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The Selfishness of Selflessness

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posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 11:01 PM
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Originally posted by akalepos
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.


lol


Sort of the ultimate question really is:

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


Or should he > if it works as a social structure?




posted on Mar, 31 2009 @ 06:12 AM
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double post --


[edit on 31-3-2009 by Welfhard]



posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 12:56 AM
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Wow!
So much to read here, my feeble mind was glossing over! lol

I think that originally the discussion began about altruism in the individual sense, and many responders have touched on social "good", which seems to be always where the discussion goes everytime I have been in it. That's probably natural.

For me, I 'm not sure that even assuming that like for like, is a good motivator for doing right, although many people might disagree with that. I sort of have to throw "karmic" implications out of the mix.

I tried to teach a friend once that "a gift that is not freely given, is no gift at all, but merely a millstone around the neck" He couldn't get it, to make matters short. It was a silent disappointment for me.

This is of course, a tengental approach.

Attempting to do nice things for others in secret is a hard one for many people also. They always seem to have to tell someone about it.

Oh by the way, one of you guysrgals here mentioned that you think people in small towns are nicer. I haven't found that to be really true beyond the superficial level. It is true that it seems that people in small towns are less alienated from each other that large metro people are, but they get away with more good ol boy stuff than a larger public would allow and this causes lots of problems. ( I just wanted to say that before I forgot... not really pertinent)

What I think about the matter, and I have thought this for quite awhile, is that "selfishness" proper is likely to be naturally connected to self preservation.


These are paraphrases:
Socrates thought that that "all men by nature seek the good."
(what they think is good and pleasurable to themselves)
Then Aristotole states that "all men by nature seek pleasure."
Then later we have Bentham's Hedonism speaking about "all men seek pleasure and avoid pain"

My only point is that this is a continuing puzzle of a good kind, and perhaps it simply reduces to the motivation of the person.

If we forgo utility and maxim structures dealing with the collective, then we can look directly at individual motivation.

Some people point out that some are motivated by an expected payoff of some kind, from mild to extreme. (selfish or semi selfish)

Some say that some people simply do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing. (selfless)

I think both groups are right.

I hope you would agree that on any given day, a person may indulge in both paradigms.

I get motivated to think about Aristotle's psychology, as some people refer to it, in his discussion about the virtuous, the continent, the incontinent, and the vicious.

Someone in my reading here mentioed that "but I need to know what that right thing is". That was a good statement!

So what I am getting at, utilitarianism aside, I am thinking mostly about continence in the individual when I consider the set up of selfishness/selflessness.

I think that in most cases, people who desire to do "good" are like the continent people. In others the "do" as a good person ought to do. So their motivation, by degree just IS to "do good". To this you can add: for payment, for payoff, for karma, and etc..

I am unsure that anyone can reach the point of an entirely selfless act or deed until they reach the virtuous state.

Know any virtuous people out there?

Virtuous people, according to A, are those people who by "nature", by this I mean having become naturalized, do good for its own sake. They do this SIMPLY BECAUSE they do this. It is a near alien concept.
I think that there are people like that, I just don't really know any.

I think that most people must have a motivation of sorts. If they know the good, they do the good, which is different from aristotle's set up of the virtuous person, and consistent with his explication of continent persons. In other words regular "do gooders" have to think about it, and the virtuous do not.



[edit on 1-4-2009 by akalepos]



posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 01:03 AM
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reply to post by akalepos
 


Its an interesting interpretation of human action. Don't know if it is "T" true, but it works well for me.

So then I end up at the reduction of "what motivates the agent?". From person to person, having the same information how can we know how one will choose? Buridan's Ass can't choose, but we can.

To me, a selfless act has no payoff component. Some people mention that older people have a tendency to simply do good things for others without the psychological burden of normal motivators. I tend to believe that too.

Since all roads lead to rome, in this case meaning all arguments lead to this sort of standoff about wheter there really can be a completely altruist act. I must look again toward the motivation.

