Wednesday, January 30, 2013

451: The Art Not to Be an Egoist 16

How selfish are we really. Do we have selfish genes that drive us in all circumstances? Are we such cold calculating selfish organisms?

This morning you got up and have dressed. And if you now do not just lie in bed now and reading this sentences from your laptop screen, then you are probably clothed. 

Probably you have not been looking forward all night to putting on clothes in the morning. You have not longed feverishly to put on a shirt, a blouse, a pair of pants or a skirt to dress. 

There was no desire for you and not the fulfillment of a selfish desire. After brushing your teeth, you may have not felt deep satisfaction. Nevertheless, you have done it.

You have now done ​​things and made preparations to which you were not driven by strong needs. 

If you ask yourself now: How often today have I looked explicitly after my direct selfish benefit? " then it could be that it was actually seldom.

You've probably all day long rather avoided disadvantages. Or you have, if any, calculated only very indirect benefits. 

For example, you did know that you would look stupid, if you had gone to work naked. You have not even thought about it. You take for granted. 

At the office you have more or less neatly done your work without big sensations and excitement. Although your strongest feeling in between may have been caused by perhaps the trouble about a colleague or by a sexual fantasy, 

you have not succumbed to them long and have swiftly focused again on your duty. In short, you did not seek pleasure, but avoided suffering. 
This is our normal life.

When you look at it from a selfish gene point of view your day has been a complete failure. Nothing has contributed to the survival of your genes.

You haven't made at least a few women pregnant, nor have you knocked down any competitors. Why didn't  you choose to make the others  consistent tools to your interests?

And what does this most intelligent animal on the planet and selfish gene machine do to multiply his genes? He smokes, drinks, eats fat hamburgers and spends the rest of the day on the couch.

What is human nature? At the end of the 1980s there emerged a group of Anglo-american bio-philosophers and behavioral economists with a very clear and simple answer.

Their basic thesis was: The motivation of all our actions is basically just pursuit of our personal advantage and egoism.

This of course had consequences for our moral thinking. The first one is: Our moral sense is not a product of our consciousness, but intuitive.

The second was: Our ethics in not (or just a little bit) a matter of nurture, culture. It is product of the logical calculations of our genes.

With respect to the first consequence we can say, that we already have seen plenty of evidence that the roots of our moral behavior are in the animal kingdom. The homo sapiens is no exception here.

Just compare this with the ideas in the days of Kant around 1750. In the first place was our moral sense the result of our conscious decisions.

And in the second place: Ethics was mainly a cultural achievement, which is exclusively a quality of the homo sapiens.

We need some more lectures to deal with all questions and answers here, I guess :-))

