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The Selfishness of Selflessness

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posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 01:28 PM
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Originally posted by grimreaper797

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.


Who gets to decide what both "value" and "better" is?

If you are taking others out of the equation then what are you using to decide those things?

If others are of no concern, and the self is of no concern, can there even be a "better" option at all?

Does it then not end up with the Buddhist line of thought that "what is is perfect and there is no need to desire any outcome at all?"

And would this "what is" that is perfect not necessarily have to include ones own feelings?




posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 01:35 PM
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Originally posted by Illusionsaregrander
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.


It isn't me. But your post came off as "well this is how you should function" (not to me specifically) rather than "everyone is what they are for some reason, or else they wouldn't survive long" which is my personal viewpoint.



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.


That was a general request, not a specific one. I wasn't saying you specifically to drop the notion that selflessness is good, but rather the group drop the notion that selflessness is good and selfishness is bad.




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.


You still aren't getting my point. It is not about which is better or right. It is about what it is. Not what I want it to be, or what I think it should be, but what it is. "This is what selfless is. This is what selfish is. This is what it means to be selfish. This is what it means to be selfless."

As far as your emotions leading you to the selfless decision, that isn't possible. It will always be the selfish decision, but that selfish decision may be beneficial to the group in the long run because of complex variables which you cannot compute.



The vast majority of humans want to be happy. This is recognized even in the highly rational art of philosophy.


So basically, because a minority are not, they must be broken or need to change?


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.


Why would I have to make that argument? You keep assuming I want everyone to be the same or something. That I want every single person to be rational robot drones with no emotion. That is just as ridiculous as wanting everyone to be super emotional beings who never take rational thought into account.

There IS a balance, not on the individual level, but on the group level. Just because one person is very emotional and irrational, and one person lacks emotions and is just a cold, calculating, thinker, does not mean EITHER one is broken or less of a human being. There is a place and use for every type of person, because if there wasn't, they would quickly cease to exist, be it physically, or evolutionarily.


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."


The problem being at the root of 90% of our societies problems. Generalizations. That every person is the same, and you just need to bend and mold the person the right way. That one trait is better than another and anyone who does have the good trait is broken, not normal, and needs to be fixed.

Some of the most "broken" people in history end up doing things that progress society BECAUSE it takes a wide range of viewpoints and abilities to really progress. Everyone has this ideal of what the right person is. They try to mold everyone into the same thing, the same view, the same line of thinking, and soon enough, progression is at a standstill.

Sometimes you need the super emotional person to see things in a way the super logical person did not. If there wasn't a place in the human race for that type of person, they would not exist evolutionarily. They do, so they must have some function in the progression of human society.

My point is to not favor either side, and let both sides do what they do best, without prejudice. Don't favor one side or the other, don't favor a balance of those sides. Sometimes it is the extreme one sided nature of a person that leads to progression, and sometimes it is the exact opposite of that person that leads to further progression, and sometimes it is the perfect mix of the two that leads to even further progression.

There is a time and place for everyone.



You have not shown WHY human happiness is unimportant,


That is because I am not trying to.



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.


Never said that, or even indicated that. I did the opposite really. I was trying to break the idea that selflessness was some how better than selfishness. The idea that selflessness had anything to do with emotions or caring or done for the gain of others. I made no indication that one was better than the other, OTHER than on a purely situational level.

It is the only level a human being can operate. You are an individual, making an individual choice. It may effect more than just one individual, but the choice remains on an individual level.



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.


Well, the reasoning not to remain silent is for personal gain. Less time in jail. The best choice is to remain silent, if you are a selfless thinking individual.

If you look at it from the perspective of not being on of the prisoners, and you assume one will stay silent, you have one person serving 10 years, one serving 0. Then the alternative is both serving 6 months.

That means you have 10+0+.5+.5=11, now divide that by 2, for the size of the group. That is 5.5

Now assume one will definitely rat. You have two scenarios. They both rat and both get 5 years. One rats, the other is silent, one gets 10, one gets 0.

That means you have 5+5+0+10=20, now divide that by 2 for the size of the group. That is 10.

So by one definitely remaining silent, the selfless one, the group is guaranteed to serve less time in jail by an average of 4.5 years. For the selfless person this makes complete rational sense and he will choose to stay silent regardless. Whether the other guy stays silent or talks, the group still serves less time as a whole.

