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Selflessness = Ethical behaviour?

  1. Jan 23, 2006 #1

    Selflessness results in the immediate destruction of the self. How can this help the greater good... which includes the "self"/individual?

    The closest approximations to selfless acts are those acts of a soldier, firefighter and police. Volunteer rescuers are also in the category.

    The self gratification these men and women derive from their courageous acts is overshadowed by the immediate risks to their lives that they attract in their careers.

    After posting in the

    thread about how automobile owners are being trained in the art of Ethics by following the rules of the road, selflessness came under scrutiny. When drivers don't adhere to the ethics of driving there can be no progress, no arrivals or departures, no road and no commerce and/or spring board for alternative commerce to speak of.

    This brings to mind the fact that each person driving is doing so out of self gratification. They have somewhere to go, or no where to go but they are in the car for themselves and their various justifications. They follow the ethics of driving so that they may gratify their individual cause. And in doing so, they are allowing others to do the same/equal/rights/thingy.

    And they treat other drivers... for the most part... as they would treat themselves... with great care (to varying degrees).

    This brings me to the surprise of my opener. You may be familiar with the saying...
    Yes, you read it here. Confucius wrote this famed philosophical statement... not Deuters Palmes or whoever. It was written 500 years before the Roman/Hebrew conflict. This is something discovered after many visits to the dusty bowels of curious shops in the Chinatown area of the city.

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    Does this sound selfless? No. Its cooperative.

    How did Confucius come up with this idea? My guess would be that he observed the nature of people and the cause and effect of their interactions.

    When Confucius saw the "eye for an eye, tooth for a toof" crowd slowly hacking each other into extinction he realized there must be a better philosophy that tended toward a more permanent form of culture. And what culture has been more permanent than that of the Chinese people?

    True enough to say that the famed Budda was alive around the same time and perhaps had an influence in the wording or editing of Confucius's saying.

    The Budda took out the last sentence which read "next beer's on Budda".:surprised
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 24, 2006 #2
    how can one act ethically when one is already in prejudice towards "others" for their having beliefs, ideas that are different that theirs?

    so long as there's a "you", there is a "me". already we have two sides. i will say that, "so long as there is such a distinction between entities, all actions are ethical and non-ethical; to one side, one acts ethically, and to the other, unethically. this is elementary. no?
  4. Jan 24, 2006 #3


    However, I believe that each individual is a two-part combination of a particular "self" and a whole "self", and that there is a difference between right and not right and that the idea of being right is inherent in all individuals.

    You are always responsible for your actions and effects that your actions cause, and intent is everything.

    One that intends actions to make the 'other' perceived being that is not you, better, requires development of the whole 'self', inside the one being that is truly you.

    One that intended actions to make the 'one' perceived being that was you, better, required development of only the particular 'self', inside the one being that was not you.

    First whole 'self', then particular 'self', then the combination of the two inside one being that is, balanced.

    Should it be believed that there is no whole common ground between all particular individuals, and therefore only the particular gets developed, then it may also be believed that it is every 'man' for themself and they should 'take no prisoners'. Under that 'other' belief, it was a free-for-all war of any kind imagined everywhere, right now.

    The 'elementary' part was the particular. The 'secondary' part is the whole.

    Under one belief, there is peace right now.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2006
  5. Jan 24, 2006 #4
    one self, two selves, other selves... who are you? are you 2 in 1? do you really think this? if so, what does your "other" self think about it?

    proposal for contemplation:
    every action committed by a "person" (actions projected from the "I"), is, at once, ethical and un-ethical.

    even hitler could be said to have acted ethically, by intending to raise Germany from "despair".

    morsel for contemplation:
    no one can act fully ethically. in trying to act ethically, one acts unethically. when self is "empty", there is no desire to act. this action, which is really non-action, acts neither ethically nor unethically. this kind of action, non-action, comes not from a person, but is the movement of the universe. emptiness is the actualization of universal harmony. in its emptiness, it is always full. such emptiness is always in accord with the Great Integrity (as it has been so beautifully pointed at by Lao Tze).
  6. Jan 24, 2006 #5
    I believe everyone is that. It's up to each individual to choose which domain they develop. Full development of the one whole secondary domain comes at the expense of the other particular elementary domain.

    If you believe it is not possible for any individual to "act" fully ethically, then you believe that it was not possible for any individual to transcend from the elementary domain to the secondary domain by realizing the act was illusion, and only the still point-of-reference is real.

    Trying to do anything was illusion.

    (rightintent * selflessness)/ethical behaviour=rightstate
  7. Jan 24, 2006 #6
    Ethics = Balance

    Not really.

    Ethics is the study of how to harmonize individuals... as in harmonizing their energies and efforts toward a culture of cooperation. This can't be done by infringement. It can only be done by offering laws which reflect the obvious choices nature presents in its mechanisms... though, they're not so obvious to some people, apparently. (You'll notice the least properly ethical people are the ones with chauffers... they don't drive so they are not trained in modern ethics!!!)

    Ethics are the various methods a group puts together to accomodate and utilize each individual's beliefs and disbeliefs, strengths and weaknesses. The most balanced and effective form of ethics performs this seemingly magical function.

    There are various kinds of ethics... but only one domain of ethics that will result in the most harmonious, cooperative, progressive and efficient forms of human culture.

    The ethical laws which results in a well maintained, prosperous, introspective and respectful society are the ethical laws that, to the untmost degree, reflect nature and its attributes with regard to maintaining, existence, balance, progress, evolution and so on.

    The 10 commandments are an example of ethical laws that were established by a group who lived nomadically together for many years.

