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#8010 - 08/09/06 09:43 AM Re: Evolution
Blacknad Offline
Superstar

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
Sue,

Can you prove that there are no selfless altruistic acts?

You Said - "because each individual has an ego commanding his every action, the concept of selflessness is thereby rendered absurd."

REP: You are stepping on very subjective ground here. You state that an individual HAS an ego governing actions. I would subscribe to Bundle Theory, as would many others, and reject the idea of an Ego as a seperate entity sitting in command. The brain is much more complex and fluid than that.

We cannot say that the brain does not have the ability to decide to act in another's favour even if there is no reward.

The idea that the concept of selflessness is rendered absurd comes at the end of assumptions and value judgements.

Prove to me that I am not capable of selflessness.

And the idea that there is always a reward so there is no selflessness makes an unwarranted logical leap:

Because there is always a reward therefore all acts are selfish assumes that our thinking always factors in the reward before acting. Prove it.

You write - "Unless you are egoless, you are selfish. Any act by the ego is to serve itself. We may place ourselves in harms way, but we do so because to do otherwise would not give us the self-satisfaction we desire."

REP: "There are many example of people giving their lives for another. Where is the satisfaction in self-annihilation?

You write - "Any act by the ego is to serve itself.!"

Again, can you prove it. It seems to be one of those arguments that is impossible to argue either way. Like the Shrink who tells you:

"You're in denial".

"No I'm not".

"Ah! See, you're in denial".


If we really follow your conclusions to their logical end then instead of rewarding soldiers or firemen with medals for bravery we could just as sensibly pillory them for being selfish b'stards. Big fan of Sartre are you?

Blacknad.

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#8011 - 08/09/06 12:58 PM Re: Evolution
TheFallibleFiend Offline
Megastar

Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1940
Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...
The altruism debate seems related to the freewill debate. It's something that I just don't think we have enough knowledge to definitely answer right now.

Just because something can reasonbly be explained by X doesn't mean that X is the explanation.

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#8012 - 08/09/06 04:28 PM Re: Evolution
soilguy Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/28/05
Posts: 414
Loc: North Carolina
Sue:

You quoted me out of context, changing the meaning of my post. I said I help kids without conscious thought, but when I do think about it, it can make rational sense.

It's rare when I help someone because I expect dividends in return.

In one way I can recognize "selfishness" in my acts of helping others: it makes me feel good to do it, and I sometimes feel bad if I pass up a good opportunity to help someone. I don't think that's the classic definition of selfishness, though.
_________________________
When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
--S. Lewis

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#8013 - 08/09/06 04:53 PM Re: Evolution
esin Offline
Member

Registered: 06/04/05
Posts: 60
Loc: LI, NY
The real question being asked (imo) is are qualities such as virtue or altruism intrinsic to man or are they acquired for this lifes' circumstance (i.e. are they learned). The answer is, simply, that all expression is a mixture of both~

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#8014 - 08/09/06 07:24 PM Re: Evolution
dehammer Offline
Megastar

Registered: 03/23/06
Posts: 1089
Quote:
Originally posted by Sue Hindmarsh:
Yes soldiers, firemen, police and other people who serve the community are much valued by society because they do the jobs that others aren't prepared to take on.

If it wasn't for these people, who find their greatest happiness in these sorts of high-danger jobs, we'd never have evolved the way we have.
-
Sue
you obviously were not around after the vietnam war. the soldiers comeing home and even those who served in other areas were dispised and taunted. there were no parades then, no one showering them with the 'value' of their sacrifice.

