Everything we do is for our own benefit
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17-03-2014, 01:38 AM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
Once, I gave this homeless couple a two hour ride to somewhere . . .. Oh, their dog too--great big pit bull. Well, being familiar with the homeless smell, I gave them the ride anyway. It took weeks of airing to get the smell out of my car. I was not happy, but I did not blame myself or the couple and their smelled as bad as they did dog.

About the same time, coming home from work I recognized a neighbor I did not personally know, struggling to carry some packages. I stopped and gave her a ride home. I understood as soon as she began speaking that she was mentally ill. I dropped her off and very soon noticed a stench. She had pissed in the car seat, the foulest mess I have to date ever had to clean up. I again did not blame her or myself. Those are the risks.

Some time after that, my account was overdrawn, and I found a wallet with $800.00 in it. After deciding to keep it (there was an ID in the wallet), this woman approached me and asked If I had found a wallet with money in it. As soon as she asked, she fell to the ground sobbing, and I quickly told her I had found the wallet. I really hated myself for that, and I resented her.

Over the course of the last 8 years, I have had many, many such encounters with people in desperate situations.

I never noticed feeling pleased or proud of myself. Nor am I happy or chirpy doing these seemingly odd things. Some of these encounters involved money, always mine. Now, I do have insight as to why I do them, but I do not think about it first. I usually simply find myself responding to a need.

Why I do it:
I know what it is like to live on the edge of homelessness, I have been psychologically smashed, and I know what it's like to lose and not regain what was lost.

I simply identify, that's all--no reward, no exchange.

I think you are wrong.

"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story." Orson Welles
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17-03-2014, 01:39 AM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
(16-03-2014 04:03 PM)Magoo Wrote:  I found this idea on a random website last year, and I actually found myself agreeing with it. Let me explain.

We all strive to be happy. We play a game, we are happy. We have money, we are happy. We eat chocolate, we are happy. Whatever it is that you enjoy, you will do. But even if you are doing work, for the benefit of someone else, you are still only serving yourself.

Say you are walking down the street, and you give money to a homeless person. You are a good person right? You care for others? Well, not really. After you gave away that money, now you feel happy inside. You feel great because you helped someone. Although it seems like you are caring, the reality is you are serving yourself because you are making yourself happy by doing so.

Another example. A friend asks for a massive favour from you. You really really don't want to do it, but yet you do it anyway because you are their friend. You may not have enjoyed doing it, you may have helped your friend, but in fact the only reason you did it is because it made you feel happy by helping hour friend.

I know this probably sounds confusing, and I am writing this as I think of it. However, this argument really got my thinking about why I care for other people and do things for them. Try to think about how you really feel when you are do something for someone else.

Viewed in a crude way that observation is somewhat accurate, except I find my self helping people when i know it will negatively affect me well beyond any payback an altruistic feel good moment can repay.

The paradox is, do I do something inconvenient to me so I don't have to bear the guilt of not having done it.
whether I do or don't do it, both choices would be in self interest.

If you say I only do good things because subconsciously I consider them more important then most inconveniences to me, then I could not honestly deny it.
If I seen a baby on a road, instinctively its life would trump my own, even at the cost of my children losing their father.
technically I would still be serving my own self interest in altruism.

Theism is to believe what other people claim, Atheism is to ask "why should I".
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17-03-2014, 07:33 AM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
(16-03-2014 04:51 PM)Magoo Wrote:  The same argument as above could be made for this scenario as well. If a man sacrificed himself for others, he didn't do it for others, he did it because he wanted to see others benefit from his actions. Others benefitting is simply luck that what he wanted was also benefitting them.
This is such a cynical way of looking at things,people who act selflessly are doing it precisely for others not for their own personal interest.

for ex: I can choose to give my spare clothes to the poor but technically it doesn't bring me any benefits and it would just cost my time&energy to do so i could alternatively just play video games instead.

Dreams/Hallucinations/delusions are not evidence
Wishful thinking is not evidence
Disproved statements&Illogical conclusions are not evidence
Logical fallacies&Unsubstantiated claims are not evidence
Vague prophecies is not evidence
Data that requires a certain belief is not evidence
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17-03-2014, 01:56 PM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
I'd just like to add that, if we accept this as true, it means that our guilt for not doing something good is the worst thing one can experience.

