Altruism v. Egoism | INFJ Forum

Altruism v. Egoism

Discussion in 'Relationships and Sociology' started by Ergo Christobal, May 16, 2010.

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  1. Ergo Christobal

    Ergo Christobal Talking Lightbulb
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    I asked this on a different forum, I'm wondering if the spread will be different here...
    So there are two ends of the moral human spectrum. One end is altruism, the other is Egoism, and most people tend to think somewhere in the middle.

    Altruism: the belief that some (if not most) of our actions are motivated by the need to help other people without thinking of one's self. Most people accept this, as did I, before reading into it.

    Egoism: the belief that most (if not all) of our actions are somehow motivated my selfish interests. Basically, en extreme egoist would go so far as to say that even when we think we act selflessly we are subconsciously seeking out those feel-good chemicals released when we do something warm and fuzzy.

    I was going to make this a survey, but it's far too complicated for that. I'm a partial altruist, I like to think that most people operate selflessly on some occasion. What do you think? Is it possible that even when we give money to the homeless, we are actually doing it for that warm and fuzzy feeling? Do you feel more self-motivated or more motivated to serve others?

    For some reason, most think that it's impossible to be a true altruist. but true egoism is no problem.
     
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  2. Faye

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    What kind of altruism are you talking about? Reciprocal altruism?
     
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    Ergo Christobal

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    there are different levels, like I said it's all part of a spectrum. An egoist would say that assuming reciprocity also assumes egoism. An altruist might say that there is also altruism without any thought of a return.

    I'm mainly asking if altruism exists, or are we selfish endorphin machines? Or somewhere in between?
     
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  4. Faye

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    Sure it exists, but you have to make the evolutionary biologists shut up in order to make it work right. Once people know about endorphins and evolutionary reciprocity in order to contribute to gene inheritance (if not yours than those close to you), it is all over. Reciprocity is dead, except for general reciprocity and of course specific reciprocity (so maybe it is not dead?).

    We may be selfish, but that doesn't mean we are overly selfish a.k.a. greedy. I think that is where many people get confused. They say we are selfish, but they assume that we are also greedy as well. That isn't necessarily true.
     
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    Ergo Christobal

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    Are you saying that it's alright to be selfish to a degree so long as you don't get greedy? Would non-selfish acts be possible? Is there anything wrong with being selfish?

    I forget the classifications of reciprocity, but I think it is very much alive. Not only a cultural thing, but almost a human thing. we give so we can get, or at least we give because it is culturally "right".
     
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  6. TinyBubbles

    TinyBubbles anarchist

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    i agree that it's impossible to be purely altruistic, unless you did it without your conscious awareness, but i'm not sure that being purely egotistic is possible either (also not sure they are polar opposites). egotistic: selfish, self centered. a purely egotistic person would have to think about every way in which his actions could potentially help another person, and negate them. most people don't consider the impacts of their decisions in such depth.

    also i think you have to distinguish between BELIEVING you're selfish and actually DOING selfish things, since someone can think they're being selfish but actually be helping a lot of people out! would that be selfish then? i don't think so. likewise if your self-perception is that you're a selfless person but your actions say otherwise, then you're selfish. third party perspective vs. one's own perspective would be very important here.
     
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  7. Kavalan

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    As dragon points out on a biological level it gets really murky. Thus I omit any sort of justifications on such level as you have no control. This attempt to break humanity into two camps is impossible. It is more of a spectrum where the extreme opposites are rare to find. Also bias can paint any such spectrum to favor one end over the other.
     
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  8. Faye

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    It is what it is regardless of how I judge it. A non-selfish act would be an act outside the self, so whether or not they are possible is debatable. Its like asking whether or not nirvana exists, and in asking the question, you are aiming for something that causes you to miss what is right in front of you. Of course, some would say that missing what is far away is even worse.

    I don't see a problem with being selfish necessarily, except I do. It isn't something that can be explained easily in rational terms. Do you know what I mean?
     
  9. Flavus Aquila

    Flavus Aquila Finding My Place in the Sun
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    Altruism seem like assesments of personal cost/gain in interactions. Many people function this way, making assesments.

    However, I usually do things because they seem like the right thing to do. At times this can be at great personal cost or gain - but that element is consequent to my original intent. I don't really care what it costs me, or benefits me. I do what I do because I think it is right.
     
  10. WaeV

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    This is psychology related, and as MBTI is my principal language which which to speak of the brain's workings:

    I'd have to say that T (especially Te) is inclined towards rational self-interest, aka egoism. "Do whatever the hell you want but don't screw with MY stuff."
    F, on the other hand, (especially Fe), would be inclined towards emotional altruism. "I feel for others as others, and their need outweighs my personal wants."

    Neither is right or wrong, and ideally both are in balance, in my opinion. According to this theory, I would be an egoist (which is correct) and most of the members of this board would be altruists (which is yet to be determined by this thread).
     
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