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What Psychopathy Actually Looks Like

YYW
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12/31/2015 5:28:03 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
People talk about psychopathy a lot, and usually when they think of psychopaths, they think about murderers and rapists and people like the Columbine shooters. Those people may well have been psychopaths, but they are simply the most visible. By no means are they the only psychopaths; they're the ones who were not intelligent enough to channel their impulses into socially acceptable behaviors, or who never figured out that they have to appear to play by social rules and norms in order not to pay severely for their actions.

Many professions cater to psychopaths, for any number of reasons. Psychology, for example, has one of the highest rates of psychopathic people who belong to the profession. Business executives tend to demonstrate psychopathic qualities far more readily than the general population. Politics tend to cultivate people who exhibit psychopathic qualities. The reasons is because the institutional benefits of each of these professions offers power and resultant satisfaction to those psychopaths who have learned how to blend in with the rest of the world.

The best psychopaths are the ones who appear totally normal; the most intelligent among them (note: intelligence is not an indicator of psychopathy) are the ones who paid attention to how the most popular and well liked people, or the people who had the lowest profile (if they are afraid of exposure) and who mimicked those behaviors. These are the psychopaths that are going to be studying psychology, or in the field of the same; who will be running big corporations; and who will be running our government. They appear to be everything you want a person to be: they appear to be genuinely nice and friendly; warm, supportive and affectionate; and most importantly they never, or almost never, break out of their act.

Nothing can touch them, nothing can get them to lose their cool... other than being called out and exposed. They appear to be, on the surface, models of human excellence, but beneath they are manipulative, narcissistic, impulsive, and feel a relentless urge to seek new sensations. Some of those sensations may be to acquire new knowledge to enable them to better manipulate and control other people. Some sensations may be to exercise subtle, but totalizing control over another person or group of people so encompassing that the person being dominated does not even realize what is happening.

Most people think that they are able to realize when they are being played, manipulated, or snowed. But a psychopath with extensive knowledge of human psychology will be able to manipulate nearly everyone around him without their ever knowing what he is doing, while loving him and believing that he has their best interest at heart. He does not, in reality, have anyone's interest at heart other than his own because such a person believes that they are exempt from the rules of and constraints related to social norms, even though they appear to abide by them better than anyone else.

Real psychopathy, like, the kind that is most dangerous and most effective, is invisible to anyone and everyone other than those who actually have the expertise to recognize it for what it is. The kinds of people who exhibit, for example, obvious antisocial behavior may be psychopaths, but they are not the psychopaths that anyone need be concerned with. The only really dangerous psychopaths are the predators who pretend to be sheep, and convince everyone around them that they are only capable of that level of gentleness.

Real, genuine psychopaths appear to be charming, and warm. They avoid attracting attention to themselves, and they are often the people who can appear to be the most meaningful people in our lives, but they can also be the most devastating when they chose. The reason is because psychopaths read human weakness and fragility in the same way that normal people read books: to them, human weakness is clear and obvious. The psychopath who desires to become more influential in a person's life will identify another person's weakness, and appear to support them there. Psychopaths in that sense are uniquely able to "fill a gap" in someone's life, better than almost every normal person would ever be able too, because most people don't see human weakness the way that psychopaths do.

To recognize this kind of behavior, you really have to know what you're looking for... because there is a much stronger probability that a psychopath in your life is better at acting than you are at seeing through his facade. And slip ups, just like scum slips in Mafia, are exceedingly rare when you're dealing with an exceptionally good Mafioso.
YYW
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12/31/2015 5:41:03 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
Psychopathy, thus, gives the appearance of anything other than what it is. Psychopaths (like, the ones who are not in prison) do not exhibit the fact that they lack empathy; often they embody human graciousness in order to appear to be the opposite of what they are. Only the unsuccessful psychopaths are the ones who wind up in prison, because they are the only ones who do not learn to appear to be what they are not, or they are the ones who were stupid and reckless enough to believe that they were above the society's rules and constraints.

But, whatever the case, a successful psychopath will always squirm when attacked. Their greatest fear is being unmasked; shown to be what they are to those whom they have worked so consciously and deliberately to systematically deceive. So, when a psychopath feels threatened (especially one who has successfully convinced people in a community to believe that he is an upstanding member), he is going to subtly react in a way that will avoid ostentation and conspicuousness, but with the deliberate purpose of co-opting others into doing his "dirty work" for him.

A psychopath might talk other users into standing up for him and defending his reputation, and will not engage in such defense himself, because he understands that saying what he thinks or speaking at all risks cuing others into who and what he really is. Likewise, a psychopath will happily allow the person he co-opted to come to his defense to be publicly humiliated for doing that, as a scapegoat in the event that the defense fails. In that way, his reputation is protected.

The reason psychopaths can do this is because they do not care what happens to other people, beyond the extent to which what happens to other people affect them. They do not empathize, they do not feel guilt, they are incapable of loyalty to other people, and their relationships (both romantic and platonic) are--even though they appear the opposite--totally hollow.

But, psychopaths who are successful are almost always able to move thorough society maintaining a low profile, not attracting attention to themselves, appearing calm and reasonable in all situations, while influencing those around them gently, but totally, with a level of effectiveness so comprehensive that the subject of their manipulation will never know what is happening to them.
YYW
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12/31/2015 5:41:46 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/31/2015 5:38:26 PM, RyuuKyuzo wrote:
I think I had an ex like that.

