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#1
heres an interesting question to analyze from a philosophical and psychological perspective.
(I'm taking this idea from my friend who is a philosophy major, I don't claim it as my own).

Here's an example:

A friend of mine asked for a ride to a party last night. I agreed to do this, figuring it would be a nice thing to do. That by itself would be a selfless action.

But there's more to it than that.

This is a friend who I don't know very well, I met him rather recently. So I figured this would be a good opportunity for us to figure each other out a little bit, on the ride there. Therefore, I had an additional motive for doing this, one that was completely self-serving.

Plus, I had to lie to my parents about who I was picking up in order to do this.

Already, this seemingly nice thing to do has several possibly negative implications. I was looking to gain something for myself, and I had to lie to people about what I was doing.


Examining other actions that could be viewed as selfless:

Suicide. You could make the argument that suicide is the most childish, selfish thing a person could do. Basically admitting that they are unable or unwilling to determine their problem and solve it.

Dying for somebody you love. A person might choose this rather than enduring the emotional pain of living without somebody.

You see what I'm getting at. Is it possible for a human being to do something that is completely divorced from their self-interest?
#2
tl;dr: Does altruism exist?

Well this thread will get nowhere. Fast. Either you think it does or you don't. What's to debate?

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#4
Is it possible for a philosophy like this to matter?

Priorities.
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#5
Quote by SteveHouse
tl;dr: Does altruism exist?

Well this thread will get nowhere. Fast. Either you think it does or you don't. What's to debate?


This about sums up why I hate people asking these kinds of questions here. It's a big debate about opinion for no reason whatsoever. I do, I'm sure there are people who don't, do we need to argue about it?
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#6
Person: I accidentally threw my pencil over there, could you go grab it?

Me: *in a good mood* Sure *performs requested favor*

Case closed.


But wait. I felt good afterwards. Gahh.



#8
Quote by RicoTheBeast
I say instead of altruism, we argue about whether apple pie is better with ice cream or without.

I say with.

I don like pie. I'm a cake man myself.

Pie vs. cake shall be the next topic up for debate.

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#9
Edit: ^Cake all the way, pie gets too gooey. Unless it's pumpkin pie. <3 pumpkin pie.

Quote by RicoTheBeast
I say instead of altruism, we argue about whether apple pie is better with ice cream or without.

I say with.


Brownies + ice cream > pie + ice cream.
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#10
One of my friends from high school got into Cornell on the basis of a three year science fair experiment she performed about altruism in children.

She observed children aged 1-3 years at a daycare center. (One way observation; she had no contact with them, and they did not know they were being watched). She found the the vast majority of children, even as young as 12 months would share toys and play together. I think that at that young, children don't have the capacity to understand self-serving decisions, let alone make them.

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#11
Quote by SteveHouse
I don like pie. I'm a cake man myself.

Pie vs. cake shall be the next topic up for debate.

I would accept your challenge, but I myself actually prefer cake as well.
#12
Quote by SteveHouse
I don like pie. I'm a cake man myself.

Pie vs. cake shall be the next topic up for debate.


I'm gonna go with cake. Unless you count chocolate pie, which really just throws a wrench in the machine.
#14
Pie hands down. Sorry - cake is just way too sweet for me. Nothing beats a good apple pie, IMO.
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#16
Skittles: The hell they don't, what do you think crying at all hours of the night is? Or communication at all? An attempt to get your needs met. What else is that but self-serving? I'd counterargue that there's no evidence in that summary that they weren't being actively reinforced for sharing. Oh, and I hope your friend got permission from all the parents before doing that O_o

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#19
Quote by Pat_s1t
But what if I just go up to someone I've never met, and give them some money and say "Here, this should get you enough food for today".

What's in that for me?

You feel good about yourself.

Is that the end, or is it a by-product? Who knows? That's why this debate is pointless.

And cookie cake is too rich to be considered good. If two people can't eat the whole thing within a week (and it's not enormous) without being sick, there's a problem.

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#20
I think it can be done, but only spontaneously.

It has to be a reaction or instinct if you will. I think as soon as concious decision making comes in, then you weigh your options and there's always something to gain at that point. It has to be where your not thinking of the consequences of such action.
Last edited by Partyboy2k05 at Aug 1, 2010,
#22
Cake vs. Pie.. that's a hard one. Cake is a very readily available resource, while pie is much rare. However pie is ****ing delicious, so it makes up for that. I saw that if we include pot pies, pie > cake.
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#23
Quote by thegloaming

Examining other actions that could be viewed as selfless:

Suicide. You could make the argument that suicide is the most childish, selfish thing a person could do. Basically admitting that they are unable or unwilling to determine their problem and solve it.


That could be solving their problem, but that is not what you wanted to discuss.

Quote by thegloaming

Dying for somebody you love. A person might choose this rather than enduring the emotional pain of living without somebody.


If you try to save someone and die, you get a reputation that you were a brave and courageous person.

If the person dies and you don't save them, you are labeled a coward and other negative things.


Quote by thegloaming

You see what I'm getting at. Is it possible for a human being to do something that is completely divorced from their self-interest?


Well essentially I believe when any good deed is done, regardless of intent, it will always be recorded to give the person a good label for future endeavors.
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#24
I don't like cake or pie. just straight up ice cream. cut out the middle man.
Last edited by MakinLattes at Aug 1, 2010,
#25
Quote by Pat_s1t
But what if I just go up to someone I've never met, and give them some money and say "Here, this should get you enough food for today".

