Fallacy of the Selfless Act

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posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 03:25 PM
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Originally posted by Afterthought
Therefore, any act that helps someone first and the giver second, should be considered a selfless act.
edit on 20-11-2012 by Afterthought because: (no reason given)


Right. That's the crux of the argument. That givers benefit first.. In some way, or they would not give.

It really sounds bad, but it doesn't have to be a bad thing.




posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 03:27 PM
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reply to post by defuntion
 
This is something I've thought about a lot over the years. We can tie ourselves in scientific, philosophical and logical knots trying to make sense of why people act the way they do.

On Saturday, I was eating in a cafe/restaurant and noticed an old lady pushing a trolley full of shopping. It barely registered. 20 minutes later and she approached me thinking I was her son. "Hello son, I've been looking for you everywhere," she said as she sat on the seat opposite. I smiled and told her she had the wrong man; she slowly stood and went back to the lobby with her trolley.

Not long afterwards, I finished and started to leave the store. On the way out I saw her still waiting. It dawned on me that her son had never been in the store and she was simply lost and forgetful. There were no security guys about so I told a woman behind the news counter and explained the situation. I wanted her to put a cal out on the speakers.

We walked over to the lady and I caught her attention. She was barely 5' and wrapped up for winter. Her eyes looked out at me from behind the wrinkles of decades and struggled to focus clearly. She couldn't remember the name of her son. I told her the lady would look after her and turned to leave.

It caught me by surprise, but as I walked away I felt sort of choked up and my eyes stung. I wouldn't be writing this if she hadn't effected me in some way.

The point of these words is to say that a 'selfless act' can be spontaneous and promise no rewards.



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 03:28 PM
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Here are the synonyms for 'self disciplined':
thesaurus.com...


Main Entry: austere  [aw-steer] Show IPA

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: refraining; abstinent

Synonyms:
abstemious, ascetic, chaste, continent, economical, puritanical, self-denying, self-disciplined, sober, straightlaced, strict, subdued, unrelenting

Antonyms:
elaborate, encouraging, extravagant, indulgent, spending


Looking at the choices, I feel that 'austere' is the best word choice to describe someone who puts others first and themselves second.



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 03:37 PM
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Originally posted by defuntion

Originally posted by Afterthought
Therefore, any act that helps someone first and the giver second, should be considered a selfless act.
edit on 20-11-2012 by Afterthought because: (no reason given)


Right. That's the crux of the argument. That givers benefit first.. In some way, or they would not give.

It really sounds bad, but it doesn't have to be a bad thing.


No. That's not it at all.
Say, I walk past a Salvation Army bell ringer. I fish out some change only because I want Karma to find and reward me. This is selfish.
If I fish out change while thinking about those who won't have anything to eat for the holidays unless I contribute, this is being austere.
Huge difference. Even the resulting feeling that the giver experiences differs greatly.
edit on 20-11-2012 by Afterthought because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 03:45 PM
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Originally posted by Kandinsky
The point of these words is to say that a 'selfless act' can be spontaneous and promise no rewards.


Kandinsky. Thanks for contributing to the thread.

And, thanks for being the kind of person that looks out for a lady in that condition.
That could have been my mother, or wife...
I really appreciate acts of kindness.

Posts like yours make it hard to take the position that I have.
People tend to think that I am trying to trivialize the act. I am not.

Good is good. And I am certain it felt good to lend your hand to someone who needed it.



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 03:58 PM
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reply to post by defuntion
 
Good and bad - it surprised me.

Like you, I've tried to boil selflessness down into some easily defined explanation. So far it just doesn't want a pin stuck in it.

I guess we should keep trying



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 04:35 PM
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Originally posted by defuntion
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.


Have you ever been in a position where an action was limiting yourself and your happiness but you did it because it was the right thing to do even cursing that the situation was so you had to do it where no one can blame you of you would not do it?