Psychopathic relationships are the most damaging. I'm going to write some more about that later.
Skepsikyma
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1/1/2016 7:58:18 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
Psychopaths seem like pretty swell people to me. I'd rather be surrounded by rational people who predictably act (always towards self-interest) than by people who tend towards irrational othering and group think. The thing that is left out in this assesment is that the empathy which psychopaths lack isn't necessarily a good quality. It promotes in-group loyalties and out-group hostilities. Psychopaths, in society, are necessary in order to transcend that. They rise to positions of power and see through the sentimental motivations of the masses, then act in the best interest of their group. It's an interesting question: when you combine the powerful psychopath with a mob which has dehumanized those who don't belong to it, are the empathetic people whose irrationality allowed the mob to form to blame, or is the psychopath who was intelligent and detached enough to recognize an opportunity and exploit it? It seems like a chicken and the egg scenario, rather than one of wolves and sheep. It's just part of the human condition: that tendency of people to think better of themselves than is warranted. Actually, the treatment of psychopaths in this OP is a fascinating example of the downsides of empathy and associative thinking: these people do not belong, they're not like us, they're dangerous, they shouldn't be afforded consideration.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,242
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1/1/2016 11:12:20 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 1/1/2016 7:58:18 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
Psychopaths seem like pretty swell people to me. I'd rather be surrounded by rational people who predictably act (always towards self-interest) than by people who tend towards irrational othering and group think. The thing that is left out in this assesment is that the empathy which psychopaths lack isn't necessarily a good quality. It promotes in-group loyalties and out-group hostilities. Psychopaths, in society, are necessary in order to transcend that. They rise to positions of power and see through the sentimental motivations of the masses, then act in the best interest of their group.

I think what you're referring to can more accurately be described as "selective empathy" rather than empathy per se. I agree that this can be dangerous. If people are overly sensitive to wrongs committed against members of their group, their retaliation against the perceived aggressors is likely to be filled with passion and jingoistic hysteria, and innocent victims will inevitably get caught in the emotional crossfire (and it's not good for the retaliating country either). But if people are genuinely empathetic towards all people, then the dangers of "in-group loyalties" will be checked against concern for the suffering of the would-be victims. You may argue that this kind of empathy is unfeasible. However, I think there are many real worlds examples of it happening. I also don't see why psychopaths can be relied on to direct their groups in rational and desirable ways. Sure, sometimes psychopaths will benefit their groups simply because what's good for them happens to be what's good for the group. But we can only count on this happening when their interests and the interests of society coincide. When they are at odds, as they often are, then the wellbeing of the group will take a catastrophic nosedive. Take Stalin for instance. All signs point to him being a complete psychopath, and he was a disaster for the average Russian. His total lack of empathy for his countrymen resulted in a nightmarish reality for the vast majority of Russians. I think psychopaths are just as likely to whip up fear in the population to maintain control as they are to suppress those impulses and "steer" the country in rational ways. A rational population will not tolerate a psychopathic tyrant, and they know it.

Actually, the treatment of psychopaths in this OP is a fascinating example of the downsides of empathy and associative thinking: these people do not belong, they're not like us, they're dangerous, they shouldn't be afforded consideration.

That's a pretty circular argument. It only works if we accept that psychopaths are good for society, and in order to do that, we would have to accept that empathy is a downside. So in order for it to be an example of empathy's downside we have to take for granted that empathy is a downside.
Skepsikyma
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1/1/2016 11:28:14 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 1/1/2016 11:12:20 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 1/1/2016 7:58:18 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
Psychopaths seem like pretty swell people to me. I'd rather be surrounded by rational people who predictably act (always towards self-interest) than by people who tend towards irrational othering and group think. The thing that is left out in this assesment is that the empathy which psychopaths lack isn't necessarily a good quality. It promotes in-group loyalties and out-group hostilities. Psychopaths, in society, are necessary in order to transcend that. They rise to positions of power and see through the sentimental motivations of the masses, then act in the best interest of their group.

I think what you're referring to can more accurately be described as "selective empathy" rather than empathy per se. I agree that this can be dangerous. If people are overly sensitive to wrongs committed against members of their group, their retaliation against the perceived aggressors is likely to be filled with passion and jingoistic hysteria, and innocent victims will inevitably get caught in the emotional crossfire (and it's not good for the retaliating country either). But if people are genuinely empathetic towards all people, then the dangers of "in-group loyalties" will be checked against concern for the suffering of the would-be victims. You may argue that this kind of empathy is unfeasible.

It is. Completely.

However, I think there are many real worlds examples of it happening.

There are none.

I also don't see why psychopaths can be relied on to direct their groups in rational and desirable ways.

Because they have for most of history.

Sure, most of the time psychopaths will benefit their groups simply because what's good for them is almost always what's good for the group.

If a psychopath's society loses power, then they lose power.

But we can only count on this happening when their interests and the interests of society coincide. When they are at odds, as they often are, then the well being of the group will take a catastrophic nosedive. Take Stalin for instance. All signs point to him being a complete psychopath, and he was a disaster for the average Russian. His total lack of empathy for his countrymen resulted in a nightmarish reality for the vast majority of Russians. I think psychopaths are just as likely to whip up fear in the population to maintain control as they are to suppress those impulses and "steer" the country in rational ways. A rational population will not tolerate a psychopathic tyrant, and they know it.

Stalin was engaged in the largest global conflict in the history of our planet, and had to rapidly industrialize his nation or have it slowly wither under foreign pressure. He did pretty well, all things considered. Was he perfect? No. But the choices that he made, while they may have hurt individual Russians, at times capriciously, also won the USSR great gains on the world stage. He can't really be called 'catastrophic'. That term would better be used for Hitler, who lost WWII for Germany, or for Hirohito and Tojo, who lost an Empire for Japan. Stalin could be more aptly compared to Sulla, I think, or Henry VIII, than to a leader who failed their people.

Actually, the treatment of psychopaths in this OP is a fascinating example of the downsides of empathy and associative thinking: these people do not belong, they're not like us, they're dangerous, they shouldn't be afforded consideration.

That's a pretty circular argument. It only works if we accept that psychopaths are good for society, and in order to do that, we would have to accept that empathy is a downside. So in order for it to be an example of empathy's downside we have to take for granted that empathy is a downside.