So I would say in balance, that the less "Me" there is in one of my actions, the more it approaches an altruistic act.

and it is TOUGH for me to do that completely.

Thank you!
For making me THINK!



posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 01:18 AM
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Originally posted by Welfhard

Originally posted by akalepos
Sort of the ultimate question really is:

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


Or should he > if it works as a social structure?


That's a great question.

If a "social structure" ordered me to do altruistic acts, I don't think that I COULD do any because they are compulsed actions.

If a certain amount of selfishness works well in a society.. that would be fine. What ever works for that group is probably what they should do. That is of course with my personal qualifier: As long as NO ONE gets hurt.

But then you have to wonder how such a social group would interact with a different social group that perhaps wouldn't want as much selfishness going on.

But then of course, you would realize that we are now talking about the world as it really is.

But I think that if you remove "selfishness" completely from a human, you would also remove his compulsion to live.

Can you imagine anyone NOT having a sense of "self"?

I mean, does not the notion "me" set up the mechanism for selfishness?

[edit on 1-4-2009 by akalepos]



posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 01:29 AM
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Originally posted by Illusionsaregrander
reply to post by akalepos
 


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


[edit on 30-3-2009 by Illusionsaregrander]


I don't think we should. Rather we should have enough information to help us each discipline our own.

I went to psyche conference once while I was doing the ba thing in philosophy. There was this doctor ... named Gazzanaga, a bigwig.

What he was talking about, and believe me... he was in the position of being able to make it happen, was creating meds that would eliminate rebellious behavior in teens. He was serious. No one in the room objected of all the psyche professors.

Why in the world would you want to negate the human as a human?
Talk about eliminating selfishness!!!! WTH?



posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 01:32 AM
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reply to post by Illusionsaregrander
 


You missed the whole point of my post. I never stated that Karma was a punishing force, nor did I state that it was "God". Karma is basically the echo coming back to you, regardless of what you do. I only used that word because most everyone basically "gets" it. Sure, you can interrupt that echo with another, and change the bad karma into something not-so-bad. (Mercy and grace). But you basically stated in different words what I was trying to say. Karma is merely a word that describes the echo of the energy you put out. "Intent" is only one form of energy, as there are many forms....physical is one, thoughts are another, etc.

I'm not an eastern philosophy guru, so if you want to pick me apart on the definition of karma, I'll pass that debate. I merely used it as an example. Change the word if you must, but the example stays the same. Karma works no differently, really, and I think it was reasonable to use it. The energy one puts out always comes back to them, good, bad or indifferent....no different than the intentions in one's heart. Call it what you want.

We can move over to Kabbalah and state the same....it teaches that everything that happens to us has happened because of our own doing. Tough pill to swallow, right? Or we can take a kinder, gentler approach with the Bible....do unto others as you would have done unto you. It's a nicer way of saying what you do to others WILL get done to you, because only God knows the hearts of men (and their intentions).



posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 02:01 AM
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Originally posted by akalepos
If a "social structure" ordered me to do altruistic acts, I don't think that I COULD do any because they are compulsed actions.


Are all not actions "compulsed"? What do you mean exactly?

On another point I think that there is a subtext issue with the terms 'selfish' and 'selfless'. The later is assume ethically 'right' and the former 'wrong'. But I think that, at least with selfishness that it should only be considered wrong if it takes a form that brings harm or loss to others - which more often than not, it doesn't.

[edit on 1-4-2009 by Welfhard]



posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 02:02 AM
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Originally posted by emeraldzeus
It's a nicer way of saying what you do to others WILL get done to you, because only God knows the hearts of men (and their intentions).


But that was the underlying point of my post. Intent is not important in the system of "karma." It doesnt matter what is in your heart. You dont get a return of your intent from some God. Evil intent is not punished with evil, and good intent is not rewarded with good. If you kill someone that you intended to help, mistakenly, you do not escape the karma of killing someone because you intended no harm.

