Everything is selfish?
Post Reply
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
15-04-2011, 04:37 PM
Everything is selfish?
So I posted a status about this on my facebook a while back and got quite a few comments. Here's a link: http://www.facebook.com/cdf50/posts/197113250302687 I'm set as public, so if you can't open that link, add me and i'll accept you.

But yea, for those that don't want to go through that, here's a copy and paste of the status and the comment I made immediately after:

Quote:People are all selfish. It's a human quality, no, it's just a quality needed to survive. The same way that complex functions and motives all eventually boil down to crude emotion, all people boil down to pure selfishness. There is NO such thing as selflessness.
-continuing this below-

Those that are considered selfless are the firefighters who dash into burning buildings, are the police officers who save lives, the soldiers who defend nations, the random citizen that sacrifices his life push a boy out of the way of a moving car, the mother who let's herself die to ensure that her child lives. This is all very brave and very noble and it seems incredibly selfless, but in the end, it's still selfishness.

That police officer, that firefighter, that soldier. They do what they do because they love it. They do what they do because they're paid. The citizen and the mother too, they do what they do because that's what makes them feel fulfilled.

If they didn't save people in burning buildings or from criminals or from that car, they'd feel horrible. They'd feel like the violated all of their morals. So did they save that person completely randomly with no selfishness? No. They saved them so that they would feel complete and wouldn't feel like they betrayed their own believes.

All organisms are selfish, it's a trait we all have."

So I'm not sure if I was supposed to post this in this subforum, but eh, whatever.

Quote this message in a reply
15-04-2011, 07:48 PM
RE: Everything is selfish?
Good post. I agree.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Richard Dawkins comes to me, speaking words of reason, now I see, now I see.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
15-04-2011, 08:27 PM
RE: Everything is selfish?
(15-04-2011 04:37 PM)Cdf50 Wrote:  No. They saved them so that they would feel complete and wouldn't feel like they betrayed their own believes.

I totally agree with you, though I would have worded it differently. The part of your post which I have quoted makes it seam like it is a conscious choice, not an instinctual behavior. I know perfectly well that this is not what you meant, I'm just saying it is easy to misinterpret it. And IF you misinterpret it then I'm sure you could see for yourself what an ass you'll seam like for diminishing the actions of these people.

What kind of responses have you gotten from your friends?

I want to rip off your superstitions and make passionate sense to you
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Norseman's post
15-04-2011, 09:01 PM
RE: Everything is selfish?
(15-04-2011 04:37 PM)Cdf50 Wrote:  So I posted a status about this on my facebook a while back and got quite a few comments.

Sounds reasonable to me. Smile You should share this around. Wink It's something that could be construed as spiritual or for skeptics.
Quote this message in a reply
15-04-2011, 11:26 PM
RE: Everything is selfish?
I posted this exact topic on a forum I used to frequent. It spiraled into madness to the point where we were discussing the true motives of someone who risked their life to save a turtle on a highway (I maintained that they were still doing it to make themselves feel better, aka reward, aka selfish). Another person threw in the scenario (similar to your OP) of a single mother who works 2 jobs and still takes the time to properly raise and spend time with her children, whereas the selfish version of that mother would choose to neglect her kids for her own benefit. I forget where that one led to. I think "avoidance of punishment" was suggested. She didn't want the judgment of her community or the possible punishment of authorities.

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
16-04-2011, 08:18 AM
RE: Everything is selfish?
I was going to give an opinion on this thread but I decided it's MY opinion and you can't have it and I'm not sharing.

So there.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes BnW's post
16-04-2011, 12:40 PM
RE: Everything is selfish?
(16-04-2011 08:18 AM)BnW Wrote:  I was going to give an opinion on this thread but I decided it's MY opinion and you can't have it and I'm not sharing.

So there.

You selfish bastard you!

So many cats, so few good recipes.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
16-04-2011, 12:46 PM
RE: Everything is selfish?

And oh man, it's so relieving to see people agree with me. Pretty much everyone on my facebook disagreed. For simplicities sake, i'll just do a copy and paste of the entire thing, it might come out looking weird though.