No it isn't. If this universal empathy exists, as you've theorized, it would be universal. If it doesn't apply to psychopaths, if they can be cast out of the 'group' and otherized, then there is no universal empathy.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
PeacefulChaos
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1/2/2016 6:37:21 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 1/1/2016 7:58:18 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
Psychopaths seem like pretty swell people to me. I'd rather be surrounded by rational people who predictably act (always towards self-interest)

That you equate acting towards self-interest with rational behavior is a rather subjective assessment. One could say it is irrational, for it is a non sequitur.
PeacefulChaos
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1/2/2016 6:38:38 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/31/2015 5:41:03 PM, YYW wrote:

Do psychopaths know if they are psychopaths? If not, then when do they find out they are psychopaths? Is there a common age range that is typical for this to happen?
Skepsikyma
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1/2/2016 8:28:32 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 1/2/2016 6:37:21 AM, PeacefulChaos wrote:
At 1/1/2016 7:58:18 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
Psychopaths seem like pretty swell people to me. I'd rather be surrounded by rational people who predictably act (always towards self-interest)

That you equate acting towards self-interest with rational behavior is a rather subjective assessment. One could say it is irrational, for it is a non sequitur.

The ends (self-interest) are predictable. The means of achieving those ends (rationality) is inherent in the condition; the sort of psychopathy which the OP is referring to is grounded in an understanding of human nature and a willingness to exploit it. It's much easier to know what a person of this sort of character will do in a situation. You can therefore just appeal to self-interest, or at the very least position yourself in a way which doesn't obstruct their personal goals. The ordinary person is much more capricious and emotionally driven, though still predictable to some degree.

I don't understand why you see self-interest as a non-sequitur.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
dylancatlow
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1/2/2016 8:31:00 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 1/1/2016 11:28:14 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 1/1/2016 11:12:20 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 1/1/2016 7:58:18 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
Psychopaths seem like pretty swell people to me. I'd rather be surrounded by rational people who predictably act (always towards self-interest) than by people who tend towards irrational othering and group think. The thing that is left out in this assesment is that the empathy which psychopaths lack isn't necessarily a good quality. It promotes in-group loyalties and out-group hostilities. Psychopaths, in society, are necessary in order to transcend that. They rise to positions of power and see through the sentimental motivations of the masses, then act in the best interest of their group.

I think what you're referring to can more accurately be described as "selective empathy" rather than empathy per se. I agree that this can be dangerous. If people are overly sensitive to wrongs committed against members of their group, their retaliation against the perceived aggressors is likely to be filled with passion and jingoistic hysteria, and innocent victims will inevitably get caught in the emotional crossfire (and it's not good for the retaliating country either). But if people are genuinely empathetic towards all people, then the dangers of "in-group loyalties" will be checked against concern for the suffering of the would-be victims. You may argue that this kind of empathy is unfeasible.

It is. Completely.

However, I think there are many real worlds examples of it happening.

There are none.

I also don't see why psychopaths can be relied on to direct their groups in rational and desirable ways.

Because they have for most of history.

Sure, most of the time psychopaths will benefit their groups simply because what's good for them is almost always what's good for the group.

If a psychopath's society loses power, then they lose power.

But we can only count on this happening when their interests and the interests of society coincide. When they are at odds, as they often are, then the well being of the group will take a catastrophic nosedive. Take Stalin for instance. All signs point to him being a complete psychopath, and he was a disaster for the average Russian. His total lack of empathy for his countrymen resulted in a nightmarish reality for the vast majority of Russians. I think psychopaths are just as likely to whip up fear in the population to maintain control as they are to suppress those impulses and "steer" the country in rational ways. A rational population will not tolerate a psychopathic tyrant, and they know it.

Stalin was engaged in the largest global conflict in the history of our planet, and had to rapidly industrialize his nation or have it slowly wither under foreign pressure. He did pretty well, all things considered. Was he perfect? No. But the choices that he made, while they may have hurt individual Russians, at times capriciously, also won the USSR great gains on the world stage. He can't really be called 'catastrophic'. That term would better be used for Hitler, who lost WWII for Germany, or for Hirohito and Tojo, who lost an Empire for Japan. Stalin could be more aptly compared to Sulla, I think, or Henry VIII, than to a leader who failed their people.

Tell that to the 50 million people he murdered trying to establish and maintain a system in which he held all the power. When people got in the way of his vision, they had to go.

Actually, the treatment of psychopaths in this OP is a fascinating example of the downsides of empathy and associative thinking: these people do not belong, they're not like us, they're dangerous, they shouldn't be afforded consideration.

That's a pretty circular argument. It only works if we accept that psychopaths are good for society, and in order to do that, we would have to accept that empathy is a downside. So in order for it to be an example of empathy's downside we have to take for granted that empathy is a downside.

No it isn't. If this universal empathy exists, as you've theorized, it would be universal. If it doesn't apply to psychopaths, if they can be cast out of the 'group' and otherized, then there is no universal empathy.

So unless we embrace sociopaths for the wonderful gifts they are, we are "unemphatic". Again, this only makes sense if sociopaths are, in fact, good for society and not worth "casting out of the group". I don't think they are worth casting out of the group, since the vast majority of them never engage in evil behavior, but I think you are seriously underestimating the dangers they pose when put in positions of power. And in any case, let's say a society does unfairly ostracize sociopaths - that doesn't mean it's going to be ruthless across the board. You're focusing only on the positive aspects of having a sociopathic leader and ignoring all the downsides.

Unless a sociopath has dictatorial power, they will have to answer to the public or risk being thrown out of office - something a sociopath wouldn't want. So they're not going to be able to just go ahead with whatever plans seems rational to them if those plans don't agree, at least in part, with the will of the people (and it's not even guaranteed those plans would be for the benefit of the general population were they to be implemented). So what you're basically saying is that society would be better off with a sociopathic dictator steering the bewildered masses away from their emotional impulses than it would be with a democratically elected politician sympathetic to the needs of the people. I mean really? I think that view would be too cynical even for Machiavelli :P
PeacefulChaos
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1/2/2016 9:52:47 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 1/2/2016 8:28:32 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:

The ends (self-interest) are predictable. The means of achieving those ends (rationality) is inherent in the condition;

I could just as easily state this:

"The ends (altruism) are predictable. The means of achieving those ends (rationality) is inherent in the condition."

the sort of psychopathy which the OP is referring to is grounded in an understanding of human nature and a willingness to exploit it. It's much easier to know what a person of this sort of character will do in a situation. You can therefore just appeal to self-interest, or at the very least position yourself in a way which doesn't obstruct their personal goals. The ordinary person is much more capricious and emotionally driven, though still predictable to some degree.

