Poll: In your opinion which is the path to happiness:
Selfishness
Altruism
Both
None of them has a really big part in the pursue of happiness
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Selfishness vs Altruism
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01-09-2014, 10:05 AM
Selfishness vs Altruism
We all know that selfishness is bad, don’t we?
Who likes selfish people who only think of themselves?
When people act altruistically, they are making a better world and helping everyone to be happier rather than just looking at their navels!
Selfishness must be fought and altruism emphasized, right?

Wrong!

I strongly disagree with these statements.

The fact is that the two concepts are often misunderstood and altruism receives many medals that belong to selfishness.
Acting selfishly brings us happiness and satisfaction and acting altruistically brings us unhappiness and remorse.

Being selfish is to put the "I" above "others", my family above the other, my friends over strangers, humans over other species, etc.

We have been conditioned to, every time we listen to someone saying: “that guy is selfish”, react almost as if the person had said that “that human being is evil”. Try, as you continue to read, to interpret the term “selfish”, not as refering to someone being "bad", but refering to someone “who puts his interests above or before the interest of others, who is the best friend of himself" don’t think about the matter as good or evil, leave aside any judgment or morality, simply interpret the meaning of the word.

If Mariah is happy with her husband, and he gets sick and the only way for him to live is that she stays by his side caring for him for several days. If she does it and save him, many will say: "What a selfless, altruistic woman, who did everything to save her husband's life. Forgot of herself, and put him above her needs!"

Wrong!

No, no, no! Those who say so are giving altruism a medal that belongs to selfishness.

If he died, she would be unhappy. If he lived she would continue to live happily.

Given this equation, in which Mariah "wants" him to live and she has the ability to make it happen. If she didn’t save her husband, it would be wrong to say that she acted selfishly.It could be said that she was being stupid or lazy or having lack of initiative, but not selfish. To save him would be the most selfish thing to do, ie, put the "I", "my interest", "my desire", "my will" above all the rest. That is not altruism.

Only if at the same time, Mariah’s best friend’s husband got the same disease and her friend was abroad and could not come to care for her husband. If in this situation Mariah left her husband, even the person she wanted to survive, to go take care of her friend’s husband and save him, then yes, it would have been altruism. Putting the will, the desire, the interest of others above her own. In this situation yes, we could say: "What an altruistic and selfless woman!" But to save a person who is very important to our happiness, is being "selfish" and that’s a good thing, acting selfishly lead us to happiness.

This is the meaning of the word selfishness, it is not to harm others, nor to do some negative act that has been artificially linked to selfishness in our minds. Selfishness is simply putting my interest, my will, first, without necessarily having to want to harm anybody else. A selfish person can value higher her own interests and at the same time be willing to negotiate with others a halfway between their interests and the interests of the others, who rightfully defend their own selfish interests.

Even the often quoted "golden rule" “doing to others as we would like it to be done to us” is a selfish rule, not an altruistic rule.

The Secret War on Space, that NASA Doesn't want you to know about:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FqBE3JzE...5iV4rgm6dg
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01-09-2014, 10:21 AM
RE: Selfishness vs Altruism
Not quite, the term you should be focusing on is "enlightened self-interest" rather than just self-interest. You seem to be heading towards the extreme egoist position, a philosophy that rather foolishly fights tooth and claw to remove the "enlightened" from "self-interest." Self interest left unchecked IS a problem, but it has its place when properly proportioned in concordance with the interest of others. It's not possible to uncouple self-interest from altruism when it comes to their drive on human behavior since the two are inherently intertwined.

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01-09-2014, 10:51 AM
RE: Selfishness vs Altruism
(01-09-2014 10:21 AM)Tartarus Sauce Wrote:  Not quite, the term you should be focusing on is "enlightened self-interest" rather than just self-interest. You seem to be heading towards the extreme egoist position, a philosophy that rather foolishly fights tooth and claw to remove the "enlightened" from "self-interest." Self interest left unchecked IS a problem, but it has its place when properly proportioned in concordance with the interest of others. It's not possible to uncouple self-interest from altruism when it comes to their drive on human behavior since the two are inherently intertwined.

Selfishness vs altruism is an independent question from enlightnment vs ignorance.

Just like love. In my opinion love is good. Period.

Now, if people act on their love in an enlightened way, they will do the best for their happiness and the loved ones’s happiness. But if they act on their love in an ignorant way, people’s feelings will be hurt and inclusively people will be injured and/or killed. Love being not the problem, but ignorance.

That aplyes to selfishness vs altruism or any other dichotomy.

Justice vs Injustice: it’s not difficult to have the majority of opinions voting that justice is the way to go.
But if you have an ignorant (not enlightened) judge doing the judging, or an ignorant lawmaker making the laws, you will end with really messed up situations. That doesn’t make justice a bad principle, only the ignorance.

Love is good
Justice is good
Selfishness is good

Ignorance, lack of enlightenment, is bad.

The Secret War on Space, that NASA Doesn't want you to know about:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FqBE3JzE...5iV4rgm6dg
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01-09-2014, 11:13 AM
RE: Selfishness vs Altruism
(01-09-2014 10:51 AM)ricardopedrosa Wrote:  
(01-09-2014 10:21 AM)Tartarus Sauce Wrote:  Not quite, the term you should be focusing on is "enlightened self-interest" rather than just self-interest. You seem to be heading towards the extreme egoist position, a philosophy that rather foolishly fights tooth and claw to remove the "enlightened" from "self-interest." Self interest left unchecked IS a problem, but it has its place when properly proportioned in concordance with the interest of others. It's not possible to uncouple self-interest from altruism when it comes to their drive on human behavior since the two are inherently intertwined.

