Does Altruism Exist?

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Essene, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. Essene

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    Nominally, I say that it does.

    However, by virtue of practice and what is logical, I say that it does not.

    My firm belief is that we act in our own self interest to obtain some feeling of achievement (even in sacrificing ones life). The feeling of receptivity is one everyone feels 'less they're antisocial.
     
  2. boobjob

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    Simple answer. It does exist.
     
  3. pbs

    pbs
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    Probably true, and it depends on how we rationalize our actions in our own minds whether we see it this way ourselves or not.
     
  4. 12barblues

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    i suppose that it does , but in a scant few people...i think we've come this far because we have a tremendous desire to survive (at all costs)...and that would kinda be the opposite of altruism, right?

    and as far as recognition of self sacrifice....altruism means there is no recocnition "from others" for the act..right?..so whether or not you gain "self satisfaction" or not, it would still be altruistic as long as the act was "selfless and unrecognized" by others..... i think?
     
  5. HardRocker

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    I didn't know that being unrecognized by others was part of the definition, but I would still say; of course it exists. Doing good for others is good for us because it makes the world a better place. It makes generous souls feel good just knowing this. Sure it sounds sappy and idealistic, so a cynic might assume it to be some sort of selfishly motivated giving, but cynics are a dime a dozen.
     
  6. Essene

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    Altruism is supposed to be an unselfish act to better, in some manner, someone else's life.

    My catch is with the word "unselfish". It's impossible to completely remove selfishness from any act.

    It is a social imperative to help one another in some facet (even if it seems as if we're only helping ourselves). For those who blatantly help others it's more apparent.

    Ghandi wasn't unselfish and neither was Mother Theresa. Even our inborn desire to react to some with maternal or paternal "instincts" is a form of selfishness. I say it's simply due to adoring the feeling of generosity or that "I helped someone" feeling. But if you go beyond that, I think it's an intrinsic psycho-sociological desire we share to see the continuance of our human entity as a whole.

    Sure, cynics are a dime a dozen. So is pretty much any philosophical group (including the current day essenes).
     
  7. HardRocker

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    Okay, then it's all academic, as they say. An indefensible argument for anyone inclined to debate it.
     
  8. Trond

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    But none of this matters, if you ask me. We won't do anything if we don't have any motivation to do it (unless it's completely automatic, like a reflex). The motivation to do good can be to feel better about yourself, but you're still being altruistic unless someone puts a gun to your head or pays you to do it. The alternative would be that you are, what, a helpful machine? When biologists discuss altruism in animals, it's the fact that one individual goes through trouble to help other individuals that matters. The fact that the helping individual may feel good about it does not make the act fall outside of the definition of altruism, at least not within biology.