I don't understand why you see self-interest as a non-sequitur.

I do not see how acting in your own self-interest is more "rational" than acting based on the interests of others. I.e. selfishness vs. altruism or empathy.
Wylted
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1/2/2016 11:28:48 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
I noticed that psychopaths also are attracted to the policing profession. They're about 2-4% of the population, but make up about 10% of the police force. These are the type of people that also think the ends justify the means. A big indicator of a psychopath is an end justifies the means attitude, as well as a number of things already mentioned. These people shouldn't even be considered human, and should be exterminated. Unfortunately no tests can reliably indicate who is a psychopath, so we can eliminate them.
Wylted
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1/2/2016 11:31:52 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 1/1/2016 7:58:18 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
Psychopaths seem like pretty swell people to me. I'd rather be surrounded by rational people who predictably act (always towards self-interest) than by people who tend towards irrational othering and group think. The thing that is left out in this assesment is that the empathy which psychopaths lack isn't necessarily a good quality. It promotes in-group loyalties and out-group hostilities. Psychopaths, in society, are necessary in order to transcend that. They rise to positions of power and see through the sentimental motivations of the masses, then act in the best interest of their group. It's an interesting question: when you combine the powerful psychopath with a mob which has dehumanized those who don't belong to it, are the empathetic people whose irrationality allowed the mob to form to blame, or is the psychopath who was intelligent and detached enough to recognize an opportunity and exploit it? It seems like a chicken and the egg scenario, rather than one of wolves and sheep. It's just part of the human condition: that tendency of people to think better of themselves than is warranted. Actually, the treatment of psychopaths in this OP is a fascinating example of the downsides of empathy and associative thinking: these people do not belong, they're not like us, they're dangerous, they shouldn't be afforded consideration.

Psychopaths usually do have irrational goals as well. They also go about meeting their goals in stupid ways. I wouldn't mind being around intelligent psychopaths, but I've had to "take care of" a few moderately intelligent to dumb psychopaths.
Wylted
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1/2/2016 11:36:14 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
Psychopaths aren't selectively empathetic. They have to fake empathy. They're charming but it is a very superficial charm. When you stub your toe, it's pretty easy to tell that they are faking the empathy.

One thing common among psychopaths, is not recognizing that a person is upset with them unless they give off very obvious ques. If you give those fake little laughs during their jokes, they'll think you're actually amused.

You deal with psychopaths by setting up very clear boundaries for yourself so you aren't taken advantage of. With these clear boundaries in place, even smart psychopaths will have a hard time using you.
Skepsikyma
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1/3/2016 3:47:41 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 1/2/2016 9:52:47 PM, PeacefulChaos wrote:
At 1/2/2016 8:28:32 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:

The ends (self-interest) are predictable. The means of achieving those ends (rationality) is inherent in the condition;

I could just as easily state this:

"The ends (altruism) are predictable. The means of achieving those ends (rationality) is inherent in the condition."

... but that wouldn't make any sense, considering the fact that psychopaths are not altruistic. This was a statement about why the sort of people in the OP aren't that bad. Plus, true altruism doesn't really exist. Anyone who practiced it would die pretty quickly.

the sort of psychopathy which the OP is referring to is grounded in an understanding of human nature and a willingness to exploit it. It's much easier to know what a person of this sort of character will do in a situation. You can therefore just appeal to self-interest, or at the very least position yourself in a way which doesn't obstruct their personal goals. The ordinary person is much more capricious and emotionally driven, though still predictable to some degree.

I don't understand why you see self-interest as a non-sequitur.

I do not see how acting in your own self-interest is more "rational" than acting based on the interests of others. I.e. selfishness vs. altruism or empathy.

Because it's impossible to help anyone if you don't help yourself first. Even some of the most altruistic religions in the world, like Buddhism, recognize this simple fact. You cannot be rational and purely altruistic. You can be rational and purely self-interesting.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
Skepsikyma
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1/3/2016 3:48:48 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 1/2/2016 11:31:52 PM, Wylted wrote:
At 1/1/2016 7:58:18 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
Psychopaths seem like pretty swell people to me. I'd rather be surrounded by rational people who predictably act (always towards self-interest) than by people who tend towards irrational othering and group think. The thing that is left out in this assesment is that the empathy which psychopaths lack isn't necessarily a good quality. It promotes in-group loyalties and out-group hostilities. Psychopaths, in society, are necessary in order to transcend that. They rise to positions of power and see through the sentimental motivations of the masses, then act in the best interest of their group. It's an interesting question: when you combine the powerful psychopath with a mob which has dehumanized those who don't belong to it, are the empathetic people whose irrationality allowed the mob to form to blame, or is the psychopath who was intelligent and detached enough to recognize an opportunity and exploit it? It seems like a chicken and the egg scenario, rather than one of wolves and sheep. It's just part of the human condition: that tendency of people to think better of themselves than is warranted. Actually, the treatment of psychopaths in this OP is a fascinating example of the downsides of empathy and associative thinking: these people do not belong, they're not like us, they're dangerous, they shouldn't be afforded consideration.

Psychopaths usually do have irrational goals as well.
Yes, but they pursue them rationally.