But in one way you are right. What you seed you will get returned. Be selfish and you will be surrounded by people who are selfish and egoistic. Be unselfish and ideal and you might find something. Have fun playing around with that negative state of being if you want to. I think you are a fool but if you want to burn you hand on a stove just to feel pain then go for it.
edit on 20-11-2012 by LittleByLittle because: Spellchecking


JAK

posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 04:40 PM
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reply to post by nixie_nox
 


Even if you remove "has" from your first sentence and replace it with 'may have' then it gains a lot more credibility but still nowhere near enough to offer real weight to your point. I'm having trouble trying to believe this argument isn't trying just a little too hard.

Your argument suggests it is the very act of sacrifice itself which will later elevate socially elevate their family. That is not the case, never has been. Any elevation in society has to be taken by force, (obviously not an option in this scenario) or bestowed by the other members of the society.

Any social elevation fostered by such sacrifice is entirely dependant upon the noble sentiment of others then. So the argument that there exists a belief in the sentiment of others so deeply rooted and definite that it trumps the very survival instinct of the individual (not a passing belief but something that will root itself into the subconscious of mankind the world over) and that a biological advantage is absolutely guaranteed to be gained from such an action seems, at best, delicate.

You may have a point if you take a snapshot of certain recent civilizations but even in the present day Western societies I don't think such an advantage could be counted on to such an extent. I've seen some very regrettable actions committed by family members after a loved one died, we all know that even today squabbles break out and wills are fought over by immediate family members. Even in modern times then, in our comparatively socially advanced civilization this argument doesn't seem to hold much water, far less then when we try to project this understanding into the subconscious of all mankind at some stage in our ancient past.

The point moves from "So being a hero, has a biological advantage." to 'So being a hero, may have a biological advantage.' at which it seems lost.





reply to post by defuntion
 


Glad you got a giggle from the ninjas defuntion, it did make me smile when writing.


In reply to you I have to reference the wording I chose. I never suggested that there was any failure on the part of the individual to acknowledge an underlying motive, that suggests that (there is a recognition by the individual that) such motivation exists but the individual refuses or denies it. What I meant to reference was the total absence of such motivation as far as the individual was concerned, even after consideration. That is why the defence was classed as not in plain sight, but rather as hidden.

I'm not sure I would agree that avoiding a negative is the same as a positive but I suppose that is down to the interpretation you choose. In one way there is a positive side to avoiding a negative – the lack of loss. So there could be classed a similarity between avoiding a negative equating to a positive. But say for example we use the analogy of a half filled cup: Avoiding a negative, someone taking from the cup, is not the same as (embracing) a positive, someone filling the cup further. In this example there is loss, no loss and gain - so no similarity. I'm not trying to obfuscate or avoid any point you may be driving at defuntion, I am genuinely unsure what interpretation to use here.

You ask if the absence of bad is good? Well again (I'm sorry!) that depends on what exactly is meant here. If a dog is being beaten and that beating stops then, certainly, the absence of that bad thing could be interpreted as a good thing. But alternatively if there is suffering and I do nothing to increase or decrease that suffering then I wouldn't credit the absence of 'bad' action on my part as equating to a good (positive) action.

As for "Removing a threat to our happiness is a way of maintaining happiness, so it may be seen as selfish." I can see that, yes. A person may be fearful of a harsh winter so they slaughter their neighbour to take their grain. Certainly that could be classed as a selfish act. But if one were to build a wall (for arguments sake, without inconveniencing anyone or anything) to guard against the threat of a flood then the removal of that threat to happiness, thus maintaining happiness, couldn't be classed as a selfish act. But the relevant words here are 'may be' they can be replaced with 'may not be' dependant upon the act but, being dependant upon the act they cannot be replaced with 'has to be'. So the act doesn't have to be a selfish one.





reply to post by Bluesma
 


Not sure exactly how you're taking up any challenge of mine Bluesma. What you offered is examples of acts which, without time for consideration (not operating on any subconscious level though because there we are all selfish) were altruistic in nature.



