Altruism - Fact or Fiction?

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Altruism - Fact or Fiction?

Postby Dan » Thu Jul 15, 2010 1:25 pm

There's a lot to write on this subject but I'll keep it brief. I personally don't believe in altruism because unfortunately there's always an ulterior motive behind everything. We help people because it makes us feel good about ourselves.

What is everybody else's view on it? Do you think it occurs? I'm talking about humans here not Quarks or Gods.

Happy debating!
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Re: Altruism - Fact or Fiction?

Postby Alice » Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:06 pm

I beleive pepole are capable of doing things just because it makes someone else happier or someones life better. At their own expense, let alone when they simply don't stand to benifit.
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Re: Altruism - Fact or Fiction?

Postby Dan » Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:29 pm

My point is that we are kind to others because we feel good about it. That makes it an ultimately selfish thing to do. I'm not saying we shouldn't be kind. Of course we should, but I definitely don't think it's altruism. Altruism would be more along the lines of a robot with an advanced intelligence with no sense of reward or hope giving its' life to save somebody. If I gave my life to save somebody it'd be because I feel it would be a legacy and/or would help me on a quest to Heaven (if you believe in that)
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Re: Altruism - Fact or Fiction?

Postby C » Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:01 pm

Whenever I read about this I always think about that Friends episode where Joey challenges Phoebe to do a selfless good deed, claiming they don't exist...

I personally agree that somethings classed as 'altrustic' are done, in part, to make other people feel better. Some people may do this deliberately; helping people to make themselves feel good and perhaps so the favour with be returned to them by the person they helped.

Even some acts many would class as purely altruistic may have an element of selfishness in them... a stranger helping an old lady across the street may be doing it to help the old lady but may also do it because they think if they didn't help they'd have it on their conscience and it would make them feel like a bad person.

But I do believe altruism exists... for example, I read about a case where a load of people were drowning. One man, who was thrown a lifejacket, selflessly passed it over to someone else (who survived, while he was subsequently drowned). I suppose you could say that he did this for his own ego boost (I died to save another) but I do think in that kind of life or death emergency you don't really think, you just act. It's hard to argue there was no altruism there whatsoever!
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Re: Altruism - Fact or Fiction?

Postby DystantMind » Sun Sep 19, 2010 10:32 am

I believe feeling good about something selfless, like giving to the poor, just means we are good people. Lets say if you put a load of money into a skirmish to Africa where you installed water pumps in areas of extreme suffering, and then witnessed tremendous joy as the inhabitants rushed to drink and get washed. If you just stood there and felt absoloutely nothing, then surely that would mean that you didn't care about their welfare. But in reality I think most people would feel extremely good that they have given so much joy to a suffering community.

I don't think it is selfish to feel good, it is just a sign that you are actually good and altruistic. If you feel nothing, then you obviously don't care.

On the other hand, I do think many celebrities milk charity. They put a huge amount of money in (which will be relatively small to their unimaginable fortunes), and then they get recignition and praise for it. They are not really losing anything or risking their lives, like perhaps many of the people who use the money and travel to distant and sometimes dangerous countries to help the suffering population.

:-)
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