Why do we do good things even when we don't want to? Why do we suffer daily for other people? That guilt is so great that it won't leave us live the life we actually want? Every good person's ultimate desire is to live free of guilt to the point of rejecting every other chance of pleasure and happiness just for guilt's sake?

Many verses are like silver threads
tied on the chimes of the stars-
if you pull them,
a silver peal makes the horizon vibrate.
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17-03-2014, 02:12 PM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
There's an episode of Friends where Joey says this very same thing to Phoebe, that no good deed is completely selfless, which is funny because Joey is the least intelligent character on the show. Phoebe spends the rest of the show trying to prove him wrong, in vain.

As for me, there's more than a grain of truth in Magoo's hypothesis, and since it's unknowable, I'm agnostic toward it.

Check out my atheism blog. It's just a blog, no ads, no revenue, no gods.
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Atheism promotes critical thinking; theism promotes hypocritical thinking. -- Me
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17-03-2014, 02:14 PM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
(16-03-2014 04:03 PM)Magoo Wrote:  I found this idea on a random website last year, and I actually found myself agreeing with it. Let me explain.

We all strive to be happy. We play a game, we are happy. We have money, we are happy. We eat chocolate, we are happy. Whatever it is that you enjoy, you will do. But even if you are doing work, for the benefit of someone else, you are still only serving yourself.

Say you are walking down the street, and you give money to a homeless person. You are a good person right? You care for others? Well, not really. After you gave away that money, now you feel happy inside. You feel great because you helped someone. Although it seems like you are caring, the reality is you are serving yourself because you are making yourself happy by doing so.

Another example. A friend asks for a massive favour from you. You really really don't want to do it, but yet you do it anyway because you are their friend. You may not have enjoyed doing it, you may have helped your friend, but in fact the only reason you did it is because it made you feel happy by helping hour friend.

I know this probably sounds confusing, and I am writing this as I think of it. However, this argument really got my thinking about why I care for other people and do things for them. Try to think about how you really feel when you are do something for someone else.
People justify laws saying we can't allow murder because it is wrong.
But in reality they mean, we can't allow murder because I don't want to be murdered.

Athiests justify abortion by saying a fetus isn't a person therefore it isn't wrong to abort.
But in reality they mean, abortion doesn't impact me, I can't be aborted therefore I have no need to force other people not to do it.

The exception to the rule is dogmatic belief.
When a person is told that they must be good (to get to heaven) then they try and do want they are told is good. If their church tells them to oppose abortion then they oppose it.
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17-03-2014, 03:25 PM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
(16-03-2014 06:05 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  
(16-03-2014 05:23 PM)Chas Wrote:  This might interest you.

Sacrificing one's life for close relatives can be beneficial to spreading one's genes.
Your close relatives share most of your genes.

So evolution would favor genes that allow or promote this behavior.

True.

But what stops us from being totally selfish and doing whatever we want? Empathy? Social conventions? Whatever it is, it proves that we don't always act 100% based on self-interest.

I often see myself doing things that don't bring me any pleasure, things I don't want to do, and that even if I don't do them, it won't bring me any discomfort or cause problems.

Like, when I'm at work, I sometimes stay an hour longer and do some extra work. Nothing will happen if I don't do it. I won't have less things to do the next day. My boss won't think anything bad about me if I don't do it, neither anything good if I do it. I don't care about what she thinks. I don't get any pleasure in doing it.

I do things when people are not watching, just because I feel I need to do them, even if no one ever finds out. It doesn't give me any pleasure to fix something broken, I actually think to myself "why am I even bothering?".

Or sometimes, I just do something good for someone and while doing it, I feel terrible for forcing myself to do it. But there is something in me that tells me I should do it. It doesn't mean I want it, it doesn't mean I get pleasure by seeing someone else enjoying something good I've done.

I totally agree and relate in a similar way. Sometimes we can do actions for their own sake without having ulterior motives of pain/pleasure or loss/gain.

This is very important in religious debates because ultimately it utterly undermines any religious ethics for doing action "because of God" "because of an afterlife" "heaven/hell" or some promise of becoming "enlightened or godlike".
...and it is not as if this is some modern insight - it can be found in ancient Greek philosophies (such as Aristotle) and Stoic philosophers where actions are undertaken just for their own sake or rational reasons [to some degree] independently of pain/pleasure or loss/gain to the individual.