Drunk drivers generally have no intent to kill people. They are drunk and mistakenly think they can drive. Their intent is to get home. Not to harm anyone. The karma for drunk driving and killing someone is a trial, possibly being sued, and possibly getting sent to jail, regardless of their intent. No force sends them good things because their intent was not bad. An action has consequence. Karma is non-judgmental.

I was not trying to suggest that you needed to be a Guru, only that the idea that "good intentions" have anything to do with Karma as described in the actual texts of the Eastern philosophies is simply not so. That idea that there is some "force" that rewards good intentions is derived from another source. Here in the West, most obviously from the Christian tradition with its focus on "good and evil." (Which I always find interesting because "judgment" is condemned thoroughly by Jesus, whose own philosophy is more consistent with the Eastern philosophies than the one that is named for him.) It is a common "New Age" interpretation of karma, but it is just not consistent with the actual teachings.

Good intent and evil intent in the Eastern philosophies are equally a mistake. The only intent they recognize as pure is "no intent." In keeping with the thread, "good intent" is as selfish as "bad intent." Both are still the person willing an outcome for personal reasons. They former may have nice consequences for the group, and the latter may only benefit the individual, but neither is "selfless." The person doing things from "good intent" is hoping for a reward, much like the Christian who hopes to go to heaven. The person with the westernized idea of karma may not be looking for a reward in heaven, they may want nice things to happen to them here, or in a future birth, but they are still trying to get something. Its still selfish.

Acting from "no intent" is very consistent with "selflessness."



posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 11:49 AM
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Originally posted by Welfhard

Are all not actions "compulsed"? What do you mean exactly?

On another point I think that there is a subtext issue with the terms 'selfish' and 'selfless'. The later is assume ethically 'right' and the former 'wrong'. But I think that, at least with selfishness that it should only be considered wrong if it takes a form that brings harm or loss to others - which more often than not, it doesn't.

[edit on 1-4-2009 by Welfhard]


By "compulsed" here I am talking about being compelled by rule and regulation as opposed to an inner FREE motivation... if such a thing can truly be free, but for the sake of argument we should assume so.

yeah, and I sort of agree with your further statement. And in all reality it may be the case that we use the word to describe something that it doesn't really work for. But then also, if we can't get used to "vagueness" in language our ability to communicate would break down.

So we have to sense "selfishness" by degrees until it approaches the sense of "selflessness". Then we can switch words. But I'm quining here.

[edit on 1-4-2009 by akalepos]



posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 12:48 PM
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Originally posted by akalepos

Why in the world would you want to negate the human as a human?
Talk about eliminating selfishness!!!! WTH?



I tend to agree. I think there is a "feeling" that selfishness is "bad" and leads to decision making that is harmful, and I do think that we judge it on that basis.

I am not saying this is in fact the case, but I think that we tend to think, superficially, unless asked to dig deeper, that;

Selfish=bad, Selflessness=good.

Even some of those unwilling to judge selfishness itself seem to be arguing that selfishness leds to less "good" outcomes and selflessness leads to "better" outcomes in decision making.

But the act of being "selfish itself" seems nearly inescapable. If you manage to avoid personal selfishness, you still have to be selfless in relation to something if you are to make a decision rationally. (ie I will override my personal wants or feelings for the better of ________." Something needs to go in that _______, and by putting something in that ______, you are making a value statement. You are saying "I believe that _____ is more worthy, valuable, etc., than "me and my wants."

If you put, "my group" in that blank, evolutionary science has well demonstrated that that is not true altruism, but a means of ensuring your genes pass forward in a more dilute form than of that of having direct descendants, but still falls into the realm of selfish. The fact that we now often live in groups of people NOT assured to be related to us, (modern times) does not mean the urge is any less selfish. It is still saying "my groups is more valuable than your group" if say, you are a soldier willing to die to defend ones group.

If you extend it outward to the whole species, "I will sacrifice myself and my group for the species," that is still selfish. It is saying that the species has more value than other species and is worth saving.

I think you are right. If you removed all hint of "selfishness" from humans and other social animals, you would have species that were not viable in evolutionary terms.

