The Falsity of Altruism

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

Aedes
 
Reply Sun 16 Nov, 2008 10:51 am
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic;33483 wrote:
Your a certified whack-job if you think you can indulge in providing some kind of interjection or explanations for the "true" intent of an individual, when the ACTUAL RESIDUAL EVIDENCE of the actions are staring you in the face, and any SANE PERSON would submit to this empirical evidence as the TRUTH.
That's right, I'm an insane whack job. But don't forget that you're the one who thinks that this protean self-interest is empirically demonstrable, and we're all waiting for you to provide the studies that show it.

Quote:
P.S. One of the main tenets of the liberal philosophy is the pathetic and idealistic attempts to remove all personal accountability from individuals, which is simply dysfunctional from any social standpoint, and I am afraid that your continued dismissals about the truth of self-interest simply reflects this careless ideology.
Laughing
Yet again, you've done a masterful job of grossly contradicting yourself within a single sentence. Shall we call it a trend? Your blanket assignment of subconscious self-interest to the root of all actions is nothing short of determinism, which in itself removes all personal accountability from individuals. No matter what people think they're doing or want to do, your argument is that they're helplesly and hopelessly beholden to self-interest. So it's YOU who are arguing for a lack of personal responsibility.

MY argument, on the other hand, gives people credit for being able to authentically choose to be generous, to be cruel, to be selfless, to be selfish. In other words, I give people ULTIMATE responsibility for their choices.

So again, in your haste to be acerbic and dismissive, you not only continue to pretend you understand me, but you undermine your own point of view with continued self-contradiction.

Finally, I'm not philosophically liberal. I'm politically liberal, but I'm philosophically pretty close to an existentialist -- which is a basically neutral philosophy that allows for self-determination -- exactly what I argue for in this thread. Furthermore, I actually KNOW what empirical demonstrability is, because it's the fundamental tool of my career -- it's not just a word. You continue to claim that things are empirically demonstrable, but you do so either without basis, without understanding, or as a meaningless rhetorical accoutrement to try and add a veneer of authority to your assertions.
 
OctoberMist
 
Reply Sun 16 Nov, 2008 03:36 pm
@Aedes,
RuthlessLogic,

You didn't respond directly to my post. Is there a reason for this? -- Just curious.
 
OctoberMist
 
Reply Sun 16 Nov, 2008 03:43 pm
@OctoberMist,
To All...

I'm afraid that I'm going to have to call "BS" on this thread for one big reason: it seems to want to dethrone philosophy and replace it with rhetoric.

I assert that it is quite absurd for anyone who assert that altruism is ultimately selfish. I have read the arguements by the thread's creator and they are steeped in sematics and rhetoric while completely ignoring any 'concrete' or pragmatic applications. It is fine and good to argue from the standpoint of pure logic, but I would remind everyone that pure logic is not applicable in all aspects of human behavior.

I assert that: in a pragmatic sense, true selfless altruism is possible.
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Sun 16 Nov, 2008 08:54 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
That's right, I'm an insane whack job. But don't forget that you're the one who thinks that this protean self-interest is empirically demonstrable, and we're all waiting for you to provide the studies that show it.

Laughing
Yet again, you've done a masterful job of grossly contradicting yourself within a single sentence. Shall we call it a trend? Your blanket assignment of subconscious self-interest to the root of all actions is nothing short of determinism, which in itself removes all personal accountability from individuals. No matter what people think they're doing or want to do, your argument is that they're helplesly and hopelessly beholden to self-interest. So it's YOU who are arguing for a lack of personal responsibility.

MY argument, on the other hand, gives people credit for being able to authentically choose to be generous, to be cruel, to be selfless, to be selfish. In other words, I give people ULTIMATE responsibility for their choices.

So again, in your haste to be acerbic and dismissive, you not only continue to pretend you understand me, but you undermine your own point of view with continued self-contradiction.

Finally, I'm not philosophically liberal. I'm politically liberal, but I'm philosophically pretty close to an existentialist -- which is a basically neutral philosophy that allows for self-determination -- exactly what I argue for in this thread. Furthermore, I actually KNOW what empirical demonstrability is, because it's the fundamental tool of my career -- it's not just a word. You continue to claim that things are empirically demonstrable, but you do so either without basis, without understanding, or as a meaningless rhetorical accoutrement to try and add a veneer of authority to your assertions.



It is a popular misconception that determinism entails that humanity or individual humans have no influence on the future and its events (a position known as fatalism). Your continued careless assertions consisting of misinformation never ceases to amaze me. Your obvious lack of understanding basic differing branches of Philosophy leads me to believe that YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND WHAT IS EMPIRICALLY DEMONSTRABLE, and I do not care what career choice you engage in, because if you are as careless as your last quote indicates, well then that speaks for itself (empirically verifiable).

