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2004-04-08 15:03:46-07:00 - Angel and Altruism - (sam_14042@yahoo.com)


I've been reading the discussion of whether 'pure' altruism is possible, and I find it quite intriguing. I've just had a thought on the topic, and I thought it might be worth its own thread, because it really only applies to Angel (and, somewhat debatably, Wesley), as opposed to being applicable to the more general question of whether or not pure altruism is possible in general. The main argument against pure altruism seems to be that performing altruistic acts reinforces one's self-image as a good person, and allows one to feel good about one's self. In general, this strikes me as an argument with quite a bit of merit to it. However, I am not sure it applies in Angel's case, for one reason: I'm not sure Angel is capable of having a positive self-image for any lengthy amount of time. Sure, sometimes we see Angel break out of this -- "I'm Angel. I beat the bad guys." comes to mind. But let's be realistic, here. This is Angel. No matter how many momentary periods of felt-heroism he has, he's going to descend back into long periods of bleak darkness in which he is absolutely convinced, to the core of his being, that he is a damned, murderous monster and no good act he performs will ever change that. And he keeps performing good acts anyway. Not because they make him feel like a good person, because quite often, they don't. He does them because they're the right thing to do. This was summed up really well in "Hellbound," I thought. ---- ANGEL You think any of it matters? The things we did? The lives we destroyed. That's all that's ever gonna count. So, yeah, surprise. You're going to hell. We both are. SPIKE Then why even bother? Try to do the right thing, make a difference... ANGEL What else are we gonna do? ---- I wonder if Angel's despair doesn't actually give him the capacity for real altruism in a way a more well-adjusted person wouldn't be able to manage... If your good actions *don't* make you feel better about yourself as a person, and you keep doing good things anyway, what motive other than altruism is left? --Sam

2004-04-08 18:12:47-05:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (Juleen <sRuEnMrOyVsEe@centurytel.net>)


Sam wrote: > I've been reading the discussion of whether 'pure' altruism is > possible, and I find it quite intriguing. I've just had a thought on > the topic, and I thought it might be worth its own thread, because it > really only applies to Angel (and, somewhat debatably, Wesley), as > opposed to being applicable to the more general question of whether or > not pure altruism is possible in general. > > The main argument against pure altruism seems to be that performing > altruistic acts reinforces one's self-image as a good person, and > allows one to feel good about one's self. In general, this strikes me > as an argument with quite a bit of merit to it. > > However, I am not sure it applies in Angel's case, for one reason: I'm > not sure Angel is capable of having a positive self-image for any > lengthy amount of time. Sure, sometimes we see Angel break out of this > -- "I'm Angel. I beat the bad guys." comes to mind. > > But let's be realistic, here. This is Angel. No matter how many > momentary periods of felt-heroism he has, he's going to descend back > into long periods of bleak darkness in which he is absolutely > convinced, to the core of his being, that he is a damned, murderous > monster and no good act he performs will ever change that. > > And he keeps performing good acts anyway. Not because they make him > feel like a good person, because quite often, they don't. He does them > because they're the right thing to do. > > This was summed up really well in "Hellbound," I thought. > > ---- > > ANGEL > You think any of it matters? The things we did? The lives we > destroyed. That's all that's ever gonna count. So, yeah, surprise. > You're going to hell. We both are. > > SPIKE > Then why even bother? Try to do the right thing, make a difference... > > ANGEL > What else are we gonna do? > > ---- > > I wonder if Angel's despair doesn't actually give him the capacity for > real altruism in a way a more well-adjusted person wouldn't be able to > manage... If your good actions *don't* make you feel better about > yourself as a person, and you keep doing good things anyway, what > motive other than altruism is left? > > --Sam For Angel the chance to erase everything he's done. It was summed up during the Jasmine arc. Jasmine makes the remard about Angel still not being human and he says, "Working on it." Ever since S1 and the shanshu revelation everything Angel does is suspect. Is he doing it because it's going to possibly get him some big reward in the end. Does he do it because it's what's expected of him by first sending Doyle than Cordy to guide him. He might feel doing what he does won't keep him out of hell but it may make it possible to circumvent that one way trip. Jul

2004-04-08 18:39:07-07:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (himiko@animail.net)


sam_14042@yahoo.com (Sam) wrote in message news:<21ced21e.0404081403.45b7c0ef@posting.google.com>... > I've been reading the discussion of whether 'pure' altruism is > possible, and I find it quite intriguing. I've just had a thought on > the topic, and I thought it might be worth its own thread, because it > really only applies to Angel (and, somewhat debatably, Wesley), as > opposed to being applicable to the more general question of whether or > not pure altruism is possible in general. > > The main argument against pure altruism seems to be that performing > altruistic acts reinforces one's self-image as a good person, and > allows one to feel good about one's self. In general, this strikes me > as an argument with quite a bit of merit to it. > > However, I am not sure it applies in Angel's case, for one reason: I'm > not sure Angel is capable of having a positive self-image for any > lengthy amount of time. Sure, sometimes we see Angel break out of this > -- "I'm Angel. I beat the bad guys." comes to mind. > > But let's be realistic, here. This is Angel. No matter how many > momentary periods of felt-heroism he has, he's going to descend back > into long periods of bleak darkness in which he is absolutely > convinced, to the core of his being, that he is a damned, murderous > monster and no good act he performs will ever change that. > > And he keeps performing good acts anyway. Not because they make him > feel like a good person, because quite often, they don't. He does them > because they're the right thing to do. > > This was summed up really well in "Hellbound," I thought. > > ---- > > ANGEL > You think any of it matters? The things we did? The lives we > destroyed. That's all that's ever gonna count. So, yeah, surprise. > You're going to hell. We both are. > > SPIKE > Then why even bother? Try to do the right thing, make a difference... > > ANGEL > What else are we gonna do? > > ---- > > I wonder if Angel's despair doesn't actually give him the capacity for > real altruism in a way a more well-adjusted person wouldn't be able to > manage... If your good actions *don't* make you feel better about > yourself as a person, and you keep doing good things anyway, what > motive other than altruism is left? > > --Sam Despair? Of course, that's also what led to Darla boinkage, Connor, and well, you know. So you can't be altruistic unless you are chronically depressed and totally lacking in any sense of self-worth? Sadly, I think you may be right...about Angel (and maybe Wes) and about altruism generally. Altruism isn't a normal human state of mind and may well not be healthy. For myself, I hope Angel (and maybe Wes) is able to cease being altruistic and finds redemption (maybe all shanshu means is developing some sense of self-worth) before the series ends. Given Joss, however, I wouldn't bet on it. himiko

2004-04-08 23:42:37-05:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (Laz <eat@joes.diner>)


