The Falsity of Altruism

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boagie
 
Reply Tue 28 Oct, 2008 01:25 pm
@boagie,
Manored,Smile

Your point is taken, through the demonstration of the blockage by emotion around this topic.
 
Doorsopen
 
Reply Tue 28 Oct, 2008 01:53 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
Boagie,
Thank you for your comments. My argument was not correctly targeted and you and Mr Fight have put me back on track. I am still in disagreement with RL, and really ruffles my feathers when someone uses such provocative phrases as 'courage of truth' to describe an unfounded case for Truth.

I apolgise in advance for taking liberty with your comments Mr Fight, please bear with me:

Mr. Fight the Power;29849 wrote:
It also appears that the processes that RL calls out as being self-interested aren't actually self-interested at all, they aren't interested period. They are reflexive and contain no intent whatsoever.
If an action has no intent, then it cannot be self-interested or altruistic, as there is no goal associated with the action. To call it self-interested would imply that the sun is self-interested in rising.


We agree that the model presented offers us only an example of reflex. But, RL continues to make a case for such reflexs as defining the 'leading edge' of self in order to conclude that this action was therefore self-interested; because it emanates from 'self'. To accept this point is to accept an overly simple definition of 'self'. Am I the synapses of my brain, or the thoughts, and subsequent actions, contained therein and emanating therefrom? For the sake of argument I can only accept that a chemical reaction triggering an automatic response is the elemental form of self.

What is in action in RL's model? A 'magical' altrusism or self-interest? By accepting the offered definition of self, we are obliged to accept the event as being self-interested. However, we are offered no agreed definition for altrusitic actions, and are further 'convinced', rhetorically, that altruism exists only as some 'magically' impossible force.

Interesting that you have illustrated your point with the rising* of the sun (*figuratively speaking, in case any fundmentalists are following this post). That the sun rises is of benefit to the inhabitants of Earth, and yet this event does not take place as a willed action. It certainly has no self-interest, and its action is of no apparent benefit to the sun (even if this would make an extremely interesting subject in and of itself). It's just a chemical reaction triggering an automatic response, and under RL's model is therefore 'self' exhibiting the ultimate form of altruism: that of being of benefit without self-interest.

Ultimately, we could argue that it is only when the essential core of self responds to the needs of a situation that altruism exist. Or we must accept the Truth of Altruism and understand that it is naturally self-interested because Self represents more then an individual unit in some illusionary 'magical' isolation.
 
boagie
 
Reply Tue 28 Oct, 2008 02:20 pm
@Doorsopen,
Doorsopen, Mr Fight,Smile

:)Actually, I am quite taken back by how obsure something of reasonable clearity can be handled, to compare the innate objects willness to rise above the horizon, with the will of a subject, is outrageous. First the sun does not rise, the earth rotates. You and I see things similarly Dooropen, in reguards to the action/reaction problem, anything that is outside of me which I come into contact with, is a possiable trgger to my reaction, in this case presence itself might be said to be the tigger/cause of reaction. Perhaps I am trying the tolerants of my fellow associates but, I restate, there is no action which is not willed, and the action is of necessity the fulfilment of that will, thus necessarily self-serveing/selfish, in that it serves itself before doing good or bad to the subject of its concern.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Tue 28 Oct, 2008 03:01 pm
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
Doorsopen, Mr Fight,Smile

:)Actually, I am quite taken back by how obsure something of reasonable clearity can be handled, to compare the innate objects willness to rise above the horizon, with the will of a subject, is outrageous. First the sun does not rise, the earth rotates. You and I see things similarly Dooropen, in reguards to the action/reaction problem, anything that is outside of me which I come into contact with, is a possiable trgger to my reaction, in this case presence itself might be said to be the tigger/cause of reaction. Perhaps I am trying the tolerants of my fellow associates but, I restate, there is no action which is not willed, and the action is of necessity the fulfilment of that will, thus necessarily self-serveing/selfish, in that it serves itself before doing good or bad to the subject of its concern.


