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Instinct vs Reflexes in regards to altruism

whatledge
Posts: 210
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1/26/2014 4:00:26 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
If Bob were to see Steve about to get hit by a car and saves him, is this altruistic act an instinct or a reflex? The difference being that if it is an instinct, it suggests that there is an inherent altruistic nature within humans. If it is a reflex, on the other hand, this would suggest that altruism is in fact something learned and taught. This could of course be a false dichotomy, but I would like to hear everyone's thoughts.
AnDoctuir
Posts: 11,060
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2/1/2014 12:23:54 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
It's programming (or reflex), and all programming is backed by rational argument, so, yes, altruism can be learned. It's actually just incredible the control we have over ourselves and the sensibility that's behind everything, once you really start paying attention. One notion will consume a person and they wont even realise it, everything being built around it. Proof of all of this lies in the man who has lost it all becoming something very dangerous or suicidal. His programming is brought crashing down and he's starting again, only with further considerations. Instinct, on the other hand, would simply demand the man start again.
whatledge
Posts: 210
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2/1/2014 4:38:18 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/1/2014 12:23:54 AM, AnDoctuir wrote:
It's programming (or reflex), and all programming is backed by rational argument, so, yes, altruism can be learned. It's actually just incredible the control we have over ourselves and the sensibility that's behind everything, once you really start paying attention. One notion will consume a person and they wont even realise it, everything being built around it. Proof of all of this lies in the man who has lost it all becoming something very dangerous or suicidal. His programming is brought crashing down and he's starting again, only with further considerations. Instinct, on the other hand, would simply demand the man start again.

That's an interesting take. I wonder though, I have heard about pelicans feeding blind pelicans that couldn't hunt and feed themselves effectively. Would this also be learned behavior based on some "programming?" Or could it be an instinct? The former would suggest, as you say, that there may be a "rational argument" behind their actions. I would not deny the possibility that pelicans are capable of rational argument, but it does seem like an odd notion at a glance.