learning compassion

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Reply Fri 6 Jun, 2008 02:16 pm
i have, for a long time, been one of those who doesn't believe in altruism or self sacrifice. Lately though i've begun to wonder if the debate on the topic hasn't set itself too high. Maybe i'm alone here, but when i think altruism i get an image of someone dieing on a cross or jumping out in front of a bus. Did we forget the small things? I can not personally, of my own observation, outright deny the exsistence of compassion as a learned trait. Its true that you could say that it may just be another selfish act of ego, but i can't say that every little charity i've seen, that didn't take much to give, was wholy selfish.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 6 Jun, 2008 03:41 pm
@aaron the red,
Psychological egoism is non falsifiable. Psychological egoism is the notion that all human action is, ultimately, selfish.

This may not be pleasing to many on the forum, but egoism has long been abandoned as a serious answer to philosophical problems.
 
aaron the red
 
Reply Fri 6 Jun, 2008 11:27 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Psychological egoism is non falsifiable. Psychological egoism is the notion that all human action is, ultimately, selfish.


i know what it is. i guess the entire point is while no one can prove it isn't true, i also don't think any one else REALLY knows that it is.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Fri 6 Jun, 2008 11:39 pm
@aaron the red,
aaron the red wrote:
I can not personally, of my own observation, outright deny the exsistence of compassion as a learned trait.
It's definitely to a large degree innate. Young children are generous, sympathetic, and compassionate even in adverse settings when they never witness it or learn it as a value. And altruism and compassion is certainly seen among other animals as well.

Quote:
i can't say that every little charity i've seen, that didn't take much to give, was wholy selfish.
If the person who acted isn't self-consciously acting out of selfishness, but IS self-consciously acting out of concern for others, then it is not a selfish act. So ask yourself if it's possible for someone to authentically believe that their actions are selfless. If someone can believe that and act according to that belief, then they are not being selfish whatever the outcome.
 
aaron the red
 
Reply Sat 7 Jun, 2008 02:05 am
@Aedes,
how much a person believes in the selflessness of their actions really makes no diference. nor does it matter what they are conscious of. To look at it like that is to asume people always know what their motives are.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 7 Jun, 2008 06:03 am
@aaron the red,
aaron the red wrote:
how much a person believes in the selflessness of their actions really makes no diference. nor does it matter what they are conscious of. To look at it like that is to asume people always know what their motives are.
If you're asking whether people act selfishly or not, it matters entirely what gets them to consciously act. Sure, we have multiple competing subconscious forces at work. But just because something innate deep within us (the id, for instance) simply wants to feel better when confronted with something uncomfortable or dissonant, that doesn't negate the other forces deep within us that can viscerally judge a course of action as good. And the rational part of us is what can override this and execute an act so long as we're self-aware. So our psychological complexity doesn't negate the possibility of authentic selflessness. And the possibility of experiencing some kind of reward sensation doesn't negate it either.
 
boagie
 
Reply Sat 7 Jun, 2008 07:09 am
@aaron the red,
aaron the red wrote:
i have, for a long time, been one of those who doesn't believe in altruism or self sacrifice. Lately though i've begun to wonder if the debate on the topic hasn't set itself too high. Maybe i'm alone here, but when i think altruism i get an image of someone dieing on a cross or jumping out in front of a bus. Did we forget the small things? I can not personally, of my own observation, outright deny the exsistence of compassion as a learned trait. Its true that you could say that it may just be another selfish act of ego, but i can't say that every little charity i've seen, that didn't take much to give, was wholy selfish.


aaron,Smile

The essence of compassion is identifying with other, in the absence of this, a subject remains largely an object, and this is the condition of the psychopath, to see others as objects or to be politically correct now, the sociopath. On a personal motivational level, there is no such thing as pure altruism, as action is the fulfilment of the will, and one cannot act against ones own will, so any action is the fulfilment of the will, and thus it is self serving at the outset of action.