They also go about meeting their goals in stupid ways. I wouldn't mind being around intelligent psychopaths, but I've had to "take care of" a few moderately intelligent to dumb psychopaths.
This is of course true, my comment was directed towards the intelligent, functioning psychopaths which the OP describes.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
Skepsikyma
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1/3/2016 4:14:08 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 1/2/2016 8:31:00 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 1/1/2016 11:28:14 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 1/1/2016 11:12:20 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
But we can only count on this happening when their interests and the interests of society coincide. When they are at odds, as they often are, then the well being of the group will take a catastrophic nosedive. Take Stalin for instance. All signs point to him being a complete psychopath, and he was a disaster for the average Russian. His total lack of empathy for his countrymen resulted in a nightmarish reality for the vast majority of Russians. I think psychopaths are just as likely to whip up fear in the population to maintain control as they are to suppress those impulses and "steer" the country in rational ways. A rational population will not tolerate a psychopathic tyrant, and they know it.

Stalin was engaged in the largest global conflict in the history of our planet, and had to rapidly industrialize his nation or have it slowly wither under foreign pressure. He did pretty well, all things considered. Was he perfect? No. But the choices that he made, while they may have hurt individual Russians, at times capriciously, also won the USSR great gains on the world stage. He can't really be called 'catastrophic'. That term would better be used for Hitler, who lost WWII for Germany, or for Hirohito and Tojo, who lost an Empire for Japan. Stalin could be more aptly compared to Sulla, I think, or Henry VIII, than to a leader who failed their people.

Tell that to the 50 million people he murdered trying to establish and maintain a system in which he held all the power. When people got in the way of his vision, they had to go.

I can't, they're dead. And we can't know what would have happened to them had Russia not industrialized, and not been able to maintain the geopolitical equilibrium that it did.

Actually, the treatment of psychopaths in this OP is a fascinating example of the downsides of empathy and associative thinking: these people do not belong, they're not like us, they're dangerous, they shouldn't be afforded consideration.

That's a pretty circular argument. It only works if we accept that psychopaths are good for society, and in order to do that, we would have to accept that empathy is a downside. So in order for it to be an example of empathy's downside we have to take for granted that empathy is a downside.

No it isn't. If this universal empathy exists, as you've theorized, it would be universal. If it doesn't apply to psychopaths, if they can be cast out of the 'group' and otherized, then there is no universal empathy.

So unless we embrace sociopaths for the wonderful gifts they are, we are "unemphatic".
No, unless you are empathetic to their own suffering, then you are not being empathetic.

Again, this only makes sense if sociopaths are, in fact, good for society and not worth "casting out of the group". I don't think they are worth casting out of the group, since the vast majority of them never engage in evil behavior, but I think you are seriously underestimating the dangers they pose when put in positions of power.
I think that most people in positions of power are psychopaths to at least some degree. I think that psychopathy entails a set of traits which enable them to climb the social ladder very adroitly, and once on top to maintain power and manipulate affairs.

And in any case, let's say a society does unfairly ostracize sociopaths - that doesn't mean it's going to be ruthless across the board. You're focusing only on the positive aspects of having a sociopathic leader and ignoring all the downsides.
That's because people who are burdened by things like empathy tend to make terrible leaders. They can't see the big picture, they can't make ruthless decisions, and they squirm at the thought of necessary sacrifices. They don't tend to last long, and if they do then they are often not remembered well.

Unless a sociopath has dictatorial power, they will have to answer to the public or risk being thrown out of office - something a sociopath wouldn't want. So they're not going to be able to just go ahead with whatever plans seems rational to them if those plans don't agree, at least in part, with the will of the people (and it's not even guaranteed those plans would be for the benefit of the general population were they to be implemented).
I think you're heavily underestimating to what degree the public is susceptible to manipulation and propaganda. It's incredibly easy to justify a slow creep of power, especially if the education system has atrophied to an extensive degree. Or a quick leap to power if the opportunity presents itself ('I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.')

So what you're basically saying is that society would be better off with a sociopathic dictator steering the bewildered masses away from their emotional impulses than it would be with a democratically elected politician sympathetic to the needs of the people. I mean really? I think that view would be too cynical even for Machiavelli :P

No, I'm saying that most powerful figures (not necessarily political) already are psychopathic to some degree, because powerful people entrusted with the welfare of an entire group are necessitated by the nature of conflict to make unpalatable decisions.

Dictators are better in some situations (the Roman Republican office, for example). But that's not the point at all. It's that the idea of the 'caring, empathetic' person in power is a myth. Empathy is necessarily either heavily curtailed or dispensed with when one rises to the heady peaks of influence. This was the entire point of 'The Prince': power, in order to be executed in the best interest of the group, must be executed ruthlessly.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
TheChristian
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1/3/2016 4:31:51 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/31/2015 5:28:03 PM, YYW wrote:
People talk about psychopathy a lot, and usually when they think of psychopaths, they think about murderers and rapists and people like the Columbine shooters. Those people may well have been psychopaths, but they are simply the most visible. By no means are they the only psychopaths; they're the ones who were not intelligent enough to channel their impulses into socially acceptable behaviors, or who never figured out that they have to appear to play by social rules and norms in order not to pay severely for their actions.

Many professions cater to psychopaths, for any number of reasons. Psychology, for example, has one of the highest rates of psychopathic people who belong to the profession. Business executives tend to demonstrate psychopathic qualities far more readily than the general population. Politics tend to cultivate people who exhibit psychopathic qualities. The reasons is because the institutional benefits of each of these professions offers power and resultant satisfaction to those psychopaths who have learned how to blend in with the rest of the world.

The best psychopaths are the ones who appear totally normal; the most intelligent among them (note: intelligence is not an indicator of psychopathy) are the ones who paid attention to how the most popular and well liked people, or the people who had the lowest profile (if they are afraid of exposure) and who mimicked those behaviors. These are the psychopaths that are going to be studying psychology, or in the field of the same; who will be running big corporations; and who will be running our government. They appear to be everything you want a person to be: they appear to be genuinely nice and friendly; warm, supportive and affectionate; and most importantly they never, or almost never, break out of their act.

