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Is genuine altruism possible?

 
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Oct, 2003 05:44 pm
joe, How any individual reacts after the rescue with all the possibilities of what can happen, there is no one answer to your question. Sorry, guy, but you're barking up the wrong tree! I've been baited many times in my life, but you take the cake. Wink
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Craven de Kere
 
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Reply Tue 21 Oct, 2003 11:55 pm
Re: truth
JLNobody wrote:
"Pure," "complete" or "unadulterated" anything makes sense to me only in a laboratory setting.


And actually not even then. "Pure" doesn't exist.
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Eve
 
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Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2003 12:27 am
I think Mother Theresa demonstrated that true altruism is possible.
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skotup1
 
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Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2003 02:35 am
Ceili, what u wrote just made me laugh, like accually in real life... dunno y now

"before you write words like 'duh'..." hahahha, thats so funny for some reason
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skotup1
 
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Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2003 02:47 am
eve, mother therese was doin it for her place in heaven, to be look up at, prolly looking for that second miracle for saint hood. there is always a reward for everything we do. Everything we do, we do for better quality of life/after life and survivability.
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Ceili
 
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Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2003 04:13 am
Glad I made you smile. I was trying to get you to be a bit more cerebral. It makes for tough reading when you have to plow through drivel with an attitude.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2003 04:34 am
"Drivel with an attitude" . . . now there's a fine turn of phrase.

I think what we're seeing here is on the scale of religious belief. Those who have a cynical attitude toward human behavior and its motivations are not about to give up the effort to adduce selfish reasons for any behavior. Those who believe that altruism does exist and is evident in the behavior of many people will laugh such attempts to belittle the motivations of others to scorn.

I doubt that this question can be resolved. It is nonetheless an interesting topic.
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Montana
 
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Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2003 05:42 am
skotup1 wrote:
Ceili, what u wrote just made me laugh, like accually in real life... dunno y now

"before you write words like 'duh'..." hahahha, thats so funny for some reason


Don't you be messin with me and my friend Ceili Snotup!!! My horse kicks on request ya know ;-)
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Craven de Kere
 
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Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2003 09:32 am
Recognition that purity doesn't exist doesn't have to belittle altruism.

If we are contending that purity can't exist then what knock would it be on the "unpure"?
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JLNobody
 
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Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2003 09:54 am
truth
It's naive to think that anybody, anytime, acts in a purely selfless manner (with some rare exceptions, like the server in the Japanese tea ceremony). All actions are motivated and all motivation reflects the needs of the actor. This is no way diminishes the value and beauty of the "impure" altruism of do-gooders.
I agree, Craven: nothing is "pure." Even a one-dimensional point and two-dimensional line are only so conceptually. Any dot or line I write on a paper is really three-dimensional. And while lab situations try to create 'pure" or unadulterated experimental conditions, the most they probably achieve is a matter of degrees. There are no absolutes or identities in nature.
Frankly, I do not read Skotup's posts--I do not know what is the value of his or her ideas--I just can't deal with the style.
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fresco
 
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Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2003 11:48 pm
Bookmark
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Thu 23 Oct, 2003 12:20 am
Well, I think people analyze what is happening every second of every waking and subconscious moment, and yet, dive to rescue, often at self risk. Sometimes we act better than we are (seemingly), and sometimes knot ourselves up in dismay, not always unwisely. Is there purity? Perhaps, as time passes before thought. Mostly we are more complex, and to some extent that is what is interesting about us all.
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joefromchicago
 
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Reply Thu 23 Oct, 2003 08:19 am
Re: truth
Craven de Kere wrote:
"Pure" doesn't exist.

How do you know that?
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JLNobody
 
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Reply Thu 23 Oct, 2003 09:03 am
truth
Joe, I do not "know" that "purity" does not exist empirically. As a negative it cannot be proven to be so everywhere and throughout time, obviously. I mean to say that the concept is invalid: purity, like absolute (and perhaps infinity) are metaphysical categories, artifacts of the mind, not entities in the world.
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K VEE SHANKER
 
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Reply Thu 23 Oct, 2003 10:52 am
Re: truth
JLNobody wrote:
Joe, I do not "know" that "purity" does not exist empirically. As a negative it cannot be proven to be so everywhere and throughout time, obviously. I mean to say that the concept is invalid: purity, like absolute (and perhaps infinity) are metaphysical categories, artifacts of the mind, not entities in the world.


I fully agree with JLNobody that Absolute,Pure or Nothing But etc ., are available in Labs only and not in human Life! All our actions are usually for more than one reason.The only reason among all reasons,that will not change is self interest.

But, in arguing about the presence or the absence of self interest in all our actions we should not miss the point that good actions are still good despite the presence of selfishness.At human level we need not insist on purity.
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cicerone imposter
 
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Reply Thu 23 Oct, 2003 11:08 am
KVS, You make a good and valid point about "good actions are still good." It doesn't matter what the motivations are; it's that another human or living thing benefited from the act.
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cicerone imposter
 
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Reply Thu 23 Oct, 2003 11:08 am
KVS, WELCOME to A2K. Wink
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K VEE SHANKER
 
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Reply Thu 23 Oct, 2003 11:28 am
cicerone imposter wrote:
KVS, WELCOME to A2K. Wink


Thank You Cicerone imposter
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fresco
 
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Reply Thu 23 Oct, 2003 11:40 am
It sems to me that the usual questions about altruism are aimed at analysing the degree of conscious awareness of the "self" with respect to its interactions with "others". The discussion of "purity" is really about whether there was consciousness of a "pay off" for a particular choice of action. But the argument becomes circular or vacuous when for example (a) the "self" is seen as "part of the other" by genetic or other linkage or (b) when "conscious choice" is absent in the case of automatic behaviour mode.

In short I think the debate should alter its focus away from the "existence" of altruism towards the "pragmatic utility" of the term. i.e. Are there particular modes of social interaction that can only be described as altruistic (pure or otherwise) and what relevance if any, does such a term have with respect to concepts of "humanity", "civilization" and "progress"?
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joefromchicago
 
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Reply Thu 23 Oct, 2003 11:41 am
Re: truth
JLNobody wrote:
Joe, I do not "know" that "purity" does not exist empirically. As a negative it cannot be proven to be so everywhere and throughout time, obviously. I mean to say that the concept is invalid: purity, like absolute (and perhaps infinity) are metaphysical categories, artifacts of the mind, not entities in the world.

Thanks for responding, JLN (even though I hadn't directed my question to you), and further thanks for not misinterpreting my query as somehow "hostile."

I'm quite willing to accept that "purity" is unknown in the physical world (every substance will have some measure of impurity), but when we're dealing with motivations I'm not sure why it's impossible to speak of a "pure" motive. After all, motivations are not physical substances, so they're no subject to physical laws. And if "purity" is a metaphysical concept, such as "infinity," then presumably it, at least, has a place when describing non-physical concepts, such as motivations.

Now, if someone wants to argue that it is psychologically impossible to have "pure" motives, I'd be interested in learning the basis for such an assertion.

K.VEE.SHANKER wrote:
I fully agree with JLNobody that Absolute,Pure or Nothing But etc ., are available in Labs only and not in human Life! All our actions are usually for more than one reason.The only reason among all reasons,that will not change is self interest.

If "self-interest" is the only constant in human motivations, then are you saying that there is no such thing as "altruism" -- either pure or impure?
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