you obviously have never served. few if any serve for the "greatest happiness in these sorts of high-danger jobs", mainly because its not the danger that makes them happy. I did not go to the military because i wanted glory. i went because of my sister, who could not even read the oil stick in her car, nor figure out how to take care of it. i went because of my brother, who great as i believed he was, could never live outside of a small farm town. i went because of a friend that wanted to be a rock singer. i went because of a cousin that wanted to be a teacher when she grew up. do you think these people would have had the choise to be what they wanted under communism, under a dictator, nor could hundreds of other people's sisters, cousins, brothers or friends. My father is a farmer. he choises what crops to plant. would he have that ability under many of the regimes that have announced they were going to rule us. Did these people know why i went, no. it was never mentioned. they did not know. many did not care, nor would they if i had told them. my wife went for simular reasons. Did she go for the glory. what glory? a 2 inch picture stuck between the weddings announcements and the obits? who but here family would even notice? many of here family did not even care to notice. there is no "happyness in the danger" of repairing cameras. there is no "happyness in the dangerous job" of repairing an aircraft. My wife died flying from one air field to another, something that could have happened in civilian life. there was no more danger than to be happy about than in civilian life. people do not volenteer for service out of happyness in dangerous professions. nor do they do it for glory. they do it to serve and protect those who cant protect themselves. If my brother had to, he would have jumped off the tractor and picked up a gun, but it was not something he choise to do. i chose to do so, so that he would not have to, so that others would not have to. most others that i know that made that choice did so for simular reasons. is this altrusism, ill leave that for others to decide. all i can tell you is i had to go and that this is why.
_________________________
the more man learns, the more he realises, he really does not know anything.

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#8015 - 08/09/06 09:03 PM Re: Evolution
DA Morgan Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Sue wrote:
"Yet to refuse to donate organs, or give bone marrow may bring more ?risks? than if you had. For example: if you live in a culture, family or couple where the other member/s value donating a kidney, etc,"

I'll grant that if you'll grant that it is not true for most the the inhabitants of the planet. And certainly not for those in first-world countries.

You seem to misuse the word "ego" in what you've written. If you want people to understand some pseudo-Freudian usage you need to explain your intent.

Sue further wrote:
"All of the above once again shows how easily we accept the fantasy of altruism. The firemen called to the World Trade Center didn?t have to think about whether or not they should do their job ? they just did it."

You seem awfully determined to be RIGHT. They just did it equates in the real-world with intrinsic behaviour ... we call it instinct. And it is altruistic. You are mincing words at the expense of intellectual integrity.

Blacknad challenged you to provide a reference and you didn't. I know it is terribly unfriendly to do so and often gets in the way of people who wish to pontificate. But this IS a science forum and you really do NEED to provide some supporting material other than torturing the English language to support your point-of-view. Can you?
_________________________
DA Morgan

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#8016 - 08/09/06 09:19 PM Re: Evolution
DA Morgan Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
dehammer wrote:
"is this altrusism, ill leave that for others to decide. all i can tell you is i had to go and that this is why."

Yes it is!

Been there.
Done that.
Got the T-shirt too.

We have a country with leadership that not only never served but intentionally dodged telling us about the noble sacrifice in Iraq. We have Sue, who has apparently never done an altruistic act in her life, pontificating on altruism.

Welcome to the new world where reality = reality show. If it is staged ... it must be true.

Tell you what Sue ... someday when you are out swimming in the ocean ... and you see a shark approaching a child ... you make a decision as to whether to swim toward the child or scramble back to the beach with your tail between your legs. And by all means make that decision based upon the opportunity for fluffing your ego.
_________________________
DA Morgan

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#8017 - 08/10/06 09:15 AM Re: Evolution
anyman Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/18/04
Posts: 134
Quote:
Just because something can reasonbly be explained by X doesn't mean that X is the explanation.
hmm...

that is very interesting coming from an evolutionary guy in a thread on evolution

of course, evolution is not a reasonable explanation for the living world around us, but you guys claim it is

keep the evolutionary faith alive

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#8018 - 08/10/06 09:31 AM Re: Evolution
dehammer Offline
Megastar

Registered: 03/23/06
Posts: 1089
actually it is the only one that does. that is because evolution is the only theory that fits all the known fact. if there are more than one explination that fits all the facts then one of them must be wrong, and it could be that both are. in cases like these, science looks for more facts to determine which is right or that will fix the theories. faith will ignore anything that does not fit. show me a theory that fits all the known fact that does not include the theory of evolution and will discuss it. case in point is the idea that dinosars were all wiped out by the flood. this ignores the fact that their remains are a lot older than man and the fact that they are buried (in some cases) in tar pits that would not have existed during the flood. most of all it ignores the fact there is no evidence of a world wide flood.
_________________________
the more man learns, the more he realises, he really does not know anything.