As far as genes go, that is based around the self, is it not? A selfless person isn't concerned with THEIR continuation, and THEIR personal genes being passed on, just the group itself continuing.

The group is more likely to continue biologically if the time served in jail is less.



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.


Now you are back to the mentality that some how the selfish one is more evil or wrong and you want the selfless one to come out equal with the selfish one.

There is a place for self sacrifice, and a place for selfishness. The good of the group, as I had shown above, is for the selfless one to remain silent regardless, because the group will spend less time in jail.

Based SOLELY on the information given, the selfless person should remain quiet regardless. Your entire premise of the selfless person is that they will act...well...selfishly. That the other selfish person is a negative impact on the society and that the selfish person should not be allowed to thrive. This simply isn't true. The selfish person has just as much a place in society as the selfless person.

Cooperation is not ALWAYS a good thing, and selfishness isn't ALWAYS a bad thing. In this situation, cooperation would be good, but that doesn't mean cooperation is always good.

(cont. because its a very long post lol)

[edit on 30-3-2009 by grimreaper797]



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 01:46 PM
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Originally posted by grimreaper797

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.


Is the thing being eaten not a third party?

Although you claim eating is not selfish, is it not selfish to assume a human is more valuable than a cabbage? Is that not a self centered view that the cabbage may not share?

Is not human centered reasoning selfish in a broad sense? I favor me individually, I favor my group, more collectively, I favor my species, very broadly, but arent they all still selfish?



Originally posted by Welfhard
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.


You just arent demonstrating this. And, overall, your argument is morphing to suit you. At some points you are saying selfishness and selflessness are related to others, and at other points you are saying others arent a factor at all. But "better" decisions require someone to place a value there. Someone has to be there to say, "this is better, this is not." And for a decision to have value, some outcomes need to be recognized, (by someone) as preferable. And someone has take a point of view when interests collide, (you and the cabbage.)

Who is the someone making these value judgments if it is not the "self?"



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 02:17 PM
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Originally posted by grimreaper797
You still aren't getting my point. It is not about which is better or right. It is about what it is. Not what I want it to be, or what I think it should be, but what it is. "This is what selfless is. This is what selfish is. This is what it means to be selfish. This is what it means to be selfless."


Do I really have to go back through your posts and quote every piece where you have said that using logic leads you to make the better or right choice?


Originally posted by grimreaper797 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.


Thats just one, I dont want to have to search the whole thread, but you have said more than once that using logic does lead you to selfless decisions, and you have indicated it does this by measuring relative value. (Better/worse)

How can there be a value statement at all without a value-er? By what measure is "more" or "less" value decided?

Perhaps the argument has just gotten convoluted in many replies to many people, and it should be restated concisely. I understand how easily one can get lost in the run around and end up making contradictory points.

My understanding of your argument to date is not clear as a whole, but, it seems very clear you are saying,

Emotion of necessity equals selfish.

Reason of necessity is selfless.


But then it seems as though you are arguing this is because "reason will lead you to make the better/more valuable decisions (for who?) regardless of whether you yourself gain or lose in the exchange."

Questions this logically raises for me are, "who or what decides value?" How can any decision be made, (rational or emotional) of there is not some underlying assumption that one choice will be preferable over the other? If neither is more valuable, then why choose at all? Decision making assumes differential value. Do we agree on this?

And if it does assume differential value, who is the differentiator? Who assigns value to the outcomes?

If it is more logical for me to sacrifice my life for something, (or my comfort) how am I making the decision when to do it, or whether to do it? In whose interest, and how can I say "better or worse" based on pure unselfish reason? Is not every value statement, no matter how rationally formulated a selfish judgment?

Show me an example of an unselfish valuation. Because I cannot logically see one. If "the majority" is the basis, then who decides the majority of what? Humans vs bacteria? Who decides which is more valuable? And what is the purely logical basis for that decision?



[edit on 30-3-2009 by Illusionsaregrander]



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 02:21 PM
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Untrue. Most people want to be happy.


So most people will inherently be selfish?



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.


As a leader, the most appropriate response would be to announce your idea to the public and see what kind of resistance it would receive. If the resistance is high, it may be logical to put off the factory building for a variety of reasons.

The situation you are introducing has MANY more variables and therefore, becomes a much worse example. The more logical and rational a person is, the more likely they are to deeply analyze the complex situation.