So here goes:

Quote:Gordon Kwei hahahahahaha so true
January 27 at 10:02am · Like
Vinny Fraser You could put these in notes, you know...
January 27 at 12:38pm · Like
Jake Nehiley I disagree. All humans, in the end, are selfish. that is true. but humans are capable of selfless acts. Not everything boils down to how it will help themselves in the end. if your pushing a boy out of the way of a truck, you have no time to think, "hmmm i'm gunna feel bad if i dont help him." you do it without thought. A mother giving her life for her child is complete selflessness. Parents give their lives for their children because they love them more than anything. They would do anything for their child. Not because its going to fulfill something within themselves. Not everything is about ourselves.
January 27 at 12:46pm · Like
Joe LaRosee I disagree. Although I think evolutionary drive is strong, it is overcome on a daily basis. Sure, a lot, if not most people, are selfish, but certainly not all.
January 27 at 2:56pm · Like
January 27 at 3:28pm · Like · 1 person
Charles De Farias nobody reads notes, vinny ;D At least, i don't read anybody's notes.

It's subconscious, Jake.They save that boy because on their day to day basis, they're the type of people that would save somebody and feel horrible about it later if they didn't.

Also, for things like being nice in general, they do it for their own benefit, even if they don't think like that. For example, karma. Karma is the idea that people that do good things will have good things done for them, or even, almost any religion has the same believe. Be a good person and you'll be rewarded. So are they being good because they're selfless, or because they'll get some reward in the end?

The most common, however, is just morals. People don't kill, steal or treat others badly because of their morals or principals. So really, they're not killing or stealing because it would go against their beliefs, which would make them feel bad.

@Joe, you're using the word selfish too much like it's almost always used. I'm not talking about selfish as in, everytime they think about something they see how it helps them. I'm talking about how essentially, deep deep down, every act has some selfish motivation to it.

@George lolno, i'll put up a more upbeat status like this tomorrow.
January 27 at 3:38pm · Like
George Lithoxopoulos breaking bad season 3 is starting up soon
January 27 at 4:32pm · Like
Charles De Farias <333333333333333
January 27 at 4:33pm · Like
Jake Nehiley Charles if I couldn't saved a little boy and I didn't I wouldn't feel bad for me, I would feel bad for the boy. People don't go against their morals because they know it's wrong to do it, not because theyll feel bad about themselves. And notice how you didn't comment on my parenting example. People are selfish yes, but were capable of selfless acts.
January 27 at 6:52pm · Like
Jake Nehiley ‎*couldve
January 27 at 6:53pm · Like
Charles De Farias Point being you'd feel bad though, would you not? And certainly you'd be plagued with thoughts of "why didn't i just.." "i could have saved him"

The point of right and wrong is a terrible one to try to make. Like we already discussed in my last status, right and wrong is decided by society. So it's not because they know it's wrong, but because they think it's wrong, and they won't do what they think is wrong because that would go against what they believe in, which would be upsetting to them.

As for the parent example, i just missed it when i read. Parental sacrifices are the most interesting type of selfishness. First off, we have the whole love aspect to it. A parent wouldn't want their child to die, their death would cause them great sadness, whereas their saving wouldn't. Also, they would be extremely guilty if they kept their lives instead of saving their child's. The interesting thing, though, is that when it comes to parent-child situations, it's also evolutionary.

Organisms that raise their young like humans have the same habit of sacrificing themselves to save their youth. It's an instinctual trait to save their offspring, not because of emotion, but because it would continue their species.

But my point, which i think people are missing, is that every action has a reason behind it. Everything we do, deep down, is for our own benefit. I use the word "selfish" but it looks much uglier than i mean it to.
January 27 at 7:01pm · Like
Charles De Farias srsly, facebook needs to stop making my comments disappear.
January 27 at 8:12pm · Like
Joe LaRosee Doctors without borders go to different countries, often endangering themselves to help others without a decent pay. Sure they feel good about themselves after, but that certainly is not why they do it. Doing something for karma or religion's sake only works if the person is religious. Even anonymous donations to charities doesn't benefit the benefactor. Nelson Mandela sacrificed so much to help free his people from apartheid, when he could of just as well left. People are so driven that often when someone else's life is on the line, and they are unable to save them, they are overcome with guilt. What if someone knowingly gets hurt to save someone else, such as take a bullet or lose a hand to a steam burn for a stranger? Surely you can't tell me that the benefit of feeling good about yourself outweighs that of losing a hand. Selfish is being used in the exact way you intended as well. Perhaps for many people selfism is their driven quality, but not all.
January 27 at 9:56pm · Like · 1 person
Charles De Farias Doctors do what they do because it makes them feel good. They do good because they feel it's right, which abides by their morals and not going and helping the poor would make them feel bad. You say it certainly isn't why they do it, but it certainly is.

