Studies have been done that show children display altruism, motivated by the desire to reduce the suffering of another child, by the age of 3. These children were actually less likely to repeat the behavior if they were rewarded for it. Selflessness is a strange thing to quantify, because the second you try to think of a benefit, you negate selflessness itself. This makes it difficult to recognize a selfless act, because there are usually side benefits. I get a good feeling when I do something good for someone else, but I didn't do it for the good feeling, I did it because it was the right thing to do. Whether this sense of selflessness is evolutionarily wired or spiritually tangible, it definitely exists.
Any act done by without any form of self-interest. This would be the basis of Love and is the at the heart of any true inter-personal relationship. Motivated purely for the benefit of others rather than oneself, and may even put oneself in harms way. We of course jump to the extreme with the thought of self sacrifice (even to death), but this is much more common place where you hold the door for a stranger risking a delay in your own life, or allowing a car to merge if front of you in traffic.
I believe selfishness more appropriately refers to a state of mind in which the individual chooses actions that adversely affect others for self-gain (whether or not the individual was mindful of the effect the action would have on others), rather than simply having 'concern for oneself'.
Some of the negative side have defined 'selfishness' as meaning 'having no concern for oneself'. While such a state of mind is nigh impossible to live by, you cannot deny that instances of selflessness occur amongst the least of us, and are in fact central to the lives of some of the most influential people in history.
There are certainly instances all the time where individuals make sacrifices for the benefit of others. Some of these ARE motivated by a desire for honour and acknowledgement, but it is a bit of a stretch to say that ALL actions are motivated by selfishness.
Prime examples of selflessness include someone who willingly sacrifices their life, or at least endangers themselves, to save another person. While the person may be honored for their bravery, only a complete nutjob would risk their lives in the heat of the moment for self-gain without consideration for the other person.
One would have to have GOOD motives, acting against their selfish desires. Proactively contradicting their normal self-interest, hesitation being a decent indicator of intent to disregard one's own safety/comfort. Sociopaths' kryptonite? One consistently inclined towards evil would have more difficulty genuinely contemplating selflessness. Inversely, one inclined towards good constantly has a better chance. This also serves as evidence for the good vs. Evil debate.
So yes there definitely are 100% selfless people walking the world right now.
It would be a stretch to believe there is not at least one person in the world that has not sacrificed their life in death or in service for others.
Even if someone is not 100% selfless from their first to last breath, they could still fall under the definition of being a selfless person throughout moments in their life.
Definition: "Having, exhibiting, or motivated by no concern for oneself."
Every human is meant to live for themselves. They are always willing to get their own stuff first, and selflessness does not exist. According to the dictionary, selflessness means 'having, exhibiting, or motivated by no concern for oneself; unselfish'. You cannot have no concern for yourself. It is definite to have concern for yourself before others, because that's how god made people to have opinions and arguments. At the end of the day, you're living this life for yourself, not for other people. Bring selflessness leaves you nothing, and so there is such not a thing.
For example Glaucon, Who was plato's older brother, Believed that people were only good because they were afraid of being caught in doing something bad
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Every decision you make and everything you do, you do it to support yourself. Your goals, your health, your ideals, your beliefs. Inherently, everything you will ever do, regardless of intent, is to benefit yourself in some way. This includes the basic things like eating because you are hungry, studying to pass a test, or deciding what clothes to wear. 'Selfless' acts are just selfish acts that can benefit others. Giving directions to a stranger can be veiwed as 'selfish' by reason of wanting to uphold your own morals or what you think is right to do. This makes all 'Selfless' acts inherently selfish, but that is NOT a bad thing
If you sacrifice yourself you are doing it for something YOU consider important hence it's not really selfless. I'm not saying not to do it what ever it is just that it's not technically selfless. Everything you do you are by definition doing for something you think or feel is important.
I believe that every action we display is for our on selfish needs. For example, risking your life for someone would result in you getting praised and looked highly at, also exhibiting self-pride for what you were going to do/did. I don't think anyone would do something if there was absolutely no good outcome for themselves, for even helping someone and expecting no return of gratitude would give yourself pride in helping someone out nonetheless. So what exactly would selflessness be , then? Is there even such a concept available for our imagination? I am simply unable to conjure up a circumstance in which 'selflessness' validly occurs.
I'm not saying we're all evil because we're all selfish, though. After all some selfish actions, as we've seen, can even be for the greater good. In other words, they're still selfish actions, but they can benefit others. So selfishness isn't necessarily a bad thing, I feel it has it's ups and downs. Not like we can change it though, it's part of the 'being a human' package.
The matter of the fact is that you would only do a selfless act for some outside reason because, after all, we are instinctively there for ourselves. Ask Mr Darwin.
2 main reasons for a selfless act:
1. To attract a mate.
2. To get into heaven or other afterlife reward.
These are both selfish acts as in the end you will get something out of it.
You might say morals are different but why have morals? To avoid people frowning on you and judging? Selfish act again.
It's simple. I do what's best for me and you do what's best for you.
"Survival of the fittest" not survival of the nicest.
There's no such thing as selflessness. We do everything to preserve and spread our genes. Even outside of this context, and not in biological terms. You keep your wife happy because seeing her happy makes you happy. Or you sacrificed yourself for your wife, you left her to deal with all the ramifications. So enjoy being selfish.
Selflessness is having no concern for oneself, and only helping others. You could argue that everyone has a degree of selflessness to them, but ironically, selfless behavior is actually done for the self. If you didn't get that good feeling that you do whenever you help someone else, you wouldn't do a single helpful thing in your life. If you do something "selfless" it's for that good feeling, to raise your standing in the community, or so others will help you in the future( even if you aren't aware that's why). Humans evolved to help each other, because on their own surviving would be much more difficult.
Even when people do good things, there is generally a selfish motive involved. No matter how small the reward, people don't do things for other people without being selfish. If you get shot instead of your child, that's selfish. Although that is a very good form of selfishness, it's selfish because you couldn't bear having your child dead, so you'd rather be dead yourself. Humans live for themselves. Well really anything lives for itself. Thats why when you're telling an important story to someone, they will interject with lines like " oh yeah that happened to ME once!" or " I wish that would happen to ME!"
Arguing about whether something is "selfish" or "selfless" is just stupid.
If I go to Africa and feed starving children why is this labeled "selfless" by people who hold up the ideal of "selflessness"? Isn't the "feeling bad about starving children" or "feeling good that one has the opportunity to help" something that is essentially of the self?
But then you get people who insist that all that exists is "self-interest" and then try to derive axioms from that. Case in point, Ayn Rand and objectivism. The problem with that is that simply any given thing a person does they did because of having an interest in it and that interest belongs to their self so it's self-interest. A person who is charitable and 'altruistic' has self-interests in doing those things.
So in conclusion everything is self-interested which makes the concepts of "self-interested", "selfish", "selfless" all pretty much irrelevant.
Instead of concerning ourselves with whether or not a person is self-interested or selfish we should consider whether or not they have sufficient regard for the greater good of others as evidenced by their expressions and actions. This regard is just as self-interested as any other regard but can be a good gauge for telling if you can trust somebody particularly trust somebody to elect them to public office.