Altruism vs. Egoism

Text-only Version: Click HERE to see this thread with all of the graphics, features, and links.



Storm
Altruism is an aspect of moral philosophy in which it is argued that moral decisions should be based upon the interests or well-being of others rather than on self-interest.

Ethical egoism is belief that one ought to do what is in one' s own self-interest. What is in one' s self-interest may incidentally be detrimental to others, beneficial to others, or neutral in its effect.

Philosophers who support egoism have argued that altruism is demeaning to the individual and that no moral obligation to help others actually exists, and that all of our actions are based upon self-interest.

Do individuals have a moral obligation to help or serve others, or the greater good of humanity?

Mindship
If altruism did not serve some evolutionary advantage, it would not have come into being. While all behavior is self-oriented, not all is selfish.

Bardock42
Well Altruism is non-existant so.....egoism wins.

Shakyamunison
The most selfish thing you can do is help someone else.

We live in a society were we need other people and if these other people are not happy, we suffer. If we keep these other people down and way from us, we only postpone the inevitable suffering. So, if you wish to be happy, make sure that everyone around you is happy. This works best if they are also making sure that everyone around them is happy including you. It’s not a perfect answer, but it is the best answer.

Altruism = egoism

Atlantis001
We gain something by helping others, altruism is a quality too. By helping others we feel good. And there is many levels of consciousness, we are not just ego, by being atruistic we can help ourselves to transcend this egoic consciousness.

Shakyamunison
Originally posted by Atlantis001
We gain something by helping others, altruism is a quality too. By helping others we feel good. And there is many levels of consciousness, we are not just ego, by being atruistic we can help ourselves to transcend this egoic consciousness.

I agree, I was just being extreme. I like to point out that helping others is helping yourself. big grin

Atlantis001
Oh.. no, I was not refering to your post.

Shakyamunison
Originally posted by Atlantis001
Oh.. no, I was not refering to your post.

embarrasment

Darth Macabre
Well it all comes down to Thrasymachus and Glaucon's belief/argument with Socrates/Plato about morality....What exactly is your definition of "morality", and moral obligation?

leonheartmm
with a very few exceptions{1 in ten billion maybe} EVERYTHING a person does is for himself. even if he/she helps another person its because THEY feal like its their duty to help and THEY are the kind of people who would help sum1 else and THEIR heart tells them to help people. bertrand russel has some interesting thoughts on the subject too. according to him mankind's intentions to do selfless things are not even close to as noble as we make them out to be. the desire for power has many faces and in helping others one does in a way or another try to empower himself or FEAL noble in his eyes or in the eyes of the world or sum higher being. its almost never done with the purity of heart generally attributed to it.

Mindship
Life, by definition, is self-oriented. That's why it has survived, evolved and thrived for almost 4 billion years. It's like saying water is wet: it's stating the obvious, no grand revelations here. But this doesn't mean all behavior is selfish.

Two people are stranded on a desert isle. The only food is two coconuts, which X has while Y has none. X knows if he keeps both coconuts for himself he definitely survives and Y definitely perishes. X also knows that if he gives Y one coconut, Y has some chance of surviving til rescue, but now X has only some chance (no longer definite) of surviving. And of course, if X gives Y both coconuts, Y makes it for sure, X perishes for sure.

Option 1. X keeps both coconuts. This is selfish behavior: X benefits to the detriment of Y. Y's demise is incidental; X doesn't want that to happen, but X wants to survive.
Option 2. X shares one coconut. This is altruistic behavior. X feels very good about himself--a psychological benefit--which is what motivated him to share. But the fact is, X's survival now is questionable. X suffers some detriment but Y gains some benefit.
Option 3. X gives Y both coconuts. This is the height of altruistic behavior: genuine self-sacrifice. Again, X feels psychological wonderful (while he lasts), but he is doomed while Y benefits to the max.

Option 1 benefits the individual. Period. If intent is taken into consideration--not only does X want to survive but now also wants Y to perish--we have the beginning of "evil."
Option 2 is what has allowed human beings to build societies and reap the benefits thereof.
Option 3 is the stuff of which heroes are made.

Feeling good about yourself is self-oriented but not necessarily selfish. Ultimately, it depends on which "lens" through which you chose to view human behavior.

