it.


It is also worth mentioning then that selfishness is not necessary the choice that negatively effects other people the most, just what choice gives you the most to gain.

Just because you made a choice that is 100% selfish does not mean that others won't gain greatly as a result.

In short, your assumptions of what it is to be selfish or selfless are off base. Just because you act selfishly does not mean others suffer, and just because you act selflessly does not mean you must suffer.




The only people who don't make decisions based on emotions are people who are brain damaged. Having a working emotion system means you can't not make emotional decisions.


That simply isn't true. Just because I have emotions doesn't mean I can't look at it from an outside perspective. Removing yourself from the situation isn't as difficult for some as you make it out to be.

That being said, you can also look at this from a purely emotional standpoint as well. You can "go with your gut" which is essentially saying "screw logic, this is what my emotions want, so that's what I am going to do."

You are again generalizing other people, simply because it is beyond what you are aware of/capable of doing. Just because you or I cannot see things a certain way, does not mean somebody else can't.

What you are capable of doing, and what somebody else is capable of doing, are two different things. Nobody has the same brain wiring, so it is naive to assume that their brain works the same way as yours.


edit: to make sure you don't get it confused, first I said that your CAPABILITIES are not in your control, that does not mean utilizing the capabilities you have are not in your control. Your capabilities are set in stone usually. That does not mean your utilization of said abilities is something you can't control. That is the part which you do control, how you use the capabilities you have.

[edit on 29-3-2009 by grimreaper797]



posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 11:33 PM
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reply to post by grimreaper797
 


very tough if not impossible to make understand these things to people not inclined to exploration of mind and consciousness, not inclined to be master of their mind and emotions... and without their own will to grow (up)



posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 11:38 PM
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Originally posted by Welfhard
something that is not only more important than you but something that even you value more than yourself

[edit on 29-3-2009 by Welfhard]


yes and that is called LOVE

(but this realization is not the result of an intellectual process)



posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 11:53 PM
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Originally posted by grimreaper797

Originally posted by Welfhard
Ok so you're saying that nihilism leads to the shutting down the parts of the brain involved in emotions. Just because someone cannot feel happiness, doesn't mean they won't feel negative emotions.


You are saying that perspective is shutting down parts of the brain, that is illogical and unlikely. It is parts of the brain failing to work the standard way, that leads to the perspective.

In other words, it is not the perspective which is shutting down parts of the brain involved with emotions, it is a difference in the part of the brain dealing with the emotions that leads to the perspective. That is only logical.

Our perspective is based on experience. If your experience is severely limited in emotional response, or even devoid of it, than obviously a perspective on the world which has little emotional basis is likely.

Basically, you got it mixed up.


People with emotions always act selfishly - it's the nature of emotion. Ergo people who act selflessly are not emotional at all, but logical - and people who are solely logical are brain-damaged because healthy brains can't suppress normal brain function.

To sum up:
True selflessness = equals brain-damage.




If you can 'negate emotion' when emotion is as much a part of what we are as logic is, then you should also be able to negate logic - not that I'm really saying one ought negate logic when one can nolonger gain.


The ability to negate emotion is no more controllable than your ability to negate or control logic. You cannot control your logic capabilities. You cannot control your emotional capabilities.

If emotion is negated, via biological or psychological reasons, than logic will take over mostly, or completely. If logic is negated, emotions take over as the primary decision tool mostly or completely.

Ever meet somebody incredibly illogical? It isn't something they control. Usually they make decisions off of emotions, because their brain essentially negated logic.


The right-brain people, in other words, negate logic.



You keep assuming that selfishness and selflessness is decided based on solely whether you gain or not. This, in itself, is a self centered viewpoint.

No I keep assuming the definitions of the words.


Just because you gain from a choice does not make you self centered.

Just lucky, or right.


Just because it is not bad for you, does not make the act selfish. To assume so, is selfish in itself.

It is if you are the only person involved in the situation, otherwise you are lucky.


The point is a selfless choice is a choice made based solely on logic, and nothing else, completely disregarding yourself, and treating it as though you have no part in it. If you are the one that ends up gaining from it, so be it. If it ends up you are the one who loses the most from it, so be it.

But decisions that you make solely based on logic AND you have disregarded yourself from are situations that you are not actually a part of. If you are involved in the situation, you are just as important as any other individual or moreso. Disregarding yourself from situations that you are apart of is illogical.