It may NOT be more efficient and rational to put a series of factories there, because you are not addressing the massive amount of factors that come into play with this decision.

The fact is, it quite possibly wouldn't be more efficient and logical, because as a leader, a major factor of what is efficient and logical is what is most productive as a whole. If overwhelming unhappiness led to 50% decrease in productivity, then happiness becomes a factor which you have to take into account. BUT you cannot know how many will be unhappy, and how unhappy they will be, so you have no other choice but to "Test the waters" and leave "emotional response" as factor X.

In the real world, as you can see, it gets much more complex, especially in a leadership position, which would explain why politicians seem to "change their minds" or "flip flop" or do things that may seem menacing.

In reality, they know well enough to know emotional response is always an unknown factor that they have to leave blank until after the decisions has been "made" so that they can modify it.

Basically, you are giving a very complex example that you could probably start an entirely new thread about.



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.


Alright, so say you assume that the majority of people want revenge for an attack on their country. Say even you have this feeling of "revenge" and want to take it out on the attacker as well. Is this feeling, which is shared by many, the logical choice?

People are fickle. Today they have your back, and tomorrow they are yelling at you for being a fool. People's emotions, are factor X. Taking YOUR emotions, and trying to make a decision based on them, because you think that is how everyone else will feel about it too, makes you a bad leader.

A leader should try to make a conclusion/decision, to the best of their abilities, while keeping emotions to a minimum, and let the people voice how they feel about it, so that said leader can act accordingly. A leader is not a psychic who can detect the emotions of people.

"A good leader should be empathetic." That just means the leader has a good grasp on how the average and normal person reacts emotionally. Take it into account? Sure, but don't base the decision on it. That is poor leadership.


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?


Again, you picked a very complex situation as your example which would take far too much time to jump into in this thread. If you want to start a separate thread for this situation, I will be more than happy to participate in it, but this is a massively complex situation with a great deal of variable, which is not a simple prisoners game scenario with limited variables.

The prisoners game has, at best 2 variables. The two people deciding to rat or stay silent. Your situation has a multitude of complex variables that play into whether or not you would build those factories, or leave it as a park.

(let me know if you go ahead and make the thread, because it would be VERY interesting.)



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.


Note: You said, on average. That is almost ENTIRELY my point. Also the fact that you noted NEITHER are infallible, which I will completely agree with.



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.


By this reasoning, it is impossible, on any level, to ever know that anything you do selflessly is at all beneficial to the group. So you reason, since you cannot know for certain that given the information you have, X is a better choice than Y, you should choose Y because it benefits you more.

X being save them, Y being save yourself.

As a result of that reasoning, logically you can conclude that all choice you make should be selfish, thus, completely uncooperative 100% of the time.

So because you cannot be certain that the other prisoner is a sociopath, you will pick the option that is less beneficial to the group, but more beneficial to you?

By that logic, all people should be completely selfish 100% of the time, because it is impossible to be certain.

Logic is not about knowing for certain, its about using the information that you have available to make the choice that makes the most sense. Those two sociopaths you saved might kill a small child tomorrow. That is bad. That small child would have given birth to a dictator that would have killed 500,000 people, now its good. Those 500,000 people would have voted in a politician that stopped a nuclear war, now it is bad again.

You see where I am going with this?

What is good or bad ultimately, in the long run, is literally impossible to figure out. Our most advanced computer system wouldn't stand a chance trying to calculate those kind of variables.

All you can do is make a decision based on the information you have, and what makes sense.


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.


And emotions are just as unreliable in that sense, except they are based on you and your own motives, rather than what you concluded was rationally best for the group. That is the only difference, for better or worse.





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.


Actually, its about the complete opposite. Person strives for happiness often end with people not cooperating and looking to, as people say it, "get mine". A moral sense is logic trying to explain emotional reactions. You see somebody die and feel repulsed. Your brains logic ability tries to rationalize that emotion with morals. In reality, the reason you feel revulsion isn't because it is wrong, it is because it is a survival instinct.

When you see somebody die and feel revulsion, it is because your body senses danger. Morality is just the logic center trying to rationalize it, rather than what it should do, recognize it as instinct behavior. Right and wrong don't really exist. Moral sense is just instinct telling you to watch out.



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.


Subconscious and emotions are not the same thing. Not even close. Hearing a bear and hauling ass is an emotional RESPONSE to the subconscious making the logical connection without having to consciously think about it.

