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No persnal gain?

  1. Jul 7, 2003 #1
    is it possable for soemone to do something with out any persnal gain?
    I think no...but then agian i think a lot of abstract things...

    i dotn buy that good person who selflessly helps others its a load of bull plop. I base it on instict to survive u do anything to survive or push your seed onto another generation. Evolution decide to make us feel happyness and sociaty set standards that dictated how to achive happyness. it's fame, it's money its helping others, a great thing to do but the reason we really do it subcondiously is to help others to feed off of what society concocted as pleasure.

    Have you ever heard anyone saying helping the homeless sure gives me a horrable feeling inside. Those peoapl dont do it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 7, 2003 #2
    No, it's not possible. Anything one does one will gain at least the experience of the act.
  4. Jul 8, 2003 #3
    you can't say that when someone gives their life for someone else they are getting something out of it. and i know about the selfish gene thingamy, that people will give their lives for people who are closely related so as to pass on their shared genes but i refuse to believe all selfless actions are kept in the family.

    i can't help but think of commradeship in times of war or revolution where countless men and women give their lives for complete strangers, for their countires, for an ideal.

    this is an interesting idea however i don't think that when someone is dying slowly and painfully at the hands of torturers to protect the safety of others they are getting anything from the experience.
  5. Jul 8, 2003 #4
    When someone gives their life they are still there experiencing the act unto death. So they still gain the experience of the act. Further, they benifit from this by justifying the self-belief that they should act to save... let's say... the drowning child.

    When someone martyr's themself for a belief or an ideal, such as with "commradeship in times of war", this someone is still benefiting the self. See, this person believes that his point of view is so justified that his death will be a statement to posterity. He knows that his surviving comrades will speak of him with reverence just as he spoke of those comrades who died in battle before him.

    Dying slow and painfully is just another approach toward the same problem.
  6. Jul 8, 2003 #5
    I don't believe that any act if selfless...
    Even jumping on a grenade to save people, you'll still get honoured in death for your actions.

    A study done by Batson, people had to watch another participant recieve destressing electric shocks. They can either leave or take over. This was suppose to show altruism, but.. I have my doubts.
  7. Jul 8, 2003 #6


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    Seems to depend on how you look at it. I'm often helping complete strangers, maybe buying a homeless man dinner, or helping a girl who lost her purse get back home with gas to spare, etc.

    While I lose money and time, I normally get alot of thanks from the helped person, and a personal feeling of good, knowing that some girl I'll never see again made it home safe and sound due to my unconditional love for my brothers and sisters. Or perhaps the homeless man, who is for all I know still homeless. Perhaps he took note of my kind act, and maybe it has inspired him to work harder at becoming a decent person, so that he to may be able to help another less fortunate individual. More then likely, it did not, and he grabbed the tip up off the table to get a 40 oz, but I'll never know.

    Its what you consider selfless, and the degree of the act done. If you consider losing money and time to be a selfless act, then yes, there are such things. If your more like me, and hold the belief that "its just money, I can always make more" then not much has been lost, and if anything, more has been gained then if you just pass the person by.