It is also dangerous to get into a false ideology where every action must be due to selfish, self centered gains or threats of punishment. This leads straight into the hands of christian fundamentalists who want to make even innocent person guilty of original sin because every action must have some selfish ulterior motive that is ungodly - essentially condemning the entire human race of permanent perpetual sin and justifying it with pseudo-psychology (and then creating the cure "believe in Jesus").

A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence -
David Hume


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17-03-2014, 03:33 PM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
(17-03-2014 02:14 PM)Stevil Wrote:  People justify laws saying we can't allow murder because it is wrong.
But in reality they mean, we can't allow murder because I don't want to be murdered.

Athiests justify abortion by saying a fetus isn't a person therefore it isn't wrong to abort.
But in reality they mean, abortion doesn't impact me, I can't be aborted therefore I have no need to force other people not to do it.

The exception to the rule is dogmatic belief.
When a person is told that they must be good (to get to heaven) then they try and do want they are told is good. If their church tells them to oppose abortion then they oppose it.

So, if you were sure you would never be murdered you would be fine with other people killing each other? Because if you would, I've got some bad news for you.

Also, abortions are not only a matter concerning fetuses, they are also a matter concerning potential mothers. I think it concerns me enough to have the right to decide whether I want to carry another person in my body for 9 months.

Many verses are like silver threads
tied on the chimes of the stars-
if you pull them,
a silver peal makes the horizon vibrate.
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17-03-2014, 03:45 PM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
(17-03-2014 03:33 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  So, if you were sure you would never be murdered you would be fine with other people killing each other? Because if you would, I've got some bad news for you.

Also, abortions are not only a matter concerning fetuses, they are also a matter concerning potential mothers. I think it concerns me enough to have the right to decide whether I want to carry another person in my body for 9 months.
I am under no illusion of being able to know what is good and what is bad.
Thus I have no moral obligation to stop people from doing bad things.

I am no moral judge.

"So, if you were sure you would never be murdered you would be fine with other people killing each other?"
I would need to know that myself, my wife, my children, my parents and family, my friends are all immune from being murdered, then it wouldn't be something that concerns me. I am totally unconcerned with fetuss being "murdered". I am totally unconcerned with repeat pedophiles being murdered. Apart from people being killed in the crossfire, I am totally unconcerned with rival drug gangs murdering each other.

Regarding "rights" I am under no illusion of knowing what is a "right" and what is not a "right". All I know is that a mother having an abortion is not of my concern, thus I don't interfere.
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17-03-2014, 04:10 PM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
(17-03-2014 03:45 PM)Stevil Wrote:  I am under no illusion of being able to know what is good and what is bad.
Thus I have no moral obligation to stop people from doing bad things.

I am no moral judge.

"So, if you were sure you would never be murdered you would be fine with other people killing each other?"
I would need to know that myself, my wife, my children, my parents and family, my friends are all immune from being murdered, then it wouldn't be something that concerns me. I am totally unconcerned with fetuss being "murdered". I am totally unconcerned with repeat pedophiles being murdered. Apart from people being killed in the crossfire, I am totally unconcerned with rival drug gangs murdering each other.

Regarding "rights" I am under no illusion of knowing what is a "right" and what is not a "right". All I know is that a mother having an abortion is not of my concern, thus I don't interfere.

Your previous statements sounded quite more absolute than this.

What I'm trying to say is, no, I don't think people killing each other is good, and that is because empathy makes me project myself on others, even if there was no chance that I, or any person I know, would ever be murdered. Empathy isn't exactly selective. You don't only feel bad for people who just happen to be suffering by something that might happen to you in the future.

This is not a matter of "rights". You said that when atheists justify abortion, they say that it's not wrong because a fetus is not a person, but they mean that abortion doesn't really concern them.

Well, I'm an atheist, I think abortion should be a choice and I'm not justifying it by pretending "it doesn't matter". It actually concerns me, and that is the only reason I have an opinion on this matter.

Maybe next time you talk about yourself, you shouldn't just say "atheists".

Many verses are like silver threads
tied on the chimes of the stars-
if you pull them,
a silver peal makes the horizon vibrate.
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