It is also worth mentioning then that selfishness is not necessary the choice that negatively effects other people the most, just what choice gives you the most to gain.

It's not whether you gain the most, it's whether you gain at all.


In short, your assumptions of what it is to be selfish or selfless are off base. Just because you act selfishly does not mean others suffer, and just because you act selflessly does not mean you must suffer.

I never said they did. In fact I said otherwise in the OP, pointing out that helping other people over yourself tends to be good for you in the end anyway. That fake selflessness is an evolved behaviour because it works better than immediate selfishness.


That simply isn't true. Just because I have emotions doesn't mean I can't look at it from an outside perspective. Removing yourself from the situation isn't as difficult for some as you make it out to be.

If you take an outside perspective to a situation that you are a part of then you it's the logical thing to do treat yourself as an equal to others, all men are equal after all.

[edit on 30-3-2009 by Welfhard]



posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 11:58 PM
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Originally posted by ::.mika.::

Originally posted by Welfhard
something that is not only more important than you but something that even you value more than yourself

[edit on 29-3-2009 by Welfhard]


yes and that is called LOVE

(but this realization is not the result of an intellectual process)


Yes in which case you will not be satisfied until the individual(s) you love have benefited as much as they can. But even then have you not noticed that people neglect the ones they love anyway? You're more likely to be killed by a loved one than a stranger. You'll need to prove that unconditional love exists, which is a tall order.

But like I said making sure that the ones you "love" benefit with disregard to oneself is still appealing to ones own value system and is still to a degree selfish.

[edit on 30-3-2009 by Welfhard]



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 12:27 AM
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Originally posted by Welfhard
People with emotions always act selfishly - it's the nature of emotion. Ergo people who act selflessly are not emotional at all, but logical - and people who are solely logical are brain-damaged because healthy brains can't suppress normal brain function.

To sum up:
True selflessness = equals brain-damage.


Haha, I love how you sum up any function outside of "normal" brain function as brain damaged.

No need to really go any further with this.





No I keep assuming the definitions of the words.


www.merriam-webster.com...
Selflessness: Having no concern for self.
Selfishness: Concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself.

Notice how the definitions of both words have nothing to do with gain. If you have no concern for yourself, that doesn't mean every choice you make must have no gain for yourself. Having no concern for yourself only means that the choice you make has nothing to do with you, and solely based on logic.

Likewise, Selfishness deals with concern, and has nothing to do with whether or not others are damage by such acts.

So no, you were assuming the wrong definitions for the words.



It is if you are the only person involved in the situation, otherwise you are lucky.


Since you are using your own definitions for the words, that may be the case. When it comes to the actual definitions of the words selfish and selfless, you are wrong here.



But decisions that you make solely based on logic AND you have disregarded yourself from are situations that you are not actually a part of. If you are involved in the situation, you are just as important as any other individual or moreso. Disregarding yourself from situations that you are apart of is illogical.


You are disregarding your emotions. Since you cannot factor in everyone else emotions, there is no logical reason to include your own. You are equal, therefore, if your one life can save two lives, you pick saving the two lives, regardless of the consequence to yourself. Your emotions don't play a part in that.

You just proved my point. Logic dictates you are just as important. Emotions dictate you are the only person that is important. By logic, most of the time, you will act selflessly, as the loss of 1 person is less than the loss of multiple people.

If some person is going to get beat up and you can A. let them get beat up, and they lose 100 dollars, and have to go get a cast on their arm or B. interfere, in which the guy pulls out a knife and kills you, the logical choice is to choose A. That is the SELFLESS choice. It is selfless because it had nothing to do with you. It had to do with the logic of the solution. Having a person out 100 dollars and a broken arm, is better than having a person dead+whatever damage was already done to the other guy. The reasoning had nothing to do with your emotions or your personal well being, just the weighed effects.

That is selfless, according to the definition.

You probably don't see it that way, but your definitions of the words selfish and selfless are also wrong, so that may happen.



It's not whether you gain the most, it's whether you gain at all.


No, it isn't. By definition, it is about CONCERN for yourself only. Your choice will always and 100% be about what choice gives you the most to gain, when acting selfishly. It is really that simple.




If you take an outside perspective to a situation that you are a part of then you it's the logical thing to do treat yourself as an equal to others, all men are equal after all.


Correct, and since you cannot take into account anybody's emotions, you should not take in your own, or else you are no longer treating yourself equal, therefore not treating yourself apart from the situation.

