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What is it to be selfish?


hypertilly
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There is more to it. In most animal groups individuals must feed and fend for themselves, but counterexamples are easy to find, Queen bees, and group behavior such as I witness in the flock of wild turkeys roaming my woods. Sometimes three or four males will stand in a line and all spread their fans, shielding the young and females foraging behind them! These are not such stupid creatures as sometimes we make out. You can find cellular automaton games which model selfish aggrandizement along with altruism, or sharing.

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True selfishness may be definable as that which promotes biological replicative success even if it is via conventionally definable seeming unselfish behaviour . All ( successeful ) life is a genomes way of making another genome .

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There is more to it. In most animal groups individuals must feed and fend for themselves, but counterexamples are easy to find, Queen bees, and group behavior such as I witness in the flock of wild turkeys roaming my woods. Sometimes three or four males will stand in a line and all spread their fans, shielding the young and females foraging behind them! These are not such stupid creatures as sometimes we make out. You can find cellular automaton games which model selfish aggrandizement along with altruism, or sharing.

 

I think that the examples you mention still involve selfishness, just that the animals are intelligent enough to realise that it's in their interests to help others.

 

Would you say any selfishness can be underlying charity work? For instance, people may merely being doing it for their CV.

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I concur but isn't it possible that in some cases we do things that we see as for the greater good of our species not us.

I do believe that charity is a good example of this. Furthermore, many scientists in search for a major breakthough may realise that it won't come in their lifetime. A mother protecting her child,,,that is not selfish.

Yours thoughts...

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Gypsy Cake, I certainly recognize both tendencies in myself. At the age of 58 I expect people to be narrowly selfish and am occasionally surprised. I also understand we all conspire to create the society. I do experience a fundamental joy in shared accomplishments, poeple working together with shared purpose.

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I concur but isn't it possible that in some cases we do things that we see as for the greater good of our species not us.

I do believe that charity is a good example of this. Furthermore, many scientists in search for a major breakthough may realise that it won't come in their lifetime. A mother protecting her child,,,that is not selfish.

Yours thoughts...

 

Is it not that we get pleasure from these things, or avoid discomfort, pain, etc.

 

If I give to charity is it because I am not selfish or is it because I feel bad about not giving or feel good about giving. It seems there is always an argument to support the idea that you get something from anything you do, or avoid a negative thing.

 

A mother protects her child because she loves her child and will feel pain if her child is harmed.

 

A person that is unselfish is a person that gains something from their unselfishness. That is still a good thing even though the core motivation is selfishness.

 

Selfishness as it is seen on the surface is where someone gets pleasure from what appears to be a selfish act.

 

There probably isn't an example that could be given of pure unselfishness insofar as it will always be possible to find some reward, or avoidance of pain, etc. in the act at some level.

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If I give to charity is it because I am not selfish or is it because I feel bad about not giving or feel good about giving. It seems there is always an argument to support the idea that you get something from anything you do, or avoid a negative thing.

 

This was my thinking when posing the question. But I don't think we can say that people give to charity because it makes them feel good. It does make them feel good but only because they're helping others and nothing else. I'm not sure if gaining happiness counts as being selfish.

 

A mother protects her child because she loves her child and will feel pain if her child is harmed.

I think a mother protects her child from instinct. It is a mother's role in nature to protect her child for the good of the species.

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Everything, everything we willingly do, we do only for some sort of personal pleasure. That's what pleasure is. Only once we recognize this can we start talking seriously and realistically about morality. How "selfish" someone is has nothing to do with how much they're doing things for their own benefit - everybody works entirely for their own benefit 100% of the time. What it DOES have to do with is how that person perceives that benefit - happiness derived from compassion or obligation to society or satisfaction from "doing the right thing" is less "selfish" than that from other sources, like sensual pleasures, material wealth, personal recognition, or assurance of divine reward.

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What is love? I can admit that what I think is truly a primal feeling in tribal experiences has to do with my selfish needs. By focussing a common effort we can achieve a larger thing that we all need. It's not simple to describe my feelings about the other individuals, but there has to be some level of love, namely an appreciative feeling of coexisting in a shared matrix. For ten years I lived communally so I have more than average experience, though everyone with a family has experience.

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What is love?

 

If anyone knows the answer to that, you're probably going to be very wealthy.

Unless you post the answer here, then we're all going to be a bit better off :)

 

I bet this is the sort of question that only gets discussed in the philosophy forums. But I think it really belongs in Psychology or even Neuroscience.

 

Sisyphus: I think that's a pretty spot on description of selfishness you gave.

 

I get pleasure from helping others; I'm a selfish altruistic.

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I worked for a man once who it seemed to me at the time, loved no one but himself. He collected people like many people collect objects, he bad- mouthed everyone of us to the other - always confident that he was in control.

He operated like a puppet master. But if you ever asked him for anything his anwer would always be yes. Is this a selfish man?

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Very cool, hypertilly. I have tuned pianos for thirty years and have dealt with more personalities than I care to. There have been three or four people I literally walked out on as fast as I could, and a few others who will not see me again. These are not bad statistics for dealing with a few hundred people per year.

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Very cool, hypertilly. I have tuned pianos for thirty years and have dealt with more personalities than I care to. There have been three or four people I literally walked out on as fast as I could, and a few others who will not see me again. These are not bad statistics for dealing with a few hundred people per year.

 

Understand

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