On Thu, 08 Apr 2004 18:39:07 -0700, himiko wrote: > So you can't be altruistic unless you are chronically depressed and > totally lacking in any sense of self-worth? Sadly, I think you may be > right...about Angel (and maybe Wes) and about altruism generally. Altruism is most certainly possible in a happy, healthy person. It's just that you can't demonstrate beyond doubt that altruism was the only motive for an act unless it was Angel doing it (or somebody else who was chronically depressed and totally lacking in any sense of self-worth). The fact that other motives are imaginable does not prove that altruism wasn't the motive for something, and it most certainly does not prove that altruism is non-existent in normal, healthy people. > Altruism isn't a normal human state of mind and may well not > be healthy. You say that as if it's established fact. It is, of course, merely an opinion. There is another school of thought that says altruism is the healthiest, most advanced state of mind a human can attain, as altruism is the emotion that most strongly promotes the continued existence of the human race. Altruism might be rare, but that's very different from not existing at all. The fact that it's difficult or impossible to prove its existence doesn't prove anything at all. Absence of proof is not proof of absence. -- Laz

2004-04-09 06:43:44+00:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (aej17DELETEME@comcast.net)


Laz <eat@joes.diner> wrote: > On Thu, 08 Apr 2004 18:39:07 -0700, himiko wrote: > > >> So you can't be altruistic unless you are chronically depressed and >> totally lacking in any sense of self-worth? Sadly, I think you may be >> right...about Angel (and maybe Wes) and about altruism generally. > > Altruism is most certainly possible in a happy, healthy person. It's just > that you can't demonstrate beyond doubt that altruism was the only motive > for an act unless it was Angel doing it (or somebody else who was > chronically depressed and totally lacking in any sense of self-worth). How do you know that altruism is possible in any sort of person? I'm not saying that it isn't (I don't tend to believe that humans are capable of altruism, but that's neither here nor there), but what evidence is there that it *is* possible? > The fact that other motives are imaginable does not prove that altruism > wasn't the motive for something, and it most certainly does not prove that > altruism is non-existent in normal, healthy people. That's true. But still, there doesn't seem to be much evidence for altruism. >> Altruism isn't a normal human state of mind and may well not >> be healthy. > > You say that as if it's established fact. It is, of course, merely an > opinion. Of course it's an opinion. But it also reflects not only present human condition, but also human history. > There is another school of thought that says altruism is the > healthiest, most advanced state of mind a human can attain, as altruism is > the emotion that most strongly promotes the continued existence of the > human race. No, people having lots of sex with other people is what most strongly promotes the continued existence of the human race. > Altruism might be rare, but that's very different from not existing > at all. The fact that it's difficult or impossible to prove its existence > doesn't prove anything at all. Absence of proof is not proof of absence. You are correct: Absence of proof is not proof of absence. However, it is also true that a lack of evidence to the contrary does not show something to be true. -- AE Jabbour "If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do." - Angel, "Epiphany"

2004-04-09 11:35:15-07:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (igs622001@yahoo.com)


sam_14042@yahoo.com (Sam) wrote in message news:<21ced21e.0404081403.45b7c0ef@posting.google.com>... > The main argument against pure altruism seems to be that performing > altruistic acts reinforces one's self-image as a good person, and > allows one to feel good about one's self. In general, this strikes me > as an argument with quite a bit of merit to it. Perhaps it's a definitional thing. If we define "altruism" to exclude any act which might potentially result in some benefit, concious or subconcious, on the person doing the act, regardless of motive, then I agree that the position has some merit. It's almost impossible to imagine an act which cannot, in some way, however remote, result in a benefit to the person undertaking it.

2004-04-09 15:04:31-07:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (himiko@animail.net)


igs622001@yahoo.com (Ian) wrote in message news:<5aa58763.0404091035.44862e05@posting.google.com>... > sam_14042@yahoo.com (Sam) wrote in message news:<21ced21e.0404081403.45b7c0ef@posting.google.com>... > > > The main argument against pure altruism seems to be that performing > > altruistic acts reinforces one's self-image as a good person, and > > allows one to feel good about one's self. In general, this strikes me > > as an argument with quite a bit of merit to it. > > Perhaps it's a definitional thing. > > If we define "altruism" to exclude any act which might potentially > result in some benefit, concious or subconcious, on the person doing > the act, regardless of motive, then I agree that the position has some > merit. It's almost impossible to imagine an act which cannot, in some > way, however remote, result in a benefit to the person undertaking it. Not quite. As LU noted on an earlier thread, the person has to know in some way that the act might be beneficial </LU> and to act, at least partly, for that reason. Subconscious or conscious doesn't really matter, but if the person is acting for some self-interested reason, the act is not altruistic. Personally, I have never known anyone sane who committed even the simplest act for a single reason, let alone an utterly altruistic one. That kind of concentration and detachment from self is simply not mentally healthy...which is what the OP said. himiko

2004-04-09 18:50:49-07:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (igs622001@yahoo.com)


himiko@animail.net (himiko) wrote in message news:<c7902983.0404091404.3f87eb07@posting.google.com>... > igs622001@yahoo.com (Ian) wrote in message news:<5aa58763.0404091035.44862e05@posting.google.com>... > > sam_14042@yahoo.com (Sam) wrote in message news:<21ced21e.0404081403.45b7c0ef@posting.google.com>... > > > > > The main argument against pure altruism seems to be that performing > > > altruistic acts reinforces one's self-image as a good person, and > > > allows one to feel good about one's self. In general, this strikes me > > > as an argument with quite a bit of merit to it. > > > > Perhaps it's a definitional thing. > > > > If we define "altruism" to exclude any act which might potentially > > result in some benefit, concious or subconcious, on the person doing > > the act, regardless of motive, then I agree that the position has some > > merit. It's almost impossible to imagine an act which cannot, in some > > way, however remote, result in a benefit to the person undertaking it. > > Not quite. As LU noted on an earlier thread, the person has to know > in some way that the act might be beneficial </LU> and to act, at > least partly, for that reason. Subconscious or conscious doesn't > really matter, but if the person is acting for some self-interested > reason, the act is not altruistic. By that definition, then, I act altruistically when I hold open the door for someone who has their hands full. > Personally, I have never known anyone sane who committed even the > simplest act for a single reason, let alone an utterly altruistic one. I guess that makes me something other than sane, then. I don't think all acts are based on complex motivations. Certain, a simple act such as holding the door open for someone does not require anything other than a simple desire to help someone out.

2004-04-09 22:50:25-07:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (himiko@animail.net)


igs622001@yahoo.com (Ian) wrote in message news:<5aa58763.0404091750.7744e97c@posting.google.com>... > himiko@animail.net (himiko) wrote in message news:<c7902983.0404091404.3f87eb07@posting.google.com>... > > > igs622001@yahoo.com (Ian) wrote in message news:<5aa58763.0404091035.44862e05@posting.google.com>... > > > > sam_14042@yahoo.com (Sam) wrote in message news:<21ced21e.0404081403.45b7c0ef@posting.google.com>... > > > > > > > The main argument against pure altruism seems to be that performing > > > > altruistic acts reinforces one's self-image as a good person, and > > > > allows one to feel good about one's self. In general, this strikes me > > > > as an argument with quite a bit of merit to it. > > > > > > Perhaps it's a definitional thing. > > > > > > If we define "altruism" to exclude any act which might potentially > > > result in some benefit, concious or subconcious, on the person doing > > > the act, regardless of motive, then I agree that the position has some > > > merit. It's almost impossible to imagine an act which cannot, in some > > > way, however remote, result in a benefit to the person undertaking it. > > > > Not quite. As LU noted on an earlier thread, the person has to know > > in some way that the act might be beneficial </LU> and to act, at > > least partly, for that reason. Subconscious or conscious doesn't > > really matter, but if the person is acting for some self-interested > > reason, the act is not altruistic. > > By that definition, then, I act altruistically when I hold open the > door for someone who has their hands full. > > > > Personally, I have never known anyone sane who committed even the > > simplest act for a single reason, let alone an utterly altruistic one. > > I guess that makes me something other than sane, then. I don't think > all acts are based on complex motivations. Certain, a simple act such > as holding the door open for someone does not require anything other > than a simple desire to help someone out. And they say the unexamined life is not worth living. Well, is it? himiko