One can be born without the ability to feel compassion, but if you are born with said ability it can be overridden, conditioned out of said individual. The first function of propaganda during a time of war, is to turn the enemy into an IT, a thing, an object one can righteously direct ones hostilities towards.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 7 Jun, 2008 01:36 pm
@boagie,
Quote:
On a personal motivational level, there is no such thing as pure altruism


And this is psychological egoism, which is nonfalsifiable and therefore untenable.
 
boagie
 
Reply Sat 7 Jun, 2008 02:33 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
And this is psychological egoism, which is nonfalsifiable and therefore untenable.


Thomas,Smile

I believe it quite tenable, if it was ego it would sound like this, "Look What I Can Do!" There is no action without motivation without intent even if it is to scratch oneself. It may be unproveable to another, but do you really doubt that you are moved by your own volition?? You have no reason to believe then, that others are functioning any differently. How indeed would you explain the workings of the will, the formation of intent, and the action which fufils both the will and intent??:confused: This isn't the old god variable is it?:rolleyes:
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 7 Jun, 2008 02:41 pm
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
There is no action without motivation without intent even if it is to scratch oneself.
When I hit your patellar tendon with a reflex hammer and you kick your leg, that is an action without motivation. When you cut onions and your eyes start to water, that is an action without motivation. Yes, these are actions that are purely involuntary. But then there are voluntary actions in which the decision is never self-conscious. Have you ever snapped at someone when you were in a bad mood about something entirely unrelated? Was that a truly conscious decision to snap at that person? No, it was subconscious and sub-rational forces at work.
 
boagie
 
Reply Sat 7 Jun, 2008 03:10 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
When I hit your patellar tendon with a reflex hammer and you kick your leg, that is an action without motivation. When you cut onions and your eyes start to water, that is an action without motivation. Yes, these are actions that are purely involuntary. But then there are voluntary actions in which the decision is never self-conscious. Have you ever snapped at someone when you were in a bad mood about something entirely unrelated? Was that a truly conscious decision to snap at that person? No, it was subconscious and sub-rational forces at work.


Aedes,Smile

It is true that consciousness is not limited to the mind, what they call body consciousness or body wisdom to must be considered. I do not really like to call many things actions, for indeed they are not actions, but reactions, just as your knee jerks due to the sudden pressure of a reflex hammer, notice it is called a reflex hammer. Digestion to is said often to be an action, it is not an action, it is a reaction, digestion is a reaction to food in the system, hold off the food and the digestion ceases. What is often called involentary actions are reactions in sequence with other systems in the body. Your biological rhythms are reactions in sequence to the movements of the spheres, for lack of a better word. Even your heart beat is in sink with some rhythm of the earth, which will not come to me at the moment. Try to understand most of what you experience as reaction rather than action for awhile, and see if it does not make a great deal more sense. The body itself is consciousness, and as such, the only thing it can do, is react to its environment.---my two cents.Very Happy To keep it on topic, compassion is a reaction, as is, the action/reaction which follows. If some one gets angry with you, assume it to be a reaction, it premotes inquiry where action may not.
 
urangutan
 
Reply Sat 7 Jun, 2008 06:49 pm
@boagie,
I happened to see one of the opening shows of Friends, a short while ago. I had never watched the show but knew that it revolved around a couple of units and a coffee shop. I was dumb founded to see that it all began at a pub (you call it a bar). Being a binge drinker since way back when, I found another reason to dislike the show, I could however see that the show set its appeal to its audience, the youth who could see that alcohol is not the necessity to keep people together and adults who have married can go out to places and enjoy themselves without alcohol. Not for me I am afraid and this is my point. Altruism, is a made up word for something that does not exist. Life cannot expect to attain it, let alone exist with it. Some Bunyip (Aussie Bigfoot), realised he had no friends so made up the concept that we as people are selfish in all our acts, because they were jeolous. To prove this, just try to understand the concept of it or attain it and you will find it is a selfish act in itself. So I say screw the prat who coined it and come drink a beer at my place, I do have an espresso perculator for those who would like a coffee.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 7 Jun, 2008 08:15 pm
@urangutan,
urangutan wrote:
Altruism, is a made up word for something that does not exist.
Even Nietzsche who was overtly anti-altruistic (philosophically speaking) never argued that it doesn't exist.