I did not pick my analogy out of the blue. I chose this specifically because the same relativity applies to our reflexes. Just like the rising of the sun is a relative change in locations, our reflexes are a matter of the relative interation between ourselves and our external stimuli. Our reflexes without stimuli are little different in this since as the sun without a horizon.
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Tue 28 Oct, 2008 03:07 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
There is the need to act differently when around other people, when there is social interaction. And what's more, cognitive behaviour is surely different when around other people because they have meaning. Your behaviour is going to be different when around thousands of people vs. a few vs. one other vs. being alone.

If the decision making process is truly deterministic (and I'm assuming there is just not enough time for critical thought of the situation with the grenade or whatever) , then decisions are not based on intention for this scenario. They are actually based on self preservation of the ego.

There can be no time for altering the ego by logic to change the overall outcome/action, because the intent is to satisfy the self preservation of the ego. Cognitive processes all have their role, and the processes have to be limited in this situation, let alone the behaviour to something instinctual. I mean really, how long does it take for a grenade to blow up.

So no, whoever said that decisions are base on self interest are a little off I think. Decisions are based on self preservation of the ego. Self interest is what comes along from external environment, affecting the mind and invoking the desire to change the ego from which your actions will try to be reflected upon.

Now I shall try to incorporate the altruism. When comparing a society when there is an uneven power distribution, the amount of power somebody has can be correlated as inverse proportions to altruism and proportional to ego. And I'm assuming here is doesn't change. Somebody pointed out that the ultimate altruism is that of no self interest. True, but this is only because there can be no egoistic frame to evoke the self interest. So I cannot say that just because there is not logical input that there is no altruism available. I cannot refute the idea that altruism is an irrational, emotional, or instinctual possibility. I'd lean more to the instinctual, but I have no way of objectively proving this. If emotional then this topic is useless because it will just highlight and conclude the same point Didymos made from the very beginning, in other words(because I don't remember what was said exactly) , we cannot concede a possibility of someone else's subjective experiences.

So altruism isn't this magical event. It may appear that way, through the sordid, involuntary idea that altruism being inversely proportional to ego in human behaviour via the imbalance of power scenario should cause such misconceptions, but we can never get rid of the morality of the situation as a description. Morality should have become an inherent way to satisfy the ego and self interest. If one were to ignore this, then one would have to consider all the cognitive processes in this scenario as purely rational, probably logical.
 
boagie
 
Reply Tue 28 Oct, 2008 03:37 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr Fight the Power,Smile

I am trying to get a hold on what you are saying, ok, relativity speaks of relationalism so, stimulus without a reflex response is like the sun without a horizon, ok, the significance is location is that right. Is it not mere presence, the analogy still does not work for me, the knee jerk response it is dependent upon the little rubber hammer. The best I can make of this is, there has to be something to respond to, something to react to, and your saying that in these instances the reflexes are not something willed, it is not conscious reaction. Sorry if I have just confused the matter, am still not making the connections. Perhaps someone else can best cope with this one-- not getting this at all.
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Tue 28 Oct, 2008 10:36 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power wrote:
It also appears that the processes that RL calls out as being self-interested aren't actually self-interested at all, they aren't interested period. They are reflexive and contain no intent whatsoever.

If an action has no intent, then it cannot be self-interested or altruistic, as there is no goal associated with the action. To call it self-interested would imply that the sun is self-interested in rising.



Based on other posts that we have conferred, you have revealed distinct propensities for careless idealistic inferences, and this topic appears no different. The ability for Humans to access their actions comes with no qualifying scenarios differing between pure reflexive(intense decision making) responses or more mundane decision making situations. For you to propose that an individual really did not want to do something, yet the empirical wake of their actions resides in reality, and for you to interject your own self-serving idealistic interpretation of what they REALLY wanted to do or not do is a contradiction to the processes of our EMPRICALLY BASED REALITY.