If you keep your emotions out of it, you remove selfishness from the equation.



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 02:32 AM
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When one realizes he needs nothing in return for any act of kindness or caring, I can understand that as selfless, simply because in self-realization there is nothing you need that you do not already have.

I do not give love because I need or want it, I already have it. I do not extend gratitude and caring because I expect it to be given in return, it's already a part of me. It took me years of excruciating self-victimization, abuse, loss, and suffering to understand and accept this is truth, instead of externalizing everything in seperation. That contrast was integral to my personal evolution spiritualy, mentaly, and physicaly.

Unfortunately human language creates more distractions and barriers in its current biology, they are mere labels on something that is already apart of us and always has been. Illusion after illusion after illusion.

We are all selfless in our natural state, not the percieved "natural" state of fear, deception, and manipulation. That's not who we are and it's distressing that so many still buy into this belief system. That's all it is, a belief system, and it doesn't own us, we aren't property.

Be In Peace.



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 06:12 AM
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Originally posted by grimreaper797
www.merriam-webster.com...
Selflessness: Having no concern for self.
Selfishness: Concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself.

Notice how the definitions of both words have nothing to do with gain.
Not expressly but the definitions are very open ended.

For instance according to this selflessness is "having no concern for self". Nowhere does it mention other's, therefore a selfless act does not need to explicitly involve others, rather just an act where your benefit or detriment is irrelevant. That's strictly going on these definitions anyway.


If you have no concern for yourself, that doesn't mean every choice you make must have no gain for yourself.
Yes I know. I knew that from the op.


Having no concern for yourself only means that the choice you make has nothing to do with you, and solely based on logic.
But the definition doesn't mention logic, certainly not that the act explicitly has to be based on logic. Again, it also doesn't mean concern for others, in fact both the definitions are self-relevant.


Likewise, Selfishness deals with concern, and has nothing to do with whether or not others are damage by such acts.
Again, I know. But it must be asked; in this context what does 'concern' mean? What could it mean if not personal gain, loss or preservation?


So no, you were assuming the wrong definitions for the words.
Well if I'm assuming the wrong definitions, then so are you. "Notice how the definitions of both words have nothing to do with gain." Well they don't say anything about logic or emotions which you assumed into the definitions strait away. I also believe you brought up 'gain' first, not me (let me check... Yep: www.abovetopsecret.com...).


You are disregarding your emotions.[by your definition] Since you cannot factor in everyone else emotions, there is no logical reason to include your own.

What do you mean you can't factor in other people's emotions? We can predict other peoples emotions fairly well with empathy and sympathy. If we are making decisions relating directly to others, then their emotions are very important.


That is selfless, according to the definition.

No, not really. The situation that best fits the definition IS suicide - it may be made on emotion, sure (not that emotion is part of the actual definition) but it is not made with concern for self, unless the definition of concern includes self-destruction (you tell me: Concern).


No, it isn't. By definition, it is about CONCERN for yourself only. Your choice will always and 100% be about what choice gives you the most to gain, when acting selfishly. It is really that simple.

No, it isn't. If you act with the sole intent of personal gain (not that gain is part of the actual definition), that is selfish - even if out of the act others benefit more than you, you got what you were concerned about and what happened to others is besides the point.


Correct, and since you cannot take into account anybody's emotions, you should not take in your own, or else you are no longer treating yourself equal, therefore not treating yourself apart from the situation.

You can take into account emotions of others, and since you can, you ought to take into account your own along with others.

[edit on 30-3-2009 by Welfhard]



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 10:40 AM
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I give people and do not ask back - that makes me happy.

How being happy you managed to define as selfish?

You are confused, mate!

Think again and investigate what is the most most most most important thing for you in life.

P.S. All the things you get in return are consequences (status as giver, other people giving in return...). It not my intention to cause these consequences. My intention is harmony and happiness.



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 12:05 PM
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Originally posted by grimreaper797

Overall the tone I got from this post kind of felt like "this person is unhappy, here's a better approach to making decisions to change that."


Actually, I deliberately did not want to assume it was "you" you were talking about, and addressed it as your "character" in your story. I was commenting on your (as the story teller) assumption that the decision should be all rational and not emotional.


Originally posted by grimreaper797
This is not the case. For a moment drop all your assumptions. Drop the assumption that it is inherently good to be selfless.


You must not have read any of my posts. I dont think it is always good to be "selfless." I think the situation needs to be weighed carefully, and the action should be considered on various levels.


