The Falsity of Altruism

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Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 07:27 pm
Warning*Warning*Warning*Warning*Warning*Warning*Warning*Warning

The following realization may cause mild to moderate discomfort in some individuals.


Altruism is an idealistic concept contrived from careless insightfulness. The idea that Human Beings subjected to the constraints of our Natural World can somehow magically engage in the process of invoking some form of physical or cognitive interference to benefit some other independent Human Being, Without FIRST satisfying their own SELF-INTEREST is carelessly FALSE and needs to be examined with the courage of truth.

EXAMPLE: Two soldiers engaged in combat are firing at the enemy from their foxhole, when suddenly a hand grenade lands inside the foxhole and one of the soldiers (A) throws his body on top of the grenade partly shielding the other soldier (B) from the blast and shrapnel, thereby saving the soldier (B), but the act also cost the life of the soldier (A) who threw himself upon the grenade.

By closely examining the actual process of the above scenario reveals a completely self-interested act with no sign of some kind of idealistic act composed of an anonymous magical altruistic event. As soon as soldier (A) synapses begin firing within his brain (absolute leading edge of self-interest) that allows him to move his body towards the grenade and consequently finish the physical act of throwing his body onto the grenade clearly reveals the actual sequence that transpires revealing the inherent constraint of satisfying SELF-INTEREST FIRST, before some ancillary (secondary) event or act can be completed.

I personally believe the above realization offers substantial explanatory reasons for perplexing Human behavior. Clearly, the model of the Human Being and the Natural World reveals a creature and a process (self-interest) that are explicitly linked and NO AMOUNT of idealistic interpretation will ever uncouple the process and empirical truth of self-interest

P.S. I once believed that self-interest needed the prerequisite of FREE-WILL, but realized you always have the default option NOT to do something, thereby still having access to self-interest, which indicates how self-contained Human Beings are for accessing self-interest.
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 08:01 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
So you are saying that two seemingly(I'm saying seemingly in hopes you'll counter me here) opposite actions that could be taken by humans who all have self interest can occur. One is that a person can throw himself on top of the grenade and that is called self interest. (Ofcourse it is but altruism can still mingle within the action). The other is letting the other person do so, and that is self interest in self preservation.

Laughing Perhaps what happens in a situation like this is that humans will randomly use one side to their brain. Randomly selected, the neocortex or the archipallium. What will it be today, well maybe the brain has this continous oscillation that never ends the flip of a coin, and as time progresses the brain reads the resultant appropriately.

But seriously, you have to agree that there is duality in the idea of self interest to allow altruism to be differentiated. Otherwise, what's to stop (in the haste of the situation) both people to jump on top of the grenade? Altruism and self interest become objectively undefined.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 08:37 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
This is more or less identical to the psychological arguments about hedonism, i.e. every conscious act is fundamentally done out of self-interest.

However I find that argument flawed for two reasons - one ethical and one psychological.

The ethical argument is that it may well be that an act done for the benefit of others is an investment in the greater good of humanity, even at a very tiny level. For instance missing your bus to help a lost child is an act that if generalized would clearly be for the betterment of us all.

And from a psychological point of view, the hedonistic argument is completely immaterial, because it has only to do with how we justify acts to ourselves, whether or not we benefit personally.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 09:57 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
If we characterise every conscious act as being caused by self-interest, does this tell us anything at all? Have we not so broadly defined "self-interest" as to be meaningless? And if every act is the result of "self-interest" then how do we account for the ordinary concept that some acts are NOT caused by it?

No matter how we examine the example provided, can we ignore that in throwing oneself on a grenade the soldier chooses his own destruction, and how would that choice be in his self-interest? For it would seem that self-preservation is the epitome of self-interest.

If, on the other hand, it is some unconscious or automatic response to a situation, then there is no question of motive or choice, and thus "self-interest" does not even apply. Of course, someone may argue that any automatic, or "natural" action is one of self-interest, but then isn't it just a natural act, and self-interest becomes one (out of many) interpretations of Nature, and wouldn't the characterisation be a redundant description? It would certainly be, I would think, an unwarranted ethical description of nature.
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 10:02 pm
@jgweed,
Yes, pessimism tells us a lot about the subjectivity of the subject situation

Also, I'd argue that self preservation is only a cognitive response and in the haste of the action, there'd be no critical thought as to self interest unless it were already um... "intrinsicified" into the rational part of the brain.
 
boagie
 
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 10:10 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed,Smile

Any action must have a will behind it, so, it matters not motivation, it may be foolish, confused and/or mistaken. It may be a compassionate act with its motivation to save another, but, it must have the will behind the action--so in this sense, it is selfish in that the action is fulfilling the individual will. One can never get away from self interest on this level, nor should there be any desire to try, it is only through compassion that a heart moves the will to act in this direction of self-sacrifice.