To me, it seems that the idea of "selfishness vs selflessness" as a philosophical argument that could ever be decided objectively relied on two subjective premises, which just happen to be untrue. One, that all selfishness acted exclusively to the benefit of an individual, and two that humans are objectively the most valuable species. The first concept arising from our own unconscious selfish urge to further the group we live in, and the second a selfish valuation of human beings as the pinnacle of evolutionary success.

Selfishness, I think, is best understood as a continuum. With "me and only me" at one end, and "all that is" on the other end. We seem to be, (all life on Earth,) moving from the single cell "me and only me" form of selfishness, to greater, but still selfish, cooperation. First cells cooperate and form multi-celled bodies, (and out compete the single celled forms) then the multi-celled bodies cooperate and form groups, (and out compete lone individuals) then groups cooperate and form nations, (and out compete tribes) perhaps next we will unite as a species, (and out compete other species) and then perhaps next our selfish identification will be with all life on Earth so as not to compete our selves into extinction.

As long as we desire survival, no matter how broadly we define the term "we" we are acting selfishly. And, in accordance with nature. (Or the God you may feel created both us and nature) We are doing what we are built to do. Which harmonizes with the Eastern version of how a being should act. It should perform the function it is designed to perform to the proper degree, in the proper time and place for that action.

Western thought has often sought "a" answer. Eastern thought has tended to insist that there is no answer that will always be right, but that the moment must be conformed to. The Eastern way of thinking is more consistent with what we know about evolution.



posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 04:46 PM
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After looking back over the thread and rethinking my initial concepts, I've had a few new ideas.

Mainly that selfishly selflessness ought not be covered with the blanket title: "Selfish"; these terms are not mutually exclusive but rather are an infinitesimal point spectrum or gradient.
ie. this:


100% Selfish l__________50%__________l 0% Selfish



And by the same virtue.


0% Selfless l__________50%__________l 100% Selfless




Good and bad really are abstract concepts applied over top of this gradient because they each don't really fit to a specific location or area and so are rather ambiguous.


[edit on 1-4-2009 by Welfhard]



posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 05:30 PM
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Sure, but in the penumnra of borderline cases, just where IS it that selfishness becomes selflessness? How will it become recognizable?

So now we sort of get stuck in a sorites like paradox.

heap, tall, long, selflessness

It is just this vagueness that will give us issue.

And so if we cannot really draw a line and say:

THIS is selfishness.
and
THIS is selflessness, any further than a definiendum, with no attachment in the real world that we can pin them on, then what do we have?

So it all sort of filters down to these questions.

And I'll be shocked if we can ever really figure it out.

So to some extent we must become accustomed to "vagueness" and realize that we may not really have an objective value "selflessness" beyond the concept, but that we have many instantiating instances of "selfishness".

So then it seems, we can only say that we know what selflessness is NOT.
Not what it is if we cannot find a truly selfless action instant.

I don't like it, but that seems to be where it always ends up.

[edit on 1-4-2009 by akalepos]

[edit on 1-4-2009 by akalepos]



posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 06:50 PM
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reply to post by Illusionsaregrander
 


I have been trying to separate quotes and it isn't working out. More than once everything disappeared and its making it difficult.

If I can remember what I had posted...

Pretty much for the first part of your post, I was discussing how the "good/bad" idea sort of becomes the same as ideas of pleasure and pain.

So then we take selfishness and selflessness, and let's make them s1 and s2 for brevity, And we note how s1 is considered bad, and so painful, and s2 as good and so pleasurable, we then get stuck for a moment because that isn't what we really want to say, I suspsct.

We have been saying that s1 produces pain externally to the "others", while s2 produces pleasure in the "others".

But when we are talking about these things we are leaving out the agent himself. Instead we seem to focus on the external results or manifestation.

We need to be able to say that s1 is bad for the agent and s2 is good for the agent. I think that this is what we want to say.

it seems that if we were going to say that s1 is bad for people to utilize, and the ones we address it to are the selfish ones themselves, I doubt that the "many" would be convinced because they receive pleasure from their selfishness.

So they would have to be convinced that it harms their soul, or inner self to commit selfish acts. And I am not sure that would fly either. Actually it just plain doesn't seem to work.

But I think that you can see what I am getting at and that is: If we are going to call these things good or bad, then there is certanly a lot more that we have to work at in order to provide guidance and solutions.

"But the act of being "selfish itself" seems nearly inescapable. If you manage to avoid personal selfishness, you still have to be selfless in relation to something if you are to make a decision rationally."

This seems reasonable to assume.

This I am not clear about:

" "selfishness vs selflessness" as a philosophical argument that could ever be decided objectively relied on two subjective premises, which just happen to be untrue. One, that all selfishness acted exclusively to the benefit of an individual, and two that humans are objectively the most valuable species. The first concept arising from our own unconscious selfish urge to further the group we live in, and the second a selfish valuation of human beings as the pinnacle of evolutionary success."

P1 All selfish acts exclusively benefit that agent.
P2 All humans are the most valuable species.

If these premises arise from selfishness, then they are self referencing and so circular and we can't use them effectively.

The philosophical problem arises as in the previous post where I mention that possibilty of slipping into a sorites type paradox, due to vagueness.

I would change the far spectrum from "me and only me" to "them and only them" instead of "all that is" so that I can keep the predicates straight. Because basically we are talking about human interaction and not really about other things. If you broaden the spectrum of discourse you wreck your argument. (we ALL do)

"Western thought has often sought "a" answer. Eastern thought has tended to insist that there is no answer that will always be right, but that the moment must be conformed to. "

Yes, the eastern way has a tendency to deal better with subjectivism, but not always.

but don't forget about Nietzsche!

he no likee this kinda talk!

hehehe




[edit on 1-4-2009 by akalepos]

[edit on 1-4-2009 by akalepos]



posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 07:40 PM
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Originally posted by akalepos
Sure, but in the penumnra of borderline cases, just where IS it that selfishness becomes selflessness? How will it become recognizable?


Perhaps every question needs to be defined sharply to be able to come to those conclusions and just treat is as though it is a continuum. Behaving in x fashion in y circumstances is more selfless and less selfish relative to z. And the question also presents itself, why is it important? If clearly defining a question still leaves us on uncertain ground, we have to ask ourselves if it really matters if we know. So that we can say something is good or bad? There we run into the exact same problem of their being no clear line. Good for whom? Bad relative to what? What is our motive for wanting the clear line?


Originally posted by akalepos
It is just this vagueness that will give us issue.

And so if we cannot really draw a line and say:

THIS is selfishness.
and
THIS is selflessness, any further than a definiendum, with no attachment in the real world that we can pin them on, then what do we have?


Whats the problem with needing to define it? What if there just arent, (as the mystics have long asserted) clear lines between things, regardless how our minds want it to be.

Maybe what we have is an indication that our thinking is flawed. Perhaps it could be interpreted as a limit of the architecture of our minds themselves that we want to draw lines that simply have no basis in objective reality, and are only "apparently there" because our minds need "this or that" in order to function the way they want to or need to in the world.

Maybe we should just get comfortable with the idea that we really cant "know." (As many have asserted) That there just arent nice concrete boxes to stick things in, and that we do so out of convenience only.

en.wikipedia.org...


Quantum logic has been proposed as the correct logic for propositional inference generally, most notably by the philosopher Hilary Putnam, at least at one point in his career. This thesis was an important ingredient in Putnam's paper "Is Logic Empirical?" in which he analysed the epistemological status of the rules of propositional logic. Putnam attributes the idea that anomalies associated to quantum measurements originate with anomalies in the logic of physics itself to the physicist David Finkelstein. It should be noted, however, that this idea had been around for some time and had been revived several years earlier by George Mackey's work on group representations and symmetry.


Perhaps as they are finding out in physics, our current logic is simply not sufficient to deal with things other than in a "practical" way.

It would not mean we would have to discard the practical usages, only that we should discard the certainty that those practical usages have objective meaning regarding the thing itself.