Altruism exists every bit as much as selfishness does.

Why?

Because both are value judgements cast onto an act. And until you find some scientific foundation that proves whether a value judgement can be right or wrong, you can't arbitrarily discredit one but not the other.

And if you try to argue that selfishness is NOT a value judgement, but rather an inseparable part of consciously doing something, then you've taken all the meaning out of the word to begin with. If EVERYTHING I decide to do is selfish, and this is true for EVERYTHING that EVERYONE in the world will ever do, then you've created synonymity with action from the start. In other words, there is no distinction between the two.

And if this is the case, then how can you use that as an argument against altruism?

Furthermore, you might call such people delusional, but you cannot deny that people make decisions that they sincerely believe are for the good of others. And that's what altruism is. It's the self-conscious motivation behind an act of generosity -- and it really doesn't matter if they get some secondary gain from it.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 01:22 am
@Aedes,
Aedes
Quote:
It's definitely to a large degree innate. Young children are generous, sympathetic, and compassionate even in adverse settings when they never witness it or learn it as a value. And altruism and compassion is certainly seen among other animals as well.


Arguing that young children are innately altruistic really cannot be done considering their development. It takes the first 6 years of their lives just to breach the autistic barrier, meaning that before this they never really recognize that other people aren't just extensions of themselves. In their perception if there really aren't others that are not directly part of their being, then whatever they do to other's is being done to themselves.

Quote:
But just because something innate deep within us (the id, for instance) simply wants to feel better when confronted with something uncomfortable or dissonant, that doesn't negate the other forces deep within us that can viscerally judge a course of action as good.


I agree that people arguing for the non-existence of altruism through means of the subconscious is bogus. It is prefixed with sub- for a reason. These sub-conscious mechanisms are things that one might call "nature" in some cases. Whatever they are they are motivators maybe eve reasons for action. The point behind altruism is that the action is being consciously chosen despite the "wellbeing" of the actor. Sub-conscious/naturalized or any other epi-conscious argument really can't be used. Reason one: Several epi-conscious motivators may be conflicting; and reason two they are epi-conscious and conscious interpretations of wellbeing may also be conflicting.


Boagie
Quote:
action is the fulfillment of the will, and one cannot act against ones own will, so any action is the fulfillment of the will, and thus it is self serving at the outset of action.


This is an argument that has protracted past the realm of ad absurdum into the loops of tautology. One cannot have will without an action and vice versa, being that as in an argument as stated above even inaction is an action that serves the will. Aside from this an action that serves the will has little to nothing to do with the wellbeing of the individual who's will/action it is. The crux here being that altruism as practiced are actions of self harm in some sense, not just simply, non-self serving.

Quote:
What is often called involuntary actions are reactions in sequence with other systems in the body. Your biological rhythms are reactions in sequence to the movements of the spheres, for lack of a better word.


I was going to say this myself, except you put it better than I could. So this raises the question as any action is voluntary, or completely voluntary. If there are voluntary actions the law of averages would imply that throughout all humanity someone somewhere would have had to have acted altruistically. If actions are not completely voluntary altruism cannot be proven either way.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 01:25 am
@GoshisDead,
Man i hope you could make that out, i suppose i should edit before i post, Cheers
 
aaron the red
 
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 01:33 am
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead wrote:
If actions are not completely voluntary altruism cannot be proven either way.


scientists knew the atom excisted long before they saw it. with suitable evidence something like altruism can be proven or disproven.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 01:41 am
@aaron the red,
scientist assumed the atom existed
 
nameless
 
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 04:51 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;15299 wrote:
Psychological egoism is non falsifiable.

