The Falsity of Altruism

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Holiday20310401
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 08:41 pm
@TickTockMan,
It's not that I disagree with what Schopenhauer has to say but I think the answer to the first question he posits is simple.

"how is it that a human being can so participate in the peril or pain of another that without thought, spontaneously, he or she sacrifices his or her own life to the other? How can it happen that what we normally think of as the first law of nature and self-preservation is suddenly dissolved?"

Self preservation is a context, guided by the brain, sub consciously, but it is lost in the translation to the ego in which the true self preservation is, when actions occur. Actions reflect the ego, self interest, just as we've been trying to get at the whole time here.

Personally I think I answer this better earlier on in the thread on page 5.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 08:50 pm
@boagie,
boagie;30472 wrote:
I take it you do not buy my previous post indicating the metaphysical nature of self-sacrifice
I don't buy the metaphysical nature of anything, to be honest, but most people here know that about me.

Quote:
Even with your view of this heroic act of the said solider, do you deny that it was his will that moved him into the path of danger, if not, then how does he deserve any credit. According to you, he did not will it so.
He overcame a powerful inhibition in doing that act. But that's often what impulsive acts of heroism come down to -- instincts by which some people would be unable to overcome fear of harm (or death) and would never make such a move, but others would easily overcome it in the face of potential harm (or death) to someone else. It's heroic in that situation, but it can be stupid or reckless in others.
 
TickTockMan
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 08:52 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday20310401;30484 wrote:

Self preservation is a context, guided by the brain, sub consciously, but it is lost in the translation to the ego in which the true self preservation is, when actions occur. Actions reflect the ego, self interest, just as we've been trying to get at the whole time here.


Have you ever saved a life while placing your own at risk?
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 09:07 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes,Smile

If it is instinct it is an automatic response, and belongs to species. I know you do not intend to but you are indicating some excercise of will here. The fact that the others did not respond indicates the instinct of self preservation is in full operation here, but our hero overcomes this instinct, what does he overcome it with?
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 09:12 pm
@boagie,
Boagie, egos differ from person to person. The difference is what would select the resultant actions of people.

Now you could convince me otherwise if in every situation, one of the two people would jump on the grenade, ALWAYS! But I just don't believe this to be the case. Help me to understand, if not a question of context, the overall situation and therefore the will.
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 09:20 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday,Smile

Context here can only mean situtational, and in this situtation the instinct for self-preservation is natural, that is why someone else did not jump on the grenade. The question then remains, how did this young solider overcome this instinct for self-preservation, by what means?

Aedes:)

You said that you do not buy anything metaphysical, but, is not compassion metaphyscial?
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 09:49 pm
@boagie,
boagie;30502 wrote:
If it is instinct it is an automatic response, and belongs to species.
That's not true -- some instincts (like blinking) are present across many species, and others (like startle myoclonus) are present only in individuals.

Quote:
I know you do not intend to but you are indicating some excercise of will here.
Will need not be synonymous with reason here. Besides, all I'm doing is indicating heterogeneity in one's impulsive response to a situation. Jumping on a grenade isn't an instinct -- it's an impulse that is influenced by different instincts as well as other unconscious or subconscious factors.

Why do you think police and military academies train soldiers using first person shooter video games? It's specifically because people generally have a strong inhibition against harming others, which results in the commonly described phenomenon of 'freezing' when one needs to pull the trigger. So they use these games to dehumanize the situation so that they can overcome this inhibition.

Our impulses and even our instincts have a great deal of plasticity, and there are myriad other factors that can influence a spot decision. Will may be part of it, but reason certainly isn't.

boagie;30507 wrote:
You said that you do not buy anything metaphysical, but, is not compassion metaphyscial?
No. Compassion is emotional when it is something you feel, and it is social when it is something you express.
 
TickTockMan
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 09:51 pm
@boagie,
boagie;30507 wrote:
Holiday,Smile

Context here can only mean situtational, and in this situtation the instinct for self-preservation is natural, that is why someone else did not jump on the grenade. The question then remains, how did this young solider overcome this instinct for self-preservation, by what means?


