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Altruism, is is possible?


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#1 anasuya

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Posted 22 March 2004 - 05:40 AM

There was something in the "stereotype" thread that made me think of this. A friend and me often argue the validity of altruism, doing kindness for the sake of kindness, without ever expecting anything in return. Most Christians would say that Christ was the only true altruistic person to ever live.

Personally, and call my cynical, but I don't believe this is true. In fact, I believe it's folly to think that any one person, divine heritage or not, can be completely altruistic. Why? Because self-satisfaction is inherent in us all. We give 10.00 to a charity and pat ourselves on the back. It may have been an anonymous donation, and therefore, we aren't publicly rewarded, but we still aren't giving for the sake of giving. We are giving to please ourselves, hence we still get something out of it. I honestly don't believe we do anything for nothing.

Another friend, upon me broaching this subject, always says "That's bulls**t! I help people all the time and get nothing in return, not even a 'thank you' half the time". Okay, perhaps she doesn't get that, but she DOES get a chance to BAD_WORD about it. lol. You have to understand her to know why her actions are never altruistic. She thrives on negativity and depression and believing the world is out to get her. By helping those whom she knows will not appreciate her help, she is giving herself the opportunity to prove her theories right. Hence, it is not for nothing. There is always an ulterior motive to every action we complete.

What do you all think of this?

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#2 anasuya

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Posted 22 March 2004 - 05:44 AM

WOW. Talk about channeling. I just re-read the post and caught the "pregnant dog" remark, which had absolutely nothing to do with what I was talking about. You guys are not going to believe this, but immediately after I posted that, I got a call from a friend who said her dog is pregnant. I really AM psychic. lol. What's funny is that I know the whole "pregnant dog" thing came about because I wrote me a nasty little explative in that sentence... "she does get a chance to b***ch about it", and the board automatically puts something else in it's place. Anyway, I just thought that was quite funny. Now... on to business. lol

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#3 Bridget

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Posted 22 March 2004 - 05:54 AM

Oh my gosh! That is too weird, the whole pregnant dog thing! HA!
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#4 hawkerdriver

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Posted 22 March 2004 - 06:07 AM

I haven't really analyzed why I give.  I actually HATE receiving a thank you or recoginition for my good deeds. It makes me terribly uncomfortable.   I donate because I've been blessed with so much that I spread it around to those who NEED it.  When I donate I think of the receipient, hoping this little thing I do will help them out so they can go on.  I am a strong person, so I'll always make it through.  But others, for whatever reason, may need a little more help, so if I can do it then I do.   My flaw is becoming resentlful when asked to do a giving gesture.  If I do it on my own I'm cool with it.  But if made to feel guilty or pressured, then I get pissy.
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#5 mellilotflower

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Posted 22 March 2004 - 06:09 AM

Altruism- the principle of living and acting for the interests of others or "Intentional voluntary behaviour designed to benifit others." Eisenberg 1990 or Helping behaviour that is motivated by the wish to benifit another...

I can't find any deffinition that requires it to be a completely selfless deed to qualify as altruism.  Altruism is a major psychological study though... they're mystified as to why people help... and try to come up with reasons to qualify helping behaviour and justify it in very selfish terms- at least as far as the socio-biological approach is concerned.  But many feel that these attempts have failed to explain all examples of altruistic behaviour and so I guess that failure could be used to argue that people do act selflessly every now and then...

Going through my psychology folder, I found an example of a man, in a plain reck that landed in the water and he seems to have acted in a selfless way.  He was the first to get hold of the ladder thing dropped down from the rescue helicopter, but he passed it along to those around him first, helping them to safety before him- finally he was the last one still in the water, but the helicopter was full so it had to drop the other passengers off before returning for him... when they got back to the wreck he wasn't there.

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#6 anasuya

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Posted 22 March 2004 - 09:01 AM

Merriam-webster

Altruism "unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others. behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but benefits others of its species."

And, just to clarify, I'm not saying that it's a bad thing or wrong thing to help others, regardless of intention, I just don't believe it's humanly possible to give without the subonscious (at least) condition that you'll receive self-satisfaction for doing so. After all... who doesn't feel better about helping out others?

Of course, it's all symantics. I'm just curious to see how each individual defines altruism.

And hawkerdriver.... just in case you're ever in the mood to give, feel free to do so to me. lol.

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#7 trudy_causey

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Posted 22 March 2004 - 10:33 AM

hawkerdriver said it all!

#8 MoonChild

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 10:28 AM

... is okay to an extent, but not to be encouraged when the SELF is hurt or badly affected ;D
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#9 whispers_of_fire

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 04:42 PM

KK, I'm basically a nice guy, not perfect and not quite as soft hearted as others might think and I gotta say no, true altruism isn't possible, because we [glow=red,2,300]DO[/glow] want the act acknowledged even if its just a favor for later, there's usually an ulterior motive*snickers*even if its to rub the person's nose in it.

In the Middle Ages, they used to post trumpeters outside of cathedrals and churches where beggers would hang out, especially if the sermon was about charity, but when someone put something in the begging bowl, the trumpeter would blow a fanfare so everyone on the street would know someone had done an act of charity. I know people that look around to be certain they have an audiance before they do something that compassionate :;)
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#10 Justa

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 07:29 PM

I am caught in a conundrum.  How do I tell of the things I have done unselfishly, without looking for rewards and acknowledgement, and still appear unselfish?  LOL

Ok, let's forget that and get to the point.  I agree with Whispers that nobody can be truly altruistic.  We may try our best, but there always comes a time when we slip, and we all like that little pat on the back sometimes.  

Now, back to my original point, oh, nevermind, lets just say that I don't always ask for acknowledgement, and have been known to slip into a crowd or two at an opportune time.  
Doh, see, now I look like I am looking for acknowledgement  *bangs head off of desk*
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#11 anasuya

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Posted 26 March 2004 - 10:53 AM

lol. Justa. I wont judge you. The difference between me and most people is that I'm not afraid to have people know I'm a self-satisfying type of person. I don't see it as wrong or bad. I want to be pleased in life and I want people to be pleased by what I do. It's all very selfish and I'm happy to admit it! Everyone... join in. Just admit it. You know you want to.

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#12 MoonChild

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Posted 26 March 2004 - 10:57 AM

obviously, we are all social animals ;D but what I believe is that the action should be done without worrying about the results. So that means pleasing is good enough, but what is the intention? ;)
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#13 anasuya

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Posted 26 March 2004 - 11:19 AM

Come ON Moon. Just admit it. Admitting is the first step. Embrace your darkness. It's okay. I promise. lol

But, I do agree that intention is important. That's why I made a point of stressing that it's okay to find self-satisfaction in acts of kindness. However, I still don't agree that intention alone constitutes altruistic acts. We might just have to agree to disagree on this one.

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#14 Justa

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Posted 26 March 2004 - 12:23 PM

I know that if you perform something for personal gain, you are considered to be non-altruistic ( I am grasping for terms here..what is the antonym for altruism? )  But does self gratification carry the same weight?
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#15 whispers_of_fire

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Posted 26 March 2004 - 02:24 PM

Hi, Justa,
It does make it kind of hard...and while you weren't looking for acknowledgement from the person who benefited from your act, maybe you thought to yourself "How many people would have done that" or even basked in the warm fuzzy feeling. Are you a horrible person? No...you're a decent human being*Join us! We accept you! One of us! One of us! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
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