What's in that for me?

The satisfaction of knowing that you helped somebody; a boost to your own self-esteem. One could argue that you would never do that if you got no feeling of accomplishment out of it.
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#26
Quote by Pat_s1t
But what if I just go up to someone I've never met, and give them some money and say "Here, this should get you enough food for today".

What's in that for me?

According to Joey it has to be something that doesn't make you feel good, so maybe.

OT: I too am a cake man.
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#27
I believe that it's possible to be completely selfless, some people (altruists) do it all the time. But I ask, what is the point? If you perform a good deed, who cares what your motivation is as long as nothing bad came of it. I'm not putting down altruism, but I think that it is rather silly to think too hard on this matter. I think that ultimately what you accomplish matters more than why you did it.
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#28
i gave a homeless man a dollar once i dont think i had anything to gain from it
#29
Quote by SteveHouse
And cookie cake is too rich to be considered good. If two people can't eat the whole thing within a week (and it's not enormous) without being sick, there's a problem.


pft. I can eat that shit by myself in an hour....and then proceed to throw up a little afterwards...


Okay, throw up a lot actually.
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#30
This is actually very intriguing. To be honest, I really don't think so. It's just instinct to do everything for ourselves. Even people who do things to be "good people" do it for a selfish reason. They WANT to be good. Meaning it gives them something positive. There is no such thing as true self-less-ness. It is utterly impossible.
#31
Quote by MakinLattes
I don't like cake or pie. just straight up ice cream. cut out the middle man.


See the problem with that is dairy. If I eat ice cream without taking the appropriate medication I'll pee out my butt, to put it lightly. Not to mention that it's so cold that it hurts my teeth. Pie, on the other hand, is easy to digest and is typically not to hot to do damage. Even if it's warm it's good. Cold too.
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#33
TC: I suggest you read some works on moral philosophy by Immanuel Kant (although I'd also recommend a Sparknotes/whatever to go with it, as the language gets kind of dense). Most of his theory revolves around this idea.

Basically, he says that for an act to be completely and utterly morally good, the person performing the act must gain absolutely nothing from performing the act. So if you spend all of your time helping the poor, and felt good about yourself after, then it would mean you did not act selflessly and thus the moral good of your act was tarnished (that doesn't mean your act was morally wrong, though).

Theoretically, according to Kant, it's possible to do something good purely out of the knowledge that it's the morally right thing to do, and not gain satisfaction out of it. However, he also says that it's impossible to tell whether you've truly acted completely selflessly.
#34
Quote by Eastwinn
See the problem with that is dairy. If I eat ice cream without taking the appropriate medication I'll pee out my butt, to put it lightly. Not to mention that it's so cold that it hurts my teeth. Pie, on the other hand, is easy to digest and is typically not to hot to do damage. Even if it's warm it's good. Cold too.

I dislike thinks with gelatinous innards. if this is going to strictly cake vs pie, I'd side with cake, as it is the chief ingredient in petit fours.

also, ice cream is not solely a dairy product. there are non-dairy alternatives, such as soy or rice ice cream. or, if you're feeling frisky, you can have some sorbet. sherbet, of course, contains dairy, and should be disregarded.
Last edited by MakinLattes at Aug 1, 2010,
#35
Quote by ikarian-pride
This is actually very intriguing. To be honest, I really don't think so. It's just instinct to do everything for ourselves. Even people who do things to be "good people" do it for a selfish reason. They WANT to be good. Meaning it gives them something positive. There is no such thing as true self-less-ness. It is utterly impossible.

The answer depends on your world view and how you preceive the things around you.

But... what about a person that is about to be hit by a speeding car? Let us just say it is a toally random stranger about to be hit. What is you, knowing you could be killed step out and push the stranger out of the way, and in the process end up dying? What self gratification does one actually gain when they end up losing their life for the sake of somebody else?
#36
The difference becomes motive. If your happiness is a byproduct of doing something selfless, then that's not a motive. Doing a "selfless" act to get said emotion on purpose, then it's not really selfless. You did it for personal gain from the start.

I'm not saying it's wrong, but that's what I think being selfless is, an instinct. If you have to think about it, it's no longer selfless.
#37
Quote by levi.lydat
i clean up my kids shit.
thats pretty selfless.
i do it because i love him
/thread

But you also do it because you don't want to have to put up with smelling shit all the time, or shit being all over your house.

Just playing the devil's advocate.
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#38
Superheroes wear masks, therefore do not gain a good reputation for themselves, but to their alter identity. This could be seen as selfless as they are not looking for personal gains, they would rather just be able to act good without ramifications.

(It could also be argued that they do it for a self esteem boost. Or in some cases revenge)

As superheroes do not exist, I believe it is VERY hard for someoene to act entirely selflessly
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#39
Why did you have to lie to your parents?
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#40
Quote by mental_cookie
Superheroes wear masks, therefore do not gain a good reputation for themselves, but to their alter identity. This could be seen as selfless as they are not looking for personal gains, they would rather just be able to act good without ramifications.

(It could also be argued that they do it for a self esteem boost. Or in some cases revenge)

As superheroes do not exist, I believe it is VERY hard for someoene to act entirely selflessly

And everybody knows that superheroes only do good things in masks and suits cause its the only way they can get off (Watchmen FTW!). But I don't really believe any entirely altruistic action can be done, because if You feel better, you get something out of it. /thread

Oh and pie>cake. Unless cheesecake counts as cake. Because cheesecake>everything else
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