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 05:03 PM
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reply to post by Afterthought
 


Explanation: St*rred!

Thank you very much for providing a theasaurus definition!


I shall reinforce that with a dictionary definition ... selfish [thefreedictionary.com]


self·ish (slfsh)
adj.
1. Concerned chiefly or only with oneself: "Selfish men were . . . trying to make capital for themselves out of the sacred cause of human rights" (Maria Weston Chapman).
2. Arising from, characterized by, or showing selfishness: a selfish whim.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

selfish·ly adv.
selfish·ness n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


So if that IS the way that word is defined ... then there is clearly more than one example shown in this thread where people were acting far far beyond being concened ONLY or Primarily with themselves.

It matters not that people benefit at a minor level!

If it is a matter of degrees only then mathematically then any act which benefits one 51% compared to 49% benefit for the other person would be 'classified' as selfish.

Personal Disclosure: Maybe the only fallacy of this thread was the lack of a proper definition to start with?

edit on 20-11-2012 by OmegaLogos because: Edited to add the link and fix spelling.



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 05:58 PM
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Originally posted by Afterthought
reply to post by foodstamp
 


It's not selfless because the pain of YOU seeing him/her in pain was greater than the pain of you losing him/her. That's a selfish act.


You're wrong.
Also, please don't ever assume that you know how someone feels -- especially when you've never met them.
Please do some research on assisted suicide and how the family members who have to go on without their loved ones are in much more pain after the humane deed has been done than how they felt prior to. Since you think you know what I've experienced and how I felt before and after, I believe your ego is bigger than your brain. Please work on trying to be more humble and empathetic. You'll be a better person because of it.

After reading all the other replies, it appears that this thread is designed to prove that every act is selfish.
No matter what someone answers, another will counter that their example was not selfless at all. There're just no right answers when people are only here to twist and contort things as if they have experienced every scenario possible.
When all posters are told that their answer is still a selfish act, that is selfish in itself. I nor anybody else had to exert the energy to participate in this thread, which seems as though it was written as a means to discount any and all answers. Truly a snake eating its own tail.

I honestly feel bad for someone who tries to find selfishness within any and all acts.


For give me if my lack of a lengthy letter insinuates that I don't have any empathy.

You may see that I made a post more recently about Buddhism and this subject as well. The reason why I bring that up is because I myself am a Buddhist too and have gone through what you have gone through too almost exactly. With a long lived and loved cat, and a grandmother where I was soley the one responsible for "pulling the plug". Upon many many days of self-reflection and self analysis, I DID in fact come to the SAME conclusion about myself that I just said too you.

Hope this gives you a better understanding of my motivation. However, I lack the eloquence and patience to try to debate to you as to why I came to that conclusion. I will leave you with this. When you really peel away the EGO down to nothing, you WILL find that EVERY act is a selfish one. But that's not a thing you can debate or teach somebody. It's something you must experience then analyse. Perhaps if you too followed the Dharma and better understood the reality of self, you would come to the same conclusion.

My condolences.



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 06:18 PM
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Originally posted by OmegaLogos
So if that IS the way that word is defined ... then there is clearly more than one example shown in this thread where people were acting far far beyond being concened ONLY or Primarily with themselves.

It matters not that people benefit at a minor level!


Thanks for contributing OmegaLogos.

I felt a little like the guy on the right in your avatar for a second...


Here's the problem though. Even if we are using "Selfish" in the most strict defiinition, the argument can still hold up.

My contention is that the most basic instinct that CAUSES one to act is a selfish mechanism. It does not matter that the end result is another party reaping the majority or even all of the benefit. Without the basic impulse to serve the self, there would be no acts of goodwill.

It is not a matter of percentages. It is quite binary.



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 06:45 PM
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reply to post by defuntion
 


Please everyone keep in mind the absolute maxim that "no good deed goes unpunished" It is a certainty and so very true.