Originally posted by grimreaper797
Drop the assumption that it is bad to not be happy. Drop the assumption that "everyone should be happy."


I also dont think happiness is the only thing that should be considered, but depending what the situation is, it may be the important variable. If you are deciding what is best for your group, your happiness is not the most important variable. (ie, you are the leader and have to make an important decision for everyone) However, if you are deciding what YOU want to do, as an individual, your own happiness SHOULD be a consideration. And there are times when even as a leader, your own emotions can provide a guide to what is best for the group. Your own "selfishness" may guide you to a selfless decision.


Originally posted by grimreaper797
Approach Selflessness and Selfishness like you would any other trait. Some people have one, and some people have the other. It is that balance, or ratio, which allows the system of things to work in harmony.


Some people have more of one, some more of another, most have some of both. And the "when" one or another becomes dominant in decision making IS the balance.


Originally posted by grimreaper797
If you try to push the idea that you should work toward a problem solving pattern that includes your emotions, you are basically asking everyone to put selfishness into the equation.


The vast majority of humans want to be happy. This is recognized even in the highly rational art of philosophy. And, you would have to make an argument that would demonstrate that a perfectly rational society that acts efficiently is better than a less efficient society that people enjoy living in. One of the problems I see in our society is that peoples lives are being dictated to large degree by rational decisions about "efficiency" with too little regard for the intangible and hard to quantify "human happiness." We are efficiently over populating, we are efficiently spreading over the world, but humans are not becoming more happy in the doing. In fact, I think one could argue that we are less happy as a percentage of our lives than when we were less efficient hunter gatherers.

You have not shown WHY human happiness is unimportant, you seem to be making the assumption that a rational selfless choice is preferable to an emotional selfless one, but even your rational selfless choices are stuck at one level only. The level of the immediate present and the individual. As in your game theory example below.



Originally posted by grimreaper797
The character I am depicting would stay silent, KNOWING that the other person would probably rat. The reason being, they have no logical reason to do otherwise. Either this character bites the bullet and acts selflessly, or the character lucks out and the other person stays silent as well, meaning they both go the best possible valued choice.


That depends on the limits of your characters reason. There is a rational reason not to remain silent. It happens at the level of both group and individual. Groups rely for their cohesiveness and success, on cooperation and reciprocity. In the prisoners dilemma outcome you say is best, what you have is a case of the more cooperative person receiving the longer prison term and the less cooperative one getting off. That isnt good for the group or for your own individual genes either.

In that situation, the only way to balance the good of the group against the good of the individual is for both individuals to spend the same amount of time in jail. Then the selfish one, (who would have ratted no matter what the other did) is away from the group he doesnt mind exploiting for the same amount of time the more cooperative member of the group who is willing to participate in self sacrifice is. If both are young, you have the added benefit of not allowing the selfish one reproduce at a higher rate and the more cooperative one reproduce at a lower rate, which if allowed to happen would decrease the level of cooperative people in society over time.

If that individual using reason decides to just bite the bullet and let the other guy who ratted on him walk, it is NOT the most rational decision to make, nor is it the most selfless one.



No, you don't. In fact, that was my entire point. The only way you can be defined as selfless is to NOT consider YOUR emotional response.


Untrue. Most people want to be happy. If you were a leader, and you thought you would be happier with a park in the middle of New York, but it was more efficient and rational to put a series of factories there, and so you overrode your emotion for "selfless" reason, you are overlooking the fact that humans generally prefer happiness over efficiency. While you may think you are being "selfless" your refusal to tap into one of the elements of your humanity, (emotion) will cause you to make decisions as a leader that do not maximize happiness for the group. Your efficient thinking may allow a 3% increase in the population because of increased production, but is that selfless? Or would it be more selfless to have 3% less growth and happier people with more satisfying lives?

Happy animals, (including humans) are also more productive, engage in less violence, live longer more healthy lives, cooperate more readily, etc. It can be quite efficient to include emotions into the decision making process.

The main problem with trying to use pure reason to make decisions is that we are just not smart enough. Our pre-frontal cortex can handle and average of seven variables. We live in an enormously complex world and society. At any given time there are far more than 7 variables in play. The emotional part of the brain handles these variables subconsciously. It did evolve for a reason. Happiness IS adaptive. As is that sense of "morality." They are not infallible, but nor is reason.

