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Xiphias Gladius

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An observation about humanity and altruism [Jan. 29th, 2014|01:44 pm]
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Cynics say that there is no such thing as altruism: that we do good things for others simply because it makes us feel good about ourselves.

In other words, we belong to a species that feels pleasure when we help others. Isn't that awesome? That makes me proud to be a human being.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: wcg
2014-01-29 07:06 pm (UTC)

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Yep. Me too.

But I think it goes deeper. We belong to a species that can feel fulfillment and satisfaction by doing very dangerous things for the good of our tribe. That makes us at least as moral as the baboons.
[User Picture]From: browngirl
2014-01-29 08:39 pm (UTC)

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Word. :)
[User Picture]From: phantom_wolfboy
2014-01-29 09:09 pm (UTC)

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Well put!
[User Picture]From: lizw
2014-01-30 01:06 pm (UTC)

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Yeah, I've always thought the cynics were missing the point there. Of course the altruism needs to be effective - if a person is unknowingly making themselves feel good at the expense of the people zie is trying to help, or just not achieving what zie thinks zie is, that's a problem, and it does unfortunately happen quite often. But in general, if the things that help us to flourish as a species also feel good and the things that hinder it feel bad, that's how it's supposed to work, because it had to work for millennia before we were able to tell ourselves little stories in our heads about how we ought to do something whether it feels good or not, and it still has to work now when we have to act quickly, before we have time to remember the story.

Hmm. Now I'm noodling about connections with the Calvinist work ethic and diet culture vs. intuitive eating and exercise vs. movement and and and... none of which are the pieces on international arbitration in Singapore and Hong Kong that I'm actually supposed to be working on. *sigh*