learning compassion

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Khethil
 
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 06:06 am
@aaron the red,
Saying that no action can be completely and totally without any motivated self-interest (aka Altruistic) is probably true; ok fine, but of what worth is this when we refer to the cacophony human behavior? Can any aspect of human behavior be justified in absolute terminology, ever? Hey, I'll answer: No! This, to me, is one of those terms used to describe the preponderance of perception in another's motivation. An action may be seen as altruistic or said to be if the majority of perceived motivation appears to be non-self centered Sure, it probably is... but so what - I believe the term to still be useful in describing our perceptions and is therefore useful in communication.

As far as compassion as a learned trait; excellent concept! Of course, compassion and altruism are completely separate concepts (relatives, perhaps, but separate nonetheless).

Another observation: If an productive, enriching and positive action (i.e., "good" in accordance with whatever definition you choose) is done for what you believe are the wrong reasons, isn't it still a "good" act? My point is here that evaluating motives (in terms of a value judgment) should pale in relation to that action's effects. My wife's big on judging events based on her perception of someone's motives, so maybe I'm a little raw on the subject :cool:

... just my two cents
 
boagie
 
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 06:17 am
@urangutan,
:)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.quote

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.



Smile"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."quote

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.

YO! GoshisDead

:)There can be will without action/reaction, if one is confined or physically restrained from responding to the stimulus in question. The sorrow of losing a love one or watching a loved one die by degree, what is often said, "I feel so utterly powerless." It matters not what the will wants there is no action that would fulfil its desire. I nowhere stated that there is no altruistic behaviour, I said there is no such thing as pure altruism, because whatever you decide is going to be your REACTION you must then put your will behind it, thus, fulfiling that will is what REACTION does at the outset of reaction.

:)Reactions are not involentary, in that they are choices. What is totally involentary is that you will react in some way. As stated earlier even a considered lack of response is a reaction to the said situtation------is a reaction. Altruism is only self-sacrifice at times, the heroic deed, putting your life on the line. There are numerous small examples of altruism seen throughout ones daily activities, people being nice to one another. There are of course, failed attempts at fulfiling the will, where the considered reaction fails to get the desired results through its reaction and so, ones will is frustrated.

:)If you realize that there is only reaction, it would necessarily induce a rethink of the belief in autonomy, freewill, cause/effect and last but not least, pure altruism.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 10:29 am
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead wrote:
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.
I'm a pediatrician, and with all due respect this is pretty inconsistent with what's understood of normal child development. I'll grant you that to call it altruism is probably an overstatement, but empathy certainly is accurate (and empathy is the core feature of altruism). Empathy is seen at a very early age. I've seen 2 and 3 year old children go to comfort their crying baby siblings after I've vaccinated them -- which certainly bespeaks empathy. Young children are very perceptive at understanding the emotional presentation of another person and responding accordingly.

Now you could argue that it's just imitative early on. But you certainly cannot argue that other people are seen as an extension of themselves -- certainly not past 12-18 months or so when the distinction between their parents and other people reaches crisis point in the stranger anxiety phase.

Autism, which is an entirely separate issue, is often visible during early to mid infancy because of delayed language and social development. I've never heard a developmental pediatrician refer to an 'autistic barrier' as part of normal child development (but then again there is all kinds of stuff out there that people write about autistic spectrum disorders). Certainly beyond a certain point in toddlerhood a child is extremely unlikely to be diagnosed with autism. Some spectrum disorders like pervasive developmental delay and mild Asperger's syndrome may not be apparent 'till later, though.

Quote:
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.
I completely agree.

urangutan wrote:
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.
Ok, I can accept this. But that doesn't argue against altruism. For something to be altruistic, the secondary gain has to either be unintentional, subconscious, or at least secondary to the intended benefit to others.
 
urangutan
 
Reply Sun 8 Jun, 2008 05:58 pm
@Aedes,
Correct Aedes, I sell myself short and end up reading like a five year old schoolboys definition of impregnation. My arguement is entirely against alruism being the only way to behave. As though acting selfishly or for the self can be avoided.

I actually do not comprehend how to use the quotes of others so to argue specifics and in addition, that I am lazy, encourages me to speak off the cuff at what appears as nothing in particular. I apologize for being this way but my expression is like a decaf rather than a double esspresso. You might want to stick with just the beer when you come over.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 10 Jun, 2008 02:41 pm
@urangutan,
Quote:
I believe it quite tenable,


Well, given that the claim is nonfalsifiable, there is no way to support the claim.

Quote:
if it was ego it would sound like this, "Look What I Can Do!"


Right, and humans are capable of humility.

Quote:
There is no action without motivation without intent even if it is to scratch oneself.


There is action without motivation and action without intent. However, that's beside the point.