Donations are even more obvious forms of the above. People who donate do it to feel better, feel like they're making a difference and helping others. It's a good thing to want to do, but in the end, it's still so they can feel better.

Nellson mandela freed his people, along with himself. His struggles at first were for himself and his family, out of necessity. Then it became a struggle for his people and his ideas. Again, his. He did what he did to stand up for what he believed in, otherwise he'd have to bow his head and accept what he felt was wrong. So again, at the root, it's about him.

Is it not? I personally would rather get my hand severed than live a life of regret and guilt. Not only that, but it's not as if in those moments we consider every aspect of the outcome. We don't weigh whether the benefit of feeling better will surpass the pain, what we feel is a dire impulse to do what we feel is right.

No, the word selfish implies something i do not wish it to. It implies that people are evil and consider every action, weighing it to see how it benefits them, which is not what i'm attempting to say. I'm saying that at the root, the basic level, all actions have motivations that stem from self preservation.
January 28 at 8:41pm · Like
Joe LaRosee Its an impossible point to argue because anything someone does where they feel any good about it after you will argue they did it for that feeling. No, I say that if the point came to losing your hand or saving someone, you wouldn't think about the future as much as live in the moment, so I disagree there anyway. Nelson Mandela could of left South America and freed himself and his family, but he stayed. However, any situation I bring up you'll certainly find some excuse, so instead of providing examples of good things, I will give you ones of bad. You say all actions have motivations that stem for self preservation, but thats a very broad and therefore false statement. People who set themselves on fire, starve themselves, or hurt/kill themselves to prove a point certainly are not acting in self preservation. Terrorists for example do not suicide bomb to preserve themselves. Although its an interesting statement, its nevertheless a false one.
There are three basic levels of the mind. The mind has evolved from the inside out as time and evolution has made its impact in three different stages. The lowest part of the brain controls instinct, aggression, territorial, etc. The middle part controls emotion, mood, etc. Finally, what differs us from other animals, the final part of the brain, the cerebral cortex, is the center for logic, intellect, intuition, etc. It is this part of the brain that allows us to make these decisions, and the part of the brain that makes your statement false.

Like you said, you would rather lose a hand than live a life of guilt and regret. That guilt and regret is part of the brain telling you to do something good, its a branch of the brain and not a separate entity you make it out to be.
January 28 at 11:50pm · Like · 1 person
Steve Bukoff I think u guys hit the nail on the head way earlier when u stated that although we as people are selfish, we are also capable of performing selfless acts. However, DO NOT confuse the notion that performing a selfless act is still categorized as being selfish for the benefit of the resulting feeling that you would enjoy. Rememeber, prior to pushing the child away, prior to saving the family from a burning building, prior to catching a criminal.....there ia no way to pre-determine that these acts would all be successful. Therefore you cannot categorize these acts in the end as being selfish. The end result may not always be satisfactory....so perhaps some people are simply far more selfish than others.....but those that commit brave acts in no way should those acts be considered to have been bourne from selfishness.
Quote this message in a reply
16-04-2011, 04:49 PM
RE: Everything is selfish?
say what!? are we supposed to read all that? Give us the highlights, we're on a schedule here!

I want to rip off your superstitions and make passionate sense to you
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
17-04-2011, 04:16 PM
RE: Everything is selfish?
Hmm, I think what seems to be the barrier between you and your facebook friends is their idea that you are suggesting our actions are pre-meditated. But really, we've all experienced the good feeling we get from helping others, and we've all experienced the guilt that comes when we know we've either done something we shouldn't have or we don't do something that we should have. Based on previous experience, our brains (very quickly) decide on a course of action that will bring about the most beneficial outcome for ourselves. This is simply classical conditioning. We are not always aware of the fact that we are being conditioned by our past experiences, but that doesn't mean that we aren't acting based on them. So, because in the past helping people has brought about good feelings, we determine that in the present moment, helping someone is going to bring those good feelings again, though we don't do this consciously. It doesn't matter whether our attempt to help is beneficial to the other person or not, it is the attempt that will make us feel good.

I mean, I've helped teach people in various settings before, and I love it. It makes me feel good. Do I think that diminishes my contribution to someone's learning? Not at all. The fact that I enjoy teaching, and enjoy the positive feedback that comes from teaching, does not diminish the deed itself. The responses you got seemed to imply that because an action is ultimately selfish, it follows that that is the only reason for somebody to do that action. However, just because an action is self-fulfilling does not automatically make it any less of a "good deed".

"Remember, my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker." - Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: