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Fallacy of the Selfless Act

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posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 01:45 AM
The American holiday of “Thanks Giving” got me thinking about this, so here it is:

I contend that all good deeds executed in the name of “goodwill” actually come to fruition solely from the seeds of self-service.

Please keep in mind that “self-service” can be many things. Some of those things not even being healthy or prosperous for said person…

There is no such thing as a selfless act of goodwill.
I know I am not the first person to put this notion forth.
I am sure that many of you will agree, but I am curious about the reactions of those who would disagree. If you disagree, please provide one example of a truly selfless act.
If you agree, please put forth your support for my argument.

Where is the conspiracy you ask? Here is the conspiracy:
The religious. Vegetarians. Animal rights activists. Anti-war protestors. “do-gooders”. And the list goes on.. Everyone pretending to do things in the name of goodwill and/or morality are all fakes.
Why is it important for these people to pretend that their acts are selfless?
Because, it is their tool of indoctrination. It brings additional people into their fold to further their selfish act.

Please prove me wrong. Doubtful though.

posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 01:51 AM
reply to post by defuntion

I know that when I do something as simple as opening a door for someone that it is not a selfless act.

It still makes me feel good though.

Many of us here have probably performed acts of heroism though, just because it needed to be done.

Selfless...maybe, even probably.

But feeling good about doing the right thing is a reward unto itself. Would you not agree?

posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 01:57 AM
reply to post by defuntion

Selflessness is a consummate act of selfishness - on many levels. Being selfless allows us to feel superior. It also allows us to live with the belief that if we help others - then others will help us should we ever find ourselves in need. This is the very basis of society and it was born of the selfish gene... the need to survive long enough for our DNA to be passed along through procreation.

Having said all of that... it is also the single form of selfishness that benefits the species as a whole and not just us as individual organisms.

I'm proudly selfishly selfless and spend a great deal of my time trying to share the pure joy of this variety of selfishness with as many people as I possibly can.


posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 02:06 AM
Well, agree and disagree.

Our motivations are dominated by selfishness, for sure. Giving to charity for example, gives us the self perception of being good and brings back admiration in the community.

But, there is such a thing as real sacrifice. People aren't completely in it for themselves. Nearly everyone sacrifices some level of personal gain for someone else at some point. People do care about the well being of others, and are willing to serve to an extent.

So in a way, any sacrifice made is a selfless act. Probably not in totality, but in part.

We shouldn't expect anyone to be selfless. But we should expect them not to be 100% selfish.

posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 02:06 AM

Originally posted by TDawgRex
reply to post by defuntion

I know that when I do something as simple as opening a door for someone that it is not a selfless act.

It still makes me feel good though.

Thanks for responding TDawg.

I appreciate all your kindness. I also hold doors (even past the standard 15 foot rule)
It also make me feel good.

posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 02:08 AM
reply to post by defuntion

I don't think it's a black and white thing. Holding a door for someone is still 50% selfless, minimum. How about seeing someone drop money and instead of keeping it, you give it back? Isn't there more selflessness than selfishness in that act?

posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 02:08 AM
True selflessness comes from the desire to help others without any concern for "payback" or anything that furthers your own needs and desires. There are very few truly selfless people who do things out of the kindness of their hearts with the humility to not expect something back in return for their "kind" act. If you do things to help others as a means of gaining something for yourself as the sole means of doing so, you are not a selfless person. It's a shame that the truly selfless out there have become a dying breed.

posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 02:13 AM
Letting someone go, when your heart is screaming no. Only a masochist could be doing that as a selfish act

posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 02:19 AM
I would never claim to be a selfless person. I am very self centered and selfish.

But I have done things for people, for no other reason than because I was the only one who could. I gained nothing in return, and suffered significant financial loss because of the acts.

