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The Inescapability of Self Interest

DevinKing
Posts: 206
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11/28/2009 10:11:16 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
In every action we take. No matter what we do, there is no way to escape doing something for our own good. Even if we do something that appears detrimental to our selves, the action was motivated by some emotion within us. If we give to the poor, it is because it makes us feel good or because we feel guilty for not doing it. Either way, the motivation is to make ourselves feel better. Whether the gain is emotional and helps us feel better or physical, it does not matter. The actions taken by sane individuals are always motivated by self interest. If it is not motivated by self interest, then we, as humans, will not do it.

What are your thoughts on this topic?
After demonstrating his existence with complete certainty with the proposition "I think, therefore I am", Descartes walks into a bar, sitting next to a gorgeous priest. The priest asks Descartes, "Would you like a drink?" Descartes responds, "I think not," and then proceeds to vanish in a puff of illogic.
Kleptin
Posts: 5,095
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11/28/2009 10:34:59 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
Agree for the most part.

People act in accordance with their own values. There is always a reward for an action, whether tangible or intangible, external or internal. For some people, the satisfaction of their own values is enough.
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Volkov
Posts: 9,765
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11/28/2009 10:52:29 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
Interesting that this came up now.

I was reading a section in this book called The Evolution of God the other day which explained something to me - altruism, in a way, does exist.

The way it exists, though, is biological. The evolution of our species isn't much different from other animals, and one of the main characteristics of mammals is that the bonds between family members are strong, so strong in fact that a parent or child will go to great lengths, and at great risks to themselves, to protect that family member. That, to me, seems altruistic. It becomes more so considering our heavily interconnected world, where we come in contact with strangers every day, and the defining lines of relationships are rather blurred.

You can, though, say that even this form of "altruism" as it is still driven by biological self-interest of a sort. That may be simplifying it, though.
Danielle
Posts: 21,330
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11/28/2009 10:57:35 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
Volkov, yes, it is in their biological self-interest to do so; perhaps an innate desire to perpetuate one's own species and genetics as well. Plus, even if it was for "emotional" reasons (which is still biological) then they're still benefiting from their decision. They would rather their family live (for whatever reason) thus they help keep them alive thus no altruism.
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DevinKing
Posts: 206
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11/28/2009 11:08:43 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
To Volcov:

"You can, though, say that even this form of "altruism" as it is still driven by biological self-interest of a sort. That may be simplifying it, though."

It is driven by the strong emotional bonds between the individuals. We know that if we didn't help that person then much guilt and suffering would follow. We would feel horrible if anything happened to a person which we loved. Any "selfless" attempt at saving such a person from a horrible fate by putting ourselves in harms way actually comes from the inner knowledge that the pain from a wound would be less than that of losing the person. Therefore, it is still done in self interest.
After demonstrating his existence with complete certainty with the proposition "I think, therefore I am", Descartes walks into a bar, sitting next to a gorgeous priest. The priest asks Descartes, "Would you like a drink?" Descartes responds, "I think not," and then proceeds to vanish in a puff of illogic.
Volkov
Posts: 9,765
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11/28/2009 11:43:24 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
I still feel that is simplifying it a little too much.

There are many things that we do out of self interest which we know will hurt others, and cause the same emotional grief, yet we still do them. Sometimes, we do them even if there is no clear benefit. We're quite an irrational species, especially in regards to our selfishness, and the application thereof.

So when we start considering 'biological altruism,' or any form of altruism, does not this irrationality matter? And if our biological needs are not always rational, does it not stand that altruism emanating from those needs - like the preservation of kin - is not necessarily "selfish"? It seems a rather fuzzy line to me.
johngriswald
Posts: 1,294
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11/28/2009 12:59:28 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 11/28/2009 10:11:16 AM, DevinKing wrote:
In every action we take. No matter what we do, there is no way to escape doing something for our own good. Even if we do something that appears detrimental to our selves, the action was motivated by some emotion within us. If we give to the poor, it is because it makes us feel good or because we feel guilty for not doing it. Either way, the motivation is to make ourselves feel better. Whether the gain is emotional and helps us feel better or physical, it does not matter. The actions taken by sane individuals are always motivated by self interest. If it is not motivated by self interest, then we, as humans, will not do it.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Agreed, this is a cornerstone of modern economics.
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dogparktom
Posts: 112
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11/28/2009 2:38:42 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
"In every action we take. No matter what we do, there is no way to escape doing something for our own good. Even if we do something that appears detrimental to our selves, the action was motivated by some emotion within us."

In every action that a man takes, he seeks the GOOD in the goal that he seeks (money, power, fame). Goods are real and apparent. The ultimate Good according to Christianity is the Beatific Vision.

What is the Ultimate Good of other religions and secular philosophers?
wjmelements
Posts: 8,206
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11/28/2009 6:47:14 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 11/28/2009 12:59:28 PM, johngriswald wrote:
At 11/28/2009 10:11:16 AM, DevinKing wrote:
In every action we take. No matter what we do, there is no way to escape doing something for our own good. Even if we do something that appears detrimental to our selves, the action was motivated by some emotion within us. If we give to the poor, it is because it makes us feel good or because we feel guilty for not doing it. Either way, the motivation is to make ourselves feel better. Whether the gain is emotional and helps us feel better or physical, it does not matter. The actions taken by sane individuals are always motivated by self interest. If it is not motivated by self interest, then we, as humans, will not do it.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Agreed, this is a cornerstone of modern economics.

Yep. The foundations of Austrian Economics are based on egoism.
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Freedomaniac
Posts: 365
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11/28/2009 7:20:45 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 11/28/2009 10:11:16 AM, DevinKing wrote:

Precisely, though I'm not sure if your saying we just won't or that we can't. I think it's impossible to make a decision that is not caused by some form of selfishness.
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AtheistExile
Posts: 30
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11/30/2009 6:05:00 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
Self-interest is survival filtered by our experience. Everybody's different. Altruism might seem like good strategy to one person and it might seem a fool's game to another: it all depends on the context of our individual lives.
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DevinKing
Posts: 206
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11/30/2009 2:17:44 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 11/30/2009 6:05:00 AM, AtheistExile wrote:
Self-interest is survival filtered by our experience. Everybody's different. Altruism might seem like good strategy to one person and it might seem a fool's game to another: it all depends on the context of our individual lives.

--If one were to use "altruism" as a stradegy for personal advancement, then it would not be altruism. If someone was not using altruism for personal advancement, then they would be using it as a stradegy for what? The advancement of altruism?

Note: Altruism: unselfish concern for the welfare of others.
After demonstrating his existence with complete certainty with the proposition "I think, therefore I am", Descartes walks into a bar, sitting next to a gorgeous priest. The priest asks Descartes, "Would you like a drink?" Descartes responds, "I think not," and then proceeds to vanish in a puff of illogic.