Emotions responses, and consciously looking for ways to cater to your emotions, are not the same thing.

I'm not sure where you got the idea that an emotional response to a conclusion, is the same as the reasoning going on in the subconscious itself. The emotional response may help you consciously recognize what conclusion the subconscious came to, but that about as far as that goes. Emotions are short term survival mechanisms that RESULT from conscious and subconscious conclusions.



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 02:26 PM
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Illusion, give me a chance here. You have like six posts responding to me that I haven't even gotten to yet. I am still back on page 6 trying to respond to you and I see you have like 4 posts on the next page lol.

Give me a chance to respond or I'm going to get completely lost here.



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 02:42 PM
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Originally posted by Illusionsaregrander

That example doesnt make much sense. The same ratio is present in both scenarios.


Right. That is my point exactly. The selfish choice, and the selfless choice, are the same choice. The exact same results, for completely different reasons.

The selfish person picket ticket B because ticket B meant 1,000 dollars, where ticket A only meant 100.

The selfless person thought. Ticket A totals out to a valued winnings of 100 for me, and 1000 for 10 others.

100+1,000*10= 10,100. Divide that by 11, you get 918.18(repeated).

Ticket B equals 1,000 for me 10,000 for 10 others

1,000+10,000*10=101,000, divided by 11, is 9181.81 (repeated).

The group wins more with ticket B.

The selfless person doesn't exclude himself, but make a decision apart from himself, like this person were deciding for other people what to do.



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.


You can't ever ensure anything. You can't ensure that village doesn't flourish and give birth to a person who creates a virus that wipes out mankind.

Get ensure out of your head. It is meaningless. A quantum computer could take in enough information fast enough to calculate what is the best choice because time as we know it is infinite.



It cannot accurately predict consequences. But your emotional brain sometimes does.


That's totally inaccurate. Your emotional brain doesn't predict anything. Your subconscious sometimes better predicts consequences, and your emotions can pick up on that, thus making you aware that your subconscious has made a conclusion.

Emotions does predict or do anything, they are just an indicator that something conscious or subconscious has changed.


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.


And it would be nothing more than coincidence. There is no way to know that they are funding terrorism, consciously or subconsciously. It was a mere coincidence that whatever your subconscious didn't like about them gave you a bad feeling.

You are just as likely to be wrong as right, when it comes to something like that, because it is coincidence and nothing more.



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 03:37 PM
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Originally posted by grimreaper797

Again, you picked a very complex situation as your example which would take far too much time to jump into in this thread. If you want to start a separate thread for this situation, I will be more than happy to participate in it, but this is a massively complex situation with a great deal of variable, which is not a simple prisoners game scenario with limited variables.


But that is the point I am making. That all decisions are more complex than we selfishly want to assume they are. The pre-frontal cortex IS limited. Its just a fact, and even those not limited to 7 variables are still limited.

And, as I have pointed out, lets assume we DO have the capability of weighing all of them. For their to be a "right and wrong" decision, there must be some measure of value. Who or what is deciding better or worse? And does not any value statement essentially boil down to some selfish assumption? (ie; I am the best judge of the relative value of outcome x or y.)


Originally posted by grimreaper797
Note: You said, on average. That is almost ENTIRELY my point. Also the fact that you noted NEITHER are infallible, which I will completely agree with.


But even the most capable pre-frontal cortex has a limit. And because it does, the value of the decision it reaches will always also have a limit. In part, because it is assuming a "value" that may be arbitrary.


Originally posted by grimreaper797
By this reasoning, it is impossible, on any level, to ever know that anything you do selflessly is at all beneficial to the group. So you reason, since you cannot know for certain that given the information you have, X is a better choice than Y, you should choose Y because it benefits you more.


Well yes and no. I am arguing that you cannot ever know with reason if what you are doing is selfless or beneficial to the group. I think that should be clear when one actually takes reason and decision making and puts them in real life situations and watch them work. Unintended consequences is a real flaw to reason. We have seen it over and over again in human history.

I am not saying that it is always necessarily in your best interests to save yourself. What I am suggesting that the more primitive portions of our brain are acting to make decisions too. And that the value of the decisions made by the pre-frontal cortex alone are NOT necessarily "better" than the ones made by those more primitive portions of the brain. Especially when considering the computational limits of that pre-frontal cortex in a world where all decisions are complex. Only on paper can we make "pretend" decisions that strictly limit the variables. Somehow, we must manage to make good decisions in a world that is complex. I am arguing that this cannot be done by reasoning alone.