2004-04-10 10:51:51-07:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (igs622001@yahoo.com)


himiko@animail.net (himiko) wrote in message news:<c7902983.0404092150.7ef8a528@posting.google.com>... > igs622001@yahoo.com (Ian) wrote in message news:<5aa58763.0404091750.7744e97c@posting.google.com>... > > > Personally, I have never known anyone sane who committed even the > > > simplest act for a single reason, let alone an utterly altruistic one. > > > > I guess that makes me something other than sane, then. I don't think > > all acts are based on complex motivations. Certain, a simple act such > > as holding the door open for someone does not require anything other > > than a simple desire to help someone out. > > And they say the unexamined life is not worth living. Well, is it? So, let me get this straight. Becaues I've thought about what I do and have reached a conclusion which does not coform to your views as to what I'm doing, that must mean that I haven't looked hard enough or given it enough thought. What, are you omniscient? Must be quite a burden.

2004-04-10 12:05:02-07:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (rose322@mailcity.com)


igs622001@yahoo.com (Ian) wrote in message news:<5aa58763.0404091750.7744e97c@posting.google.com>... > himiko@animail.net (himiko) wrote in message news:<c7902983.0404091404.3f87eb07@posting.google.com>... > > > igs622001@yahoo.com (Ian) wrote in message news:<5aa58763.0404091035.44862e05@posting.google.com>... > > > > sam_14042@yahoo.com (Sam) wrote in message news:<21ced21e.0404081403.45b7c0ef@posting.google.com>... > > > > > > > The main argument against pure altruism seems to be that performing > > > > altruistic acts reinforces one's self-image as a good person, and > > > > allows one to feel good about one's self. In general, this strikes me > > > > as an argument with quite a bit of merit to it. > > > > > > Perhaps it's a definitional thing. > > > > > > If we define "altruism" to exclude any act which might potentially > > > result in some benefit, concious or subconcious, on the person doing > > > the act, regardless of motive, then I agree that the position has some > > > merit. It's almost impossible to imagine an act which cannot, in some > > > way, however remote, result in a benefit to the person undertaking it. > > > > Not quite. As LU noted on an earlier thread, the person has to know > > in some way that the act might be beneficial </LU> and to act, at > > least partly, for that reason. Subconscious or conscious doesn't > > really matter, but if the person is acting for some self-interested > > reason, the act is not altruistic. > > By that definition, then, I act altruistically when I hold open the > door for someone who has their hands full. > > > > Personally, I have never known anyone sane who committed even the > > simplest act for a single reason, let alone an utterly altruistic one. > > I guess that makes me something other than sane, then. I don't think > all acts are based on complex motivations. Certain, a simple act such > as holding the door open for someone does not require anything other > than a simple desire to help someone out. Interesting points. When does a simple act of kindness or helpfullness become "Altruism"? I've seen Altruism defined both as "behavior that benefits someone else, with no benefit to one's self" AND "behevior that benefits someone else, at a cost to one's self". A small, but important distiction. I tend to subscribe to the latter (which implies a level of sacrifice) as it would, IMO, make the action more significant. So if, for example, you're getting paid to battle demons and "help the helpless" - even if that "payment" isn't alwyas actual money but might take the form of some sort of future cosmic forgiveness, is it Altruism? In some ways I see Buffy's actions as more Altruistic (even if she was sometimes the reluctant hero) than Angel's. But on the other hand, the argument could be made that, as the "chose one", Altruistic behavior was forced on her, while anything beneficial that Angel does is his choice.

2004-04-10 15:01:22-07:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (himiko@animail.net)


igs622001@yahoo.com (Ian) wrote in message news:<5aa58763.0404100951.691b5ab1@posting.google.com>... > himiko@animail.net (himiko) wrote in message news:<c7902983.0404092150.7ef8a528@posting.google.com>... > > > igs622001@yahoo.com (Ian) wrote in message news:<5aa58763.0404091750.7744e97c@posting.google.com>... > > > > > Personally, I have never known anyone sane who committed even the > > > > simplest act for a single reason, let alone an utterly altruistic one. > > > > > > I guess that makes me something other than sane, then. I don't think > > > all acts are based on complex motivations. Certain, a simple act such > > > as holding the door open for someone does not require anything other > > > than a simple desire to help someone out. > > > > And they say the unexamined life is not worth living. Well, is it? > > So, let me get this straight. Becaues I've thought about what I do > and have reached a conclusion which does not coform to your views as > to what I'm doing, that must mean that I haven't looked hard enough or > given it enough thought. > > What, are you omniscient? > > Must be quite a burden. You have shown no sign of having thought through much of this at all. That is the problem, not your conclusions, but the fact that you provide no reason for your conclusions beyond some silly happy wappy, right off the top of your brain crud. I provided active rebuttal to this already pointing out how this does benefit me and you. I take no credit for this. It's very basic psych/soc. stuff. If you can show me how this does not not benefit you or how that could/does possibly not enter into your decisions, especially now that it's been pointed out to you, I will continue the conversation. Or if you have some other approach than a "well I don't feel that way" response, I'll answer. But this is a total waste of time. himiko (who doesn't normally get this annoyed)

2004-04-10 18:47:23-07:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (igs622001@yahoo.com)


himiko@animail.net (himiko) wrote in message news:<c7902983.0404101401.626b7588@posting.google.com>... > igs622001@yahoo.com (Ian) wrote in message news:<5aa58763.0404100951.691b5ab1@posting.google.com>... > > > And they say the unexamined life is not worth living. Well, is it? > > > > So, let me get this straight. Becaues I've thought about what I do > > and have reached a conclusion which does not coform to your views as > > to what I'm doing, that must mean that I haven't looked hard enough or > > given it enough thought. > > > > What, are you omniscient? > > > > Must be quite a burden. > > You have shown no sign of having thought through much of this at all. If you say so. But, really, my point was a very simple one. I took a very simple, straightforward example of an altruistic act and explained to you why I believe that I acted altruistically. > That is the problem, not your conclusions, but the fact that you > provide no reason for your conclusions beyond some silly happy wappy, > right off the top of your brain crud. Huh? Tell me, how else am I to explain my motivation to you? I know why I hold doors open for people. Really, it's very simple. I know why I do it. I've told you why I do it. If you chose to believe something else, well, that's up to you. > I provided active rebuttal to this already pointing out how this does benefit > me and you. Perhaps this is the source of your evident confusion. I am not arguing that the act of holding the door open for someone is not potentially of benefit to others. In fact, I don't doubt that it could be, if in no other way but to foster a general sense of consideration and empathy for others. I don't dispute that. However, the topic under consideration is motivation. In the case of this specific example, motivation for holding the door open for someone. To the extent that I am aware of my motivation for doing it, I know that my motives are altruistic. I'm not undertaking the act out of any expectation of benefit for myself, but, rather, to assist the person who requires assistance. That is my motivation. That's why I do it. If you chose to believe otherwise, well, that's up to you. > If you can show me how this does not not benefit you or how that > could/does possibly not enter into your decisions, especially now that > it's been pointed out to you, I will continue the conversation. Or if > you have some other approach than a "well I don't feel that way" > response, I'll answer. But this is a total waste of time. Then I guess it's a waste of time. As to the first point, I don't dispute that the act might not be of benefit to me in some sense. As to the second point, I can do no better than explain to you what my motivation is. If you don't want to believe it, then that's up to you.