Bardock42
Originally posted by Atlantis001
By helping others we feel good. Sounds egoistic to me.

Wesker
Originally posted by Storm
Altruism is an aspect of moral philosophy in which it is argued that moral decisions should be based upon the interests or well-being of others rather than on self-interest.

Ethical egoism is belief that one ought to do what is in one' s own self-interest. What is in one' s self-interest may incidentally be detrimental to others, beneficial to others, or neutral in its effect.

Philosophers who support egoism have argued that altruism is demeaning to the individual and that no moral obligation to help others actually exists, and that all of our actions are based upon self-interest.

Do individuals have a moral obligation to help or serve others, or the greater good of humanity?

You can't have pure altruism or pure ethical egoism. You have to moderate between them, and by that I mean one cannot be 100% in the interests of others, and at the same time no society or group of individuals can exist being 100% for themselves (and keep in mind that it is groups and societies which make ethics even relevant).

People need to look out for themselves because it's natural (Remember that self-love and actualization is a psychological goal and one recognized by most religions) and because if they are 100% altruistic, they would have to in turn rely on the charity of others (Because they're too busy ignoring their own needs). Unless you could arrange for a world where everyone always acted in their neighbor's interests perfectly then pure altruism would be a good thing, but that's fantasy.

Atlantis001
Originally posted by Bardock42
Sounds egoistic to me.

That what I mean... We always want to benefit ourselves with everything we do, so we cannot say that "altruism is demeaning to the individual and that no moral obligation to help others actually exists".

We gain something from altruism too, but I donīt think in any way that it is evil to want to gain something.. it is good to feel good, if you know what I mean.

Adam_PoE
Originally posted by Mindship
Option 2. X shares one coconut. This is altruistic behavior. X feels very good about himself--a psychological benefit--which is what motivated him to share. But the fact is, X's survival now is questionable. X suffers some detriment but Y gains some benefit.

Perhaps X shares with Y because Y has skills necessary for his survival.

Perhaps X shares with Y because X would rather suffer some detriment than have no companionship.

It is quite possible that this is egoistic behavior.

Atlantis001
Originally posted by Adam_PoE
Perhaps X shares with Y because Y has skills necessary for his survival.

I agree. Specially when we compare it to the way our society works. I mean, society is not something that is only possible by altruism, society can also be made possible by the fear of its members, misleading, lies, corruption, etc.

Bardock42
Originally posted by Atlantis001
That what I mean... We always want to benefit ourselves with everything we do, so we cannot say that "altruism is demeaning to the individual and that no moral obligation to help others actually exists".

We gain something from altruism too, but I donīt think in any way that it is evil to want to gain something.. it is good to feel good, if you know what I mean.

I think the point is altruism doesn't exist.

Mindship
Originally posted by Adam_PoE
Perhaps X shares with Y because Y has skills necessary for his survival.

Perhaps X shares with Y because X would rather suffer some detriment than have no companionship.

It is quite possible that this is egoistic behavior.

Possibly. I should have clarified "all else being equal," or something to that effect, to minimize the variables to consider.

I am not denying that life is self-oriented (again, IMO, it would be like denying water is wet). But I don't think all human behavior is necessarily selfish. One doesn't become a fireman, or run into a burning World Trade Tower, for selfish reasons. Yes, the fireman is feeling "mightily heroic" for doing so, a boon to his ego. But clearly he is still willing to sacrifice his life to save others, others whom he does not even know.

Consider it altruistic egoism. We can't help being egoistic--it's what we are, it is not a goal or philosophy to adopt. It is our very nature, being symbol-using, self-aware beings. Therefore, egoism, in itself, should not necessarily carry a negative connotation ("damn you, water, for being wet!"wink. It should not be synonymous with being "selfish," which does have a negative connotation.

The feeling I'm getting from this thread is, it's almost as if people want to go "See? All behavior is selfish. At the core we are no good. So perhaps why even try to do good? If I'm being selfish, it's okay."

If that's the case (and it may not be), then perhaps this thread should also be discussing rationalization for one's behavior.

Text-only Version: Click HERE to see this thread with all of the graphics, features, and links.