How can you possibly make a claim that an action has no intent or goal? Are you a Wizard or a God? Hopefully you are slowly seeing the lunacy of your idealistic claims.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 28 Oct, 2008 11:32 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Does nature have intent? Selfishness, like selflessness, implies an agent that intends for something. These notions are based entirely upon human experiences; we know selfishness by experience with others just as we know (at least apparent) selflessness by experience with others. Can we describe actions outside of human psychology in human psychological terms in a literal fashion?

I was involved in the last thread of the same topic. But I think the issued raised above, though brought up in this very thread long ago, go beyond the debate. They reduce the debate to a meaningless semantic tussle. And if this is a semantic brawl, what is the point? To be honest, I disagree with Boagie's choice of words, but otherwise we are in almost complete agreement on this issue. It's strange to think that we have argued so much despite our agreement, huh man?
 
boagie
 
Reply Tue 28 Oct, 2008 11:57 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Does nature have intent? Selfishness, like selflessness, implies an agent that intends for something. These notions are based entirely upon human experiences; we know selfishness by experience with others just as we know (at least apparent) selflessness by experience with others. Can we describe actions outside of human psychology in human psychological terms in a literal fashion?

I was involved in the last thread of the same topic. But I think the issued raised above, though brought up in this very thread long ago, go beyond the debate. They reduce the debate to a meaningless semantic tussle. And if this is a semantic brawl, what is the point? To be honest, I disagree with Boagie's choice of words, but otherwise we are in almost complete agreement on this issue. It's strange to think that we have argued so much despite our agreement, huh man?



Didymos Thomas,Smile

I know you understand the symantic distinction Thomas but appearantly it is a profound problem for most. If this is the case what hope is there of deserning more difficult philosophical problems. I stated early that all the term means in this case is that, the first person to be served is our hero, before any good or harm is done to whoever.

It is a basic problem, but one cannot say that they understand what compassion is, what a compassionate act is, what self-sacrifice is, if they do not understand the cognitive process leading to such action. It is also a key for understanding human action/reaction in general, true we can never know all the variables involved in the formation of intent, but we will always know that the action/reaction had the will of its author behind it, we know often through that action/reaction the subjects intent or will. This is really freakish though, that such a simple statement can find so much confusion.
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Wed 29 Oct, 2008 02:05 am
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
Didymos Thomas,Smile

I know you understand the symantic distinction Thomas but appearantly it is a profound problem for most. If this is the case what hope is there of deserning more difficult philosophical problems. I stated early that all the term means in this case is that, the first person to be served is our hero, before any good or harm is done to whoever.

It is a basic problem, but one cannot say that they understand what compassion is, what a compassionate act is, what self-sacrifice is, if they do not understand the cognitive process leading to such action. It is also a key for understanding human action/reaction in general, true we can never know all the variables involved in the formation of intent, but we will always know that the action/reaction had the will of its author behind it, we know often through that action/reaction the subjects intent or will. This is really freakish though, that such a simple statement can find so much confusion.


Nicely framed, good job!
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Wed 29 Oct, 2008 06:30 am
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
Mr Fight the Power,Smile

I am trying to get a hold on what you are saying, ok, relativity speaks of relationalism so, stimulus without a reflex response is like the sun without a horizon, ok, the significance is location is that right. Is it not mere presence, the analogy still does not work for me, the knee jerk response it is dependent upon the little rubber hammer. The best I can make of this is, there has to be something to respond to, something to react to, and your saying that in these instances the reflexes are not something willed, it is not conscious reaction. Sorry if I have just confused the matter, am still not making the connections. Perhaps someone else can best cope with this one-- not getting this at all.


The reasons the sun rising is not self-interested are two fold:

1) It is not the work of the sun alone. The sun rising is best understood as a change in the relative state of affairs between the sun and the earth. Neither are absolute, neither are self-causing, both are a part of a system. In this grand metaphysical sense, there are no self-interested or altruistic actions.