The issue is what sort of motivations and intentions are humans capable of. If they can be motivated by concern for another (like a parent is for the sake of a child, perhaps) and if they can intend to act for the sake of another, then they can act selflessly and not all actions are necessarily selfish.

Quote:
It may be unproveable to another, but do you really doubt that you are moved by your own volition??


In all cases? I know I'm not. In many cases I am moved by my own volition, however, volition is not equivalent to selfish.

Quote:
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?? This isn't the old god variable is it?


God plays no part in the equation, thanks for the needless assumption.

Quote:
The point behind altruism is that the action is being consciously chosen despite the "wellbeing" of the actor.


Altruism does not have to be self destructive.

Quote:
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.


I don't see how this is the case.

Why could we not talk to others if we are selfless? If other people are interested in talking to us, isn't it kind of selfish to ignore them? What if someone seems upset, and we try to console them? Surely, trying to sooth the uneasy is not necessarily selfish.

Human interaction is something most humans need. It would remarkably selfish to me for an otherwise normal human being (ie, one who does not have trouble socializing) to never socialize with his fellow man.

One thing that seems clear from this discussion so far is that acting in a selfless manner is not always easy. Because I get your point, often our social interaction is selfish. But the only way to improve at something is to practice.
 
boagie
 
Reply Tue 10 Jun, 2008 03:15 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Thomas,Smile

:)Are you telling me that you do believe in pure altruism, that means no will or intent of a said subject is behind the action. The suggestion that the active variable might be that of god is not really unreasonable, as you have not indicated how this pure altruism is going to affect itself---starting to think magic here Thomas. Your welcome for the needless assumption:D
 
Aedes
 
Reply Tue 10 Jun, 2008 04:20 pm
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
Are you telling me that you do believe in pure altruism, that means no will or intent of a said subject is behind the action.
Bogie, nothing is pure. So what's the point in talking about it a type of human thought as if it can be understood in isolation?

Even if we were to stipulate that all human actions were a fulfillment of conscious will (which is grossly incorrect), that STILL doesn't define such actions as selfish.

And even if we COULD regard all human actions as fundamentally selfish, that STILL doesn't abrogate the possibility of altruism. Because altruism has to do with one's self-conscious motivation, not with the simple truisms of things happening because our brain tells them to happen.

So the only way you can discount the possibility of altruism is to show that humans are consciously disingenuous when they perform actions that one might superficially read as selfless or altruistic. It doesn't even matter if there is some subconscious hedonism behind it. The fact of the matter is that some people perform actions to benefit others, even to the exclusion of their own needs, and other people don't.
 
boagie
 
Reply Tue 10 Jun, 2008 04:41 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes,Smile

I have never said that I did not believe in altruism, I said there is no such thing as pure altruism. The way people process and react to the given situtations seems universal, and I do not think I have to outline the process yet again.Wink That means that altrusim is NOT pure.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 10 Jun, 2008 05:00 pm
@boagie,
Quote:
I have never said that I did not believe in altruism, I said there is no such thing as pure altruism. The way people process and react to the given situtations seems universal, and I do not think I have to outline the process yet again.Wink That means that altrusim is NOT pure.


What do you mean 'pure'?

If the, as Aedes puts it, self-conscience motivation is concern for another, that is altruism.

There is no tainted altruism.
 
boagie
 
Reply Tue 10 Jun, 2008 05:58 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
What do you mean 'pure'?

If the, as Aedes puts it, self-conscience motivation is concern for another, that is altruism.
There is no tainted altruism.


Thomas,Smile

Yeah, there is a little taintedness, but not really in a moral sense, it simply that the will of the subject is necessarily being fulfilled at the outset of the action, which is in fact a reaction.Smile
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 10 Jun, 2008 06:16 pm
@boagie,
Quote:
Yeah, there is a little taintedness, but not really in a moral sense, it simply that the will of the subject is necessarily being fulfilled at the outset of the action, which is in fact a reaction.


What does the fulfillment of the will have to do with altruism? If the will to act in a compassionate manner is fulfilled, how does this in any way 'taint' (to make not 'pure') the altruism?

To say the will is fulfilled when we act according to said will is simply a description of the process.
 
boagie
 
Reply Tue 10 Jun, 2008 06:32 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
What does the fulfillment of the will have to do with altruism? If the will to act in a compassionate manner is fulfilled, how does this in any way 'taint' (to make not 'pure') the altruism?

To say the will is fulfilled when we act according to said will is simply a description of the process.


Thomas,Smile

Your right, it is just process, but, what is fact is, that the will is the motivation of the action, so, it is this will which is satisfied first before the resultant condition of action. What most people confuse is making a moral judgement or evaluation where one is not called for. One is talking about process and the other ends up stuck on a moral judgement so they end up not even talking about the same thing.

Edit: What is pure? when one thinks a source one source, it might seem pure.
 
 

 
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