So what?
First, let me ask you this;
Is 'Truth' falsifiable?
By definition, no!
'Reality'??
Again, no!
'Empiricism' has fallen, my friend, your words echo from the 'middle ages'...
You attempt to divorce the entire field of psychology, noetics, Consciousness, etc... from the philosophical sphere, which encompasses all perspectives of human thought and critical fields of inquiry, arbitrarily, because it fails to fulfill some erroneous scientific/logical notion, long since discredited?? Made obsolete, finally, by quantum physics; the 'final' nail in the 'empirical/objective fantasy' coffin.

Quote:
Psychological egoism is the notion that all human action is, ultimately, selfish.

Really? See Wiki below, nowhere will you find the emotionally biased term 'selfish' (for good reason);

Psychological egoism
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Psychological egoism is the view that humans are always motivated by rational self-interest, even in what seem to be acts of altruism. It can be contrasted both with ethical egoism, which is the view that the individual always ought to be motivated by self-interest and disregard the interests of the community, and rational egoism, which asserts that the rational thing to do in all situations is that which furthers the actor's interests the most. It claims that when sane people choose to help others, it is ultimately because of the personal benefits they themselves expect to obtain, directly or indirectly, from doing so. Psychological egoism is controversial; some see it as an over-simplified interpretation of behavior, others argue that there exists evidence of altruistic behavior.


Just the first paragraph, but I assure you that nowhere is indicated anything as you assert.

Such as;
Quote:
This may not be pleasing to many on the forum, but egoism has long been abandoned as a serious answer to philosophical problems.

By whom? Can we have a 'celebrity endorsement'?

Peace
 
nameless
 
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 05:29 am
@aaron the red,
aaron the red;15279 wrote:
i have, for a long time, been one of those who doesn't believe in altruism or self sacrifice. Lately though i've begun to wonder if the debate on the topic hasn't set itself too high. Maybe i'm alone here, but when i think altruism i get an image of someone dieing on a cross or jumping out in front of a bus. Did we forget the small things? I can not personally, of my own observation, outright deny the exsistence of compassion as a learned trait. Its true that you could say that it may just be another selfish act of ego, but i can't say that every little charity i've seen, that didn't take much to give, was wholy selfish.

"Compassion means that we recognise their need for their present condition, and give them our love and understanding."
I like this definition that I heard from Alan Watts.
It seems that this 'state of understanding' can only come from experience over time. Perhaps the children exhibit 'empathy', in their 'pre-individuated state'?

Regarding 'self-ish' and 'self-less'; the egoic 'self-image' is what is referred to. Keyword; 'image'.
The 'essential self' is Perspective (of Consciousness), there is no 'self-image'. It is a fabrication of thought and egoic/emotional processes. This 'self' is the 'self' (pride) that is battled by religious/spiritual disciplines.
The moments without the 'ego-self' (imagined individual autonomy) distorting simple Perspective are the bliss of Zen, the 'Flow' or whatever one might call it. Mindless, 'self' less. If I do something, I do something. In 'this' state, one cannot take prideful credit because we do not exist as an 'individual entity' but integral with the entire universe of the moment, that perceived by Perspective (us). What is, is. 'We' originate/create nothing, we are simply Perspective, we perceive (within limits)..
Egoic identity takes credit, emotionally supporting a 'false' 'image'.) (Thats why 'pride' is considered a 'sin', in some circles.)
Peace
 
urangutan
 
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 05:30 am
@nameless,
Sorry Aedes, my point is not that selfless does not exist, though it reads exactly that but to be completely selfless one would be entirely lonely, one could not talk to others, for fear of a response. Hence, "Friends", an offer of a beer or if you would like, a coffee.
 
 

 
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