Originally posted by grimreaper797
As a result of that reasoning, logically you can conclude that all choice you make should be selfish, thus, completely uncooperative 100% of the time.


No, not at all. Because for all social animals, selfishness includes "being cooperative" at least some of the time. It is part of our makeup that our selfishness sometimes causes us to behave cooperatively and sometimes to be self sacrificing. This is because it is artificially simplistic (part of the problem of the limited variable issue) to assume that all selective action occurs at the level of "individual." We are wired to cooperate AND compete. Not one, not the other. Both. Selfishness can drive us to both hoarding and sharing. The emotional/intuitive parts of the brain give us the "answer" to the calculation that has taken place in our subconscious brain as to which is better now, in this situation. And while that better may include benefit to you, it also may not.


Originally posted by grimreaper797
So because you cannot be certain that the other prisoner is a sociopath, you will pick the option that is less beneficial to the group, but more beneficial to you?


If you know the dilemma, you also know that answer. Yes, we do. And we do it consistently. And that consistency is part of the complex mess of things that has led to us being a pretty successful species in the short term.


Originally posted by grimreaper797
By that logic, all people should be completely selfish 100% of the time, because it is impossible to be certain.


No, because sometimes individual selfishness isnt what your intuition or emotions are guiding you to choose. I am suggesting that knowing that your pre-frontal cortex cannot make objectively sound decisions because of its inherent limits, it would be foolish to suggest that better decisions can be assured by shelving a portion of the brain that has served us well, and that we do not completely understand the function of.

And I am arguing that we still have not defined "better" judgments. Is it better for my group of humans, all humans, the planet, what? For it to be better or worse we have to have a measure. And the act of choosing that measure is inherently selfish.


Originally posted by grimreaper797
Logic is not about knowing for certain, its about using the information that you have available to make the choice that makes the most sense.


Then what shoud be used also is the information that rational decision making is inherently limited, tends to contain any number of unforeseen consequences some of which are negative. It would also be illogical to abandon a brain function that has served us well, (we are here, and it was in place before the prefrontal cortex and its higher reasoning) and that we do not fully understand, (because many of its processes are complex and subconscious) simply because it also leads us to make some choices that sometimes have negative consequences. I see no logic in the assumption that one over the other leads to better decisions. Even if we assign as the marker of value "better for humans in general." (Which is selfish, btw)



Originally posted by grimreaper797
What is good or bad ultimately, in the long run, is literally impossible to figure out. Our most advanced computer system wouldn't stand a chance trying to calculate those kind of variables.


Then what is the logic in saying that rational decision making is of more value or better, or even selfless? Isnt it selfish to make a decision as to what is "best" or of more value knowing that you do not know what is best? Knowing that you CANNOT know what is best by any objective measure? Knowing that in relying on pure reason you are overriding or rejecting a portion of brain function that may be able to provide you some insight into how those variables your pre-frontal cortex is incapable of processing may play out? That doesnt seem logical to me.


Originally posted by grimreaper797
All you can do is make a decision based on the information you have, and what makes sense.


And your emotional response, or intuitive one, is part of the information that you have. Because you dont understand how it was arrived at, doesnt make it less information, nor less important necessarily.


Originally posted by grimreaper797
And emotions are just as unreliable in that sense, except they are based on you and your own motives, rather than what you concluded was rationally best for the group. That is the only difference, for better or worse.


Here may be part of the problem, you are making the selfish gene too small. Even Dawkins recognizes that the "selfish" urge can accommodate action that is against individual survival and instead promotes the survival of the group. It is still selfish, in the sense of "if the group survives, and there are other copies of my genes in that group, my genetic chances for survival are better if I (as an individual) die so that the group may live." No one thinks that consciously. They just have a "feeling" that serving their country is the right thing to do. But their selfishness leads them to a selfless (in terms of their groups survival) outcome.


Originally posted by grimreaper797
Morality is just the logic center trying to rationalize it, rather than what it should do, recognize it as instinct behavior. Right and wrong don't really exist. Moral sense is just instinct telling you to watch out.


