I have thought about this for some time and I have come to the conclusion that we are all selfishly motivated no matter what we do or say?
Whenever I would do something that benefits somebody else, let's say I give some charity, have I not done that so that I would feel better for having helped somebody. So, I was being selfish.
What are your thoughts?
asked 21 Oct '09, 21:54
If we are not healthy, wealthy and thriving what use are we to others? Does our being poor help other poor people? No. Does being sick help other sick people? No. We must prosper as best we can so we can help others, both by example and in kind. It took me a while to get to the point where I realized that if I was no good to myself I was no good to anyone else either.
Yes, for the most part. That's not necessarily a bad thing.
Friendship and other forms of decency toward nonrelatives are rooted in reciprocity: a creature will extend help in return for the expectation of help in the future.
People are tied into their genetic makeup (a product of evolution) more than you might think. If you doubt this, read one of the many studies of identical twins who were separated from each other at birth, and lived separate lives thereafter. Inevitably they share many of the same behavior patterns and life experiences.
If we are human creatures sharing spiritual experiences, wouldn't it make sense that basic social structures and higher values such as altruism are an integral part of our human genetic makeup, and not divorced from it?
Is There a Gene for Compassion?
Rebecca made a good point. You have to really love yourself in order to recieve that love back. I know that we are all conected, that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience. And we are All One. If we are all One with avery other being in the csmos wouldn't you like to love yourself, hug yourself, kiss yourself. If you saw yourself being hungry wouldn't you give yourself a loaf of bread? Life works that way. If you give something to someone you get more of it back. But what is "more" and what is "less". Is the guy who has a lot and gives just a small portion of it and a man who has nothing yet gives it all to someone else, who in your opinion gives more?
answered 22 Oct '09, 00:53
Since there were two ways to answer this and Rebecca did an excellent job at the material level I'll answer at the consciousness level. There only is the self at the consciousness level. It may seem we are all talking to each other but we are really talking to parts of our own conscious even conflicting parts. Especially when when disagree, if we look within our selves at why this thing bothers us we find the answers in our memories. What we were taught through indoctrination or through self observation and conclusions that may not necessarily and most likely do not match everyone else.
There was a Zen poem that a Teacher was trying to teach his students and his students did not like him. The teacher went to his teacher and said master I have tried everything no matter what I try to do my students do not like me, what do I do? The Master said to change your students you must change your self, the teacher was enlightened and changed and his students liked him.
One last thing for clarity for most we can look at this from a logical perspective of God level. Imagine for a moment God which is all present everywhere, there is no place God is not so God is everything too, ONE BEING everything including you and I. There appears to be separation but it is all the same similar to the Matrix. If we look at our dreams we see many others and even fight with them or talk with them and while we are dreaming some times they chase us and kill us or we kill them off. Yes those are only dreams while we sleep, but they seem to be separate from us, that thing that attacked me can't be me? How could it be, it tried to suck my brains out! I had to shoot it with my shot gun! But when we wake up we have no conclusion but to recognize yes it was ourselves, some part we don't like but yes it was ourselves. Now there is a law that says "As Above so As Below, As Below so As Above" this is expressed in the Bible as "Thy Will be done on Earth as in Heaven." So if we dream and experience these worlds that while we are dreaming seem so separate from us because we are at a conscious level intertwined in the experience of being there, then while our consciousness is intertwined at this level it is likewise impossible to see that this is all one experience as well. Einstein said you can not solves a problem from the level of the problem but only from above the level of the problem. In other words as long as we are caught up in that level of consciousness we can't see the illusion that we are experiencing as reality.
answered 22 Oct '09, 18:23
Yes, you are being selfish if you put everything under the microscope and analize it like that. But while you were being selfish of helping someone by giving to charity you also are helping people or a person now in return whether you got an tax write off, it made you feel good, or it made you look compassionate to others is simply and energy exchange. No, you were not completely selfish thinking only of your self you were often thinking of others as well.
Yes, we all are selfishly motivate to get what I want in life or do what I want. But it is not an 100% selfishness. Most take into consideration of other people thoughts and feeling as well. Again that is always our choice there goes that free will.
answered 21 Oct '09, 23:03
No, we are not all selfishly motivated in the strict sense of the word. To be selfish is defined as being "devoted to or caring only for oneself" (Dictionary.com, emphasis mine). The Oxford English Dictionary goes so far as to say "concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure at the expense of consideration for others." (emphasis again mine) So initially I think we have to make sure we are agreeing what you mean by "selfishly" but if we accept the dictionary references I've checked, I would have to say that people are not always caring only for themselves, nor caring for themselves "chiefly" at the expense of consideration for others.
Selfishness, if we can agree with the above, is either an intentional attitude or an ingrained pattern of behavior that one doesn't even think about. Egoism is part of our human nature, but certainly there are many examples of so called "selfless" acts even to the extent of self-sacrifice. I cannot call them selfishness. Spontaneous goodwill and "random acts of kindness" that are not consciously planned are not motivated by a blameworthy selfishness.
Now "self-interest" is another matter. It is certainly true that many apparently selfless acts are motivated out of a desire for positive recognition, or simply personal gratification. And whether you label that selfishness or self-interest, I see nothing wrong with it. What's wrong with doing something to benefit others as well as yourself? Nothing. In fact, the dominant view of biologists, philosophers, psychologists and sociologists is that self-interest as the sole source of human motivation, and this is referred to as "universal egoism." But not all agree. Dr. Jim Byrne writes in his blog, entitled, "Are human beings innately good or innately bad?" that "Empathic concern generates a selfless, altruistic desire to help the other person." He also points out the difficulty of testing hypotheses on the issue because results can be explained by either the selfish or selfless hypothesis, since "the actual cause is in an internal, invisible, processing phenomenon." But he concurs with psychologist Daniel Batson who concluded, "…it is not true that everything we do is directed towards the ultimate goal of benefiting ourselves. It seems that we are capable of being altruistic as well as egoistic”.
I would like to think we are capable of selfless, altruistic acts, but I maintain that whether the motive is self-interest, selfishness, or altruism, if others benefit and we benefit, too, in my book that's a good thing, one about which I would certainly not feel guilty.
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