Pure reason is not a guarantee of selflessness. Pure reason may make me decide to save three people by sacrificing my own life. Three lives for one, hard to argue with that, but there is more to the story than we can consider. I may have the genes that will be among the few to survive the bird flu pandemic, and it may be advantageous for the species for me to remain alive and have offspring. Two of those I consider saving may be, un-beknownst to me, sociopaths, who will harm the rest of the group after I die to save them. We cannot make purely rational decisions that are guaranteed to be selfless because we cannot predict what is and will be advantageous to the group or the species in the long run.



Originally posted by grimreaper797
Whether you are happy or sad, whether a situation is horrible or great, none of it really matters to you.

As a result, you don't really worry about making decisions based on emotions, because they are irrelevant to you.


Both statements are actually incredibly selfish. It isnt all about you. It is also about the group. Social animals tend to have both the capacity to seek happiness and a moral sense. And these two things work to maximize the cohesiveness and cooperation of the group, which act to maximize the survival of the group compared to less cooperative and cohesive groups. You cannot abandon emotional decision making because the emotional centers of the brain processes information more efficiently than the rational centers do.

You dont want to have to go- "noise, hmm whats that, bird? no, dog? no. Bear? yes!" and then a similarly long weighing of options once "bear" is recognized. There is enormous benefit to having volumes of information processed subconsciously, reflexively. It allows Presidents to duck shoes thrown at them, people to leap out of the way of cars, etc. And thats just one emotion, fear.

Emotions are not dispensable, they are not irrelevant to selfless decision making. They simply fall outside the realm of conscious reason, and to discard something simply because you dont understand how it works to benefit you, simply because you dont understand it, is neither selfless or rational. It goes back to balance.





[edit on 30-3-2009 by Illusionsaregrander]



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 12:35 PM
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Originally posted by Welfhard
For instance according to this selflessness is "having no concern for self". Nowhere does it mention other's, therefore a selfless act does not need to explicitly involve others, rather just an act where your benefit or detriment is irrelevant. That's strictly going on these definitions anyway.


Glad you got my point. Selflessness has nothing to do with other people, just which act has the better value, regardless of what it means for you.

That's why I cannot understand why you said this earlier.




Just because it is not bad for you, does not make the act selfish. To assume so, is selfish in itself.

It is if you are the only person involved in the situation


Your summary of the definition for selfless directly contradicts your statement right here.


But the definition doesn't mention logic, certainly not that the act explicitly has to be based on logic.


By default, it must. Choices are made by emotions, or by logic, or by a mix of the two. If you involve even the slightest bit of emotion, you are adding a regard for yourself, thus selfishness.

Logic is what allows us to deduce, "If you can only make a decision with emotions and with logic, and emotions make decisions selfish in nature, how can I make a choice devoid of selfishness? I must make a choice devoid of emotions. If my choice is devoid of emotions, all I am left with to make my decision, is logic."


Again, it also doesn't mean concern for others, in fact both the definitions are self-relevant.


Again, that is my entire point. Selflessness has nothing to do with other people. Selflessness, in its literal definition, never meant that it was exclusive to helping other people. Just because people throw around the word selfless when talking about every kind act where somebody did something courageous, that does not mean that the definition of selfless is "Somebody who does a courageous or dangerous act, to benefit others."

There act may very well still be selfish. That doesn't make the act any less courageous or any less beneficial to others, but that doesn't make the act selfless either.

A selfless act is not the most honorable righteous act. It is the act that the self was not taken into regard.

There is a bus with a bomb on it, sitting next to a group of 10 children with your child part of that group. They are standing in front of a baseball stadium that is about to be let out. Once all the people start coming out, the 10 kids, including your child, will walk away, then the bomb will go off, killing hundreds of people.
You have only enough time to make two choices:
A. blow up the bus, killing your child and 9 others.
B. do nothing, let the bus blow up in the crowd of strangers.

Nobody will know which you choose, and you will receive no outside blame for it. The selfish choice is obviously A. The selfless choice is obviously B.

If emotions come into play, you suffer a huge dilemma because emotions tell you to save your child, or try to save everyone, and logic tells you that you must blow up the bus now.

If you were running on pure emotions, you'd act so irrational and illogical you'd probably try to run to the bus and stop the people, getting yourself killed in the process.



Again, I know. But it must be asked; in this context what does 'concern' mean? What could it mean if not personal gain, loss or preservation?


