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Can someone explain altruism

Rubikx
Posts: 226
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2/9/2015 10:22:06 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Before you all try defining altruism for me. I already know what it is. What I want to know is why is it a thing? Beyond family and close friends it doesn't make much sense. Why does a fireman rush into a fire risking his life to save a person he has never met and would likely never meet again. Why do soldier go off to war to protect people they never know and who, a lot of the time, don't really give them the respect and appreciation they deserve? Can anyone give a well defined and logical explanation for altruism outside direct family or friends.
Chuz-Life
Posts: 1,788
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2/10/2015 12:20:33 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/9/2015 10:22:06 PM, Rubikx wrote:
Before you all try defining altruism for me. I already know what it is. What I want to know is why is it a thing? Beyond family and close friends it doesn't make much sense. Why does a fireman rush into a fire risking his life to save a person he has never met and would likely never meet again. Why do soldier go off to war to protect people they never know and who, a lot of the time, don't really give them the respect and appreciation they deserve? Can anyone give a well defined and logical explanation for altruism outside direct family or friends.

I consider myself to be very selfless. My father was even more so that way. I think that besides my being raised to care for others, I can give several other reasons for why I strive to be altruistic. I think there is a reward in the thanks that you get from helping others that you can't get any other way. So, when you do get "thanks" it's an incentive in and of itself.

Another reason for my selfless wasn't obvious to me until a psychiatrist interviewed me and connected some dots. He said that because my mother died when I was so young (18 months or so), I was living my life looking for her to tell me I was good or that she was proud of me. . . only she could never tell me those things, herself. I still do things with the hope that my mother would be proud but I don't have the need for her to tell me so anymore.

Another reason (for myself) for being altruistic is because there are so many things in life that we are helpless against. . . it actually helps me to help others. It makes the sense of helplessness go away.

Then to is the guilt I feel when I feel that I should have helped and didn't or when I feel like I could have done more.

AND, there is also the sense of purpose that I get from taking on things (issues) that are bigger than myself.
"Sooner or later, the Supreme Court of the Unites States is going to have explain how a 'child in the womb' is a person enough to be recognized as a MURDER victim under our fetal homicide laws but how they are not persons enough to qualify for any other Constitutional protections" ~ Chuz Life

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Rubikx
Posts: 226
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2/10/2015 9:27:13 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/10/2015 12:20:33 AM, Chuz-Life wrote:
At 2/9/2015 10:22:06 PM, Rubikx wrote:
Before you all try defining altruism for me. I already know what it is. What I want to know is why is it a thing? Beyond family and close friends it doesn't make much sense. Why does a fireman rush into a fire risking his life to save a person he has never met and would likely never meet again. Why do soldier go off to war to protect people they never know and who, a lot of the time, don't really give them the respect and appreciation they deserve? Can anyone give a well defined and logical explanation for altruism outside direct family or friends.

I consider myself to be very selfless. My father was even more so that way. I think that besides my being raised to care for others, I can give several other reasons for why I strive to be altruistic. I think there is a reward in the thanks that you get from helping others that you can't get any other way. So, when you do get "thanks" it's an incentive in and of itself.

Another reason for my selfless wasn't obvious to me until a psychiatrist interviewed me and connected some dots. He said that because my mother died when I was so young (18 months or so), I was living my life looking for her to tell me I was good or that she was proud of me. . . only she could never tell me those things, herself. I still do things with the hope that my mother would be proud but I don't have the need for her to tell me so anymore.

Another reason (for myself) for being altruistic is because there are so many things in life that we are helpless against. . . it actually helps me to help others. It makes the sense of helplessness go away.

Then to is the guilt I feel when I feel that I should have helped and didn't or when I feel like I could have done more.

AND, there is also the sense of purpose that I get from taking on things (issues) that are bigger than myself.

But even this raises questions. Why do you feel the need to get your mothers approval? why do you get a sense of guilt or purpose by helping or not helping others? Why do humans feel almost an obligation to help others in certain situations when there is no real benefit for themselves?
Chuz-Life
Posts: 1,788
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2/10/2015 12:38:11 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/10/2015 9:27:13 AM, Rubikx wrote:
At 2/10/2015 12:20:33 AM, Chuz-Life wrote:
At 2/9/2015 10:22:06 PM, Rubikx wrote:
Before you all try defining altruism for me. I already know what it is. What I want to know is why is it a thing? Beyond family and close friends it doesn't make much sense. Why does a fireman rush into a fire risking his life to save a person he has never met and would likely never meet again. Why do soldier go off to war to protect people they never know and who, a lot of the time, don't really give them the respect and appreciation they deserve? Can anyone give a well defined and logical explanation for altruism outside direct family or friends.

I consider myself to be very selfless. My father was even more so that way. I think that besides my being raised to care for others, I can give several other reasons for why I strive to be altruistic. I think there is a reward in the thanks that you get from helping others that you can't get any other way. So, when you do get "thanks" it's an incentive in and of itself.