Aedes,Smile

The defination of heroic virtue, is placing the individual beneath the value of the group, or the indivdual beneath the value of species.
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 10:27 pm
@boagie,
Just for kicks I'd like to point out that perhaps as doing good and remembering that might become embedded in our heads moreso than doing bad(the nonaltruisic reaction), it might take less time for the brain to decided upon the outcome of the altruistic outcome and therefore the person regards that as their will. The other would have too under the same condition but was disregarded by the same will of the other person throwing himself heroicly.
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 10:33 pm
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
jgweed,Smile

Any action must have a will behind it, so, it matters not motivation, it may be foolish, confused and/or mistaken. It may be a compassionate act with its modivation to save another, but, it must have its will behind the action--so in this sense, it is selfish in that the action is fulfilling the individual will. One can never get away from self interest on this level, nor should there be any desire to, it is only through compassion that a heart moves the will to act in this direction.

Aedes,Smile

The defination of heroic virtue, is placing the individual beneath the value of the group, or the indivdual beneath the value of species.



How come you fully understand the cognitive sequence of fulfilling self-interest, yet other individuals have difficulty coming to grips with the realization? It is not because you agree with me, but more reflective of your ability to objectively indulge in consideration unhindered from the subjectivity of emotional convolution.
 
boagie
 
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 10:40 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic wrote:
How come you fully understand the cognitive sequence of fulfilling self-interest, yet other individuals have difficulty coming to grips with the realization? It is not because you agree with me, but more reflective of your ability to objectively indulge in consideration unhindered from the subjectivity of emotional convolution.


Ruthless Logic,Smile

Well to tell you the truth, it was a learning experience for me, I never thought so many people would have difficulty with it. Certainly I thought there would be the odd one, but it seems to be pretty generalized the difficulty. Edit: Ruthless, you may have a point about the emotional aspect, the people who seem to have the greatest difficulty with it, all want to approach from a moral standpoint.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 27 Oct, 2008 03:33 am
@Ruthless Logic,
I don't think it's especially difficult for a non religious person to critically look at altruism with out getting emotionally bent out of shape.

My main disagreement with the original argument here is that it tackles one particular understanding of altruism that is probably not widely held.

Philosophical discourse about why we choose to act a certain way is more concerned with the authenticity and rationale behind our self justification. Someone CAN indeed be altruistic if he is firmly convinced that he acts or sacrifices for others, because altruism is his intent -- it is his motivator.

Furthermore altruism is often an external judgement of certain acts, including both self conscious ones and instinctual / impulsive ones.

For example, society CAn judge an act as Satanic and an individual can be motivated by Satan even if Satan does not exist.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Mon 27 Oct, 2008 07:31 am
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic wrote:
Altruism is an idealistic concept contrived from careless insightfulness. The idea that Human Beings subjected to the constraints of our Natural World can somehow magically engage in the process of invoking some form of physical or cognitive interference to benefit some other independent Human Being, Without FIRST satisfying they own SELF-INTEREST is carelessly FALSE and needs to be examined with the courage of truth.

EXAMPLE: Two soldiers engaged in combat are firing at the enemy from their foxhole, when suddenly a hand grenade lands inside the foxhole and one of the soldiers (A) throws his body on top of the grenade partly shielding the other soldier (B) from the blast and shrapnel, thereby saving the soldier (B), but the act also cost the life of the soldier (A) who threw himself upon the grenade.

By closely examining the actual process of the above scenario reveals a completely self-interested act with no sign of some kind of idealistic act composed of an anonymous magical altruistic event. As soon as soldier (A) synapses begin firing within his brain (absolute leading edge of self-interest) that allows him to move his body towards the grenade and consequently finish the physical act of throwing his body onto the grenade clearly reveals the actual sequence that transpires revealing the inherent constraint of satisfying SELF-INTEREST FIRST, before some ancillary (secondary) event or act can be completed.

I personally believe the above realization offers substantial explanatory reasons for perplexing Human behavior. Clearly, the model of the Human Being and the Natural World reveals a creature and a process (self-interest) that are explicitly linked and NO AMOUNT of idealistic interpretation will ever uncouple the process and empirical truth of self-interest

P.S. I once believed that self-interest needed the prerequisite of FREE-WILL, but realized you always have the default option NOT to do something, thereby still having access to self-interest, which indicates how self-contained Human Beings are for accessing self-interest.


Your analysis is not very detailed, in fact you describe none of the sequence and leave that up to the rest of us to decipher. Luckily for us, it is not by any profound leap that the process you describe becomes apparent.

Unfortunately, it is silly to define altruism in this way.

Do people always act in their self-interest? Yes. (EDIT: This is really a meaningless tautology. Self-interest treated like this is determined by actions as there is no other measure of a person's wants. For any meaningful discussion from this, we must advance to what the person wants and whether the person wants to be altruistic)

Do people sometimes consider another's well being to be more important to their self-interest than their own? Yes, and this is altruistic.

And how can truth possess courage? I know you like to add a little linguistic ooomph to your arguments, but try to make sure they make sense.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Mon 27 Oct, 2008 07:44 am
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic wrote:
How come you fully understand the cognitive sequence of fulfilling self-interest, yet other individuals have difficulty coming to grips with the realization? It is not because you agree with me, but more reflective of your ability to objectively indulge in consideration unhindered from the subjectivity of emotional convolution.