Well, yes and no. Morality is not logic. We use reason to tell ourselves stories about why we think something is moral, but they arent all true. Reason can lie. (Rationalization) You have moral impulses that are instinctual. Right or wrong DOES exist as far as our morals go, and it relates to group survival. There is tons of new research on this that show that morality isnt random. It occurs in social animals to greater or lesser extent, but there are rules and they arent arbitrary. What is moral is what helps your group survive, and you as well. Different cultures may add things to their moral code that have helped them specifically, (dont eat pork, etc.)but the underlying driver is survival. God says so because God does say so. (even if for some God happens to be nature)


Originally posted by grimreaper797
Emotions responses, and consciously looking for ways to cater to your emotions, are not the same thing.


I agree. Emotional responses are the raw output of the subconscious process. The other thing you describe is your pre-frontal cortex making up stories to justify that response consciously. (Rationalization) That we rationalize and our rationalizations are wrong is because the pre-frontal cortex doesnt have enough information to understand how we arrived at the emotional response. It doesnt mean the emotional response itself is inappropriate.



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 03:41 PM
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reply to post by Illusionsaregrander
 


Illusions you know I like you. I really do.

But I tire of having to use my scroll wheel to read your posts.

Too many notes Amadeus.


Big Hugs.......KK



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 03:55 PM
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reply to post by kinda kurious
 


Sorry KK.


Well not really. Lol. Occam's Razor does not say the shortest post is the best post. It says that the post that addresses all the issues without introducing superfluous points is the best post.

There are a lot of things going on in this argument, and I do not think all of them are pertinent to the issue equally, but once made as argument, they must be addressed in counter argument.

Philosophical argument is rarely concise. If you have hard data, you can just slap it down and say "There, read it and weep." But philosophy pushes the bounds of the quantifiable. It is not science, it is what creates science, and therefore the hard evidence often does not yet exist. So reason and argument are used instead, which takes longer, but can be more fun too.



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 04:27 PM
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Originally posted by grimreaper797

And it would be nothing more than coincidence. There is no way to know that they are funding terrorism, consciously or subconsciously. It was a mere coincidence that whatever your subconscious didn't like about them gave you a bad feeling.

You are just as likely to be wrong as right, when it comes to something like that, because it is coincidence and nothing more.


I would disagree. While we arent always accurate, there is error, it is more than just random.

www.psychologytoday.com...


Consider one study in which untrained subjects were shown 20- to 32-second video-taped segments of job applicants greeting interviewers. The subjects then rated the applicants on attributes such as self-assurance and likability. Surprisingly, their assessments were very close to those of trained interviewers who spent at least 20 minutes with each applicant. What semblance of a person—one with a distinct appearance, history and complex personality—could have been captured in such a fleeting moment?



"A good judge of personality isn't just someone who is smarter—it's someone who gets out and spends time with people," says David Funder, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Riverside, who believes in the overall accuracy of snap judgments. Funder has found that two observers often reach a consensus about a third person, and the assessments are accurate in that they match the third person's assessment of himself. "We're often fooled, of course, but we're more often right."


You should not just dismiss your own reactions to people as irrelevant or random. There is something going on in the subconscious that is able to make some better than random prediction about a person. It doesnt mean you should necessarily close the door to new information, that might prove you wrong, but it does mean that you have a barometer of personality built in and subconscious, and that barometer can help decide if all other things are equal.



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 04:51 PM
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reply to post by grimreaper797
 


So you define a selfless act as one based on logic only.
And by the same virtue, a selfish act as one based in part or completely on emotion.

You say that by "default" this is what they have to be? Ignoring the implied meanings of the two words. The reason I don't like this approach is that if you end up debating selfishness and selflessness on these striped down definitions then you just waste time because the terms the traditional one and don't extrapolate to social interactions well.

So yes, ok I wasn't assuming the 'Merriam-Webster' definitions but rather a more traditional one.



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 05:03 PM
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Originally posted by kinda kurious
reply to post by Illusionsaregrander
 


...I tire of having to use my scroll wheel to read your posts...


my only problem is I keep forgetting where I am and losing my place...

:-)



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 05:08 PM
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Originally posted by Spiramirabilis

Originally posted by kinda kurious
reply to post by Illusionsaregrander
 


...I tire of having to use my scroll wheel to read your posts...


my only problem is I keep forgetting where I am and losing my place...

:-)

I need a bib, for my coffee...

one good laugh of the day.



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 05:11 PM
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reply to post by Welfhard
 


I haven't had time read all the replies in this thread, so hopefully I won't repeat anything. But you definitely made me think!

