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Old 04-10-2009, 05:33 AM
 
Location: Florida
18,293 posts, read 18,550,890 times
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How many of you have sacrified in some way for somebody else and felt terrible over it ?
(I don't mean that the consequences made you regret that you did so but that you felt bad while you were doing so)
Somehow, someway, you are getting or forseeing some kind of personal satifaction from it or facing some amount of guilt or self recrimination for not doing it.
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Old 04-10-2009, 05:53 AM
 
19,081 posts, read 21,205,176 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by old_cold View Post
How many of you have sacrified in some way for somebody else and felt terrible over it ?
(I don't mean that the consequences made you regret that you did so but that you felt bad while you were doing so)
Somehow, someway, you are getting or forseeing some kind of personal satifaction from it or facing some amount of guilt or self recrimination for not doing it.
I'm having a hard time aligning compassion with selfishness.
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Old 04-10-2009, 06:04 AM
 
Location: Florida
18,293 posts, read 18,550,890 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Braunwyn View Post
I'm having a hard time aligning compassion with selfishness.
To even feel compassion do you not have to be able to apply the situation to yourself to have any comprehension as to what the other person is feeling?
To do something that is motivated by compassion are you not pleased with yourself that you may be helping someone else avoid or lessen such negative feelings.
In actuality, you may not help them at all but will still feel good for having tried.
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Old 04-10-2009, 06:23 AM
 
830 posts, read 2,506,661 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moonshadow View Post
Well firstly let's take the walk example, I know people that have had to relearn how to walk several times in their adult life and still have to spend time thinking about it. I know they're not the only people in that situation either but I think it's great you've touched on this as an example (which obviously isn't an issue for you) and it speaks volumes about the situation we are discussing.

Now because walking is an ongoing thing for those people and something that, for the sake of the example we'll say, is simple for you I could decide that it's selfish of you to assume that everyone is like you and has been walking happily since they first learned as a child. That would be a reasonable position for me to take yes? The assumption that because it's like that for you, means it must be like that for everyone is a fairly selfish idea I think, least it appears to be how many people in this thread would attribute selfishness. However I don't see it as you being selfish at all. What I see is you filtering this discussion through your own experience and your experience has been that since you learned to walk you've not had to learn again therefore you gravitate to the idea that's how it is for everyone.
But for many people this isn't the case.
For all that humans only come in a few physical variations every single one of us is unique. My life experience, the things that have happened to me, that have shaped how I view the world it will never happen exactly that way again, similar maybe, but never exactly the same and this is the case for every single human being on the planet. We are the same but we are also unique, one offs, never to be repeated. If a series of events, incidents and interactions take place which culminate in me being here right now the person that I am, and a completely different series of events, incidents and interactions have taken place which culminated in you being here right now, the person you are and we all filter our actions and reactions through our experience, AND there a billions of us and GAZILLIONS of events and incidents and interactions, HOW can we then say that these random events and our interaction with them come down to purely being self motivated or selfish or not? I really don't think we can. As far as I can see with numbers of people and random incidents running that high it would be foolish of us to pressume that every action/reaction comes down to something as basic as selfish or not selfish. There will be as many reasons as there are people.

I agree with almost everything you said. Just a few counterpoints.

First, I don't believe in randomness because I believe all things happen for a reason. To me, the word random is just another way of saying we do not understand why something happened.

That said, and regardless of whether you consider something random or not, I still believe that what we do we do for selfish reasons, good selfish or bad selfish, regardless of where we are at any point in our life as a result of those things we can control, can't control, random events, and all of the other things that happen throughout the universe that have resulted in us being at any given moment. (this is actually a very fascinating conversation all its own)

Life is a series of moments, gazillions of them, as you said. And with each moment there may be the need to make a decision, which we will do selfishly, based on what we know, based on what we need, based on what we want.

I think the key thing to remember is to not look at selfish as a bad thing. We really should expand the definition of selfish to include its good side as well.

This really is a very technical argument and for the most part is not explicitly applicable in everyday life. I don't sit around thinking to myself, am I doing this or that for selfish reasons? I just think, I need or want to do this or that and then I do it. Or I complain about it because I don't want to do it but I better because my boss will yell at me if I don't, or my girlfriend will be upset with me, etc.

But I selfishly make the decision to do those things precisely because I don't want my boss to yell at me, or my girlfriend to be upset with me. In fact, some people may not care at all that their boss or girlfriend would be upset with them. And they have their own selfish reasons for feeling that way, which may be perfectly healthy. Perhaps I am overly sensitive, for example. And if I am overly sensitive, then I am for my own selfish reasons, for reasons that have developed over the course of my life based on those gazillions of interactions that I have had.
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Old 04-10-2009, 06:23 AM
 
19,081 posts, read 21,205,176 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by old_cold View Post
To even feel compassion do you not have to be able to apply the situation to yourself to have any comprehension as to what the other person is feeling?
To do something that is motivated by compassion are you not pleased with yourself that you may be helping someone else avoid or lessen such negative feelings.
In actuality, you may not help them at all but will still feel good for having tried.
My experience and understanding of compassion doesn't seem to fit with your descriptions; not entirely at least. For one, compassion is not an act. Sure, there are compassionate acts but one does't have to correlate with the other. Two, when I experience compassion for, lets say factory farmed animals, I've never applied their situation to myself. The suffering of animals and children is difficult to bear due to innocence imo. I am not an innocent so I cannot personally relate to or fathom what they experience. When I witness their suffering compassion arises in me for them.