Everyone here has made this realization, they just understand that your definition of what is self-interested and what is altruistic is meaningless.

It does not take "emotional convolution" to understand that self-interest as you speak of it and altruism are not mutually exclusive. In fact, moral altruism (as opposed to biological or natural altruism) necessarily requires the self-interest that you describe. No one is morally altruistic unless they want to sacrifice themselves for others.
 
manored
 
Reply Mon 27 Oct, 2008 10:14 am
@Ruthless Logic,
I think there has been some subestimation of the brain's speed here, one second is more than enough to make and complete a logic sequence of thoughs and start peforming an action.

The inexistence of altruism is irrelevant, because there is no way actions could be peformed for a reason other than the desire of peforming then. Realistically we have to consider altruism as existent because there are still people that would sacrifice thenselves for the good of the whole, and some who wouldnt. For example in the case of the grenade one of the two throwing itself on top of the grenade is the logical decision, as if none did chances are that both would die, but there are still people that would try to protect thenselves instead, so those arent altruistic.
 
boagie
 
Reply Mon 27 Oct, 2008 10:28 am
@Aedes,
Aedes,Smile

Yes, there are always two possiabilities here to consider as Ruthless states, the cognitive steps in the preformance of an action or the mechanics of it, with which it is impossiable to escape ones own self-interest. It is, frustratingly enough, often confused by the moral judgement, or moral evaluation. These are two very different consideration, the more mechanical approach was my intent in the thread, "The Selfish Nature Of All Actions." I believe that this too is the intent of Ruthless Logics's post here on the topic, for some reason, few people wish to deal directly with the topic. There was no other claim made about the topic in, The Selfish Nature Of All Actions, and as straightforward as the concept is, it was utter confusion, thus, the ridiculous length of the thread.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 27 Oct, 2008 12:31 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Well, as has already been mentioned unthis thread, to say that all actions are self interested or selfish is to say nothing at all.

Sure, anything we do happens because at some level (whether rational, instinctual, or somewhere in between) we intend it to happen. But beyond that statement it's pure rationalism to argue for self-interest, because we can always find some way or another to make that point.

So for your point about selfishness to have any meaning, it cannot be synonymized with it, otherwise you haven't uses selfishness in a way we all recognize.
 
boagie
 
Reply Mon 27 Oct, 2008 12:37 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes,Smile

I think that was the point at the outset, to recognize a concept that is not common understanding, it does have its own truth, of no less importance than a moral judgement. "Saying nothing at all." I disagree, and the passion with which this concept was resisted indicates its importance.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 27 Oct, 2008 02:13 pm
@boagie,
I don't think anyone here is arguing from passion, I mean it's only in the context of a religious defense of altruism that passion might be provoked. But the objection to religiously founded moral altruism is much more like Nietzsche's argument, which is not at all what RL or you have proposed.

By lack of meaning, I am arguing that If 100% of human actions are selfish, then the idea of selfishness is itself completely lost.

Furthermore, it doesn't at all negate the fact that there is are things like sharing, generosity, etc that have features distinct from lack of sharing or generosity. So it still makes perfect sense to interpret a subset of human actions or intentions as altruistic without bothering one's self with the absolute (or lack thereof) metaphysics of the concept.


boagie;29679 wrote:
Aedes,Smile

I think that was the point at the outset, to recognize a concept that is not common understanding, it does have its own truth, of no less importance than a moral judgement. "Saying nothing at all." I disagree, and the passion with which this concept was resisted indicates its importance.
 
boagie
 
Reply Mon 27 Oct, 2008 02:38 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes,Smile

Nothing more than the mechanics of the cognitive process outlining how action comes about was claimed. If this is an affront to whatever, it really is to dam bad. Now that is not something personal Aedes, but what indeed is wrong with understanding the foundation of action, or in my own understanding reaction. Just acknowledge that no action is possiable that is not willed, and that the action is the fulfillment of said will. Really what is the problem? This understanding takes nothing absolutely nothing away from the virtue of a compassionate act, it is simply understanding how this comes about. It is not a matter of the falsity of altruism, it is a matter of the falsity of pure altruism, understanding the process of altruism is not a negative.
 
manored
 
Reply Mon 27 Oct, 2008 07:53 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
I think he already acknowledged it, and is just claiming that the concept cannot be applied to reality... tough all knowledge brings some reward, and the more you know about behaviors the more you realize people arent "guilty" for what they are and therefore greater your capacity to forgive.

Strange as this sounds, this knowledge has no rational value, only emotional. Quite contradictory, isnt it? Smile
 
boagie
 
Reply Mon 27 Oct, 2008 08:24 pm
@manored,
manored,Smile

Unfortunately you fall into the same group that wants to make this a question of moral judgement, if I described to you the function of an operating system/engine, would you feel compelled to instruct me in the morality of it? If one does not understand the cognitve process of human action, how can one understand what compassion is, and what it is to commit a compassionate act? What it is to sacrifice to the life of another?
There is time enough after an act is preformed to evaluate it, my point from the start was to understand how that action, any action comes about.
 
 

 
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