Selfishness vs altruism is an independent question from enlightnment vs ignorance.

Just like love. In my opinion love is good. Period.

Now, if people act on their love in an enlightened way, they will do the best for their happiness and the loved ones’s happiness. But if they act on their love in an ignorant way, people’s feelings will be hurt and inclusively people will be injured and/or killed. Love being not the problem, but ignorance.

That aplyes to selfishness vs altruism or any other dichotomy.

Justice vs Injustice: it’s not difficult to have the majority of opinions voting that justice is the way to go.
But if you have an ignorant (not enlightened) judge doing the judging, or an ignorant lawmaker making the laws, you will end with really messed up situations. That doesn’t make justice a bad principle, only the ignorance.

Love is good
Justice is good
Selfishness is good

Ignorance, lack of enlightenment, is bad.

Dichotomies unconnected to any other factors probably don't exist.
So arguing as though one stands alone appears not very fruitful.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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01-09-2014, 11:37 AM
RE: Selfishness vs Altruism
(01-09-2014 10:51 AM)ricardopedrosa Wrote:  
(01-09-2014 10:21 AM)Tartarus Sauce Wrote:  Not quite, the term you should be focusing on is "enlightened self-interest" rather than just self-interest. You seem to be heading towards the extreme egoist position, a philosophy that rather foolishly fights tooth and claw to remove the "enlightened" from "self-interest." Self interest left unchecked IS a problem, but it has its place when properly proportioned in concordance with the interest of others. It's not possible to uncouple self-interest from altruism when it comes to their drive on human behavior since the two are inherently intertwined.

Selfishness vs altruism is an independent question from enlightnment vs ignorance.

Just like love. In my opinion love is good. Period.

Now, if people act on their love in an enlightened way, they will do the best for their happiness and the loved ones’s happiness. But if they act on their love in an ignorant way, people’s feelings will be hurt and inclusively people will be injured and/or killed. Love being not the problem, but ignorance.

That aplyes to selfishness vs altruism or any other dichotomy.

Justice vs Injustice: it’s not difficult to have the majority of opinions voting that justice is the way to go.
But if you have an ignorant (not enlightened) judge doing the judging, or an ignorant lawmaker making the laws, you will end with really messed up situations. That doesn’t make justice a bad principle, only the ignorance.

Love is good
Justice is good
Selfishness is good

Ignorance, lack of enlightenment, is bad.

You misunderstood me, "enlightened" means elevated in this sense, not gifted with knowledge.

Enlightened self-interest is a synthesis of selfishness and altruism. It entails that you generally abide by your interests but not at the reckless disregard of the interests of others. Similarly, it's ill-advised to unnecessarily burden yourself for the sake of others if there is no justification for doing so. The best actions are those which benefit the interests of everyone (including you) affected by the situation. Selfishness and altruism are only good when they are keeping each other in check.

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01-09-2014, 04:09 PM
RE: Selfishness vs Altruism
(01-09-2014 11:37 AM)Tartarus Sauce Wrote:  You misunderstood me, "enlightened" means elevated in this sense, not gifted with knowledge.

Enlightened self-interest is a synthesis of selfishness and altruism. It entails that you generally abide by your interests but not at the reckless disregard of the interests of others. Similarly, it's ill-advised to unnecessarily burden yourself for the sake of others if there is no justification for doing so. The best actions are those which benefit the interests of everyone (including you) affected by the situation. Selfishness and altruism are only good when they are keeping each other in check.

Ok, we were talking about different things then.Thumbsup

The Secret War on Space, that NASA Doesn't want you to know about:
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01-09-2014, 04:17 PM
RE: Selfishness vs Altruism
There's no such thing as "altruism". All actions that anyone has or will ever undertake are rooted in selfish desire. Good people help others because it makes the good people feel good. Evil people hurt other people because it makes the evil people feel good. There's no conceivable action that someone would choose to perform whose reason for choosing it cannot be traced back to selfishness.

The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
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01-09-2014, 04:42 PM
RE: Selfishness vs Altruism
(01-09-2014 04:17 PM)One Above All Wrote:  There's no such thing as "altruism". All actions that anyone has or will ever undertake are rooted in selfish desire. Good people help others because it makes the good people feel good. Evil people hurt other people because it makes the evil people feel good. There's no conceivable action that someone would choose to perform whose reason for choosing it cannot be traced back to selfishness.

That is only true if you include increasing the probability of passing on one's genes as selfish.

There are behaviors that sacrifice the individual for the survival of a close relative - a close relative shares a large proportion of genes .

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02-09-2014, 11:45 AM
RE: Selfishness vs Altruism
"selfish" and "altruistic" are just human concepts, neither mean anything absolute about the nature of the person, since both are related to how someone constructs their sense of "I"

E.g. a traditionalist actually enjoys self-sacrifice for the community because they actually enjoy fitting in, whereas a modernist enjoys his own self expression more. But actually the self expression of a modernist (e.g. scientific creation) adds value for everyone, so in terms of the outcome, it's not clear cut who is selfish and who is altruistic

Mother Theresa - altruistic saint or selfish cow? I think it could be framed either way.

I think altruism is a slightly meaningless concept!

Phil
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02-09-2014, 12:13 PM
RE: Selfishness vs Altruism
You can always redirect any person's actions to the self. Is that bad? Not really. You are selfish when saving people's lives because you care about that person. Altruism, selfishness, and selfish are culturally defined, but isn't really a good guide for what is ethical or what promotes happiness.

Certainly, focus on the self is a part of happiness, but is exceptionally vague as a principle on what to do to enjoy life.
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