2004-04-10 18:52:33-07:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (igs622001@yahoo.com)


rose322@mailcity.com (~~Rose~~) wrote in message news:<c9f9adf1.0404101105.7a4cd4d7@posting.google.com>... > igs622001@yahoo.com (Ian) wrote in message news:<5aa58763.0404091750.7744e97c@posting.google.com>... > > By that definition, then, I act altruistically when I hold open the > > door for someone who has their hands full. > > > > > > > Personally, I have never known anyone sane who committed even the > > > simplest act for a single reason, let alone an utterly altruistic one. > > > > I guess that makes me something other than sane, then. I don't think > > all acts are based on complex motivations. Certain, a simple act such > > as holding the door open for someone does not require anything other > > than a simple desire to help someone out. > > Interesting points. When does a simple act of kindness or helpfullness > become "Altruism"? I've seen Altruism defined both as "behavior that > benefits someone else, with no benefit to one's self" AND "behevior > that benefits someone else, at a cost to one's self". A small, but > important distiction. I tend to subscribe to the latter (which implies > a level of sacrifice) as it would, IMO, make the action more > significant. That is an important distinction, I agree. However, on a more fundamental level, to the extent that we are talking about altruism as it relates to motivation, I'd rephrase your definitions as follows: 1. behavior that benefits someone else, with no expectation of benefit to one's self; and 2. behaviour that benefits someone else, undertaken with the expectation of cost to one's self. I don't think that unexpected consequences should change the nature of the act.

2004-04-10 23:51:01-07:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (himiko@animail.net)


rose322@mailcity.com (~~Rose~~) wrote in message news:<c9f9adf1.0404101105.7a4cd4d7@posting.google.com>... > > Interesting points. When does a simple act of kindness or helpfullness > become "Altruism"? I've seen Altruism defined both as "behavior that > benefits someone else, with no benefit to one's self" AND "behevior > that benefits someone else, at a cost to one's self". A small, but > important distiction. I tend to subscribe to the latter (which implies > a level of sacrifice) as it would, IMO, make the action more > significant. I agree there's a scale, but is there really a difference? I mean, what sort of act can you think of that does benefit one person with "no" cost to another? I can't think of one. Not the door example, that's for sure. I recently had an experience with the door example. A student suddenly apologised to me saying "Sorry I didn't get the door for you this morning, but I was late for class." It took me a moment to track his reference because it was very much no big deal, but I got it. Earlier, I had been struggling with my books, my coffee, and a (as usual) non-functional automatic door. I wound up having to balance my coffee on the books while I got the door open and wedged it with my foot before salvaging the now dangerously unbalanced coffee and getting all of us through the door with foot and shoulder...it's one of my skill areas. This student had zipped by me through another door. Sounds very complicated when you write it out, but it wasn't. It took maybe a few seconds and it's easy to say neither of us thought much about it...except that obviously we did since we both remembered it. The student remembered it as an event when he could have done something that would have benefitted him; aside from the whole social benefit thing, he's in my class. He also remembers weighing that against the non-benefit of being late to someone else's class. He chose against helping me and for being on time. Then he tried to hedge his bets by apologising and explaining how and why the cost to him would have been more than it might seem. Good decisions all. Was I standing there plotting to give him an F for failing to help me? Not in the least. I saw him and it did occur to me that he might give me a hand, but not in a major way. I could see he was in a hurry and I was actually managing quite well. The apology was frosting on the cake. He's still a good kid in my book. But this is what I mean by thinking these things out. No, we don't consider the benefits to ourselves on a conscious level every time we act, but we do consider them. This kid sure had...and he's not a manipulative monster; he's a normal person who considers benefits and costs to himself when he acts. If he didn't, we'd probably diagnose him as autistic or something. Because there is always a disadvantage to oneself in even tiny acts of kindness...that's why we call them kindnesses, because people take trouble to do something nice they didn't need to do. In the case of the door, the cost to the young man would have been being late to class. For anyone, there would have been a cost in time, also the risk (I might be a looney who resents being helped with doors or demand further assistance) of dealing with an unknown person, and the very minimal chance that the door would harm them in some way. That is why I question the idea that any act of kindness, however small, can be said to be done without at least considering possible benefits and costs to ourselves. That is also why I question whether there is a real difference in the question you're asking. If there is no act that does not involve at least a potential cost, then we're really talking about a sliding scale here. The difference between taking a few seconds to help someone with a door and dying to save the world are, obviously, opposite ends of the spectrum, but i think it is a spectrum with lots of smaller trade-offs along the way. How big does the cost have to be to be for the act to be considered heroic? How big does the benefit to others have to be? And where do we draw that line? > > In some ways I see Buffy's actions as more Altruistic (even if she was > sometimes the reluctant hero) than Angel's. But on the other hand, the > argument could be made that, as the "chose one", Altruistic behavior > was forced on her, while anything beneficial that Angel does is his > choice. True, but Buffy eventually went mad making those choices, trying to live up to Giles's vision of her "altruism" as well as her own doubts about the ethics of slaying. She finally reached some sort of accommodation with her situation by focusing on small rewards like flowerpiphany sisterhood, friendship, and even her vexed relationship with Spike. Ever since S5, she has actively sought solutions that offered some benefit to herself as well as to others. Her final solution in sharing the power of the slayer, thus freeing herself from total responsibility, was a classic case in point. Angel, OTOH, demonstrably is not altruistic except when in total despair. When he feels better, he fights to keep those he loves, for shanshu, or even for some other form of redemption like just being able to feel good about himself (a reprieve from hell). For a large part of this season, however, he has been altruistic. He has been in total despair, feeling nothing can ever work out right for him, but doing "good" because he has nothing else to do. That hasn't really worked out too well for him. Good thing he has Cordy and Spike (and maybe Nina) to get him back on track. himiko

2004-04-11 23:09:13-04:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (The Babaloughesian <me@privacy.net>)