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#8019 - 08/10/06 02:43 PM Re: Evolution
TheFallibleFiend Offline
Megastar

Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1940
Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...
TFF wrote:
"Just because something can reasonbly be explained by X doesn't mean that X is the explanation."

In a failed attempt at being clever, anyman wrote:
"that is very interesting coming from an evolutionary guy in a thread on evolution"

Creationists just can't keep things in context.
No educated person claims that evolution is the explanation just because it's reasonable.

My statement above is consistent with what I have said innumerable times in this forum; namely, that unless something produces hypotheses that are testable, then it isn't addressable by science.

We can debate all day about the reality of altruism (or free will), but as of this moment, neither has been fully answered by science. I say this in ignorance, actually. I haven't actually been looking at the evidence here. And this is something that marks a significant difference between myself and you, anyman - I actually admit that the reason I may be unaware of any evidence that decides the issue of altruism is that I haven't actually looked.

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#8020 - 08/10/06 05:08 PM Re: Evolution
DA Morgan Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
In response to:
"ust because something can reasonbly be explained by X doesn't mean that X is the explanation."

Anyman wrote:
"that is very interesting coming from an evolutionary guy in a thread on evolution"

What, pray tell, is interesting about the restatement of the obvious? We don't have an "evolutionary faith" ... we have proof. Change your tag line to: "keep the ignorance alive."
_________________________
DA Morgan

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#8021 - 08/10/06 10:14 PM Re: Evolution
Sue Hindmarsh Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 20
Loc: Australia
Blacknad questioned:

[QUOTE]
Can you prove that there are no selfless altruistic acts?

Prove to me that I am not capable of selflessness.

REP: "There are many example of people giving their lives for another. Where is the satisfaction in self-annihilation?

I wrote - "Any act by the ego is to serve itself.!"

Again, can you prove it. It seems to be one of those arguments that is impossible to argue either way.

I ? reject the idea of an Ego as a seperate entity sitting in command. The brain is much more complex and fluid than that.[QUOTE]

-
The self = emotional attachments. These attachments colour our relationship with the universe, and set us apart from each other - so that no two people are exactly alike. These attachments arise from our different environments, different genetics, different relationships, different values, different hormones, etc. This explains why we do the things we do, instead of doing other things. Our attachments cause us to discriminate between everything from what fruit we like to eat, the colour we admire, the people we love, the people we hate, the values we have, the jobs we do, etc.

Shared attachments allow us to bond together into groups. This has obviously benefited our survival; as to have an infant reach maturity takes a lot of hard work. Bonding together has made this job a lot easier.

Individuals bonding together, united by shared attachments and values, find that their needs and wants are met better by the group than if they had to act entirely independently. But; this also means that some attachments held by an individual may need to be suppressed, so as to not cause unrest or disorder in the group. For example: say a group comprises of three females and one male - with all the females depending on the male for food and protection. And say one of the females falls in deep water and is drowning. The male has to consider the possibility that, if he dives in to rescue her, he too might drown. This would mean that the other two females would be left alone and in peril. If he does decide to dive in to save her, it shows that he has either a greater attachment to her than to the other two females, or he is attached to his own abilities and strengths ? enough so to make him believe that he will succeed in saving her without falling victim himself. (From experience, we know that people who ?believe? they can do something often find out the hard way that they cannot.) No matter which way the story ends, what is clear here is that the male is at the mercy of his attachments.

This is also true for all people. They cannot escape their attachments, unless they are attached to do just that ? and that is rare indeed - usually left for the Great Philosophers to try for: people such as, Buddha, Jesus, Socrates, Chuang Tzu, Kierkegaard, Solway and Hakuin.