I'll approach this topic from my PERSONAL perspective of how I've come to understand the laws that govern the universe. First and foremost, INTENT is the driving force of anything, and trumps the reasons someone may give for performing an act in any given situation. If the intention to give "selflessly" is there, then it truly is selfless. I will mention the adage that anonymity is the only way to truly perform acts of kindness, because it removes the ego from the equation, and therefore keeps the intent pure.

Now, as I understand it, "intent" is no different than a boomerang....what you put out comes right back at you, regardless of how one chooses to dress it up or disguise it under acts of kindness. Being aware of this "law", which many refer to as instant or delayed karma (or even karma that catches up to you in the next life, as some cultures believe), keeps many people a little more devout in their intentions than what they would otherwise do. Being aware of t doesn't, in my opinion, make one selfish. It is what it is, and you can't change it.

Look at it like this.....if you have a ball and you are going to throw it, you have several choices. No matter where you choose to throw it, you know one thing is certain.....it WILL come down, due to gravity. You know that if you throw it at your house, you'll run the risk of breaking a window which will only cost you money. You know that throwing it in the street could cause damage to passing cars and/or potentially an accident. You know that throwing it at an unsuspecting person could injure them. Throwing it just for the sake of throwing it makes no sense at all, because there's nothing or no one there to catch or stop it. Intent works the same way.

If the ball is intent, then it is not selfish to be aware that there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to directing the ball at more positive uses....like playing with friends, a child, or your dog. In doing so, you know that ball will come back to you. However, let's say, you throw that ball at a passing car and break a window of a Mercedes. It's highly unlikely that the ball will come back to you....you will, however, receive something in its place, most likely via the person's lawyer.

Going deeper.....the ball and intent ARE the same thing. They are nothing more than a transfer of energy from you to something else. What you INTEND with that transfer of energy, depicts the kind of ripples that will come back to you, and they WILL come back whether you think they will or not. I can hysterically recall quite a few instances of "instant" karma from my own doing, and I'm sure everyone else can as well! Inevitably, it's that crappy thing that happens to you almost immediately after you've done or said something you shouldn't have. Instant karma!


Likewise, the ball and acts of kindness are also the same. I'm related to someone who never does anything without announcing to the world what they've done. They never give gifts without calling up and making sure the receiver dotes on their gift. This is a prime example of giving with selfish reasons, because the gift giver is more interested in how the receiver responds to them, rather than how their gift made that person feel. Anonymity cures this immediately.

Anyway...if you have a ball, there's nothing wrong with being aware of the laws that govern where it will land, and utilizing the ball to the best of your ability with that knowledge. In the end, intent will catch up to you no matter what. A person might be able to lie to everyone else about their intent, but intent can't lie to the universe!



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 05:44 PM
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reply to post by Welfhard
 


Wow... I mean, Just... Wow.

Selflessness is Selfish.

Lets expand on your basic principle here, shall we?


By accumulating too much knowledge and Enlightenment, we are not able to be directed by our leaders as effectively as is nessecary for the completion of the goals set out in a militaristic sense.

So, Ignorance is Strength.


By continually amassing more and more weapons, and ever increasing the size and power of our military machines, we are more effectively able to counter any potential threat.

So, War is Peace.


By doing what we want with our own lives, we are not able to pool our resources as effectively as if we all worked along the common lines that those in power want for us.

So, Freedom is Slavery.


By the existence of gravity, things fall down, and down is the opposite of up.

So, Down is Up


By the contrast of light and shadow, we can know the one from the other.

So, Dark is Light.


The dualistic juxtaposition of the two half's of our bodies create the handedness mutually with each other.

So, left is right.


Big Brother would be SO proud of your DoubleThink.



-Edrick



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 06:37 PM
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reply to post by seagrass
 

:-)

but, they got a good one going though - and I do want to keep up



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 07:49 PM
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Originally posted by emeraldzeus

Now, as I understand it, "intent" is no different than a boomerang....what you put out comes right back at you, regardless of how one chooses to dress it up or disguise it under acts of kindness. Being aware of this "law", which many refer to as instant or delayed karma (or even karma that catches up to you in the next life, as some cultures believe), keeps many people a little more devout in their intentions than what they would otherwise do. Being aware of t doesn't, in my opinion, make one selfish. It is what it is, and you can't change it.