After all, what is wrong with admitting we are uncertain? If the history of science has taught us anything at all is it how often our belief that we know for certain is just wrong.



posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 08:23 PM
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Originally posted by akalepos

We need to be able to say that s1 is bad for the agent and s2 is good for the agent. I think that this is what we want to say.


Ok, so your S1 equals selfishness, and your S2 is selflessness. How can we then say that S1 is bad for the agent and S2 is good for him? I am supposing that you are saying that the "agent" is the person we are judging selfish or selfless?


Originally posted by akalepos
it seems that if we were going to say that s1 is bad for people to utilize, and the ones we address it to are the selfish ones themselves, I doubt that the "many" would be convinced because they receive pleasure from their selfishness.


I am not saying that S1 is bad for people to utilize. I dont think we can say one is bad and the other good. We actually run into the same problem that you note with "selfish/selfless" when you try to define "good/bad." You run into that same wall of vagueness. Can you use one vague term to define another meaningfully?


Originally posted by akalepos
But I think that you can see what I am getting at and that is: If we are going to call these things good or bad, then there is certanly a lot more that we have to work at in order to provide guidance and solutions.


What would our qualifications be to provide guidance and solutions if we cannot define either "selfless" or "good?"


Originally posted by akalepos
The philosophical problem arises as in the previous post where I mention that possibilty of slipping into a sorites type paradox, due to vagueness.

I would change the far spectrum from "me and only me" to "them and only them" instead of "all that is" so that I can keep the predicates straight. Because basically we are talking about human interaction and not really about other things. If you broaden the spectrum of discourse you wreck your argument. (we ALL do)


Ok, it would help make the question easier to deal with if we defined it "them and only them," but we have to put a hard cap on that "them." If you are talking about humans, and human interaction, which humans? Your friends? Your family? Your tribe? All humans equally?

If I take your idea that selfishness is bad for me as an individual relative to "them," and I die defending my tribe, am I still not acting selfishly? Dying for my "them" at the expense of the other "them?" It doesnt really help us much for the same reason "good or bad" doesnt help us much. Those terms are also plagued with vagueness. Where is that line? Who do we include in the "them?"


Originally posted by akalepos
Yes, the eastern way has a tendency to deal better with subjectivism, but not always.

but don't forget about Nietzsche!

he no likee this kinda talk!


Yes. And not only him. In that sentence I should have said "western thought as described by modern academics." Because actually Plato's thinking was more in line with "Eastern thought" as well as many other we consider "Western" philosophers, (Spinoza comes to mind here as well.) I think Aristotle did more to define what we call commonly "Western thought" than any other philosopher. I was going to go into a short digression on the evils of Aristotle, but I dont want to start a needless philosopher war. Lol. I know you like him. I loathe what he did to the teachings of Plato, and I will just leave it at that.



posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 09:06 PM
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reply to post by Illusionsaregrander
 


Hey look. I was trying to be generous with the assumptions. I would advise not getting stuck in the mud about it.

It was yourself that sort of phrased selfish = bad... etc.

Ok so I was trying to make it easier that we wouldn't be constantly typing selfishness and selflessness over and over. So it isn't "mine" I was using it as "ours" but I think you know that.

You need to understand that many people do NOT subscribe to putnam. And their reason abound. His ideas never really took hold about this, or it would have been a requirement. Outside of JSTOR there is really nothing on the net that will really help you with this,

So if you are having difficulty in understanding "why is it important" to understand the language that you use, I would like you to know that is a side issue, and an entirely different set of arguments.

So it is important that we know what selfisness and selfless mean and the deeper meaning lies in what it is that they refer to. Is the reference real?
I asked that question in a different way above.

I think you might be right when you make note that possibly I am saying, by default, that our thinking is flawed. I understand that, but I would refer to Wittgenstein when he alludes to the idea that it is language that is flawed and its very difficult to say what we mean sometimes. That's why I talk about reference. Does "selflessness" actually refer to something beyond a mere concept of what we think it is. THIS is why it is important!