Not everything is caused by self interest, sometimes it's just being polite(best word I can think of right now)

posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 02:33 AM
reply to post by defuntion

What about mother and son?


posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 03:02 AM
I've heard this argument before, more than once, and it's never seemed to carry any real weight. Because ultimately the argument has no other legs on which to stand the justification for every act eventually dribbles down to the ineffectual suggestion of all acts of an altruistic nature must then be motivated through a subconscious desire to serve the self. To me it is at best a very weak escape route.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Why save someone for a brief ego massage, a fraction of a second perhaps, when the price for that at least hold the very real potential for death? We know people have acted in such a way, not only with friends and acquaintances either, and I'm not particularly impressed by the absurd suggestion that all those who have acted so believe in an afterlife. In consideration of the above, the ultimate sacrifice to save another not only someone directly genetically related, (let's quickly toss aside this weak direct relationship argument and while we're here I'm not buying the attempt at a legitimising extension of that argument in that all mankind can, in a way, be considered family therefore...) or even known to the individual seems absurdly pointless insofar as acting on the promise of some later reward. Unless mankind's short-sighted stupidity outweighs his selfishness.

Of course it could be that the selfish streak is so deeply embedded in our subconscious that... yawn as I mentioned before, at best a weak escape route. It has to be grabbed at some point though because there's no other way out: It's either that refuge or altruism exists in our hearts, is part of human nature and the argument doesn't hold water.

Man who died saving child at West Wittering is named

THE man who died saving a five-year-old girl drifting out to sea at West Wittering has been named.

The hero, who was pronounced dead at the busy beach on Saturday lunchtime, was 32-year old Plamen Petkova, of Westmoreland Drive, Sutton, Surrey.

A Bulgarian national, Mr Petkova died after he went to the aid of a young girl from London, along with another woman. He managed to get the girl safely to the woman - who got her to shore - but he was recovered unconscious from the sea.

Despite efforts by members of the public and emergency services to resuscitate he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Man drowns rescuing two children at West Wittering beach

A 25-year-old man has died on a beach in West Sussex after going to the aid of two children in the sea.

The children were playing in a rubber ring at West Wittering beach "some five metres from the shoreline" on Saturday.

A police spokesman said the man managed to get the children to safety "but in doing so put himself in danger which sadly resulted in him drowning".

The identity of the man has not been released, but police said he was not related to the children.
'Mother upset'

A spokesman for the South East Coast Ambulance Service said an air ambulance attended the incident just after midday.

"But sadly despite resuscitation attempts by our own crews and the air ambulance crew the man was pronounced dead at the scene," he said.

Solent Coastguard said it was also called to the beach but was not involved in the rescue.

The spokesman added: "A man was pulled from the water on the West Wittering estate after he had tried to help two children.

"Their mother was understandably upset that this man had had this accident when he had tried to help them."

posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 03:07 AM
I also think that no act is truly selfless.... even though I have made sacrifices for others, and would go as far as giving up my life for another, that is because I identify with others. The boundries of self are not very solid for me mentally, so if I save another, I feel like I am saving myself -even if this particular body will die.

I feel the pleasure of recieving when I give too. I can live through others. That may actually be considered a psychological problem... but it works for me, my life is normal, successful and I am happy.

But that also indicates that nothing I do can ever be completely "selfless"... except in a very superficial sense- like no benefit to this particular body can be seen by another on the outside.

posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 03:11 AM
Ive done nice things for other people just because it's the "right thing to do" and been pooped on.

Did it make me feel good to do that nice thing? Nope. I still will continue to do nice things for people even if it doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.


posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 03:22 AM
reply to post by Bluesma

Every insightful person understands that the real joy comes from giving, not receiving and there's nothing wrong with that at all. The sight of a loved one's face as they open a gift is a beautiful thing to behold, why wouldn't that bring joy?

I'd strongly argue though that, while it may be a welcome one, it is nothing more than a by-product and the joy the gift giver feels then is not the motivation behind why the gift is offered. I suppose I should add that YMMV but that's enough for me to rule out the suggestion of self interest behind every gift.

posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 03:56 AM
reply to post by JAK

I don't think the joy in giving is superior to that of recieving. I place value on the two as being the same.

The argument could be made though, that the pleasure one experiences through empathy is not the same as direct experience... depending upon the force of your imagination. (I have a very strong imagination, myself! I can literally cause myself to have an orgasm with no physical contact or friction of any kind )

It was once pointed out to me that although each week I have a wave of pleasure knowing someone won the lottery, I do not have that continue for days as someone is buying themselves cars, houses, and whatnot with that money! So there is a difference between my individual personality winning the lottery and having an inner experience of winning the lottery with another.

