When someone gives in a charitable way, there are two people being served.
The firing off of synapses in the brain cannot be seen as random for that would not account for learning or memory or meaning, no matter how intriguing a mental picture (or Disney-like cartoon) this might be.
Certain paths seem to be "hard wired" into our brains in common with other animals; these we call instinct (e.g. self-survival). Others seem to be learned (using a fork) from society or from individual repetition; these we call habits, and habits depend upon "memory."
Here, one could conclude that the causes of these simple actions are only materially caused by electrical currents running through the cranium, and their paths by other causes. It is, and is not, the individual lines of a complex program that cause it to function, for it needs a set of rules and instructions and then a goal.
Wow, I think you got it! Let me add a quote of mind that I posted awhile ago. " Liberal Ideology or Carelessness = The desire to indulge in idealism, while subjected to the constraints of the human condition, an unable to reconcile the realization". You my friend have finally arrived at enlightenment thru the process of reconciliation.
P.S. I will post later (due to time constraint) on the implications of not understanding the human axiom of self-interest and the catastrophic human events that have transpired, because of the lack of understanding the sequence of self-interest.
Or we have a person who is acting on the desire to preserve/build his own "honor" in the eyes of others, which would not be a selfless action. A "coward" who would run from the situation and avoid self-sacrifice has simply decided that his physical health is more important than his honor/social repute. But both options involve acting on self-interest. A person who "does good" also benefits psychologically, and this is proven (increases dopamine levels or something). Altruism involves selfless action, and for someone to be truly selfless, they would need to be performing the will without any benefit, including feeling good or elevating their mood.
Altruistic actions only require that one purposefully act in a way that one knows will result in the net result being harm to one's self.
This is simply not correct, I'm afraid. If you put your hand on a hot stove and flinch and draw it away, that's simply not at all an act of intent or will. Why not? Because babies, animals, birds, and even insects will do the same exact thing. It's a neurologic reflex that actually bypasses the brain (go look up spinal reflexes).
Is the fact that your heart beats a matter of will? If so, then why is it that someone who is brain dead can have a beating heart?
I disagree. We must not see ourselves only as our personality, as we are not only our personality...Basically what I am saying is that, at least in this reality, we are not only our conscience but also our body.
You might add Aedes, that it is also off topic, is not the topic conscious human behaviour? We all know there are subconscious functional processes, but again, it is off topic.
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.
Grenades typically only take a few seconds to explode.
As you can see there is just not enough time for conscious cognition. I mean, all behaviour, conscious or not, is a result of cognition. So I am either completely lost, or the example given is a poor one to stop this confusion that happens a lot.