2) We can still categorize according to intent, but this requires cognition, and again, the firing of synapses fail for the same reason as the sun's rising.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Wed 29 Oct, 2008 06:43 am
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic wrote:
Based on other posts that we have conferred, you have revealed distinct propensities for careless idealistic inferences, and this topic appears no different. The ability for Humans to access their actions comes with no qualifying scenarios differing between pure reflexive(intense decision making) responses or more mundane decision making situations. For you to propose that an individual really did not want to do something, yet the empirical wake of their actions resides in reality, and for you to interject your own self-serving idealistic interpretation of what they REALLY wanted to do or not do is a contradiction to the processes of our EMPRICALLY BASED REALITY.

How can you possibly make a claim that an action has no intent or goal? Are you a Wizard or a God? Hopefully you are slowly seeing the lunacy of your idealistic claims.


I was focusing on the firing of synapses, what you called the leading edge of self-interest, not on the purposeful action of the individual. I said there was no want involved in this, rather just a "must". The synapses do not fire because a person wants to stimulate some action, they fire because it is simply what they do, whether we wish for them to or not.

Of course, my argument that altruism exists when action is not defined in such tautological terms has been based explicitly in the claim that people WANT to act in certain ways.

Indeed, people want to do things, they want to do altruistic things, they want to do self-interested things. It is the want that you say I say doesn't exist that allows us to differentiate between self-interested actions and altruistic ones. You obviously recognize that want is necessary for something to be self-interested and altruistic.

We don't want our synapses to fire, so you must also recognize that the firing of our synapses is not self-interested
 
Aedes
 
Reply Wed 29 Oct, 2008 07:33 am
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic;29759 wrote:
Again, the very first transaction in the sequence of self-interest pursuit happens within the cranium of the independent Human Being, which is the headwater analogy (pardon the pun), while EVERY SINGLE MOTIVE OR ACTION that transpires from this process is simply DOWNSTREAM actions
I don't contest this point. I agree. What I don't agree with is the importance of mentioning it.

Quote:
and it is these downstream actions that you seem to con volute with your own idealistic perception of their merit.
No, this conversation could just as easily be about evil or about something with no moral implications. Again, you have not put forth an argument about the morality or lack thereof of altruism, you're arguing that all actions are hedonistic.

And I'm willing to stipulate even that to you. I'm not arguing against that point.


My point is that downstream from this initial cerebral process that produces decisions and actions, we have ways of differentiating one kind of action from another. And given a scenario where someone can choose lots of personal benefit, but instead chooses less personal benefit with the intent of conferring that benefit on another person, THIS is where we would apply the category altruism.

In other words, under the umbrella of all our self-interested actions, there is a category of actions that fits our conception of altruism, whether or not that's ultimately true at a self-conscious level.

Now, someone else here mentioned that there is anthropological evidence that we have evolved to recognize and perform altruistic deeds, and this is demonstrated among other animals, too. One can clearly see how it might be advantageous to do so. So I think it is probably a false dichotomy to separate self-interest from altruism, because fundamentally it is in our best interest to live in a society in which altruistic acts are condoned.
 
boagie
 
Reply Wed 29 Oct, 2008 07:46 am
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr Fight the Power,Smile

What this really amounts to is you are stating the wonder or mystery of being and/or being in the world, it was not intended on our part, but here we are, this to is a system in which we find ourselves, a system in which our function is simply to react to the presence of our context, here to, neither the context nor the individual have willed the situtation/system into being, it is a relational condition, and unless someone is prepared to infer that chemistry itself is intent, is will, then it just is.