It does mean personal gain. Selflessness deals with the lack of regard for personal gain. Lack of regard for personal gain does not mean you will never personally gain though.

Selfish= My concern is what best benefits me?
Selfless= My concern is what is the best benefit?

Neither of those have to deal with other people gaining or losing.


Well if I'm assuming the wrong definitions, then so are you. "Notice how the definitions of both words have nothing to do with gain."


The intent of that was that neither definition deals with the gains of other people as you have been assuming this entire time. Selflessness has nothing to do with who gains, just identifying which choice gains the most. And selfishness has nothing to do with who loses, just that you gain the most.

I agree, it was poorly worded on my part, but the intent is still the same. It has nothing to do with gains exclusively. Just because somebody else gained doesn't make the act selfless, and just because you gained doesn't make the act selfish.


Well they don't say anything about logic or emotions which you assumed into the definitions strait away.


Aside from the fact the only two ways you can make decisions is with those two things, logic and emotion, I figured you would be able to figure that out.

If you have to make a choice, and use emotions, you are being selfish, by the definition.

If you have to make a choice, and use just logic, you are being selfless, by the definition.



I also believe you brought up 'gain' first, not me (let me check... Yep: www.abovetopsecret.com...).


That has to do with a selfish act. You can also LOSE from a selfish act. You may "gain" peace of mind, but you may lose everything you own and love doing it. That would be emotions.

"Giving into your feelings" would be one of those moments. You feel bad for that guy, so you let him stay the night in your home. You got your peace of mind, but he rapes you in your sleep then burns down your home. You made a choice based on emotions, or selfish reasons, but you still lost far more than you gained.

Any choice, whether you gain or lose, that has to do with your emotions, is a selfish act. You are making decisions based on YOU and YOUR feelings, not the situation itself.

In most cases though, the emotional choice is meant to benefit you the most, in your perspective, because that is how emotions work. Emotions are there solely for your own benefit, not anybody else.



What do you mean you can't factor in other people's emotions? We can predict other peoples emotions fairly well with empathy and sympathy. If we are making decisions relating directly to others, then their emotions are very important.


Ah good old sympathy and empathy. What is that all based upon? How does that person feel? Well how would I feel?

It is based on YOUR perspective as to how you would feel. That is not an accurate depiction of how they would feel and react. Not everyone feels and reacts the same way you do.

You are actually a pretty good example of a selfish view point. You assume that other people think like you, feel like you, and make decisions like you. You assume that anyone who does have brain function like you, who is normal like yourself, is damaged or broken.

Basically, your entire viewpoint, decision making process, and the way you identify everything around you, is based entirely upon YOU, and nothing else. The way you feel, the way you think, that is all that comes into play when you come to conclusions. There may be some logic mixed into that, as you form rational statements, and if you were using solely emotions, you wouldn't be capable of doing that, or even making an argument.

THAT is what the definition of selfish means. You don't gain anything at all from this way of thought, but it is the definition of selfish. You have concern only for yourself, when it comes to every aspect of thought.

Now, before you get insulted by this, there is absolutely nothing wrong about your way of thinking and conclusion making. It isn't like one side is right and the other side is wrong. It is a matter of brain function. That does NOT mean that your brain function is correct, and somebody else who doesn't function the same way is broken.



No, not really. The situation that best fits the definition IS suicide - it may be
made on emotion


Right there it is no longer selfless. As soon as emotion comes into play in decision making, it cannot be selfless because you are now adding concern for yourself. Suicide as a 0 gain is the opposite of selfless, it must be selfish by definition. A selfless person would pick whatever choice gave the most return, and suicide is rarely the one for best return.


sure (not that emotion is part of the actual definition) but it is not made with concern for self, unless the definition of concern includes self-destruction (you tell me: Concern).


Concern- to relate to; Be about.

If selfishness is- Concerned exclusively with yourself. We can use the definition to better understand. To be about, only yourself. That means that your decision making process has to do with yourself. Committing suicide based on emotions means it is based on how YOU are feeling. It is about you.

Concern has nothing to do with benefit, just what is it about. If you are concerned with yourself, that means it is ABOUT YOU. Suicide on emotion is ABOUT YOU.

(cont.)



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 12:45 PM
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No, it isn't. By definition, it is about CONCERN for yourself only. Your choice will always and 100% be about what choice gives you the most to gain, when acting selfishly. It is really that simple.