Another reason for my selfless wasn't obvious to me until a psychiatrist interviewed me and connected some dots. He said that because my mother died when I was so young (18 months or so), I was living my life looking for her to tell me I was good or that she was proud of me. . . only she could never tell me those things, herself. I still do things with the hope that my mother would be proud but I don't have the need for her to tell me so anymore.

Another reason (for myself) for being altruistic is because there are so many things in life that we are helpless against. . . it actually helps me to help others. It makes the sense of helplessness go away.

Then to is the guilt I feel when I feel that I should have helped and didn't or when I feel like I could have done more.

AND, there is also the sense of purpose that I get from taking on things (issues) that are bigger than myself.

But even this raises questions. Why do you feel the need to get your mothers approval?

It feels good to make someone proud and it also gives a sense of confidence to know that you can deal with certain situations yourself, by helping others and thus living through it vicariously.

why do you get a sense of guilt or purpose by helping or not helping others?

See above.

Why do humans feel almost an obligation to help others in certain situations when there is no real benefit for themselves?

I've already listed several 'benefits' for you. You may find them lacking for you personally but I find them to be very compelling.
"Sooner or later, the Supreme Court of the Unites States is going to have explain how a 'child in the womb' is a person enough to be recognized as a MURDER victim under our fetal homicide laws but how they are not persons enough to qualify for any other Constitutional protections" ~ Chuz Life

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R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,733
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2/10/2015 1:20:42 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/9/2015 10:22:06 PM, Rubikx wrote:
Can anyone give a well defined and logical explanation for altruism outside direct family or friends.

Ah, you are asking exactly the right question here. I should start out by saying that true altruism is not those acts which help family and friends, it is those acts which help those which are not close to you. If I leave my daughter a trust fund, I'm not being altruistic.

Self-actualization is a process of which we must reach inside and come to terms with what it is we really need in this life. The common understanding of wants and needs is that wants are luxuries, while needs are necessities. This dichotomy is petty and useless. Instead I invite you to look at it another way - wants are things that bring us immediate comfort but hurt us overall, and needs are things which bring us immediate discomfort but help us overall.

Altruism is something that exists in the latter category - there is no "well-defined, logical explanation" for why you should do it immediately, but overall it helps you. It helps you feel good about yourself, avoid guilt and shame, it helps you sleep comfortably at night... Last night I had a dream. In reality, my mouth was dry and I needed a drink (I was soon to awaken to drink the glass of water waiting for me on my nightstand). I was dreaming I was standing next to an old friend of mine, and he was at a vending machine, dumping money into it and collecting cans of lemonade. I was thirsty, and i saw some change on the ground that wasn't mine... change that I could use to buy some lemonade out of the machine to quench my own thirst. For a moment the thought crossed my mind to scoop it, up, but I quickly realized that being a good person is more important than immediate gratification, so I let the money stay on the ground and walked away from it.

If I was a selfish person, I would have taken that money on the ground, knowing it was somebody else's. In essence, my own viciousness would be following me into my dreams to haunt me. Altruism is freedom from vice. Freedom from the effects of greed, pride, anger, and indulgence. These things are a prison that we build for ourselves, and they follow us into our dreams, haunt our minds while we are awake by causing guilt, dissatisfaction, and despair. And when we refuse to help others we aren't fooling the people around us, they know we are scum and when we need help they will not waste their time helping us. But one should not get caught up in consequentialist thinking, one should simply give and forget about it. Don't brag about it, don't count on it to help you later, just give. You'll never give "too much." Give to charity, donate your time to volunteer, help people whenever you can. Perhaps you'll die a poor man, but you'll sleep good at night and you'll die with a smile on your face. There's a line from the original Conan which I love:

"There comes a time, thief, when the gold loses its luster, the gems cease to sparkle, and the throne-room becomes a prison. And all that's left is a father's love for his daughter."

The point is that wealth does not bring true happiness, the only way to truly become happy, content, and fulfilled is to depend on your own conscience to provide such comforts for you. Your conscience will either haunt you and torment you, or else it will comfort you and relieve you of the effects of getting old. Getting old includes not just physical ailments, but also psychological ones. Your wrongs begin to add up and snowball. When you become old, you can either look back at a life full of philanthropy or a life full of greed. It doesn't matter if your bank account is full or empty. It matters if people love you though, it matters if people trust you. You can't get that by being greedy.
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- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
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Surrealism
Posts: 265
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2/10/2015 2:26:11 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/9/2015 10:22:06 PM, Rubikx wrote:
Before you all try defining altruism for me. I already know what it is. What I want to know is why is it a thing? Beyond family and close friends it doesn't make much sense. Why does a fireman rush into a fire risking his life to save a person he has never met and would likely never meet again. Why do soldier go off to war to protect people they never know and who, a lot of the time, don't really give them the respect and appreciation they deserve? Can anyone give a well defined and logical explanation for altruism outside direct family or friends.

Simply put, it is evolutionary. A species will survive more if its members feel an urge to help each other even when it does not result in immediate gratification.
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