"Ian" <igs622001@yahoo.com> wrote in message news:5aa58763.0404091750.7744e97c@posting.google.com... > himiko@animail.net (himiko) wrote in message news:<c7902983.0404091404.3f87eb07@posting.google.com>... > > > igs622001@yahoo.com (Ian) wrote in message news:<5aa58763.0404091035.44862e05@posting.google.com>... > > > > sam_14042@yahoo.com (Sam) wrote in message news:<21ced21e.0404081403.45b7c0ef@posting.google.com>... > > > > > > > The main argument against pure altruism seems to be that performing > > > > altruistic acts reinforces one's self-image as a good person, and > > > > allows one to feel good about one's self. In general, this strikes me > > > > as an argument with quite a bit of merit to it. > > > > > > Perhaps it's a definitional thing. > > > > > > If we define "altruism" to exclude any act which might potentially > > > result in some benefit, concious or subconcious, on the person doing > > > the act, regardless of motive, then I agree that the position has some > > > merit. It's almost impossible to imagine an act which cannot, in some > > > way, however remote, result in a benefit to the person undertaking it. > > > > Not quite. As LU noted on an earlier thread, the person has to know > > in some way that the act might be beneficial </LU> and to act, at > > least partly, for that reason. Subconscious or conscious doesn't > > really matter, but if the person is acting for some self-interested > > reason, the act is not altruistic. > > By that definition, then, I act altruistically when I hold open the > door for someone who has their hands full. > > > > Personally, I have never known anyone sane who committed even the > > simplest act for a single reason, let alone an utterly altruistic one. > > I guess that makes me something other than sane, then. I don't think > all acts are based on complex motivations. Certain, a simple act such > as holding the door open for someone does not require anything other > than a simple desire to help someone out. Right. And why do you have the desire to help someone out? Were you born with it?

2004-04-12 01:42:52-04:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (The Babaloughesian <me@privacy.net>)


"st" <striketoo@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:hp6k709as36lre3t8bofc0ljrf6etd89mc@4ax.com... > On Sun, 11 Apr 2004 23:09:13 -0400, "The Babaloughesian" > <me@privacy.net> wrote: > > >> I guess that makes me something other than sane, then. I don't think > >> all acts are based on complex motivations. Certain, a simple act such > >> as holding the door open for someone does not require anything other > >> than a simple desire to help someone out. > > > >Right. And why do you have the desire to help someone out? Were you born > >with it? > > > > You are unless you were born a sociopath. AFAIK, one can't actually be a sociopath before age 18, by definition, so I'm not sure this dichotomy really solves anything. In any event, why would a person be born with the desire to help others? -- "Consequences dictate our course of action and it doesn't matter what's right. It's only wrong if you get caught." -Tool, "Jerk-Off"

2004-04-12 07:16:43+00:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (aej17DELETEME@comcast.net)


st <striketoo@hotmail.com> wrote: > > Exactly. Its instinctive. Children do it, animals do it. Helping > others is what 'social animals' do. Its a 'survival' mechanism. > Empathy demands it. And unless you have no empathy...... sociopath... > then that is how you are hardwired to act. Examples? I don't think that your assertions are correct. Animals do not, generally, act out of empathy for one and other. Children, also, do not generally act out of empathy for one and other. > Some people are certainly more altruistic than others, but its an > instinctive behavior, not limited to humans. Again, examples? > Now if you want to say 'if its a survival mechanism then its not > altruism', sorry that's just wrong. Because altruism just describes > doing something that is good for another and not for you.... Altruism is not a survival mechanism. That's true. > If one looks at the 'big picture' or believes in karma or something, > you can certainly 'justify' altruistic actions, but that's not why > people do them. People just do them because we evolved that way. > Because as a species we survive better when we do, and its only those > who survive that can pass on traits. That doesn't make that trait > anything other than what it is. How do we "survive better" as a result of altruistic actions? How does my saving someone else's life help the genetic desire I have to spread my genes? It doesn't. > Altruistic behavior is not rational behavior. With our human > intellect, things can get murky very fast, but some times survival > demands quick unthinking action .... This is why most people who act > heroically say things like 'I just did it', 'anyone would have done > it', and such, because there was no rational decision making process > involved. They did just do it. That's altruism. As soon as you start > thinking about the relative merits of this or that action and weighing > the consequences it cannot be purely altruistic, although from the > outside it can be indistinguishable from the 'real' thing. > > st Whether or not altruism actually exists is a question. Certainly, we tend to want to believe that it does. However, that doesn't make it true. Human beings are like other animals in some ways, and unlike them in others. We want to mate with a healthy mate, and hopefully do a good job of spreading our genetic material. We, generally, have a strong sense of self-preservation. In other ways, though, we aren't that alike other animals. We wrap our actions and our existence in all sorts of intellectual and emotional baggage. Especially in the modern world, we attempt to lift everyone to some exalted level, wehre each life is so completely important. It wasn't so long ago in human history that such an idea would have been greeted with disdain. People are people. Most people are fairly decent, since they have been trained to be, and they fear ostracization if they act outside acceptable bounds. But even regular, average, everyday people can be turned into monsters (cf. Rwanda, the Balkans, Cambodia, WWII, etc.). Peoples' minds can easily be tinkered with, manipulated. The larger a group of people, the more odd the actions of each individual in that group. The individual's fear of being ostracized is the most potent force in most peoples' lives. -- AE Jabbour "If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do." - Angel, "Epiphany"

2004-04-12 08:19:17-07:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (igs622001@yahoo.com)


"The Babaloughesian" <me@privacy.net> wrote in message news:<c5d18t$ahrd$1@ID-177202.news.uni-berlin.de>... > "Ian" <igs622001@yahoo.com> wrote in message > news:5aa58763.0404091750.7744e97c@posting.google.com... > > I guess that makes me something other than sane, then. I don't think > > all acts are based on complex motivations. Certain, a simple act such > > as holding the door open for someone does not require anything other > > than a simple desire to help someone out. > > Right. And why do you have the desire to help someone out? Were you born > with it? In response, I'll cut and paste a portion of what I posted on another, related thread, as follows: My dictionary defines altruism as "regard for others as a principle of action". The particular act I used as an example - holding the door open for someone who has their hands full - is a simple example. However, I can say with some certainty that my motive in doing so is altruistic. I'm not acting out of some profound moral obligation and I am not undertaking some great, charitable act. It's a simple act and one which I do for altruistic motives. Given that I understand my motivation, why would I need to discuss or rebutt other possible interpretations? I'm not speculating about the motivations of others, I'm telling you why I do it. Now, there may be any host of reasons why I feel that holding the door open for someone is altruistic. It may be that I'm conditioned by society to feel that way. It may be that I was brought up by my parents to feel that way. It may be that I have a "polite door opening" gene in my underlying genetic makeup. I don't know. But none of those explanations makes my motivation any less altrusitic. At best, it explains why I feel it's altruistic.