Good question boagie. I'm going to have to suggest though that there is no answer that could be put into words. It is a transcendent moment, at the risk of going all metaphysical on ya'll.

In some situations everything vanishes, time stops, and everything seems to happen at exactly the same moment . . . and everything is completely clear. Only afterwards can you think, "What in the HELL was I thinking," and then you almost barf because of the adrenaline dump.
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 09:53 pm
@boagie,
The ego develops through constraints and habits. Let me just sort my thoughts here.


  • The ego tries to reconcile and "mutualize" the id and the superego.
  • The superego and the id are both subconscious for the most part.
  • Self preservation comes from the id, I'm assuming because it ties back to the survival instinct.
  • conscience (and therefore will) is of the superego (so I suppose it becomes irrelevant?)
  • Our actions are in reflection to the ego. The ego will reconcile with the other two forms of ego for the action to occur.
  • Both forms of ego should be reconciled because they are both subconscious, (:a-thought:or perhaps it is a random process and only one form can be reconciled with the ego per action, so it makes sense that only half the people should choose to act in self preservation and one to act altruistically)
  • actually the id and the super ego oppose eachother therefore only one can act per action
  • altruism is of the superego
  • therefore if not my just stated theory, the superego must override the id somehow.
  • and that is what the discussion is about determining, ok...
  • I am beginning to think that will has a lot to do with this as the situation really does matter in terms of invoking a certain conscience
  • self interest requires conscious cognition, the ego is of conscious cognition
  • if the plain ego is not there to reconcile the other two forms then the other two forms must duke it out for random outcome (if the situation is irrelevant)
  • since the situation is relevant, the situation will determine the probability of the priority form of ego, since it applies deterministic traits on the brain and therefore the mind, and therefore the behaviour
  • If this does not work still, then I shall give it more thought tomorrow
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 09:55 pm
@TickTockMan,
TickTockMan wrote:
Good question boagie. I'm going to have to suggest though that there is no answer that could be put into words. It is a transcendent moment, at the risk of going all metaphysical on ya'll.

In some situations everything vanishes, time stops, and everything seems to happen at exactly the same moment . . . and everything is completely clear. Only afterwards can you think, "What in the HELL was I thinking," and then you almost barf because of the adrenaline dump.


It's that kind of thinking that opens up the need for emotional metaphysical speculation though.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 09:58 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Holiday, one area where I differ a bit from you is the way you use Freud's terms ego, id, and superego. Few psychologists really accept Freud's topographic description of the mind these days, not even his student Jung wholly accepted it. The takehome message from Freud, and what the id, ego, and superego represent, are the various competing forces (some rational, some irrational, some animal) that exist at odds within a single mind.

So we're probably more or less on the same page, but I'd clarify that there can't be said to be an "ego" and an "id" (etc) as if they're discrete things or functions -- they're just models of how different 'priorities' of the mind interact.
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 10:09 pm
@Aedes,
Yeah so if I deleted the words id ego and superego would I not end up with a rationale. All that is really going on is depicting whether each cognitive process falls into the category of subconscious or conscious, and which ones oppose eachother. If that is accurate then I see no reason to refute it. So I shall do some more research tomorrow.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 10:16 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
I agree, and I know what you're saying. I just want to avoid jumping from a rigid philosophical construct into a rigid psychological construct. Whatever we call the forces in our mind, what's clear is that we're animals, we have emotions, we have instincts, we have associations, we have memories, we have the faculty of reason, and we have an impaired ability to determine when our reasoning is faulty or not -- so when you add it up only a small part of what we 'will' is in the end the product of reason.
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 10:18 pm
@TickTockMan,
Aedes wrote:
That's not true -- some instincts (like blinking) are present across many species, and others (like startle myoclonus) are present only in individuals." quote

:)Because a trait is present across species does not indicate the it is not a quality of the given species of humanity. Myoclonus, really Aedes, it a bloody affliction, something anyone of our species could fall victum to.



