[PUG] - Generosity and Selfishness: Hard-Wired? | INFJ Forum

[PUG] Generosity and Selfishness: Hard-Wired?

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by TheLastMohican, Dec 21, 2009.

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  1. TheLastMohican

    TheLastMohican Captain Obvious
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    Note: This topic will probably generate discussion of politics, philosophy and morality as well as science. That's fine. I chose this subforum simply because it could use some more activity relative to the others.

     
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  2. Reon

    Reon Midnight's Garden

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    I didn't read the article you linked too (About to go christmas shopping, I need to steel myself) but based on the premise you brought up, I don't think we should forcibly change the amount of 'prosocial' or 'individualist' people via abortion, sterilization, or genetic manipulation. Only through the exploitation of some groups of people and resources have we been able to get this far, it is not the most logical decision to try to advance yourself but with the good of all people in mind. With that being said, we all cant' be selfish and try to get ahead of everybody by stealing and pillaging resources and all that.

    But that's not really controversial, so to speak, I believe that if I had to choose between 'prosocial' and 'individualists', I would vote for a majorly prosocial society with only a slight amount of individualist (perhaps 10 to 20%) just based on the fact that that society at large would most likely run better but we would yet still contain enough individualist to be 'selfish' in the sense of wanting to be the best, inventing stuff, and promoting themselves.

    Would it be moral for a government to practice eugenics? I'm not sure, I can't really see many government's going completely one way or another on this issue or what ratio they would need to have a on-going society, and even if they set a cap or something like that what would they do? Let society run one way and raise the other segment of society to be super uber individualist/prosocials and then let them run amok? Perhaps that is the way to do it. If a government were to do this, I believe they would have to use the holy trifecta (Abortion, sterilization, and genetic engineering) to significantly reduce either prosocial or individualist (Might want to control population size too while we are at it)

    (I kinda wanted to see some other views on this before I posted but....no one posted so....BUMP?)
     
  3. midnightmelody

    midnightmelody nagging for truth

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    This is interesting research. Truly. I don't want to start crazy debate but I know I will.

    I LOVE science. Yeah. It's the bomb. But does it really need to go f-ing around and sticking it's nose into everything? The more it meddles the more it has to fix. I suppose there is beauty in that. But I think for once, we should leave somehing to nature.

    Also, how can they be entirely sure of the validity of such research? Hmm.

    Second point: If prosocials and individualists were to be genetically manipulated, then how would we calculate the approrpiate balance (or lack their of) of each?

    It sounds theoretically possible to do so, but also incredibly risky. I don't know if anyone could fully predict the potential ramifications of something like this.

    Kudos, TLM, interesting article.
     
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  4. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    Look, after all, every problem can be solved if you take out all human's organs and use the rest to cover some android. But that's not really solving anything.

    Yep, there are such people more or less, even though it's far more complicated than that. Then the method should involve proper ways to communicate and satisfy them, not making them stuffed animals for "the greater good".

    The way people treat many "diseases" just covers their lack of detailed understanding, impatience, arrogance, and determination to remove the problem at all costs. Those "solutions" are like sweeping all the garbage under the bed. They first need to claim much deeper understanding of core functionality*, before any such actions.

    * Suppose they test that some gene relates with some behavior (on average! and within some culture!); they need to find out much more precisely how that happens, and why that happens (brain development, centers, interaction), before they can just go out and call this gene a "disease". A perfectly healthy individual in polluted environment behaves worse. The whole premise that all problems come from the core of a person is a bit off. Moreover, that gene is there for a reason; it was chosen after millions of years of evolution. Better find the correct explanation why it was so needed, before you claim for certain that it's not needed anymore.
     
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    #4 enfp can be shy, Dec 22, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
  5. Faye

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    Suppression theory? Are people actually serious about that? Unfortunately, the answer is probably yes.
     
  6. Duty

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    Ok, I recently took a psych class on the positive side of human emotion, and evolutionists explain it like this:

    Most of us are hardwired for compassion, generosity and the like (with the exception of sociopathy and other abnormalities). It may be, as the article suggests, that some of us are more prosocial then others (and let me tell you now, prosocialness is a huge indicator of the individual's happiness...developing a good social network/contributing to a community is easily the thing that will make you the most happy), but all of us are hardwired for it. The reason is that it promotes tribe survival (which in social creatures is a natural instinct that often overrides self survival).