This is going far afield to get away from the necessity of life responding to its environment, and if it did not matter whatsoever the nature of the response of life to its environment we could put this down to mindless[meaning without intent/without will] chemistry. However survival dictates that our responses to the environment be in the nature of the particular, that particular serving the self-interest of the organism in its struggle for survival. It is true the cognitive formations of perceptions are not willed, perhaps not even the conclusion and formation of intent is willed, but when intent has the impulse to action it becomes will, and all human action is of necessity willed, with the possiable exception of the organically unwell.
 
boagie
 
Reply Wed 29 Oct, 2008 08:11 am
@boagie,
quote=Aedes;29980]I don't contest this point. I agree. What I don't agree with is the importance of mentioning it."

Aedes,Smile

This is rather mutual in nature, what is the importance of struggling against the knowledge of process. The fact that all action must be willed does not in any way negate the compassionate act, the act of a self-less nature. It does not negate altruism, it negates pure altruism, if you want pure altrusim then yes, you must deny process. The two understandings that of altruism and that of process are not mutually exclusive. Sorry I know you are addressing Ruthless on this, but it is a puzzle from my perspective. It would seem that dialogue on this is unproductive, I just do not understand why.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Wed 29 Oct, 2008 11:13 am
@Ruthless Logic,
Boagie, it is an artifice of philosophy that we talk about pure anything.

Part of us is rational, part of us is biological, part of us thinks we're rational even when we are not. So what is truly pure in the end?

The topic of altruism really has to be considered only in light of what a person believes. If I donate ten bucks to a homeless shelter, that is charity. If I drop a ten dollar bill on the street and it finds its way to a homeless shelter, that is not charity. Self-conscious choice is what matters here, and the underlying biology and subconscious psychology is incidental. I mean can't we just say that there is no such thing as thought because in the end we're all just subatomic particles and energy?
 
boagie
 
Reply Wed 29 Oct, 2008 11:28 am
@Aedes,
Aedes,Smile

Why is it so difficult to fess up to the fact that one has to be moved within before one moves without, and that the action is in support of the sentiment of the will? Again no one here is negating anything, its mechanical if you like, understanding the process of ones actions. It applies to picking up a glass of water because your thirsty, how straightforward does it need to be?
 
manored
 
Reply Wed 29 Oct, 2008 11:34 am
@Ruthless Logic,
I would like to point out that the brain that produces automatic reflexes is the same that produces pondered thoughs, and that our view of the world and emotional side has influence on those reflexes. We probally cant even really draw such a line, we can not know how much an action was pondered before being peformed.
 
boagie
 
Reply Wed 29 Oct, 2008 11:40 am
@manored,
manored,Smile

Well it is true one cannot know all the variables that constitute the formation of intent, we can be sure that there is no action without the excerise of that intent through the will. If this were not so, how could anyone be held accountable for their actions/reactions, it would simply chaos.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Wed 29 Oct, 2008 01:10 pm
@boagie,
boagie;30011 wrote:
Why is it so difficult to fess up to the fact that one has to be moved within before one moves without, and that the action is in support of the sentiment of the will?
Have you read any of my posts? I've never contested this point, even though I think it's innacurate to attribute reflexive human actions to a conscious "will". (eg if you flinch when a baseball is headed at your face, it's hardly a matter of will -- it's a matter of unconscious neurologic responsiveness).

But I'm not denying this point I've quoted, so there's nothing to "fess up". I'm just saying that it's so broad and nonspecific a point that it doesn't actually help illuminate this subject. Fine, we all have to be moved within before we're moved without. That hardly argues for the "falsity of altruism", though. If Mother Theresa was acting hedonistically, it doesn't change the fact that she did certain things that other people don't do. Bill Gates and Donald Trump are both billionaires -- but Bill Gates chooses to do massive philanthropic projects and Donald Trump does not. Irrespective of whether it's hedonistic, irrespective of whether anyone ever benefits in the end, irrespective of their personal secondary gain, and irrespective of the roots of all thought, there is STILL a describable difference in the things they choose to do.
 
 

 
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