#1
Altruism: the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others

I was thinking about altruism today. The topic of this thread: Do you believe absolute altruism exists?

Now, by absolute altruism (I don't know if that's the best choice of words), I mean someone doing something that benefits another being, and gives absolutly no benefit to themselves.

I don't believe this exists. When we do kind things for other people, we usually feel proud of ourselves for being a nice person. And if someone does a kind thing, and doesn't feel this pride for helping them, I think they were expecting to have that feeling, and now feel regret. But the pride we feel for doing something nice for others is our own benefit.

This led me to some other thoughts. I remember when I was a lot younger (elementary, middle school), I would wonder if I could ever do anything with absolutly no benefit to myself. I would move my arm for no reason, yet even this had a reason. I wanted to prove to myself I could do something for no reasoning at all, thus giving the original action a reason. When I think about it, I can't think of one time in which I did something where I expected no benefit whatsoever for myself.

But back to he altruism thinking, I was thinking about people who die for others. But even then, there can be benefits. Let's say there is some odd scenario where a husband dies for his wife. The benefit for the husband is that he does not have to live without his wife. But let's say a man died for someone he didn't even know. There are plenty of other factors that could be the benefit. He could be someone satisfied with the life he's had, and is ready to go. He could want the image or legacy of a hero. He could be religious and believe he will go to heaven. He could be suicidal in the first place and believes he should end his suffering.

But I'm no psychiatrist, philosopher, logician, etc. My questions are:

Can humans be completely 100% unselfish? (I don't think so)
Can we do things for others, even though we get absolutly no benefit whatsoever?
#4
Some of the time, not all of the time.

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#5
Jesus wanted followers.

I believe complete altruism does not exist.
I also believe Jesus doesn'/didn't exist. Go figure
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#8
Wasn't there a Friends episode about this? I think it was where Phoebe tried to do a good deed without a feeling good about it.

/offtopic
#9
Quote by deathbat831
Jesus would be a good example.
Well, notice I said human. I really don't want to get into a religious argument, but I'm christian, and I've heard tons of christians (not teens, but teachers) say that Jesus was the spirit of God (or something along those lines) in human form. I don't think he's a practical example to use, because not only my reasoning above, but religious beliefs don't pass in an academic arena. And if he was nothing more than a human, there could be many speculations as to what the benefits of his death could have been.
#10
^^i saw that episode too. haha . but i really doubt that altruism does not exist because of the simple fact that the littlest thing may be gratifying in some possible way thus making altruism untrue.
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#11
Quote by Doppelgänger
Wasn't there a Friends episode about this? I think it was where Phoebe tried to do a good deed without a feeling good about it.

/offtopic

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#12
I do think there are some people like that out there but not many.
#13
With no benefit/

I dont think so.

cuz soem peopel are nice cuz they "feel good about it"
and thats some sort of personal benefit
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#14
no
people think of themselves by nature
if it's in your nature to try to be (as it is in mine) you just end up feeling kinda guilty when you do something for yourself.
if Jesus was real (i don't doubt he was, but he's kinda like a Tall Tale) then he was as close as it gets
Ghandi maybe
#16
okay so lets take Jesus out, then no i dont believe there are any true altruists out there. funny how that works.

and Jesus didn't want followers he wanted to save people. if they chose not to, then so be it. we all have that choice.
#17
Can humans be completely 100% unselfish? (I don't think so)
Can we do things for others, even though we get absolutly no benefit whatsoever?


1) Im not sure, the way your thinking it out no. I dont think so anyways. I think your thinking too hard though..

2) yes, if you can find something that fits your description of "no benefit" I can do it with no benefit in return if I wanted. Wait that was confusing..
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#20
I suggest you read 'The Virtues of Selfishness' by Ayn Rand. Very good book which addresses all of these topics...and more.

And no...I don't believe complete altruism exists.
#21
Quote by deathbat831
Jesus would be a good example.


Yeah, but Jesus wasn't prone to human nature, because He is the Son of God. So he is God, except He walked the earth. He was sent to Earth to spread his fathers word.

Anyways, I don't think it is possible for a person to be 100% altruistic. It's just not possible. Human nature gets in the way. There has to be a reason someone does something for them to do it.
#22
I don't believe either altruism or egoism (opposite, read up on Thomas Hobbes if you're interested) exist absolutely. However, I do lean towards egoism as when I think about myself, while I may think I'm doing something nice just for the sake of it, upon re-evaluation I find some benefit to myself (whether it be soothing my concience, or material/relationship gain)
#23
Quote by JagStang5246
Yeah, but Jesus wasn't prone to human nature, because He is the Son of God. So he is God, except He walked the earth. He was sent to Earth to spread his fathers word.

Anyways, I don't think it is possible for a person to be 100% altruistic. It's just not possible. Human nature gets in the way. There has to be a reason someone does something for them to do it.


youre right. so i agree that people cant be 100% altruistic
#24
You can find anything beneficial, which disproves it in itself. There are tons of ways of disproving it, but I also believe it is possible that we naturally will aid someone if they are in need(may need clarification from an actual anthropologist for that one.) But even that, may just be part of our survival instincts, not any sort of caring nonsense.
#25
I don't believe someone could be an altruist 100% of the time, but I definitely believe someone could be one most of the time.

They may not be very common, especially these days, but it's possible, at least most of the time.
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#26
I would say no, absolute altruism does not exist. Everything a person chooses to do has some benefit to them. Even what may seem to be a completely altruistic act. I believe that many acts which may be interpreted as 100% selfless are effected by the possibility of guilt. If someone doesn't perform an altruistic act when presented with one, they would feel guilty about it, so performing the act allows them not to feel guilty. As for people who go out of their way to perform "selfless" acts, I can guarantee they feel happy about helping others, i.e. a benefit to themselves.