At base, altruism is a pleasant fantasy we have constructed to make us feel that we are more than just a herd animal. But as I?ve shown, our attachments cause us to remain just that.

-
Sue

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#8022 - 08/10/06 10:21 PM Re: Evolution
Sue Hindmarsh Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 20
Loc: Australia
Blacknad wrote:

[QUOTE]
If we really follow your conclusions to their logical end then instead of rewarding soldiers or firemen with medals for bravery we could just as sensibly pillory them for being selfish b'stards. Big fan of Sartre are you?[QUOTE]

Your "logical end" is a very skew-whiff idea indeed. How did you come to such a conclusion?

What has ?Sartre? got to do with this discussion?
-
Sue

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#8023 - 08/10/06 10:32 PM Re: Evolution
Sue Hindmarsh Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 20
Loc: Australia
TheFallibleFiend wrote:

[QUOTE]
The altruism debate seems related to the freewill debate. It's something that I just don't think we have enough knowledge to definitely answer right now.[QUOTE]

So that is your "definite answer" on the issue?

[QUOTE]
Just because something can reasonbly be explained by X doesn't mean that X is the explanation. [QUOTE]

What about reason and logic - are you saying that it is absolutely impossible for us to use those tools to uncover the truth about things?
-
Sue

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#8024 - 08/10/06 10:56 PM Re: Evolution
Blacknad Offline
Superstar

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
Quote:
Originally posted by Sue Hindmarsh:


What about reason and logic - are you saying that it is absolutely impossible for us to use those tools to uncover the truth about things?
-
Sue
Reason and logic can certainly get to the bottom of things, but it is also true that conclusions that we have reasonably come to have been proven false by empirical research.

So the question is, how do you know that your reasoning is accurate? There is nothing in what you post that would lead me to believe that it is anything other than your very strongly held opinion, and the degree of strength with which we adhere to an opinion is no indicator of its veracity.

You can state these opinions without anything objective to support them, mainly because they are beyond argument. I cannot prove we are capable of altruism, and you cannot prove we are not. You BELIEVE that all of our decisions are based purely upon self interest, and I do not.

Impasse. Just like free-will/determinism. Maybe you have a definitive answer for that one too wink

Interesting debate, but you will have to present some evidence of your conclusions if you wish to be taken seriously on this site.

Blacknad.

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#8025 - 08/10/06 11:13 PM Re: Evolution
Blacknad Offline
Superstar

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
Quote:
Originally posted by Sue Hindmarsh:
Blacknad wrote:

[QUOTE]
What has ?Sartre? got to do with this discussion?
-
Sue
Sartre tried to free us from the fantasy that life had any objective meaning. You, on a smaller scale, are trying to free us from the fantasy that we can act selflessly - so out goes kindness and sacrificial love etc. Like Sartre, it strips things bare and is a very bleak view of life.

Blacknad.

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#8026 - 08/10/06 11:58 PM Re: Evolution
Sue Hindmarsh Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 20
Loc: Australia
Blacknad wrote:

[QUOTE]
Reason and logic can certainly get to the bottom of things, but it is also true that conclusions that we have reasonably come to have been proven false by empirical research.

So the question is, how do you know that your reasoning is accurate? There is nothing in what you post that would lead me to believe that it is anything other than your very strongly held opinion, and the degree of strength with which we adhere to an opinion is no indicator of its veracity.

You can state these opinions without anything objective to support them, mainly because they are beyond argument. I cannot prove we are capable of altruism, and you cannot prove we are not. You BELIEVE that all of our decisions are based purely upon self interest, and I do not.

Impasse. Just like free-will/determinism. Maybe you have a definitive answer for that one too

Interesting debate, but you will have to present some evidence of your conclusions if you wish to be taken seriously on this site.[QUOTE]

Going by what you have written, your reason tells you that ?reason can certainly get to the bottom of things? but is always subject to new evidence coming to light which could cause it to be ?proven false?. Which boils down to the idea that there are no certainties ? except, of course, your idea that there are no certainties.