Nothing can touch them, nothing can get them to lose their cool... other than being called out and exposed. They appear to be, on the surface, models of human excellence, but beneath they are manipulative, narcissistic, impulsive, and feel a relentless urge to seek new sensations. Some of those sensations may be to acquire new knowledge to enable them to better manipulate and control other people. Some sensations may be to exercise subtle, but totalizing control over another person or group of people so encompassing that the person being dominated does not even realize what is happening.

Most people think that they are able to realize when they are being played, manipulated, or snowed. But a psychopath with extensive knowledge of human psychology will be able to manipulate nearly everyone around him without their ever knowing what he is doing, while loving him and believing that he has their best interest at heart. He does not, in reality, have anyone's interest at heart other than his own because such a person believes that they are exempt from the rules of and constraints related to social norms, even though they appear to abide by them better than anyone else.

Real psychopathy, like, the kind that is most dangerous and most effective, is invisible to anyone and everyone other than those who actually have the expertise to recognize it for what it is. The kinds of people who exhibit, for example, obvious antisocial behavior may be psychopaths, but they are not the psychopaths that anyone need be concerned with. The only really dangerous psychopaths are the predators who pretend to be sheep, and convince everyone around them that they are only capable of that level of gentleness.

Real, genuine psychopaths appear to be charming, and warm. They avoid attracting attention to themselves, and they are often the people who can appear to be the most meaningful people in our lives, but they can also be the most devastating when they chose. The reason is because psychopaths read human weakness and fragility in the same way that normal people read books: to them, human weakness is clear and obvious. The psychopath who desires to become more influential in a person's life will identify another person's weakness, and appear to support them there. Psychopaths in that sense are uniquely able to "fill a gap" in someone's life, better than almost every normal person would ever be able too, because most people don't see human weakness the way that psychopaths do.

To recognize this kind of behavior, you really have to know what you're looking for... because there is a much stronger probability that a psychopath in your life is better at acting than you are at seeing through his facade. And slip ups, just like scum slips in Mafia, are exceedingly rare when you're dealing with an exceptionally good Mafioso.

Actually, not all psychopaths do not wish to be unmasked. Some actually are open about their mental illness. I actually know a psychopath who is on this very site who is open about his psychopathy
sadolite
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1/3/2016 4:31:55 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/31/2015 5:28:03 PM, YYW wrote:
People talk about psychopathy a lot, and usually when they think of psychopaths, they think about murderers and rapists and people like the Columbine shooters. Those people may well have been psychopaths, but they are simply the most visible. By no means are they the only psychopaths; they're the ones who were not intelligent enough to channel their impulses into socially acceptable behaviors, or who never figured out that they have to appear to play by social rules and norms in order not to pay severely for their actions.

Many professions cater to psychopaths, for any number of reasons. Psychology, for example, has one of the highest rates of psychopathic people who belong to the profession. Business executives tend to demonstrate psychopathic qualities far more readily than the general population. Politics tend to cultivate people who exhibit psychopathic qualities. The reasons is because the institutional benefits of each of these professions offers power and resultant satisfaction to those psychopaths who have learned how to blend in with the rest of the world.

The best psychopaths are the ones who appear totally normal; the most intelligent among them (note: intelligence is not an indicator of psychopathy) are the ones who paid attention to how the most popular and well liked people, or the people who had the lowest profile (if they are afraid of exposure) and who mimicked those behaviors. These are the psychopaths that are going to be studying psychology, or in the field of the same; who will be running big corporations; and who will be running our government. They appear to be everything you want a person to be: they appear to be genuinely nice and friendly; warm, supportive and affectionate; and most importantly they never, or almost never, break out of their act.

Nothing can touch them, nothing can get them to lose their cool... other than being called out and exposed. They appear to be, on the surface, models of human excellence, but beneath they are manipulative, narcissistic, impulsive, and feel a relentless urge to seek new sensations. Some of those sensations may be to acquire new knowledge to enable them to better manipulate and control other people. Some sensations may be to exercise subtle, but totalizing control over another person or group of people so encompassing that the person being dominated does not even realize what is happening.

Most people think that they are able to realize when they are being played, manipulated, or snowed. But a psychopath with extensive knowledge of human psychology will be able to manipulate nearly everyone around him without their ever knowing what he is doing, while loving him and believing that he has their best interest at heart. He does not, in reality, have anyone's interest at heart other than his own because such a person believes that they are exempt from the rules of and constraints related to social norms, even though they appear to abide by them better than anyone else.

Real psychopathy, like, the kind that is most dangerous and most effective, is invisible to anyone and everyone other than those who actually have the expertise to recognize it for what it is. The kinds of people who exhibit, for example, obvious antisocial behavior may be psychopaths, but they are not the psychopaths that anyone need be concerned with. The only really dangerous psychopaths are the predators who pretend to be sheep, and convince everyone around them that they are only capable of that level of gentleness.

Real, genuine psychopaths appear to be charming, and warm. They avoid attracting attention to themselves, and they are often the people who can appear to be the most meaningful people in our lives, but they can also be the most devastating when they chose. The reason is because psychopaths read human weakness and fragility in the same way that normal people read books: to them, human weakness is clear and obvious. The psychopath who desires to become more influential in a person's life will identify another person's weakness, and appear to support them there. Psychopaths in that sense are uniquely able to "fill a gap" in someone's life, better than almost every normal person would ever be able too, because most people don't see human weakness the way that psychopaths do.

To recognize this kind of behavior, you really have to know what you're looking for... because there is a much stronger probability that a psychopath in your life is better at acting than you are at seeing through his facade. And slip ups, just like scum slips in Mafia, are exceedingly rare when you're dealing with an exceptionally good Mafioso.

My daughter has a friend like this, I see it clear as day but the rest of the family thinks she is just so sweet and charming. I tell them she is a user, but they don't believe it. I looked her strait in the eyes one day and did the old point my two fingers at my eyes and pointed my two fingers at her and you should have seen the look on her face, she knew I was on to her and could not get away with her scams and schemes as long as I was around.
It's not your views that divide us, it's what you think my views should be that divides us.