The sequence of self-interest provides complete latitude to individuals as it pertains to their personal decision making processes, so your claim that the pursuit and execution of satisfying self-interest is some kind of physical or cognitive bondage is completely and unequivocally INSANE, and reflects how TWISTED and OFF-TRACK your cognitive meanderings take you.
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Sun 16 Nov, 2008 09:01 pm
@OctoberMist,
OctoberMist wrote:
RuthlessLogic,

You didn't respond directly to my post. Is there a reason for this? -- Just curious.



I did respond, look at pg 19.
 
OctoberMist
 
Reply Sun 16 Nov, 2008 09:03 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic said to Aedes:

Quote:

The sequence of self-interest provides complete latitude to individuals as it pertains to their personal decision making processes, so your claim that the pursuit and execution of satisfying self-interest is some kind of physical or cognitive bondage is completely and unequivocally INSANE, and reflects how TWISTED and OFF-TRACK your cognitive meanderings take you.


Despite all your claims, you have nothing concrete on which to back them up with.

Only rhetoric.
 
OctoberMist
 
Reply Sun 16 Nov, 2008 09:05 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic said:

Quote:

I did respond, look at pg 19.


I said you did not respond "directly" to my comments.

Replying to my post is not responding directly to my comments.

A direct response would be quoting what I said and then replying specifically to the points that I brought up.

Are you incapable of doing so?
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Sun 16 Nov, 2008 09:09 pm
@OctoberMist,
OctoberMist wrote:
Ruthless Logic said to Aedes:



Despite all your claims, you have nothing concrete on which to back them up with.

Only rhetoric.



Please, please tell me you are not serious?
 
OctoberMist
 
Reply Sun 16 Nov, 2008 09:28 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic said:

Quote:

Please, please tell me you are not serious?


I'm quite serious and you have yet to respond directly to the arguments and questions I made earlier:

I assert that it is quite absurd for anyone who assert that altruism is ultimately selfish. I have read the arguements by the thread's creator and they are steeped in sematics and rhetoric while completely ignoring any 'concrete' or pragmatic applications. It is fine and good to argue from the standpoint of pure logic, but I would remind everyone that pure logic is not applicable in all aspects of human behavior.

I assert that: in a pragmatic sense, true selfless altruism is possible.


Are you going to respond directly or not?
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Sun 16 Nov, 2008 10:40 pm
@OctoberMist,
OctoberMist wrote:
Ruthless Logic said:



I'm quite serious and you have yet to respond directly to the arguments and questions I made earlier:

I assert that it is quite absurd for anyone who assert that altruism is ultimately selfish. I have read the arguements by the thread's creator and they are steeped in sematics and rhetoric while completely ignoring any 'concrete' or pragmatic applications. It is fine and good to argue from the standpoint of pure logic, but I would remind everyone that pure logic is not applicable in all aspects of human behavior.

I assert that: in a pragmatic sense, true selfless altruism is possible.

Are you going to respond directly or not?



I find it disconcerting that you can cognitively acknowledge that it is FINE and GOOD to use logic in arguments, but in some magical way YOU want to suspend the adoption and usage of logic when it obviously causes you COGNITIVE DISSONANCE in some adaptations. Try to be brave when it comes to understanding the truths of your natural world, even if the realizations cause you emotional discomfort. The clarity of truth is much more comfortable, then the dulling indulgements of idealism.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 05:38 am
@OctoberMist,
OctoberMist wrote:
I assert that it is quite absurd for anyone who assert that altruism is ultimately selfish. I have read the arguements by the thread's creator and they are steeped in sematics and rhetoric while completely ignoring any 'concrete' or pragmatic applications. ... I assert that: in a pragmatic sense, true selfless altruism is possible.


OctoberMist,

Short Version: Something can be called "altruistic" yet stem from motives in the self. It is in this way that this term can be misleading.

Long Version: I can't speak for anyone else, but by way of clarification, I can say this: The truth in this thread - this sentiment - isn't that "altruism is selfish", for that would result in a needless contradiction in concepts. The truth is that the word itself, that concept of altruism, tends to be defined popularly in absolute terms. This popular myth is that what is altruistic is completely absent of any self-motives of the doer. This is incorrect.

For anything we do - any action - we have reasons that stem from the self. It is impossible for it to be otherwise. Even if our most-deeply felt motive is to help another or give to another, there is a reason we are doing that. This stems from the self; the mind of the doer.

Understanding that each individual has these motives whose genesis is in the self is important and sheds a good and productive light on the concept of altruism. Can anything be done that is wholly absent of any motivational aspect of the self? No, otherwise they wouldn't be doing it.