    As far as giving ones life for another, or cause, idea, revolution, etc, so long as that cause is fufilled, or that person has developed into a person that would make the same decision if needed, then something is gained, not so much by the dead man, but more so by those living in his/her legacy.
  8. Jul 8, 2003 #7
    Well since society holds selfless acts as acts worth honoring or rewarding some way then it because a self consious act
  9. Jul 11, 2003 #8
    I think that you gain something from everything that you do, but its people that do things without wanting to gain anything themselves. I have alot of respect for people like that but alot less for people who are always only looking out for themselves.
  10. Jul 11, 2003 #9
    Like any act (of observation), altruism or selfishness affects the other (object). We can't help but influence, whether positively or negatively, our environment and its entities. We do have free will to at least try practicing fairness, though.
  11. Jul 11, 2003 #10
    I think that most people are only looking out for themselves. But did you ever have the thought that the world is shaped by your own opinion? For example, when life is hard, our opinion of people goes down. When life is good, our opinion of people goes up. And maybe having a bad opinion of people is the result of not being able to cut off bad relationships or move on from a bad job and look for better situations. The odds are against it - living in a competitive materialistic society as we do makes it difficult - but that doesn't mean it's impossible. So maybe the best way to look at life is don't be naive, but also don't be afraid to jump into the light. And don't worry about the questions we'll never have answers to.
  12. Jul 12, 2003 #11
    In my view love may be one of the common examples of a seemingly selfless act, that is nature evolved love or giving to others of a close relationship without direct expectation of apparent return, but if love were not effective we would not know love so I suspect love is of long term benefit of greater degree provided it is mutual and that's the catch, it is evolutionarily a practical mechanism that helps us see past the immediate disadvantages to the greater long term gains of mutaul cooperation. Love is a rewarding biochemical bond of familiarity.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 12, 2003
  13. Jul 16, 2003 #12
    Some Ad Hoc Advice....

    Here is some ad hoc advice: When an argument parallels the thought of Ayn Rand, it is in all likelihood a bad argument.

    If I understand what "The Grummus" is getting he is saying that because any action of an individual may be viewed as benefiting that individual all actions are inherently selfish. How this can make sense I will never know. It is damn obvious that two uses (maybe even three uses) of the word "selfish" are being treated as one, highlighting a blatant logical fallacy:

    The first use (or definition) of "selfish" deals with first person, a priori, conscious motivations for an action, example – Johnny wanted to play with the toy (motivation), so he selfishly stole it from Billy (action). Johnny’s action was selfish because he put his desire for the toy ahead of Billy's right to the toy.

    The second use of "selfish" deals with ad hoc recontextualizations only available after the fact, generally to a second person, example – The rich, cynical, and selfish Republican voted to ease the nonexistent tax burden on the rich and decrease Medicare benefits for the elderly. Although this description is perfectly accurate (the Republican’s action benefits himself and hurts others), it cannot be considered synonymous to Johnny’s action because the Republican (probably) did not vote with the express intention to benefit himself and hurt others (Johnny intentionally stole Billy’s toy to further his own gains). Indeed, the Republican probably would not have voted to pass the bill had he been poor (he probably wouldn’t have been a Republican to begin with), but that is superfluous to the question of whether or not his financial status was his motivation for his vote, which can only be viewed as contributing reason, detached from any first person, conscious motivations.

    The third use of “selfish” – that may have been confused here - deals with evolution. It is completely irrelevant to any questions dealing with intent.

    Generally those who make these idiotic errors go further into irrationalism and take a huge non sequitur leap to making conclusion about what is natural or right (Ayn Rand certainly did with her extra claim that “selfishness is a virtue”).
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 16, 2003
  14. Jul 17, 2003 #13
    Yes. It is possible. There are conceivable situations in which this might occur.

    This question needs to have to different things clearly differentiated. There is the question of intent, and there is the question of effects. Technically, your question is asking about effects. But I think that what you are really asking about is intent.

    I could think that investing $1000 in a certain stock will give me large returns returns, but I could end up losing money. In this situation, a person (me) does something without receiving any personal gain. However, I was expecting a personal gain.

    On the other hand, a person could not expect personal gain, yet receive it anyway. For example, a person might help someone out and feel good about it later. But the desire to have this happy feeling didn't necessarily motivate the helping out of the other person. It could (and often is) just a desire to help the person. This is true altruism. I consider this to be an exhibition of higher character, which would make me have more respect for a person, but, effectually, any good deed is just as good whether motivated by self-interest or not.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2003
  15. Jul 20, 2003 #14
    To sum it up: no deed is unselfish, it may be done to avoid feeling guilty, or to feel good (as is the case when you give your life for someone).

    What is important: 'selfish' is not always 'bad'. Not if it makes one do good deeds.
  16. Jul 21, 2003 #15
    Could we say that no science is unselfish, since it involves us as either observer or theoretician?
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