Again.. about the "them". there is a principle of generosity that philosophers are supposed to use to SUPPORT another's position. hehehe

I prefer Socrates and Plato's writings about him and I am very familiar with them
BUT aristotole was much more detailed and his only problem with the academy, I believe was the doctrine of forms. all else seems to be an enhancement. (so... footnote?) Only on a couple of occasions did he criticise Socrates/Plato. We could do a thing on that later.

I gotta go man, I have an appointment. talk at ya later!

NOTHING here is meant to be any kind of a slam Brother!, so if you start going that way, I'll clam up. hope ya understand.
Scott





[edit on 1-4-2009 by akalepos]

[edit on 1-4-2009 by akalepos]



posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 09:44 PM
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Originally posted by akalepos
Sure, but in the penumnra of borderline cases, just where IS it that selfishness becomes selflessness? How will it become recognizable?


Well I for one don't believe that an act can be 100% exclusively selfless, by nature we're fairly selfish. But you can easily have an exclusively selfish act.

So you're left with no so much a conundrum but an equation. You could quantify any act as X parts selfish and Y parts selfless.

But ultimately you don't need an exclusively selfless act.


Do we need to be able to recognise a selfless act? An act taken at face value, while perhaps appearing to be relatively selfless, it would be a safe bet that it's part selfish.



posted on Apr, 1 2009 @ 10:29 PM
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reply to post by The Lass
 


You say charity in the Christian sense expect no rewards at all, but ultimatley it is for your reward in heaven, i.e your good deeds are watched and if your in the good books rather then the sinners books youll get to heaven - so that is the reward.



posted on Apr, 2 2009 @ 05:45 PM
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Originally posted by Welfhard

Well I for one don't believe that an act can be 100% exclusively selfless, by nature we're fairly selfish. But you can easily have an exclusively selfish act.


I am certainly with you here.
I see no real evidence to the contrary.


So you're left with no so much a conundrum but an equation. You could quantify any act as X parts selfish and Y parts selfless.


Maybe, but I think the formula would fall flat if we can't truly identify a selfless act. Like you said above, and I agree with, possibly there is no such thing as a 100% selfless act. Then we start talking about acts that are "partially" selfless, and you see that we stll end up with issues.


But ultimately you don't need an exclusively selfless act.


Do we need to be able to recognise a selfless act? An act taken at face value, while perhaps appearing to be relatively selfless, it would be a safe bet that it's part selfish.


Yes, actually we do. Here's why: If we cannot actually identify a completely selfless act, beyond a descriptor, then it is a if we are not really talking about anything other than an abstraction.

Ask yourself: Do we really want to have volumes of conversations about things whose objects are meaningless? (That the word 'gavagai' points and refers to either nothing, or something that we are not sure of?)

So far, I think, we can talk about selfless acts as if we know what one is, but since we can't seem to really identify one, we can only know what the description (concept) is.

But!... at a a level of common sense, for what that's worth, we DO know what we are talking about. But knowing about something in a commonsense way doesn't necessitate that somehow we magically really "know" it. We talk about unicorns as if they exist "knowing" that they don't exist. They don't have "being".

And this sort of shows one of the problems with language and it particularly shows a thing that I have always maintained, is that our concepts do not alway match reality and so we develop difficulties.

The concept; "The selfless human." is something that we really ought to strive for. But is it possible? Probably not from our viewpoint.

But I do think that acts that approach the paradigm ought to be included in the list of selfish acts when we stop trying to get it "perfectly".

And what I still think is that self consciousness promotes selfishness as a condition to or part of our desire to survive, or just simply live.

This is a wonderful conversation.

Just remember that sometimes we just have to learn to become comfortable with the uncomfortable.

On this discussion the "no solution" light keeps blinking, and that's ok.

Don't forget also, that appearance and reality are two different categories of things or properties of things. So an act that appears to be selfless prima facie, may not be upon deeper inspection.

[edit on 2-4-2009 by akalepos]

[edit on 2-4-2009 by akalepos]

[edit on 2-4-2009 by akalepos]



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