2004-04-12 08:27:47-04:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (The Babaloughesian <me@privacy.net>)


It seems you've jumped ahead and made my argument for me, despite that semantics issue of the definition of altruism. "st" <striketoo@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:4pdk709hll5pmgd9947ffgq28ouv6h6qa5@4ax.com... > On Mon, 12 Apr 2004 01:42:52 -0400, "The Babaloughesian" > <me@privacy.net> wrote: > > > > >"st" <striketoo@hotmail.com> wrote in message > >news:hp6k709as36lre3t8bofc0ljrf6etd89mc@4ax.com... > >> On Sun, 11 Apr 2004 23:09:13 -0400, "The Babaloughesian" > >> <me@privacy.net> wrote: > >> > >> >> I guess that makes me something other than sane, then. I don't think > >> >> all acts are based on complex motivations. Certain, a simple act such > >> >> as holding the door open for someone does not require anything other > >> >> than a simple desire to help someone out. > >> > > >> >Right. And why do you have the desire to help someone out? Were you > >born > >> >with it? > >> > > >> > >> You are unless you were born a sociopath. > > > >AFAIK, one can't actually be a sociopath before age 18, by definition, so > >I'm not sure this dichotomy really solves anything. In any event, why would > >a person be born with the desire to help others? > > Exactly. Its instinctive. Children do it, animals do it. Helping > others is what 'social animals' do. Its a 'survival' mechanism. > Empathy demands it. And unless you have no empathy...... sociopath... > then that is how you are hardwired to act. > > Some people are certainly more altruistic than others, but its an > instinctive behavior, not limited to humans. > > Now if you want to say 'if its a survival mechanism then its not > altruism', sorry that's just wrong. Because altruism just describes > doing something that is good for another and not for you.... > > If one looks at the 'big picture' or believes in karma or something, > you can certainly 'justify' altruistic actions, but that's not why > people do them. People just do them because we evolved that way. > Because as a species we survive better when we do, and its only those > who survive that can pass on traits. That doesn't make that trait > anything other than what it is. > > Altruistic behavior is not rational behavior. With our human > intellect, things can get murky very fast, but some times survival > demands quick unthinking action .... This is why most people who act > heroically say things like 'I just did it', 'anyone would have done > it', and such, because there was no rational decision making process > involved. They did just do it. That's altruism. As soon as you start > thinking about the relative merits of this or that action and weighing > the consequences it cannot be purely altruistic, although from the > outside it can be indistinguishable from the 'real' thing. > > st > > > -- > "But she was naked, and all articulate!" > - Mal Reynolds, Firefly.

2004-04-12 12:06:23-04:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (The Babaloughesian <me@privacy.net>)


"Ian" <igs622001@yahoo.com> wrote in message news:5aa58763.0404120719.7d36fb5e@posting.google.com... > "The Babaloughesian" <me@privacy.net> wrote in message news:<c5d18t$ahrd$1@ID-177202.news.uni-berlin.de>... > > > "Ian" <igs622001@yahoo.com> wrote in message > > news:5aa58763.0404091750.7744e97c@posting.google.com... > > > > I guess that makes me something other than sane, then. I don't think > > > all acts are based on complex motivations. Certain, a simple act such > > > as holding the door open for someone does not require anything other > > > than a simple desire to help someone out. > > > > Right. And why do you have the desire to help someone out? Were you born > > with it? > > In response, I'll cut and paste a portion of what I posted on another, > related thread, as follows: > > > > My dictionary defines altruism as "regard for others as a principle of > action". Never mind, then.

2004-04-12 13:07:49-04:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (Don Sample <dsample@synapse.net>)


In article <c5dfoq$d35g$1@ID-137314.news.uni-berlin.de>, A.E. Jabbour <aej17DELETEME@comcast.net> wrote: > st <striketoo@hotmail.com> wrote: > > > Now if you want to say 'if its a survival mechanism then its not > > altruism', sorry that's just wrong. Because altruism just describes > > doing something that is good for another and not for you.... > > Altruism is not a survival mechanism. That's true. It is for the species. Just not for individuals. > > If one looks at the 'big picture' or believes in karma or something, > > you can certainly 'justify' altruistic actions, but that's not why > > people do them. People just do them because we evolved that way. > > Because as a species we survive better when we do, and its only those > > who survive that can pass on traits. That doesn't make that trait > > anything other than what it is. > > How do we "survive better" as a result of altruistic actions? How does > my saving someone else's life help the genetic desire I have to > spread my genes? It doesn't. That someone else shares 99.99% or more of your genes. Behaviour in individuals that promotes the survival of other members of their species is something that is evolutionarily beneficial, for the species. -- Don Sample, dsample@synapse.net Visit the Buffy Body Count at http://homepage.mac.com/dsample/ Quando omni flunkus moritati

2004-04-12 14:34:03-04:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (The Babaloughesian <me@privacy.net>)


"st" <striketoo@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:ggll70di47nhrvfsrgi4f3fto15sh3lk3r@4ax.com... > On Mon, 12 Apr 2004 08:27:47 -0400, "The Babaloughesian" > <me@privacy.net> wrote: > > >It seems you've jumped ahead and made my argument for me, despite that > >semantics issue of the definition of altruism. > > This thread has been all about semantics. Then I suppose I didn't realize until now that it was pointless. My apologies for not having read the entire thread. I must've thought I saw Clairel in it at some point and therefore marked a lot of it read. Weird how one's eyes play tricks on them. > People believe certain things so they try and support that belief with > a definition that suits them. > > 1 Humans are basically selfish, so altruism can't exist > Religion/Civilization teaches us to be good to each other > > 2 Humans are basically good, so altruism must exist > Religion/Civilization is just a manifestation of this > > 3 Its impossible to know our motivations so its impossible to know if > altruism exists. > > All of which is complete bullshit. I'd dispute this on a technicality simply because I dispute the existence of knowledge, although I acknowledge reasonable models thereof. > Humans are selfish AND altruistic. Yes. My problem is with those who define altruism and selfisness mutually exclusively, and those who deify the act of not helping oneself as some perverse sort of good. I think that altruism on an individual level is a manifestation of selfishness on a genetic level and that this fact does not diminish from altruism or make humans good or bad. It just makes them puppets, which should come as no surprise.

2004-04-12 14:36:45-04:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (The Babaloughesian <me@privacy.net>)


"Don Sample" <dsample@synapse.net> wrote in message news:120420041307495854%dsample@synapse.net... > In article <c5dfoq$d35g$1@ID-137314.news.uni-berlin.de>, A.E. Jabbour > <aej17DELETEME@comcast.net> wrote: > > > st <striketoo@hotmail.com> wrote: > > > > > Now if you want to say 'if its a survival mechanism then its not > > > altruism', sorry that's just wrong. Because altruism just describes > > > doing something that is good for another and not for you.... > > > > Altruism is not a survival mechanism. That's true. > > It is for the species. Just not for individuals. It is for the genes. The survival of the species is a beneficial side effect to the survival of genes. Enlightened self interest. > > > > > If one looks at the 'big picture' or believes in karma or something, > > > you can certainly 'justify' altruistic actions, but that's not why > > > people do them. People just do them because we evolved that way. > > > Because as a species we survive better when we do, and its only those > > > who survive that can pass on traits. That doesn't make that trait > > > anything other than what it is. > > > > How do we "survive better" as a result of altruistic actions? How does > > my saving someone else's life help the genetic desire I have to > > spread my genes? It doesn't. > > That someone else shares 99.99% or more of your genes. Behaviour in > individuals that promotes the survival of other members of their > species is something that is evolutionarily beneficial, for the > species. Damn you, I was going to talk about kin selection, but you beat me to it. I can still elaborate and perhaps fuck it up though, because I know that he will dispute the claim that that someone shares that percentage of a person's genes, because it is in fact wrong. Well, that's not why he'll dispute it, but it's why I will. Even a person's own mother only shares 50%, I think. But that's just a nitpick. The fact is that altruistic behavior has evolved and often we engage in it even when the person, for example, belongs to a race which spent most of its time on an entirely different continent than the majority of our own family tree. Why? Obsolete programming that we cannot remove from our systems because the proper genes have proliferated too widely and because they have influenced the creation of human culture, which reinforces so-called altruism on a level directly accessible to the conscious mind. We are enslaved from within and from without. -- Those who hide parts of the truth with deceptively simplistic claims should be stabbed and drained, their idealistic agendas notwithstanding. Let the streets flow red with their blood. Knee deep. A glorious river bestowing strength and wisdom.