If you think I will give up my rights and forsake social etiquette to make you "FEEL" better you are sadly mistaken

If liberal democrats would just stop shooting people gun violence would drop by 90%
TheChristian
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1/3/2016 4:42:12 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 1/2/2016 11:28:48 PM, Wylted wrote:
I noticed that psychopaths also are attracted to the policing profession. They're about 2-4% of the population, but make up about 10% of the police force. These are the type of people that also think the ends justify the means. A big indicator of a psychopath is an end justifies the means attitude, as well as a number of things already mentioned. These people shouldn't even be considered human, and should be exterminated. Unfortunately no tests can reliably indicate who is a psychopath, so we can eliminate them.

Some psychopaths are legitimately good people with a real mental disorder. It's the bad ones we need to watch outfor
s-anthony
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1/3/2016 5:12:58 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
Psychopaths seem like pretty swell people to me. I'd rather be surrounded by rational people who predictably act (always towards self-interest) than by people who tend towards irrational othering and group think.

Rationality, in and of itself, is not predictable. Predictability is based on that which is usual, or normal, the most likely behavior in a given situation. Most people, in fact, the overwhelming majority of people are not psychopathic. The uses of one's rational intelligence and emotional intelligence, in most people, are relatively proportionate to the demands of the situation. A psychopath, therefore, is to a disadvantage; his, or her, mental faculties are weighted, largely, to one side, creating instability in mental functioning and unpredictable outcomes in cognitive resolutions.

Group interest to a large extent is self-interest. No one lives in complete isolation. In fact, solitude has been used through out history as an extreme form of punishment. Even the psychopath depends on the infrastructures of society, to not only thrive but also survive. Imagining yourself as being to any substantial degree self-sufficient is to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the infrastructures that underpin your very existence.

The thing that is left out in this assesment is that the empathy which psychopaths lack isn't necessarily a good quality. It promotes in-group loyalties and out-group hostilities.

Empathy does not create hostilities to outsiders but failure to relate to people who are different.

Psychopaths, in society, are necessary in order to transcend that.

It's empathy that allows us to transcend ourselves. Narcissism characteristic of psychopathy is a fixation on oneself and, therefore, the narcissist is limited primarily by self-interest.

They rise to positions of power and see through the sentimental motivations of the masses, then act in the best interest of their group. It's an interesting question: when you combine the powerful psychopath with a mob which has dehumanized those who don't belong to it, are the empathetic people whose irrationality allowed the mob to form to blame, or is the psychopath who was intelligent and detached enough to recognize an opportunity and exploit it?

Blame is based on culpability, and culpability is based on malignancy.

A malignancy is detrimental to its host because it causes dysfunction. Dysfunction is a failure to work together for the benefit of the organism. Notice, I did not say, simply, "...a failure to work together...," but a failure, also, to benefit the organism. It's not enough to work together if doing so is detrimental to the health of the group; working together is to increase favorable (and, by "favorable", I mean beneficial) outcomes for the group.

The members of the group being each at lower levels of self-awareness are less intentional in their actions; in other words, it's less a matter of personal volitions and more a matter of being led by a very strong personality. Remember volition is essential to culpability, and the stronger one's will, the greater his, or her, guilt.

It seems like a chicken and the egg scenario, rather than one of wolves and sheep. It's just part of the human condition: that tendency of people to think better of themselves than is warranted. Actually, the treatment of psychopaths in this OP is a fascinating example of the downsides of empathy and associative thinking: these people do not belong, they're not like us, they're dangerous, they shouldn't be afforded consideration.

No. The wolves and sheep comparison is very appropriate. A snakes and sheep comparison would even be better. Psychopaths are not like the general population that has the capacity for empathy, and psychopaths do often exhibit antisocial behaviors, whether overtly or covertly.
EndarkenedRationalist
Posts: 14,201
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1/3/2016 4:48:23 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 1/3/2016 3:47:41 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 1/2/2016 9:52:47 PM, PeacefulChaos wrote:
At 1/2/2016 8:28:32 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:

The ends (self-interest) are predictable. The means of achieving those ends (rationality) is inherent in the condition;

I could just as easily state this:

"The ends (altruism) are predictable. The means of achieving those ends (rationality) is inherent in the condition."

... but that wouldn't make any sense, considering the fact that psychopaths are not altruistic. This was a statement about why the sort of people in the OP aren't that bad. Plus, true altruism doesn't really exist. Anyone who practiced it would die pretty quickly.

the sort of psychopathy which the OP is referring to is grounded in an understanding of human nature and a willingness to exploit it. It's much easier to know what a person of this sort of character will do in a situation. You can therefore just appeal to self-interest, or at the very least position yourself in a way which doesn't obstruct their personal goals. The ordinary person is much more capricious and emotionally driven, though still predictable to some degree.

I don't understand why you see self-interest as a non-sequitur.

I do not see how acting in your own self-interest is more "rational" than acting based on the interests of others. I.e. selfishness vs. altruism or empathy.

Because it's impossible to help anyone if you don't help yourself first. Even some of the most altruistic religions in the world, like Buddhism, recognize this simple fact. You cannot be rational and purely altruistic. You can be rational and purely self-interesting.

I would have to reject this because I believe valuing yourself over others is inherently irrational. The only rational way to view humans is objectivity, and the only way to do that is to remove the emotional and human elements. Age, sex, beliefs, guilt or innocence, likes and dislikes, relationships - all of that adds subjective layers. The only objective way to view humans is numerically. Since 2 is objectively greater than 1, the lives of two strangers objectively outweigh my own.
Skepsikyma
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1/3/2016 5:21:53 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 1/3/2016 4:48:23 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/3/2016 3:47:41 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 1/2/2016 9:52:47 PM, PeacefulChaos wrote:
At 1/2/2016 8:28:32 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:

The ends (self-interest) are predictable. The means of achieving those ends (rationality) is inherent in the condition;

I could just as easily state this:

"The ends (altruism) are predictable. The means of achieving those ends (rationality) is inherent in the condition."