But, I can see how attempting to alleviate the suffering of another to end my suffering that results from compassion as selfish. I don't think this always needs to be the case though for all people. I'm off to work!
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Old 04-11-2009, 04:19 PM
 
1,245 posts, read 1,228,908 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motoman View Post
Then the satisfaction of doing the right thing was more important to you than the other happiness, meaning doing the right thing would make you happier than doing the other thing, whether or not you would ever admit it to yourself.
But the satisfaction of doing the right thing gave me a much smaller amount of happiness than I would have received if I had chosen to help myself instead. Thats the flaw in this theory.
Quote:
Originally Posted by motoman View Post
I think we have all come across these types of decisions at some point in our lives. We moan and groan about the fact we gave up something to do something else. But in the end, assuming things turned out well, we are glad we sacrificed because we got more satisfaction out of doing the thing we originally thought we didn't want to do.
Or there is such a thing as a selfless act and the natural good in people is what makes people perform those selfless acts.

Seriously I've helped a lot of people in my life, and while it does feel good, it doesn't feel that good. Therefor not everything we do is selfish, seeing as how we sacrifice greater happiness for lesser happiness for nothing other than another person's well being.
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Old 04-11-2009, 08:13 PM
 
Location: Portlandia "burbs"
10,236 posts, read 13,528,427 times
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There are a lot of good points here from both sides ~ I particularly enjoyed Stormy Night's.

There ARE a lot of selfish people, yes. And you could pick apart any scenario imaginable and find selfishness in the equation somehow. In some cultures offspring are expected to take care of their parents in their aging years, often before their own children are full grown. This may be a matter of expectation in their culture but would be considered selfish behavior in this country.

To put one's self first is also a survival tool. Take care of yourself first so that you can take care of your loved ones as best as possible. I'm sure even Neanderthals knew that they had to take good care of themselves before braving the forests for a kill in order to feed the family. I admit to having trouble associating the word 'selfish' to something like this.

I will throw this one in, though. When I was raising a family I repeatedly reminded everyone that if I wasn't happy, they damn sure wouldn't be, either. :-)
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Old 04-11-2009, 08:48 PM
 
9,912 posts, read 12,187,896 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motoman View Post
I agree with almost everything you said. Just a few counterpoints.

First, I don't believe in randomness because I believe all things happen for a reason. To me, the word random is just another way of saying we do not understand why something happened.

That said, and regardless of whether you consider something random or not, I still believe that what we do we do for selfish reasons, good selfish or bad selfish, regardless of where we are at any point in our life as a result of those things we can control, can't control, random events, and all of the other things that happen throughout the universe that have resulted in us being at any given moment. (this is actually a very fascinating conversation all its own)

Life is a series of moments, gazillions of them, as you said. And with each moment there may be the need to make a decision, which we will do selfishly, based on what we know, based on what we need, based on what we want.

I think the key thing to remember is to not look at selfish as a bad thing. We really should expand the definition of selfish to include its good side as well.

This really is a very technical argument and for the most part is not explicitly applicable in everyday life. I don't sit around thinking to myself, am I doing this or that for selfish reasons? I just think, I need or want to do this or that and then I do it. Or I complain about it because I don't want to do it but I better because my boss will yell at me if I don't, or my girlfriend will be upset with me, etc.

But I selfishly make the decision to do those things precisely because I don't want my boss to yell at me, or my girlfriend to be upset with me. In fact, some people may not care at all that their boss or girlfriend would be upset with them. And they have their own selfish reasons for feeling that way, which may be perfectly healthy. Perhaps I am overly sensitive, for example. And if I am overly sensitive, then I am for my own selfish reasons, for reasons that have developed over the course of my life based on those gazillions of interactions that I have had.
I think the crux of our lack of agreement probably gets down to the first part of your post.

I don't believe that everything happens for a reason. I think things happen (random things that yes are exactly as you described. We don't understand what happened all the time.) and we attribute reasons for them happening to the event. In other words we look for meaning, we look for reasons in order to understand. I think this probably is also what we are talking about in terms of selfish. An event happens and you dissect it down to selfish either good or bad. I would view the same event and wonder at the randomness of the universe and how it came to be that each part of the puzzle came together in those moments for the even to unfold as it did and I see people respond to the event in many different ways. My first thought isn't to weigh it up as selfish good or bad, actually someone's self interest would come way down the list, if at all, for me.

I think this quote (which was told to me in a NLP short course once, and I can never remember who to attribute it to)

"there is no meaning, other than that which YOU place upon it"

probably sums it up for me the best. I take it to mean that there will be as many meanings and motivations to an event as there are people and witnesses and folks to pick it apart later. The actual event itself is just a random series of incidents, it is the people involved that give it meaning. I'm guessing for a lot of people here that meaning would always come down to selfish (good or bad) and for others it would not.
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Old 04-12-2009, 05:42 PM
 
Location: San Diego California
6,797 posts, read 6,121,963 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aylalou View Post
That argument would hold water if someone made a plan. I was talking about instantaneous reaction - no time to think - only to act.
People's instinctive reactions are what they have been conditioned to do, either by training or by societal teachings. How do you think the military can get otherwise intelligent, rational, people to jump out of a foxhole and charge a machine gun position when there is little chance they will live? It is because they have been trained to follow orders no matter what. The human mind is like a computer, it depends on programming, in order to operate. It can be programmed rationally or irrationally.
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Old 04-14-2009, 09:33 AM
 
1,330 posts, read 1,043,080 times
Reputation: 202
Socialism fails because liberals fail to understand the self-interested aspect of human nature. Instead, liberals berate people for "being selfish" as if it were a bad thing. What they always miss is that capitalism harnesses that selfishness, and in inverse proportion, benefits society as a whole from that selfishness.

The fact is, people won't do things for 'society' for long without compensation. When forced, the best result socialism produces is uninspired marking of time, with its accompanying shortages, recession, and lethargy. At worst, it produces shattered economies and depression.
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