    Gossip is an odd behavior, but the majority of gossip is about who is "prosocial" and who is "antisocial." It's a natural mechanism that has developed to alienate from the tribe those that do not show compassionate behaviors.

    Other examples of similar behaviors meant to cull the non compassionate from the tribal society are readily apparent in normal human behaviors (I'm sure you INFJs could think of some good ones :)). We naturally do this already.


    So my opinion is that, no, we shouldn't play around with it when nature already has its way of dealing with it.
     
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  7. muir

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    I'm interested in what you are saying about sociopathy here. Are you saying that it is a genetic factor or an environmental factor or can it be both? I read an article about psycopathy that argued psycopaths tend to rise up in society due to their ability to lie and cheat effectively and without remorse. They then attract people who exhibit psychopathic traits who work under them forming a sub layer of 'yes men' in society. Its a nifty theory as it would certainly explain some of the horrific acts which litter history.

    The whole debate over human nature and nature/nurture seems to be key in forming philosophies on how we should order society. Noam Chomsky has made break throughs in the field of linguistics related to the hardwired grammer in humans which allows babies to form the sounds they are hearing into coherent sentences. Springing from this research i think he argues (I hope I am getting this right!) that we, as you say above, are hardwired for decency (decency is our default setting); if we live in a negative culture then we LEARN negative behaviour.

    This worries me a lot that the way (capitalist) society is ordered creates a dog eat dog mentality which leaves little room for the positive behaviour you refer to which is required to build a healthy and balanced community. Chomsky himself is a Libertarian Socialist with Anarcho-communist sympathies. The concept of a gift economy promotes positive behaviour and outlook amongst people. Is the current system subverting people who are inately 'prosocial'? We all have to fit into the capitalist system which at times can be pretty oppressive and demeaning.

    I think wage slavery can have a pretty spirit crushing effect. Do you accept the rules of the game and go with the flow and get swept along or do you embrace the system and see how well you can fight it out in the rat race (which is pretty much rigged anyway) or do you find some quiet little eddy to shelter in! I think free market fundamentalists will use various arguments about human nature to justify the creation of a system which they know they will thrive in.

    'Individulists' will always strive to create a world in their image. The concern for Prosocials is that they may become the cogs in the machine. I would argue that even if these traits are proven genetic (which I think is massively simplistic-I think environment is crucial) and the public voted for the eradication of 'individualists' in the womb, there is no way this would be allowed as the individualists are running the whole circus!
     
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    #7 muir, Dec 22, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
  8. Duty

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    I said nothing about sociopathy being hardwired or not, only that it's an abnormality in our normally prosocial tendencies.

    And the thing about living in a capitalistic society: wage slavery is a favorite topic of mine, and one I flip back and forth on a lot. On the one hand you do have very exploitative, sometimes even thoughtless abuse of the poor by the upper classes that mostly have inherited their wealth.

    What is really going wrong is that the upper classes are smart enough to know how to take advantage, and that the lower classes (as a whole) are stupid enough to fall for it. When your favorite politician goes up and gives you rhetoric about whatever your favorite issue is (patriotism, evil communists/socialists, uncaring Republicans, bringing God back into/out of society...whatever) you're falling for a bad and pointless trap.

    Worse, power mostly begets power. It takes a lot of momentum and subsequent inertia for lower classes to make a difference. When power has a high concentration, you only need to convince a few people with that power, where power has a low concentration, you have to convince a LOT more.


    On the other side, the post industrial world really really is a place for opportunity, even in America. Most people don't take it because it is 1) hard work, 2) they are discouraged by many factors...ignorant parenting practices, social networks prejudiced against things like postsecondary education because "all professors are stupid liberals" and other such nonsense, or 3) because they just don't know about it (poor education).

    People mostly have an external locus of control...it's the world's fault that they don't have what they think they should. But, to get things done, you have to just do them.

    Further, most people are a level 4 in the Grave's model of Spiral Dynamics (google it, it's an awesome system). They follow some set of rules and are limited by them because that is where they live: their own limitations. Society is at that point, and because people have these rules of arbitrary morality (which is distinguished from a real, good morality) that they don't take advantage of opportunities given to them like 5s do. 5s thrive in a capitalist structure, and most people in society need to get to 5, so capitalism is probably where we need to be right now.