... but that wouldn't make any sense, considering the fact that psychopaths are not altruistic. This was a statement about why the sort of people in the OP aren't that bad. Plus, true altruism doesn't really exist. Anyone who practiced it would die pretty quickly.

the sort of psychopathy which the OP is referring to is grounded in an understanding of human nature and a willingness to exploit it. It's much easier to know what a person of this sort of character will do in a situation. You can therefore just appeal to self-interest, or at the very least position yourself in a way which doesn't obstruct their personal goals. The ordinary person is much more capricious and emotionally driven, though still predictable to some degree.

I don't understand why you see self-interest as a non-sequitur.

I do not see how acting in your own self-interest is more "rational" than acting based on the interests of others. I.e. selfishness vs. altruism or empathy.

Because it's impossible to help anyone if you don't help yourself first. Even some of the most altruistic religions in the world, like Buddhism, recognize this simple fact. You cannot be rational and purely altruistic. You can be rational and purely self-interesting.

I would have to reject this because I believe valuing yourself over others is inherently irrational. The only rational way to view humans is objectivity, and the only way to do that is to remove the emotional and human elements. Age, sex, beliefs, guilt or innocence, likes and dislikes, relationships - all of that adds subjective layers. The only objective way to view humans is numerically. Since 2 is objectively greater than 1, the lives of two strangers objectively outweigh my own.

We don't live in a world which is objective (all human experience is subjective to those considerations), so this is frankly an insane way to live life, and it is not, in fact, how you live or want to live it. If it were, you wouldn't own the computer on which you are typing this because you would have divested yourself of all earthly possessions in an effort to heal the sick and feed the hungry.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
EndarkenedRationalist
Posts: 14,201
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1/3/2016 5:23:21 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 1/3/2016 5:21:53 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 1/3/2016 4:48:23 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/3/2016 3:47:41 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 1/2/2016 9:52:47 PM, PeacefulChaos wrote:
At 1/2/2016 8:28:32 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:

The ends (self-interest) are predictable. The means of achieving those ends (rationality) is inherent in the condition;

I could just as easily state this:

"The ends (altruism) are predictable. The means of achieving those ends (rationality) is inherent in the condition."

... but that wouldn't make any sense, considering the fact that psychopaths are not altruistic. This was a statement about why the sort of people in the OP aren't that bad. Plus, true altruism doesn't really exist. Anyone who practiced it would die pretty quickly.

the sort of psychopathy which the OP is referring to is grounded in an understanding of human nature and a willingness to exploit it. It's much easier to know what a person of this sort of character will do in a situation. You can therefore just appeal to self-interest, or at the very least position yourself in a way which doesn't obstruct their personal goals. The ordinary person is much more capricious and emotionally driven, though still predictable to some degree.

I don't understand why you see self-interest as a non-sequitur.

I do not see how acting in your own self-interest is more "rational" than acting based on the interests of others. I.e. selfishness vs. altruism or empathy.

Because it's impossible to help anyone if you don't help yourself first. Even some of the most altruistic religions in the world, like Buddhism, recognize this simple fact. You cannot be rational and purely altruistic. You can be rational and purely self-interesting.

I would have to reject this because I believe valuing yourself over others is inherently irrational. The only rational way to view humans is objectivity, and the only way to do that is to remove the emotional and human elements. Age, sex, beliefs, guilt or innocence, likes and dislikes, relationships - all of that adds subjective layers. The only objective way to view humans is numerically. Since 2 is objectively greater than 1, the lives of two strangers objectively outweigh my own.

We don't live in a world which is objective (all human experience is subjective to those considerations), so this is frankly an insane way to live life, and it is not, in fact, how you live or want to live it. If it were, you wouldn't own the computer on which you are typing this because you would have divested yourself of all earthly possessions in an effort to heal the sick and feed the hungry.

Correct. I live my life irrationally. But let's not pretend it's something else.
Greyparrot
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1/4/2016 1:07:31 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 1/3/2016 5:21:53 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:

I would have to reject this because I believe valuing yourself over others is inherently irrational. The only rational way to view humans is objectivity, and the only way to do that is to remove the emotional and human elements. Age, sex, beliefs, guilt or innocence, likes and dislikes, relationships - all of that adds subjective layers. The only objective way to view humans is numerically. Since 2 is objectively greater than 1, the lives of two strangers objectively outweigh my own.

We don't live in a world which is objective (all human experience is subjective to those considerations), so this is frankly an insane way to live life, and it is not, in fact, how you live or want to live it. If it were, you wouldn't own the computer on which you are typing this because you would have divested yourself of all earthly possessions in an effort to heal the sick and feed the hungry.

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (Jesus)
PeacefulChaos
Posts: 2,610
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1/4/2016 1:47:52 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 1/3/2016 3:47:41 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:

... but that wouldn't make any sense, considering the fact that psychopaths are not altruistic. This was a statement about why the sort of people in the OP aren't that bad. Plus, true altruism doesn't really exist. Anyone who practiced it would die pretty quickly.

I am not stating that psychopaths are altruistic. I am referring solely to behaviors (selfishness vs. altruism).


Because it's impossible to help anyone if you don't help yourself first. Even some of the most altruistic religions in the world, like Buddhism, recognize this simple fact. You cannot be rational and purely altruistic. You can be rational and purely self-interesting.

First, this does not prove that selfish acts are inherently rational. For example, let us say that I decide to give up $1000 for the benefit of another person. Can you say with certainty that this is an irrational act? Likewise, if I used this $1000 for the benefit of myself, is this inherently rational? What reasoning do you use to make your conclusions? In my view, neither act is more rational than the other.

My point is not concerned with how one live's on life. Obviously, if an individual were to never care for himself to the point that he dies, then he would not be able to help others. But this does not somehow demonstrate that helping others or non-selfish acts are inherently irrational. It does not prove that helping only yourself is an inherently rational thing to do.