My counter to that is that I shared the actual experience of finding out one won... if I choose to share in the other experiences of buying objects I can...... but then my day would be taken up by that. Like the Little Match Girl, I'd end up sitting in place in my inner experiences all day- when I have other projects, duties, relations, that I have put into effect with this body and need to nurture those too!

posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 04:14 AM
Explanation: Hmmmm?

What is selflessness ...

'Spider-Man' rescues autistic Thai boy (AFP March 24, 2009) []

A Thai fireman turned superhero when he dressed up as comic-book character Spider-Man to coax a frightened eight-year-old from a balcony, police said on Tuesday.

Teachers at a special needs school in Bangkok alerted authorities on Monday when an autistic pupil, scared of attending his first day at school, sat out on the third-floor ledge and refused to come inside, a police sergeant told AFP.

Despite teachers' efforts to beckon the boy inside, he refused to budge until his mother mentioned her son's love of superheroes, prompting fireman Sonchai Yoosabai to take a novel approach to the problem.

The rescuer dashed back to his fire station and made a quick change into a Spider-Man costume before returning to the boy, he said.

Advertisement "I told him Spider-Man is here to rescue you, no monsters are going to attack you and I told him to walk slowly towards me as running could be dangerous," Somchai told local television.

The young boy immediately stood up and walked into his rescuer's arms, police said.

Somchai said he keeps the Spider-Man costume and an outfit of Japanese television character Ultraman at the station in order to liven up school fire drills.

But maybe being an adult male firefighter doesn't count ... so how about ... [Note: I have edited the news articles title to reflect a greater truth than the original article had ok]

5 yo boy dressed as Spiderman saves baby from blaze (Published November 13, 2007 SkyNews) []

A five-year-old boy dressed as Spider-Man became a real life hero when he saved a baby girl from a burning house in Brazil.

Pint-sized superhero Riquelme Maciel stepped into the house to pull the 1-year-old to safety after he saw her mother crying.

The boy had been playing with a friend in his back yard when they spotted smoke coming from the window of a wooden house.

Using his Spidey senses, he ran to tell the baby's mother, Lucilene dos Santos, but she was too afraid to enter the blazing house.

Without hesitating, the tiny masked crusader decided he would brave the flames to save baby Andrieli from her cradle.

Santos told reporters: "He said, 'don't cry, don't scream because I'm going to save Andrielle.'

"Then I began shouting for him not to go because I was scared he would die in the fire."

But Riquelme did not think twice. After the rescue the Spider-Boy simply said: "I decided to go inside the house and save her."

Fire department's chief Jose de Macedo praised the boy's bravery, but warned parents and children about copying his actions.

He said: "It is very dangerous. This requires a trained crew and proper gear. So we pass on this warning that it is not recommended."

After his heroic act, Riquelme became the talk of the town, making it on to the front pages of local newspapers.

He says he wants to become a firefighter and save more lives - although whether he will be allowed to wear his Spider-Man costume while he does it remains to be seen.

2nd article on same story []

But maybe that also isn't enough as people were watching on at the time ... being good and selfless happens when there is no one else is looking on ...

Personal Disclosure: I refer everbody back to JAK 's post in this very thread for even deeper information!

posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 04:21 AM
reply to post by OmegaLogos

You couldn't find a third spider man related example?

Posting smileys out of a selfless desire to make people happy

posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 05:08 AM
Not having anyone else see your act says nothing at all about your selflessness in it, I think.

We have our own reinforcement processes in our brain, in which chemicals like dopamine for controlling a pleasure response. Self rightiousness includes that spurt of feel good juice- everytime we do something we judge as good or right to do. We can even get addicted to altruistic behavior, or self rightious indignation through this mechanism.

So that leaves us with the possibility that some acts are done because of a subconscious drive to self dope.

That doesn't make them any less "good" or ethical, in the long run. I surely do not like the idea that someone doing something kind for me is actually being self destructive or self denying !

That leads to such ideas as martyrism, and the idea that either self or other must be denied in exchanges, instead of equal benefit.

posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 05:11 AM
reply to post by JAK

I starred that post so that I could feel the self-serving and entirely gratuitous joy that doing so provided me.


posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 05:20 AM
reply to post by defuntion

An act can be selfless when the ego is subdued...This take practise and is an natural state for humans to be in...

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