As you can see, your point is poorly thought out. Perhaps your use of reason needs more practice.

I also thought it very funny indeed, you stating that you could not show evidence of the existence of altruism, and that that was to be accepted as good enough, but continue on by telling me that without my showing any evidence of the non-existence of altruism, my thinking on this subject will be rejected outright.

Are you trying to be funny?

Is this your idea of a joke?

I have spent post after post giving detailed evidence of the truth about this topic. So far, not one person has brought anything to the table that was anything more than their whimsical feelings on this issue.

How about you use the little reason you possess to figure out the truth about this issue. I would welcome the debate.

-
Sue

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#8027 - 08/11/06 12:05 AM Re: Evolution
Sue Hindmarsh Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 20
Loc: Australia
soilguy wrote:

[QUOTE]
You quoted me out of context, changing the meaning of my post. I said I help kids without conscious thought, but when I do think about it, it can make rational sense.

It's rare when I help someone because I expect dividends in return.

In one way I can recognize "selfishness" in my acts of helping others: it makes me feel good to do it, and I sometimes feel bad if I pass up a good opportunity to help someone. I don't think that's the classic definition of selfishness, though.[QUOTE]

-
My point is that we have evolved to have attachments, and that these attachments drive our lives. The fact that you feel ?good? and ?bad? about your actions, only goes to highlight how deep rooted these attachments are.

We live in a species that, for the most part, considers acts of selfishness unpalatable. We like to think that people would want to do the right thing by each other because ?we are all human?, or because ?doing the right thing by others is just the fair thing to do?. Of course, most people may feel this way, but they surely do not act it. Every day, in all walks of life, people are trying to make their mark on the world by: winning that job contract, getting that parking space, putting prices up to make an extra dollar, getting that girl of your dreams to go out on a date with you, winning that soccer match, and on and on and on. To achieve these things, one has to be selfish - because if you did stop and consider the needs of the other competing contractor, the other driver, the consumer, the other guy who also wants to date the same girl, the other team ? you may indeed decide that their needs and wants were greater than yours, and stop yourself from striving to win these things.

Of course, most people never consider the consequences of their actions and just blunder on through making ?the best of life?. For the most part, people just turn a blind eye to acts of selfishness which doesn?t affect them too directly, or too harshly. Every now and then they may kick up a storm about the issue, but they quickly fall back into the comfort of their own selfish lives ? just like the rest of their family, their neighbours, their community?

-
Sue

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#8028 - 08/11/06 12:06 AM Re: Evolution
DA Morgan Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Blacknad asked:
"Can you prove that there are no selfless altruistic acts?

Prove to me that I am not capable of selflessness."

Sue replied:
"Where is the satisfaction in self-annihilation?"

You were asked to provide a reference. Not to pontificate and further torture the English language. It would appear that you are expressing a personal opinion shared by no one else. Did you forget this is a science forum?

And, further, please don't reference Socrates and others in a vain attempt to at being authoritative. Not one person you named was an expert in mammalian behaviour and you carefully ignored my question so I will put it to you yet again:

"If you observe a shark swimming toward a child in the water ... do you swim toward the child or away?"

The question really isn't that hard to answer.

And here are a couple more for you Sue:

1. Are you an organ donor?
2. Are you registered as a marrow donor?
3. What non-profits do you donate time helping?
4. Have you ever helped an elderly person you didn't know by holding a door for them?
_________________________
DA Morgan

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#8029 - 08/11/06 12:09 AM Re: Evolution
Sue Hindmarsh Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 20
Loc: Australia
esin wrote:

[QUOTE]
The real question being asked (imo) is are qualities such as virtue or altruism intrinsic to man or are they acquired for this lifes' circumstance (i.e. are they learned). The answer is, simply, that all expression is a mixture of both~[QUOTE]

What do you think caused the concepts of ?virtue? and ?altruism? to arise in man?

-
Sue

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