Well the idea of Karma in its purest form actually does not relate entirely to intent. It doesnt matter if you intend to fly off a cliff, the karma for stepping off a cliff is falling. Karma is cause and effect.

en.wikipedia.org...


Karma is not punishment or retribution but simply an extended expression or consequence of natural acts. The effects experienced are also able to be mitigated by actions and are not necessarily fated. That is to say, a particular action now is not binding to some particular, pre-determined future experience or reaction; it is not a simple, one-to-one correspondence of reward or punishment.


If you do a mean thing to a person, you are not being punished by a God or the Universe, it is like pushing something a certain way in zero gravity, you push it this way, it goes this way, you push it that way, it goes that way. Mean things done to people often come back to you as word gets around.

If you commit an act with a "bad karma" (undesirable effect) depending on what that act is, you may be able to avert the "bad karma" with another act before the karmic result bears fruit. Stepping off a cliff is hard to undo once done, but perhaps on the way down you may grab a branch, thus preventing the karmic result of stepping off a cliff, which is, generally speaking, going splat. You may dislocate your arm in the grabbing, and still suffer some bad karma for attempting to fly, but you have avoided the bulk of your bad karma.


Originally posted by emeraldzeus
Anyway...if you have a ball, there's nothing wrong with being aware of the laws that govern where it will land, and utilizing the ball to the best of your ability with that knowledge. In the end, intent will catch up to you no matter what. A person might be able to lie to everyone else about their intent, but intent can't lie to the universe!


No offense, but isnt this a case of mixing Gods? The Eastern tradition with the Christian God who punishes and rewards? There really isnt a punisher and rewarder in the East. The "universe" does not care about the "goodness or badness" of your intent. Things are either harmonious with "what is" or not. What is, IS the Universes "desire" or "will," if you will. It is what is. Thats why in the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna gets schooled by Krishna about his place in the Universe when Arjuna is torn over the right thing to do on the battlefield.

Arjuna is upset because he has family and loved ones on both sides of the fight. And no matter what he does, he knows he will kill some of them. He is torn and pained and frozen on the battlefield. Krisha asks him just who the hell he thinks he is anyway. He reminds Arjuna that Arjuna does nothing. Krisha is the decider of their fate, HE is the actor, Arjuna is just his means to his end. He tells Arjuna that a warrior fights, and that is his only duty to be the thing that he is. So that the will of God is facilitated more smoothly.

Arjuna's intent is important only in that it not interfere with Gods will. Essentially, your intent should only be obedience or subservience to the circumstances you are in and your nature. (What you were made to do) If that means murder, so be it. If that means giving alms, so be it. Giving alms when you are supposed to kill will not win you favor with God in that view.

The only proper "intent" is "no intent" in that view, thus,

en.wikipedia.org...


In conclusion, Krishna asks Arjuna to abandon all forms of dharma and simply surrender unto Him. He describes this as the ultimate perfection of life.


and this;

en.wikipedia.org...


In addition to the three states of consciousness, Hinduism puts forward a fourth state of being called Turiya or pure consciousness, where the mind is not engaged in thinking but just observes the thoughts. Actions in the Turiya state do not create karma. Meditation is a practice aimed at giving individuals the experience of being in this objective state. An individual who is constantly in the turiya state is said to have attained moksha where their actions happen as a response to events (and not because of thought process); such actions do not result in accumulation of karma as they have no karmic effect.


Selflessness in this tradition is literal. Acting from "no intent" and simply doing what is "next" in the flow of Divine will. With no thought or decision making as to what is best or right other than to do what is before one with no resistance. Utter and complete submission to the moment by discerning, (not deciding) which way you are in harmony with that moment as you move.



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 08:56 PM
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I love this sort of discussion. I think tomorrow, I'll browse through all that's been said before I open my mouth.

But I would like you to know that classrooms are discussing this across the country right now, I would imagine.

Sort of the ultimate question really is:

Is it possible for man to escape his propensity for selfish endeavors?



posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 09:28 PM
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reply to post by akalepos
 


I think another good question to ask in conjunction with that one is,

"If selfishness is/was designed by God or Nature, SHOULD we overcome or escape it?"

I tend to think we should understand it, and by understanding it utilize it wisely, but I do not think it is something to be overcome.

We humans, always conquering and never harmonizing.

[edit on 30-3-2009 by Illusionsaregrander]



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