    Through their observations the Hebrew tribes were able to determine and define a set of "non-infringment" clauses that helped to keep the people together, working together and progressing together.

    The Hebrew people have had a strong culture that has lasted as long (and through trying and unethical times) if not longer that the Chinese culture(s). We could also note the Japanese culture(s) and the ethics that evolved out of it simply because of the confined proximities for individuals who live within the boundaries of an island.

    This longevity of the Hebrew culture is a testament to the efficiency of their ethics. It is the inefficient ethics practised by others (whose cultures have all but disintigrated), in the past, that have diminished thier gene pool and therefore their culture.

    If you think the Nazi's ethical laws were to "raise Germany to greater heights"... think again. Their only ethic was heirarchy, control, disrespect, fear and greed. And it lasted, in full bloom, 10 years at the most.

    The Nazis 10 year rule (approx.) of Germany was an extreme example of an inefficient ethical policy.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2006
  8. Jan 25, 2006 #7
    or, its a testament to their being culture-centric. not to say that they are, but to particularize and choose one side is to neglect and abandon the other side. in extreme cases where we have strong emotional reactions to one or both sides, we are over-whelmed by emotion and are incapable of perceiving the damage that nationality produces; the conflict inherent in duality.

    efficiency and inefficiency are one. when something is efficient in one way it is, as a result, inefficient in another way. just like all causes are effects and vice versa, efficiency and inefficieny are two sides of one coin.
    with paying attention to particulars, one neglects others.
    when attention is on oneself, others are neglected.
    when attention is oneself, nothing is neglected and nothing is lavished. all are equal in the field of attention. this is the fulfillment of self in negating individual self-importance (not the destruction). paying attention costs one the commodity of self. when attention is paid, and ignoring (ignorance) is naught, the self, too, being of ignorance, is naught.

    most importantly:
    the idea of selflessness already implies that there is a really existing self, to begin with. are you certain that there is such an entity, in reality?
  9. Jan 25, 2006 #8
    I am certain there was an existing self to begin with.

    The whole and the particular are two sides of one coin.
  10. Jan 25, 2006 #9
    what does that mean, "there was... to begin with"? where did it go, and what began?

    yes! there is One Coin.
  11. Jan 26, 2006 #10
    Selflessness is an attempt to negate the reality of personal responsibility. Denying ones own desires only destroys ones desire to be deserving of that which one desires. Believing that one can have or be anything apart from achieving or earning it demonstrates ones contempt for ones self and the reality in which they have abdicated their right to exist.
  12. Jan 26, 2006 #11

    Selflessness is about making the welfare of other beings your first priority, and your own welfare your second priority.

    And, so as to "accomplish" your first priority, you develop in balance, your "other-than-self" and your "self" inside of you, with your first area of development being your "other-than-self", the area that considers all other beings first and does what is best for them.

    You are not what you did but what you did affected that which you are now, and that which you are now is not the finished product.

    First there is you, then there is what you did. Many individuals stake a claim and title to what they did, and thus, live in the past.

    First there is "I am", then there is "I am a drywaller".

    Be here now.
  13. Jan 26, 2006 #12
    Close but in reverse:
    First there is "I am a drywaller", then there is "I am".
  14. Jan 26, 2006 #13
    If, in fact, you were correct with the above statement, "Close but in reverse", and I believe that you are not, then the statement quoted above should read: "Drywaller am I".


    First I, then I am whatever you think.
  15. Jan 26, 2006 #14
    First we are potentially something, then we may become something. If and when we become something that enables us to be responsible for our own existence then we are someone; and everybody wins.
  16. Jan 26, 2006 #15
    Clearly, you believe action is being.

    Please provide your definition of the word "something".
  17. Jan 26, 2006 #16
    Being human gives us the potential to be many things; some good, some bad. Acknowledging and assuming responsibility for our own lives is how we realize our potential to be something that has potential value to others who have realized theirs.

    My responsibilities tell me I need to go now. It’s been nice chatting with you.
  18. Jan 26, 2006 #17

    Being human gave you the potential to do many things.
  19. Jan 27, 2006 #18
    Learning what I can be has led me to do what I have done. What I have done has made me what I am. Knowing that what I have become is good motivates me to do everything I can do to be all that I can be.

    If we are all to serve others above our selves, humanity is condemned to subvert to the lowest common denominator; the person who values no one, let alone them self. When each of us pursues our own rational self interest and achieves our highest individual potential we are then of the greatest possible value we can be to each other.
  20. Jan 27, 2006 #19
    This is my understanding of ethics as well. When a person is self-sufficient they are of the most use to others while relying less on others.

    When everyone can achieve a self-sufficiency, they are able to rely on each other as well as their own power. This is a condition of maximum progress.

    You see it when someone is able to give you a boost with their booster cables. They're prepared for their own dead battery... and, yet, this self preparedness is of great use to you as well... if you happen to be cableless for whatever reason. It almost boils down to fair trade between individuals.

    However, when a firefighter comes busting through your wall to put out your burning couch and he's caught on fire for a while, risking his entire life, how do you repay this... what is the fair trade?

    The fire fighter will tell you that you being alive is his big pay off... that the fact he is alive is a major bonus too.

    These are extreme instances that do not seem to fit into the democratic ethic other than to say that they are a part of the democratic mix... or... multi-cultural/multi-disciplinary tolerance of a democratic society.
  21. Jan 27, 2006 #20
    Someone who has achieved a higher state of being is willing to share some of his power with an individual in need.

    A true selfless person has control of his fears, unlike most fire fighters that do what they do because they are getting paid.

    A distincting has to be made between a person that constantly helps and supports somebody else capable of develepment. And that somebody else leeches on all recources.
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