Do you see what I mean? Again, a few qualifications because I think this to be important to be cast in the correct light:

  • To accept that anything we do has, as its motives, reasons the self has come up with does not negate the worth, value or definition of altruism one iota.


  • Again, folks tend to think in absolutes. Even Mr Dictionary calls altruism "unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others" (ref). I think it perfectly consistent to say that I can do something that is "unselfish", yet have reasons stemming from my own motives. Must all things be completely black or completely white? As you pointed out, human behavior is expressed in degrees - it's not an On/Off switch

It is in this light - this understanding of our individual motives - that altruism, in the popularly-accepted sense, is false. Even if its for the joy of doing or giving to another in need, at my own expense, it is for that joy that I do it.

I hope this helps. I think this thread, like many others, has devolved into a Must-Be Either/Or in the World of Absolutes word-stew.

Thanks
 
boagie
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 06:07 am
@Khethil,
Khethil,Smile

Thank you Khethil, if that does not wrap it nothing will, very clear and to the point. Excellent!!! boagie
 
OctoberMist
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 07:35 am
@Khethil,
Khethil, thank you for your post. It does clear up a few things, but I still take issue with it. I will elaborate as I go.


Khethil said:

Quote:

Understanding that each individual has these motives whose genesis is in the self is important and sheds a good and productive light on the concept of altruism. Can anything be done that is wholly absent of any motivational aspect of the self? No, otherwise they wouldn't be doing it.

Do you see what I mean?


Yes, I do see what you mean and completely understand this point.

Quote:

Again, a few qualifications because I think this to be important to be cast in the correct light:

  • To accept that anything we do has, as its motives, reasons the self has come up with does not negate the worth, value or definition of altruism one iota.



Then we are ultimately redefining what the word "atltruism" means which I find quite silly. All of this verbal sparing seems to amount to little more than mental masturbation. And here is why:

In order to communicate, any group must agree on certain practical application of language. Attempting to communicate on the basis of pure logic would be futile and counter-productive because, ultimately, every term / word / phrase can be broken down semantically to demonstrate that it does not neccessarily mean exactly what the popular conception of it means.

I understand the argument: Altruism is ultimately caused by a self-initiated thought so therefore it is not "selfless".

Yes. That is true.

However, when people use the term "selfless", they are speaking to the motivation behind the act; not the literal, logical definition of the word.

So I do agree that Altruism -- in a purely logical sense -- is not selfless. But I maintain that this principle is irrelevent in the pragmatic sense of communication.

Quote:

It is in this light - this understanding of our individual motives - that altruism, in the popularly-accepted sense, is false.


It is false, yes, if one takes it to the most extreme discection of logic. But that is not how people communicate and I feel sorry for anyone who does because they are missing out on a much bigger, more-involved world by limiting themselves to a purely rhetorical existence. -- That's a value judgement on my part and nobody has to accept it; it's just my personal opinion.

To use an analogy, using this extreme level of breaking down forms is akin to saying, "One painting is no different than another because both are merely complex collections of atoms and molecules."

While that statement is true -- in a purely logical sense -- it sacrifices any practical application and distorts pragmatic communication.

Yes, I realize this is a philosophy forum and, as such, we have liscence to disect language and discuss matters of logic. That being said, however, it seems quite silly me to deliberately distort accepted language in order to 'prove' that in a purely logical sense that language has no value.

I would ask exactly what this has accomplished? Anything? Smile

However, I want to thank you for clarifying this argument; I do appreciate it, even if I disagree with the operating principle of the discussion.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 07:55 am
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic;33568 wrote:
Your obvious lack of understanding basic differing branches of Philosophy leads me to believe that YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND WHAT IS EMPIRICALLY DEMONSTRABLE
Ok then, Einstein, since you clearly are the authority on the subject, why don't you show us some EMPIRICAL evidence that all acts of altruism are selfish. We can piss at each other all day about who understands the concept better, but the meat of the matter is that you have made a claim of empirical verifiability that you have yet to support.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 08:13 am
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic wrote:
I find it disconcerting that you can cognitively acknowledge that it is FINE and GOOD to use logic in arguments, but in some magical way YOU want to suspend the adoption and usage of logic when it obviously causes you COGNITIVE DISSONANCE in some adaptations. Try to be brave when it comes to understanding the truths of your natural world, even if the realizations cause you emotional discomfort. The clarity of truth is much more comfortable, then the dulling indulgements of idealism.


I just want you to know that, if we are indeed inherently self-interested and we have no choice in that matter, we cannot be blamed for such self-interest.

Since you like cognitive dissonance so much, I will try some on you:

If a woman makes the selfish decision to have an abortion rather than having a baby, how is she wrong?

If we accept that she can only act in this selfish manner, that she acts according to the mechanical firing of synapses, and indeed couldn't choose to act altruistically and support a child she doesn't want, how can we lay blame?
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 08:28 am
@Ruthless Logic,
Mr.FTP -- it's a good point.