No, it isn't. If you act with the sole intent of personal gain (not that gain is part of the actual definition), that is selfish - even if out of the act others benefit more than you, you got what you were concerned about and what happened to others is besides the point.


Example. I choose to play lottery ticket A., I win the lottery for 100 dollars, ten other people win 1000 dollars. I choose to play lottery ticket B., I win 1000 dollars, ten other people win 10,000 dollars. If I am going to act selfishly, which do I choose? If I am going to act selflessly, which one do I choose?


See how that works? Selfishness dealt with personal gain only, disregarding gain "overall". Selflessness dealt with gain overall, disregarding "personal" gain.

Gain isn't part of the definition, it is part of the decision process. After the decisions process is done, and the choice is made, then selfishness and selflessness come into play.



You can take into account emotions of others, and since you can, you ought to take into account your own along with others.


Only if you assume they are like you, and assume that they will react like you, and that they feel the same way you do. Again, that process is almost exclusively about you. It is a selfish viewpoint which gives you an excuse to say "I took other people into account." No, you didn't. You took yourself into account, just tried to put yourself on the opposing sides position.

Empathy and sympathy are a cheap excuse for pretending to care about anyone but yourself.



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 01:03 PM
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Originally posted by Welfhard

You're sure about that? There is nothing for us in truly selfless actions, no benefit, unless you believe that there really is a greater good, something that is not only more important than you but something that even you value more than yourself. You will only do truly selfless acts if you value others more than yourself. BUT in that case your selfless acts will be appealing to your values and will cease to be truly selfless.


You said the word "believe" and maybe that word is key to selflessness.

Maybe a truly selfless act would have to be one that was decided and acted upon before any belief could be involved at all.

After all, if you reason through an act, and determine that it is in the best interests of others even though you dont like it, and will die doing it, are you still acting on your "selfish" point of view or belief that acting in the best interests of others is the "right" thing to do? (perhaps mistakenly, as I offered in another post)

Perhaps the only "selfless" act is one that occurs without the "self" involved in the decision making at all. Including those acts that may end up having a benefit to self. Perhaps the use of conscious decision making IS the determining factor of selfishness. Not outcome, not beneficiary.

Its hard to argue that someone who throws them self into the water when they are terrified of water, and cannot swim before even thinking about it when they see someone drowning is either rational or selfish. If they had reasoned it through, they would know there was no benefit to be had for the other person. It is hard to argue that they are benefiting them self if they are doing something they are terrified of and have little chance to survive to get "praise" or "reward" for.

Its just an instinct in that person, and impulse that says "Go!" and it is obeyed without thought, protest, or expectation of reward. And it is often the emotional parts of our brain that lead us to such acts. Not reason.

I would say that would qualify as selfless. We could argue after the fact as to whether the relatedness of the person in the water made the act beneficial genetically, but does that really say anything about the act and what motivated it? For something to be selfish or selfless, is it more important who benefits? Or what motivates the act? Or some combination of the two?

Editing for atrocious spelling errors


[edit on 30-3-2009 by Illusionsaregrander]



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 01:16 PM
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Originally posted by grimreaper797

Example. I choose to play lottery ticket A., I win the lottery for 100 dollars, ten other people win 1000 dollars. I choose to play lottery ticket B., I win 1000 dollars, ten other people win 10,000 dollars. If I am going to act selfishly, which do I choose? If I am going to act selflessly, which one do I choose?


That example doesnt make much sense. The same ratio is present in both scenarios. Of course you would choose B for selfish reasons. But you would also choose B for selfless reasons. It would be a better example if you had one scenario where (ticket A) you won 10,000 and others won 100, and (ticket B) you won 100 dollars and the others won 10,000 each. Then ticket B would be the simplistically more selfless one, more money is paid out to more people, increasing the net benefit to the most people.

But, this would still be overly simplistic. Imagine that you might spend your 10,000 to build a well for a village somewhere and provide fresh water to 5,000 people. And imaging the other ten people are going to use theirs to fund a terrorist organization. The rational mind simply cannot take enough information into account to ensure the greater good is being served by what it thinks is a "selfless" act.

It cannot accurately predict consequences. But your emotional brain sometimes does. You might meet those other ten people while deciding whether or not to buy ticket A or B and just get a funny feeling about them. You may just "not like" them. And your choosing for "selfish emotional reasons" may very well be the process that leads to the greater benefit. Because the emotions process information too. Just subconsciously.





[edit on 30-3-2009 by Illusionsaregrander]




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