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 07:18 PM
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reply to post by defuntion
 


I think that defuntion and I had an extremely philosophically beautiful discussion on the topic, possibly one of the best ones I've seen. Check it out.



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 07:27 PM
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Originally posted by bladerunner44
reply to post by defuntion
 


Please everyone keep in mind the absolute maxim that "no good deed goes unpunished" It is a certainty and so very true.


Hi Bladerunner44.

Yes, I have felt this way at times...
Not always, but sometimes..



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 07:38 PM
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Originally posted by darkbake
reply to post by defuntion
 


I think that defuntion and I had an extremely philosophically beautiful discussion on the topic, possibly one of the best ones I've seen. Check it out.


There are no definitives in this kind of discussion. That is definite.

Just good excercise in logic and philosophy.

Beautiful indeed!

Thanks again for the discourse darkbake.



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 07:58 PM
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A thought just occured to me, that I had not considered, so I want to post it prior to trying cover it with the notion in my OP..

What about general concern? Just having concern without acting...

Hearing a tragic story and feeling sorry for someone. Is being sympathetic an act of kindness? I am not sure.
If so, what is the self serving behavior in that?

I'm gonna think about it, but if anyone wants to take a crack at that go ahead.

I have to very selfishly make dinner for me and my son.



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 08:03 PM
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reply to post by foodstamp
 


Thank you for your condolences, but we aren't going to come to the same conclusions. I used to work with a Buddhist and I've also studied it. I understand the circle of life. It would've been more selfish to allow my dog's condition to deteriorate further. His pain was my pain. Contrary to your belief, I'm in more pain now even though I'm happy he is not. Here is where the confusion lies: I realize it may seem as though I'm being selfish because I'm wishing he was still here, but it's not that way at all. I miss our walks. I miss giving him a hug. I miss baking him treats. All the things I miss are not one sided. We fed off of each other's energy and it was a mutually beneficial relationship.

The true answer to this thread is to not ask why.

If someone does something nice or generous, then feels good about it, the good feeling it causes within the giver is not to be questioned. It's a waste of time and energy to analyze this inner light. Trying to understand it and make some kind of sense out of it is not even a rewarding experience. It's actually causing me to feel empty.

I'm much more concerned about the people who hurt someone because it makes them feel good. I'm also more concerned about the people who do good or bad and feel nothing at all.

In my mind, I'd like to believe that the feeling we receive from giving is our soul becoming less heavy. I also believe that a person with a heavier, or darker, soul is going to remain closer to the Earthly realm upon their death. I'll do a million good deeds just to make sure that my soul floats as far from the Earth as possible when I die. If that's being selfish, I can live with that.



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 08:17 PM
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reply to post by OmegaLogos
 


My pleasure and thanks for reinforcing it with the definition.
I'm happy you also are seeing this in the same light as I am.

If someone is doing something good for me or gives me something only because it's going to make them feel good, they can keep it. I'm sure someone will be along soon who wants to help me because they are more concerned about me and my condition. I'm a good person and would be more than happy to return the favor to this type of person than the kind who is just thinking of themselves.

Considering this scenario. I have a friend who enjoys helping others, but he never lets anyone return the favor. I find this to be truly unsatisfying. I enjoy showing someone how much I appreciated what they did for me and when that person blocks you from this, it actually causes pain and leaves a hole that can't be filled otherwise.



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 08:36 PM
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Originally posted by Bluesma
Not having anyone else see your act says nothing at all about your selflessness in it, I think.


but what DOES seem to be critical (according to my own observations), is that the doer perceives that their action will be noticed...not necessarily NOW but at some point.

in other words, even an act not directly observed will "make a KNOWN difference" in someone else's life. not simply to "make a difference".

thus, any type of action which does not affirm the self, if only in the abstract sense, does not (usually) get done.



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 08:38 PM
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reply to post by Afterthought
 


why should anyone give a damn about you?

how presumptuous.

how selfish.





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