"Will need not be synonymous with reason here. Besides, all I'm doing is indicating heterogeneity in one's impulsive response to a situation. Jumping on a grenade isn't an instinct -- it's an impulse that is influenced by different instincts as well as other unconscious or subconscious factors." quote

SmileI never said jumping on a grenade was an instinct, what I did say was those who did not jump on the grenade were obeying the instinct of self-preservation, and I asked you how this young chap overcame that instinct, by what means?



"Why do you think police and military academies train soldiers using first person shooter video games? It's specifically because people generally have a strong inhibition against harming others, which results in the commonly described phenomenon of 'freezing' when one needs to pull the trigger. So they use these games to dehumanize the situation so that they can overcome this inhibition." quote


:)So are you indicating that our young hero was desensitized, dehumanized to jump on that grenade? He probably went through the same training that the other soliders went though, why could they not overcome the instinct for self-survival, it just does not hold up for situtions like this. What about the situtation in general of people scarificing their lives for another, sometime complete strangers.


"Our impulses and even our instincts have a great deal of plasticity, and there are myriad other factors that can influence a spot decision. Will may be part of it, but reason certainly isn't." quote

:)Your argument is not at all convincing, but if what you indicate here be true, then the solider does not deserve any credit whatsoever. What instinct might you be talking about that might compel a young man to jump on a grenade?



"No. Compassion is emotional when it is something you feel, and it is social when it is something you express."


:)Yes I know its experienced emotionally, and of course it is social, hard to do when your alone, but, what is it? How does it move the individual? I would really like to hear your non-metaphysical explanation.
 
TickTockMan
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 10:23 pm
@boagie,
Aedes;30510 wrote:

Why do you think police and military academies train soldiers using first person shooter video games? It's specifically because people generally have a strong inhibition against harming others, which results in the commonly described phenomenon of 'freezing' when one needs to pull the trigger. So they use these games to dehumanize the situation so that they can overcome this inhibition.
.


The difference being that police and military personnel have chosen (most of the time) to be in the situation where such training is needed. They go into it knowing what they might have to do, and common sense dictates they train accordingly.

It's important to remember also that there is a tactical difference, either in sports or self-defense, between "freezing" and "choking."

"Freezing" is the deer in the headlights. You just don't know what to do because the situation is beyond your experience. "Choking" is when you have all the tools, but you just can't seem to bring them into play.

Personally, I think that video games (in particular FPS's) have less to do with de-sensitizing humans to violence and more to do with training hand-eye coordination and fast-twitch muscle response, or reflexes. I have some cop and military friends who say that you tend to get over the aversion to harming another pretty quick when they're pulling a gun or a knife that they intend to use on you.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 10:50 pm
@TickTockMan,
TickTockMan;30520 wrote:
Personally, I think that video games (in particular FPS's) have less to do with de-sensitizing humans to violence and more to do with training hand-eye coordination and fast-twitch muscle response, or reflexes.
You ought to read the pediatric scientific literature on the subject, then. I have. Very eye-opening. Unambiguous correlations between exposure to video game violence and violent behavior.


Boagie -- you may want to fix the quotes in your post, it's hard to read. As for your question about metaphysics and compassion, all I can say is that metaphysics is a human psychological construct that bears no necessary resemblance to reality. Compassion can be described certain ways, and it is what it is. I'm not sure what you're trying to press me on, but you're not going to get me to go down a metaphysical path -- metaphysics is just too contrived

As for whether the soldier deserves credit, a lot of our judgement of people's acts is passed externally and retrospectively. If he impulsively throws himself on a grenade and dies but saves someone else's life he's a hero; if he impulsively throws himself out a window and crushes someone on the ground, he's not. But "praiseworthy" things are usually matters of character and not of will.