    So I'm divided here. I feel disgust over those that exploit the lower classes. I feel apathy over the stupidity of the lower classes for falling for it. At the same time I feel sympathy because they don't even know how to not fall for it.
     
    #8 Duty, Dec 22, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
  9. muir

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    When you say the lower classes (as a whole) are 'stupid' do you mean that they are genetically less intelligent or that they are the product of a system which ineffectively educates them due to the exploitative nature of the upper classes, or do you mean that it is a bit of both?

    I don't have a favourite politician; for the most part, I see them as front men/women, misguided or riders on a gravy train. Sometimes I find independent candidates have something interesting to say.

    I agree, for the most part, that when you put effort into life you get a reward; however some people depending on their circumstances or position within the system can make gains out of proportion to their effort or ability due to the inherent inequality in the system. I also believe that this pursuit of gains often has its limitations, imposed by the inherently unfair system, or by the very nature of the act of selfish pursuit of gain.

    I also believe that not everyone is instilled with this ethic, due to the failings of the system. I think any lack of education or awareness on the part of the lower classes is due to the failings of the system. I think the lack of either ability or desire to achieve within a competitive system which can be: demeaning, exploititative and hostile to the better aspects of human nature is not necessarily a failing on the part of the individual but rather a symptom of what is an inherently sick system.

    Even if someone built me a machine tomorrow that measured peoples intelligence and suggested that we create a heirarchical society founded on intelligence, using said machine, I would still argue that this represents a tyranny of sorts and that people should be given equal respect and equal access to resources. That is not to say that the merits of individuals shouldn't be appreciated, rather that those individuals should realise that their gift of surplus ability should be shared to benefit everyone, rather than to raise them above others. This realisation is an 'awakening' (i use this word in contrast to the concept of the spiral wizard) to the positive effect, on not only society but also individuals, of the sharing of abilities (and resources).

    I have some doubt concerning the validity of the spiral dynamic as a model for guaging human advancement. What history seems to point out to me is the repeated failure of exploititave systems in creating harmony and wellbeing amongst the people.

    I think we should feel disgust over the shameless exploitation of the lower classes and we should feel sympathy for their predicament, because recognising hurt or want in others and wanting to help them is what makes us human.
     
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    #9 muir, Dec 23, 2009
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  10. Duty

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    Honestly, I'm put off from discussing this. My post has been misread in a pessimistic/dogmatic frame indicative of a Straw Man. I don't have the patience to continue if my posts aren't going to be read in a generous frame of understanding. I'd love to walk in a spirit of cooperative exploration, but I'm not feeling reciprocation.
     
    #10 Duty, Dec 23, 2009
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  11. muir

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    I think there has been negative feeling on both sides here, which is a shame. I had initially sought more information from you because you said you had studied the subject and what you were saying seemed to fit with what i had read and i tried to set this out in my contribution.

    I believe strongly that the system is failing many people and that this cannot be put down to laziness on their part. This opinion has been strenghtened by working in mental health for a number of years. If my belief is dogma then I am dogmatic.

    I apologise for labouring this point in my reply, I am a little tired of the system if i am honest with you. I have learnt plenty from your posts and i hope we can carry on in a spirit of cooperative exploration.

    I am looking for pieces to my own knowledge puzzle, in order to get a clearer picture, and am happy to share what pieces i have, but I do have some strong views on these subjects, which might seem dogmatic, as some of these issues go to the heart of how I view the world.

    I see a world built on an 'individualistic' ideal which I think has a corrupting effect on people. I believe it grinds people down and takes its toll on both their physical and mental health. I am wary of anything that might be used as a justification for entrenching this system and will always argue against it! Misunderstandings aside we probably feel similar things over this.
     
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    #11 muir, Dec 23, 2009
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  12. Duty

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    This is why Spiral Dynamics is so neat. It shows where this point of view of yours comes from. I used to have a very very similar attitude (and generally I am against the system still), but as I've grown out of 4 and into 5 (and I'm about the most high functioning 5 possible, although I don't grab for money but instead I can't get enough knowledge, I'm actually very happy in this stage) in the last year, I realize that no point of view is just "wrong" and no point of view "has to be argued against."

