To clarify before I use the word, I use it as in biology, where it is the consequences of an action for reproductive fitness that determine whether
the action counts as altruistic, not the intentions
, if any, with which the action is performed.
reply to post by JAK
Altruistic behaviour is common throughout the animal kingdom, particularly in species with complex social structures.
...some of the most interesting examples of biological altruism are found among creatures that are (presumably) not capable of conscious thought at
all, e.g. insects.
As far what nixie-nox pointed out, in nature it can be observed that-
A process of between-group selection may thus allow the altruistic behaviour to evolve.
Within each group, altruists will be at a selective disadvantage relative to their selfish colleagues, but the fitness of the group as a whole
will be enhanced by the presence of altruists. Groups composed only or mainly of selfish organisms go extinct, leaving behind groups containing
So... altruistic behaviors benefit the individual in a social structure in that his particular group gains a survival benefit.
So from there, the instinct of altruism will arise according to our conception of our group- our identification with a genetic group or family, or
with a town, or a state, or a nation, or a religion, or a political party, or a color of skin, or language, or hemisphere of earth, or the whole of
This is part of our social instincts, they have evolved this way because they benefit the individual survival.
Most people understand even intellectually that complete selfishness is disadvantageous to themself in the long run.
In certain modern societies, individualism
being disproportionately valued has largely caused the natural social instincts to be repressed,
and so altruism is believed to be something one chooses
purposely, for intents that are solely
"selfless". This is a continuuance of the
individualist idea that all is competition and social adherance is without value.
JAK- to clarify my comment on your insistance, you posted repeatedly-
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.
Call it ineffectual, (and yawn, and all that you described...) but I can "dribble" out more evidence to support the hypothesis that our automatic
deepest instincts and reflexes have evolved to support our individual survival and health, and that includes
Concern for the well being of others is advantageous to ourselves in the long run.
edit on 21-11-2012 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)