In fact we can use the identical initial argument to contend "the falsity of cruelty" and even "the falsity of selfishness".
 
boagie
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 08:55 am
@Aedes,
Mark Twain's "What Is Man." This might help, I doubt it but, what's to lose!!

What is Man? - Mark Twain
 
Khethil
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 09:23 am
@OctoberMist,
OctoberMist wrote:
Khethil, thank you for your post. It does clear up a few things, but I still take issue with it.


You're quite welcome; and no problem, I'd like to hear it.

OctoberMist wrote:
Then we are ultimately redefining what the word "atltruism" means which I find quite silly. All of this verbal sparing seems to amount to little more than mental masturbation.


I understand, but we're not redefining it. We're simply talking, as philosophers like to do, about the implications of the two interrelated concepts. Yes, your terminology (last sentance quoted above) is probably true, but I find in this "exercise", much insight can be gained.

OctoberMist wrote:
In order to communicate, any group must agree on certain practical application of language. Attempting to communicate on the basis of pure logic would be futile and counter-productive because, ultimately, every term / word / phrase can be broken down semantically to demonstrate that it does not neccessarily mean exactly what the popular conception of it means.


Excellent point, and well articulated.

OctoberMist wrote:
However, when people use the term "selfless", they are speaking to the motivation behind the act; not the literal, logical definition of the word.... So I do agree that Altruism -- in a purely logical sense -- is not selfless. But I maintain that this principle is irrelevent in the pragmatic sense of communication.


I think we're in "violent agreement" here. Let's wrestle, in the muck and the mud with words. They dance, they sing! Funny isn't it? But yes, concur with your statement on the differentiation's pragmatic relevance.

OctoberMist wrote:
To use an analogy, using this extreme level of breaking down forms is akin to saying, "One painting is no different than another because both are merely complex collections of atoms and molecules."


Yes, quite so. But sometimes, in the course of verbalizing two related concepts it can be quite productive to break it down, can't it? I'm with you in that we shouldn't redefine or decimate the boundries of common term-uses to placate our need for postulating - at least I shouldn't think so - but I'd still maintain that such an exercise can be productive at times.

OctoberMist wrote:
I would ask exactly what this has accomplished? Anything?



Yes, yes! By understanding and acknowledging the concepts and their natures, we:
  • Abolish polarized thinking by accepting the possibility that altrustic acts, while laudable, honorable and needed, have behind them an element of personal interest.
  • Give insight to our own motivations and interests by consciously acknowledging their existence.
  • Imbue value to the motivations of the self.
  • Expand our understanding behind popularly-held "labels" of behavior.
I believe there's more. But you get the idea...

I think, as an exercise, it's often a good idea. But if I'm to be honest here, this same "can't we stop muddying the waters already?!"-sentiment you express, I too often have issues with. So, I believe, I can fully understand your point and its well taken.

Thanks for the exchange, good stuff.
 
OctoberMist
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 09:28 am
@Khethil,
Khethil said:

Quote:

By understanding and acknowledging the concepts and their natures, we:
  • Abolish polarized thinking by accepting the possibility that altrustic acts, while laudable, honorable and needed, have behind them an element of personal interest.
  • Give insight to our own motivations and interests by consciously acknowledging their existence.
  • Imbue value to the motivations of the self.
  • Expand our understanding behind popularly-held "labels" of behavior.

I believe there's more. But you get the idea...



I see what you mean. Very valid points, all.

Quote:

I think, as an exercise, it's often a good idea. But if I'm to be honest here, this same "can't we stop muddying the waters already?!"-sentiment you express, I too often have issues with. So, I believe, I can fully understand your point and its well taken.

Thanks for the exchange, good stuff.


You're quite welcome and I definitely appreciate your insights. Keep up the good work.
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 01:01 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power wrote:
I just want you to know that, if we are indeed inherently self-interested and we have no choice in that matter, we cannot be blamed for such self-interest.

Since you like cognitive dissonance so much, I will try some on you:

If a woman makes the selfish decision to have an abortion rather than having a baby, how is she wrong?

If we accept that she can only act in this selfish manner, that she acts according to the mechanical firing of synapses, and indeed couldn't choose to act altruistically and support a child she doesn't want, how can we lay blame?



Way ahead of ya! If you go back to the tread on abortion, I indicated in one of my posts that the ONLY TRUE IMPARTIVE for mankind is reproduction and that morality holds no sway over this ultimate process. The woman is only wrong in the context of our established moral construct. Lastly, I indicated that the Human Being will find a way to survive (get ready), BECAUSE SELF-INTEREST WILL SEE TO IT!
 
 

 
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 04/12/2021 at 06:38:23