And people have different character makeups -- that's why they behave differently in different situations that call for quick thinking. And everything from your brain's hardwiring to your memories and emotions will inform how you react in a given situation.
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 10:56 pm
@Aedes,
Impulsive, instinctual, BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH. The ability for a self-contained individual to invoke ANY KIND OF ACTION represents the fulfillment of that individuals' self-interest by virtue of the sequential constraint imposed by the natural world, and if we cannot submit to this empirically verifiable process, well then I am at a lost for words and patience.
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 30 Oct, 2008 11:30 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Boagie -- "You may want to fix the quotes in your post, it's hard to read. As for your question about metaphysics and compassion, all I can say is that metaphysics is a human psychological construct that bears no necessary resemblance to reality. Compassion can be described certain ways, and it is what it is. I'm not sure what you're trying to press me on, but you're not going to get me to go down a metaphysical path -- metaphysics is just too contrived." quote

Aedes,

I am not trying to drive you down any metaphysical path, just give me a reasonable explaination as to just what compassion is, you all really stated you do not believe anything metaphyscial, so ask, for the reasonable approach. Obsurity just won't do.

"As for whether the soldier deserves credit, a lot of our judgement of people's acts is passed externally and retrospectively. If he impulsively throws himself on a grenade and dies but saves someone else's life he's a hero; if he impulsively throws himself out a window and crushes someone on the ground, he's not. But "praiseworthy" things are usually matters of character and not of will." quote

A matter of character, again really obsure. From you description it does not sound like the young man deserves any credit whatsoever, no more than for regurgitating bad food.

"And people have different character makeups -- that's why they behave differently in different situations that call for quick thinking. And everything from your brain's hardwiring to your memories and emotions will inform how you react in a given situation." quote

Quick thinking, the above sounds like a reasoned response Aedes, this is not at all consistent. I think I am beating a dead horse here, you win by devault Aedes. If you could give me a reasonable explanation as to what is compassion, you would accomplished a great deal philosophically, my bet is, you can't.
 
TickTockMan
 
Reply Fri 31 Oct, 2008 12:24 am
@Aedes,
Aedes;30526 wrote:
You ought to read the pediatric scientific literature on the subject, then. I have. Very eye-opening. Unambiguous correlations between exposure to video game violence and violent behavior.


What kind of video games were they playing during the Spanish Inquisition?
Did Pol Pot have a copy of Grand Theft Auto squirreled away somewhere?
What about the good times in the Roman Colosseum?

The correlation as a cause is tenuous at best. The real problem with violent entertainment is not the depiction of violence in itself but rather the lack of consequence portrayed in its wake.

Blaming the violence of society on movies or video games is a handy method of shirking our own responsibility for teaching our offspring, as a society and as individuals, to be decent human beings and striving to create a good world for them to live in rather than one where your worth is determined by the car you drive and the clothes you wear and how much stuff you have.

How about some pediatric literature on the effects of rampant consumerism and mindless materialism on youngsters? Oooh! We can't have that though . . . it might hurt the economy if we taught our children not to want so much. Daddy might have to give up his Hummer . . . you know, as an object lesson.

He wasn't talking about violent entertainment per se, but the idea was the same in Bill Hick's comments on "The War On Drugs."

Quote:
"That's what I can't stand . . . you've seen the ads: Drugs are bad, why do you think they call it dope, this is your brain, this is your brain on drugs . . . and the next commercial is: (sings) This Bud's for you . . . c'mon everybody, let's all be hypocritical bastards!"


And for what it's worth, I've never heard of a police training program where they use violent video games to de-sensitize officers. Most use some variation of a program like this: Hogan's Alley (FBI - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). Similar video-based units are used in local precincts, as well as portable units that can be taken to outlying departments. The purpose of these simulators is not to de-humanize the enemy, but to train officers to make split-second decisions to differentiate combatant from non-combatant, and to react quickly and appropriately when these determinations are made.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go play Doom (I'm old school) and brush up on my killin' skills. Never know when I might need 'em.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Fri 31 Oct, 2008 05:12 am
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
Aedes,Smile

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. Ruthless where are you, this is painful!!


I think you need to go back and read RL's first post again. He specifically refers to the firing of synapses as being the "the leading edge of self-interest". He is approaching this from a physiological point of view and has lumped the unconscious with the conscious.
 
 

 
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