2004-04-12 15:22:35-07:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (igs622001@yahoo.com)


"The Babaloughesian" <me@privacy.net> wrote in message news:<c5eeq1$nsld$1@ID-177202.news.uni-berlin.de>... > "Ian" <igs622001@yahoo.com> wrote in message > news:5aa58763.0404120719.7d36fb5e@posting.google.com... > > "The Babaloughesian" <me@privacy.net> wrote in message > news:<c5d18t$ahrd$1@ID-177202.news.uni-berlin.de>... > > > > > "Ian" <igs622001@yahoo.com> wrote in message > > > news:5aa58763.0404091750.7744e97c@posting.google.com... > > > > > I guess that makes me something other than sane, then. I don't think > > > > all acts are based on complex motivations. Certain, a simple act such > > > > as holding the door open for someone does not require anything other > > > > than a simple desire to help someone out. > > > > > > Right. And why do you have the desire to help someone out? Were you > born > > > with it? > > > > In response, I'll cut and paste a portion of what I posted on another, > > related thread, as follows: > > > > > > > > My dictionary defines altruism as "regard for others as a principle of > > action". > > Never mind, then. Heh. OK.

2004-04-12 16:43:37-04:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (Don Sample <dsample@synapse.net>)


In article <c5enk0$qv7p$1@ID-177202.news.uni-berlin.de>, The Babaloughesian <me@privacy.net> wrote: > "Don Sample" <dsample@synapse.net> wrote in message > news:120420041307495854%dsample@synapse.net... > > In article <c5dfoq$d35g$1@ID-137314.news.uni-berlin.de>, A.E. Jabbour > > <aej17DELETEME@comcast.net> wrote: > > > > > st <striketoo@hotmail.com> wrote: > > > > > > If one looks at the 'big picture' or believes in karma or something, > > > > you can certainly 'justify' altruistic actions, but that's not why > > > > people do them. People just do them because we evolved that way. > > > > Because as a species we survive better when we do, and its only those > > > > who survive that can pass on traits. That doesn't make that trait > > > > anything other than what it is. > > > > > > How do we "survive better" as a result of altruistic actions? How does > > > my saving someone else's life help the genetic desire I have to > > > spread my genes? It doesn't. > > > > That someone else shares 99.99% or more of your genes. Behaviour in > > individuals that promotes the survival of other members of their > > species is something that is evolutionarily beneficial, for the > > species. > > Damn you, I was going to talk about kin selection, but you beat me to it. I > can still elaborate and perhaps fuck it up though, because I know that he > will dispute the claim that that someone shares that percentage of a > person's genes, because it is in fact wrong. Well, that's not why he'll > dispute it, but it's why I will. Even a person's own mother only shares > 50%, I think. But that's just a nitpick. The fact is that altruistic > behavior has evolved and often we engage in it even when the person, for > example, belongs to a race which spent most of its time on an entirely > different continent than the majority of our own family tree. Why? > Obsolete programming that we cannot remove from our systems because the > proper genes have proliferated too widely and because they have influenced > the creation of human culture, which reinforces so-called altruism on a > level directly accessible to the conscious mind. We are enslaved from > within and from without. We get 50% of our DNA from each parent, but, for the most part, that DNA is identical. The actual variations between individuals in a species are tiny. The bulk of our DNA contains the basic design for bone, muscle, skin, etc. tissue, and then how to put all those together into something that is human shaped. There is only a tiny amount of variation that accounts for the differences between individules. We share 98-99% of our DNA with chimps and the other apes. -- Don Sample, dsample@synapse.net Visit the Buffy Body Count at http://homepage.mac.com/dsample/ Quando omni flunkus moritati

2004-04-13 02:08:07-04:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (Don Sample <dsample@synapse.net>)


In article <c5ftch$15m7j$1@ID-137314.news.uni-berlin.de>, A.E. Jabbour <aej17DELETEME@comcast.net> wrote: > st <striketoo@hotmail.com> wrote: > > On 13 Apr 2004 02:22:52 GMT, aej17DELETEME@comcast.net (A.E. Jabbour) > > wrote: > > > >>If man were truely caring to the degree of being altruistic, then > >>communism would be man's natural state. > > > > How about this leap in logic, you are assuming that man has to be > > altruistic ALL THE TIME in order to be altruistic. > > > > Thats just not so. I gave a very clear example of a basic form or > > altruism after you asked for one and you dismissed it without even > > addressing it directly... but thanks for playing. > > Actually, I didn't think that that was an example of altruism at all. > > But you were arguing that man is inherently capable of altruism. I > am curious as to what makes you believe that. It seems to me that > all evidence points to the contrary. That is partially because history works kinda like the TV news. "If it bleeds, it leads." People being nice to each other doesn't get mentioned much. And even in our bloodier activities, there is altruism. Soldiers in an army often act altruistically toward their fellows, in the same army. In fact an effective army requires that the soldiers all put the good of their platoon/company/regiment etc above their own personal well being. -- Don Sample, dsample@synapse.net Visit the Buffy Body Count at http://homepage.mac.com/dsample/ Quando omni flunkus moritati