    Ideas are not real things, they're just ways our mind organizes and understands the world. All that really exists is the stuff of physics.

    So we have ways of organizing the world where no one idea is "absolute" or "always better" then another. Ideas are "better" or "worse" only in given contexts...only if they explain/organize the situation better then another.

    Capitalism is just an idea. It is an idea with a lot of power because a lot of people fall into its structure. I don't think, at all, that it is the "best" form of economics or at all the penultimate one. However, I wouldn't say no to the idea that it is what we need in this point of history, as the largest section of society is still in the level 4 range of spiral dynamics. If our system encourages 5-like behavior, then people will see the advantages, and over time our customs will be tailored to take advantage of the wide niche available for 5.

    In time, a more socialist structure should probably take its place as people need encouragement to move to 6. Moving further, a structure built around competent achievement (instead of economic achievement) would be ideal for 6 moving to 7. All this takes time though...a lot of time. It took societies a while to move from the 2/3 structure of tribal society and the first civilizations such as Babylon, to form 4-like structures of laws...as seen in Greece, Egypt, and the like. It was only in the late Renaissance toward the Enlightenment that the great economic evolution of capitalism started to really form...going from 4 to 5. I think you get the idea...it takes a while.

    In the end the system is just extremely complex and one that plain numbers and reasoning has a very difficult time explaining. It takes intuition...the synthesis of many different facts coming together in a way that cognitive science has an extremely difficult time understanding. Our brains are amazing information processors, and it is hard to believe that any one idea is "always wrong, everywhere, at all times" because it is just a way to organize all the information.
     
    #12 Duty, Dec 23, 2009
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  13. muir

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    I guess we're getting into the realms of historicism. To what extent is the public consciousness driven forward (evolved) by the ideas of individuals and reformers? I am not sure the fundamentals of society have changed all that much over the centuries. Greater communication is bringing people together which would fit with the spiral dynamic idea that we as a species are in the turquoise phase, which seems to fit with globalisation and increased integration.

    Its an interesting idea, thanks, i will explore it further. Enjoy your holidays, whatever your beliefs!
     
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  14. sookie

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    This is interesting and so hard to say. Someone mentioned that it is hard to really research this. I think anything can be difficult to research and not impossible. This is a highly theoretical debate where science can bump up against religion.

    I think if this was neat and easy then there would be know room for growth. People's circumstances and upbringing really play into this. Then you layer it with the way that the persons brain works: Attention Deficit Disorder, Mental illness, physical illness.
    Add into this the person life and any trauma history, and any other experiences the person has lived that has created suffering. It is through struggles that people become compassionate. People like Helen Keller, Franklin, Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandi, Martin Luther King J.R. are some that come to mind that have become great leaders through their own experiences and background that have over come huge things in their lives. Oscar Schindler who overcame tremendous selfishness in order to rescue 1000 people from the Holocaust.

    There is so many things.

    Super question to think about! Thank-you for the opportunity.

    This is very layered topic, which makes it twice as juicy to savor the discussion!
     
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  15. Duty

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    Society is not in turquoise, we are still in blue/orange (levels 4 and 5 respectively). Turquoise (or level 8) is known about, but people are not predominately in that phase...not even close.

    Maybe... .01% of the population is a level 8, and under 1% is level 7. 15% may be in level 6, 30% in level 5, 40% in level 4, and the rest mostly in 3, and very few below that. As individuals that's where most people are.

    The culture/governmental structure/economic structure of the US is very very 5. Our leadership is 5, our common people are level 4.


    It's interesting stuff, my friend just attended a whole conference on spiral dynamics and tribal leadership (which is interesting as well, I notice my workplace is very 2 with some 3 on the 5 levels of tribal organization), and he came back and did a presentation for our social group to teach us what he had learned.
     
  16. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    We call the lion the king of the jungle, yet a microbe could kill him.

    So maybe there's something more complex than a ladder.

    I'd call it the flow of life, which is more precious than any of its elements, and in fact may become endangered, if too much emphasis is put on just one element.
     
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    #16 enfp can be shy, Dec 27, 2009
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