2004-04-13 02:22:52+00:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (aej17DELETEME@comcast.net)


st <striketoo@hotmail.com> wrote: > On 12 Apr 2004 07:16:43 GMT, aej17DELETEME@comcast.net (A.E. Jabbour) > wrote: > >>st <striketoo@hotmail.com> wrote: >>> >>> Exactly. Its instinctive. Children do it, animals do it. Helping >>> others is what 'social animals' do. Its a 'survival' mechanism. >>> Empathy demands it. And unless you have no empathy...... sociopath... >>> then that is how you are hardwired to act. >> >>Examples? > > I googled this in no time: > > http://www.sociology.ox.ac.uk/papers/bateson14-30.pdf > > "The use of the term ?altruism? in sociobiological discussions was > unfortunate because of its moral connotations. The evolutionary > principle can be perceived more clearly, perhaps, when a > non-behavioural example is used. Consider those insects, like wasps, > that are conspicuously marked and unpalatable to their predators. > Birds that eat wasps are unlikely to repeat the experience, since > birds learn quickly. This does not help the wasps that died. However, > in the ancestral condition, the few wasps that were conspicuously > marked were likely to be closely related. Those that died provided > protection for those that survived by making them less prone > to predation. As a consequence, conspicuous yellow and black abdomens > may have spread until all wasps were marked in the same way. It is not > difficult to see how a precisely similar argument can be mounted for > care directed towards close relatives. The point is that the giving > of aid to a relative may evolve simply because the expression of that > character increases the probability that it will recur in later > generations." > > Since humans are social animals we go a step further and treat people > in our 'community' not just relatives in this type of fashion. When > other's see us do this it increases our abilities to mate and > reproduce because its an 'attractive' type of behavior, but its not > due to our intellect, its in spite of our intellect and moral > conditioning. Talk about making huge leaps in logic ... I cannot understand how any reading of the history of the human experience could lead one to the conclusion that man has, inherent in his design, any significant care for his fellow man. For most of human history (including much of the present, in many places) human life was not valued very highly. It is impossible to even begin to contemplate the hideous nature of man's inhumanity to man at any given moment, let alone historically. Our capacity for ugliness and for foul deeds is matched only by our banal attempts to clothe those acts in meaning. Sure, we like to find someone to demonize, a scapegoat upon which we can heap the vast amounts of guilt, a figurehead whose mesmorizing led us all astray. But, for every Caligula, Hitler, or Pol Pot there are the masses whose actions and subservience were necessary for the whole to succeed. Man creates complex systems in order to arrange the actions of individuals in a society: religion, patriotism, loyalty, honor, faith, duty. These sorts of ideals allow for the individual to act within a framework which will reward him with acceptance. If man were truely caring to the degree of being altruistic, then communism would be man's natural state. >>> Now if you want to say 'if its a survival mechanism then its not >>> altruism', sorry that's just wrong. Because altruism just describes >>> doing something that is good for another and not for you.... >> >>Altruism is not a survival mechanism. That's true. > > Thats not what I said. > >>> If one looks at the 'big picture' or believes in karma or something, >>> you can certainly 'justify' altruistic actions, but that's not why >>> people do them. People just do them because we evolved that way. >>> Because as a species we survive better when we do, and its only those >>> who survive that can pass on traits. That doesn't make that trait >>> anything other than what it is. >> >>How do we "survive better" as a result of altruistic actions? How does >>my saving someone else's life help the genetic desire I have to >>spread my genes? It doesn't. > > See above EXAMPLE >>Whether or not altruism actually exists is a question. > > No its not. Well, I consider it a matter which is beyond our present ability to prove. >>Certainly, >>we tend to want to believe that it does. However, that doesn't >>make it true. > > I couldn't care less whether it exists, it does, period. So what? It does? I'm not convinced, at all. I am not saying it doesn't, however. I am saying that I don't know. I think that's all we can say. >>The individual's fear of being ostracized is the most potent force >>in most peoples' lives. > > Hardly. That may be true of some kids in highschool, but its hardly > true across the board of human experience. It is not only "true across the board of human experience," it DEFINES human experience. In order to come to a different conclusion, one has to deny almost all of human history, the nature of human interrelationship, and nearly everything one sees on a daily basis.

2004-04-13 05:21:22+00:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (aej17DELETEME@comcast.net)


st <striketoo@hotmail.com> wrote: > On 13 Apr 2004 02:22:52 GMT, aej17DELETEME@comcast.net (A.E. Jabbour) > wrote: > >>If man were truely caring to the degree of being altruistic, then >>communism would be man's natural state. > > How about this leap in logic, you are assuming that man has to be > altruistic ALL THE TIME in order to be altruistic. > > Thats just not so. I gave a very clear example of a basic form or > altruism after you asked for one and you dismissed it without even > addressing it directly... but thanks for playing. Actually, I didn't think that that was an example of altruism at all. But you were arguing that man is inherently capable of altruism. I am curious as to what makes you believe that. It seems to me that all evidence points to the contrary. -- AE Jabbour "If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do." - Angel, "Epiphany"

2004-04-13 06:54:25+00:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (aej17DELETEME@comcast.net)


st <striketoo@hotmail.com> wrote: > On 13 Apr 2004 05:21:22 GMT, aej17DELETEME@comcast.net (A.E. Jabbour) > wrote: > >>Actually, I didn't think that that was an example of altruism at all. > > You asked for an example, I got you one. > > I supplied an example with a reference that explicitly defines it as > altruism. > > And you have supplied nothing to contradict it. > > You simply called it a leap in logic and then ranted on about human > history. If you are not even going to address the very things you ask > me to supply, I don't see any reason to put forth the effort. Its as > simple as that. This is what you wrote: <quote> Since humans are social animals we go a step further and treat people in our 'community' not just relatives in this type of fashion. When other's see us do this it increases our abilities to mate and reproduce because its an 'attractive' type of behavior, but its not due to our intellect, its in spite of our intellect and moral conditioning. </quote> I have no idea what that has to do with "altruism." Firstly, acting nicely in a community has no effect at all on the ease of mating. Mating doesn't require "attractive" behavior. Mating requires sexual intercourse, which, on its own, has nothing to do with being attractive. It has to do with strength, and it has to do with arrangements, and it has to do with choices having nothing to do with decency or attractiveness. Whenever people are "decent" to one and other inside a community, it has a lot mroe to do with fear of ostracization than it does with choosing to be excellent to one and other, a la Bill and Ted. I'm not sure what the point is which you are trying to make, to be honest. -- AE Jabbour "If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do." - Angel, "Epiphany"

2004-04-13 07:02:34+00:00 - Re: Angel and Altruism - (aej17DELETEME@comcast.net)


Don Sample <dsample@synapse.net> wrote: > In article <c5ftch$15m7j$1@ID-137314.news.uni-berlin.de>, A.E. Jabbour > <aej17DELETEME@comcast.net> wrote: >> >> Actually, I didn't think that that was an example of altruism at all. >> >> But you were arguing that man is inherently capable of altruism. I >> am curious as to what makes you believe that. It seems to me that >> all evidence points to the contrary. > > That is partially because history works kinda like the TV news. "If it > bleeds, it leads." People being nice to each other doesn't get > mentioned much. > > And even in our bloodier activities, there is altruism. Soldiers in an > army often act altruistically toward their fellows, in the same army. > In fact an effective army requires that the soldiers all put the good > of their platoon/company/regiment etc above their own personal well > being. I don't think that the army example is an example of altruism. As to your point about history, I very much disagree. It's not simply that we hear more about the atrocities. We see it every, single day. Man mistreats his fellow man on a regular basis. It is the nature of this particular beast. I honestly believe that, at least most of the time, when people are nice to each other it is because of some other cause. We are trained, from the time when we are children, to do what is "right." We sometimes act in that fashion, and sometimes we don't. If you train a dog well enough, she will do whatever it is she is supposed to do, on command. People are not particularly different. We like to think that we are, but we aren't. -- AE Jabbour "If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do." - Angel, "Epiphany"