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson: Thank you....^_^
[13:21] Qwark Allen: ::::::::: * E * X * C * E * L * L * E * N * T  * ::::::::::
[13:21] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Hmm, that seemed short
[13:21] Lizzy Pleides: Very good, Thank you Professor
[13:21] Debbie Dee (framdor): Short and punchy ;)
[13:21] Debbie Dee (framdor): thanks herman.
[13:22] Qwark Allen: exactly, Fram
[13:22] herman Bergson: was as long as always Merlin :-)
[13:23] Debbie Dee (framdor): persuit of our persoanal advanages and egoism = human nature....
[13:23] herman Bergson: Maybe it is because the lecture isn't that complex today...for a start :-)
[13:23] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): yes probably so. It just SEEMED shorter to me for some reason
[13:23] Debbie Dee (framdor): who was that group?
[13:23] Qwark Allen: its good for survival of genes if we procriate once a day?
[13:23] Qwark Allen: aren`t we already to many on the planet?
[13:24] Debbie Dee (framdor): thats just pursuit of personal advantage merlin ;)
[13:24] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Too Many? Yes!
[13:24] herman Bergson: That group..?
[13:24] Debbie Dee (framdor): the group in the 80's...
[13:24] Lizzy Pleides: the Bio ethics group ?
[13:24] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Sorry Debbie, I don't understand what you mean but nvm
[13:24] Debbie Dee (framdor): who defined human nature
[13:25] herman Bergson: Richard Alexander for instance with "The biology of Moral Systems
[13:25] herman Bergson: or Robert Wright with "The Moral Animal"
[13:25] Debbie Dee (framdor): thanks herman...
[13:25] herman Bergson: Matt Ridley with "The Origins of Virtue"
[13:26] herman Bergson: We'll have a closer look at them next lecture...
[13:26] herman Bergson: Besides that the term Sociobiology belongs to these ideas
[13:26] Debbie Dee (framdor): cool - i want to read up a bit.
[13:26] herman Bergson: What is interesting is that it begin in the 1980s..
[13:27] herman Bergson: coinciding with free market thinking
[13:27] herman Bergson: And don't forget Richard Dawkins with his Selfish Gene
[13:27] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Hang on a minute
[13:27] Debbie Dee (framdor): Yes... his works I know quite well.
[13:28] Velvet (velvet.braham): I need to read more Dawkins.
[13:28] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I nearly mentioned that, but I said once before that The Selfish Gene is NOT a gene for selfishness.....
[13:28] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): It is the Gene itself which is selfish in its aim to reproduce itself
[13:28] herman Bergson: This scientific egoism thinking goes along with the rise of neo-liberalism under Reagan and Thatcher…
[13:29] Debbie Dee (framdor): so where does selfless behaviour fit in?
[13:29] herman Bergson: No Merlin....that is true....
[13:29] herman Bergson: the basic idea is that we are programmed to make our genes survive...
[13:29] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): ah ty. well I have read the book, and its not often I can say that!
[13:29] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): yes
[13:30] herman Bergson: But as being programmed like that as organisms we have to be selffish...
[13:30] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): But it also applies to all organisms, plants too
[13:30] Debbie Dee (framdor): selfless behaviour like jumping into the river to free trapped passengers in a car?
[13:30] herman Bergson: or said otherwise...selfishness is in our genes
[13:30] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): well if so, it is in the genes of all living things, but yeah
[13:30] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes that too feels good to know that we saved them
[13:31] Debbie Dee (framdor): or helping to put out a fire that is not threatening you directly?
[13:31] herman Bergson: Well Debbie that is what we will get to.....altruism....
[13:31] herman Bergson: which seems to be in contradiction with our genes...
[13:31] Lizzy Pleides: is Moral not real when its not a cognitive result of man?
[13:32] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Maybe it is just that other organisms are more open about their selfishness and we cover it up
[13:32] herman Bergson: what organisms do you mean Merlin?
[13:32] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Well all living things try to further their own aims
[13:32] Debbie Dee (framdor): altruism must fit in with egoism - it makes us feel good about ourselves?
[13:33] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Plants too
[13:33] herman Bergson: Imean we can observe them all and we see that primates for instance share food
[13:33] Lizzy Pleides: perhaps Debbie
[13:33] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes Debbie
[13:33] herman Bergson: Ahhh Debbie....the feel good theme...yes!
[13:33] herman Bergson: we'll get to that too :-)
[13:34] Lizzy Pleides: the helper's syndrome
[13:34] Debbie Dee (framdor):  ✧✩**✩✧ G I G G L E S ✧✩**
[13:34] Debbie Dee (framdor): he he - better make the next lecture a bit longer then -
[13:34] herman Bergson: and the theroy of altruism as disguised egoism..:-)
[13:34] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Well I once said similar in an earlier lesson, that we are 'good' so that we feel good about ourselves
[13:34] herman Bergson: true merlin....
[13:34] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): And to get reciprocal co-operation from others.... as did the chimps in one film
[13:35] Velvet (velvet.braham): that is certainly true, but it's not the whole reason we are altruistic
[13:35] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): imho
[13:35] herman Bergson: But I think we first have to elaborate on the concept of egoism....
[13:35] herman Bergson: Just think about this...
[13:35] herman Bergson: I call it hard egoism...
[13:36] Lizzy Pleides: but thus to help others could be dishonest because in truth we are egoists
[13:36] herman Bergson: You meet a person who only goes for his own interests....
[13:36] herman Bergson: whatever it costs...
[13:36] herman Bergson: always he first thinks of himself...
[13:36] herman Bergson: How many people like that do you know?
[13:37] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Maybe staying alive is not our whole motive. People care about how they are regarded even after their death
[13:37] Debbie Dee (framdor): egoism, and community make for altruism, and the resulting appreciation feeds the ego.
[13:37] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): I know such a person in rl..very annoying
[13:37] Debbie Dee (framdor): not many herman.
[13:37] Velvet (velvet.braham): a rare few!
[13:37] herman Bergson: There Beertje said it....
[13:37] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): sighs....
[13:38] herman Bergson: Such people annoy us...we stay out of their way....
[13:38] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): oh yes
[13:38] Debbie Dee (framdor): and call them selfish Xz&*(
[13:38] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): lol
[13:38] herman Bergson: but according to the bio is exactly in line with what the genes make us do...
[13:39] Debbie Dee (framdor): so there is something moderating that behaviour...
[13:39] herman Bergson: Bu t...when you look at your reaction....
[13:39] herman Bergson: we do not like hard egoism....
[13:39] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): no one does I presume
[13:40] herman Bergson: Think so too Beertje....
[13:40] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Religious faith could be a motivator too
[13:40] Debbie Dee (framdor): where does subtlety and understatement fit in - being "cool"?
[13:40] herman Bergson: I'll get to all these issues in the next lectures :-)
[13:40] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yes I think that is it Debbie
[13:40] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Being seen favourably by others
[13:40] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): now it became a long lecture after all:))
[13:40] Lizzy Pleides: yes merlin
[13:41] Debbie Dee (framdor): I guess thats the ego thing merlin...
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well Merlin....
[13:41] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): TY Lizzie (smiles)
[13:41] herman Bergson: Apes dont need a religion to survive...
[13:41] Lizzy Pleides: winks @ Merlin*
[13:41] herman Bergson: So what does it mean in evolution to us?
[13:42] Debbie Dee (framdor): Maybe if they had religion to structure their communities, they would be in control...
[13:42] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): But, how much of it is evolution and how much is it culture and society?
[13:42] Elia Scribe: Can it be quantized in that sense?
[13:42] herman Bergson: There we go...with respect to religion, Merlin :-))
[13:43] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): so religion is to control communities Debbie?
[13:43] herman Bergson: I tend to say yes Beertje :-))
[13:43] Debbie Dee (framdor): Religion has played a large part in pulling groups together to wage war Beertje
[13:43] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I was glad, Herman, when you studied apes in this, because I think they are highly relevant
[13:43] Debbie Dee (framdor): yes - agree with herman...
[13:44] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): most wars were about religion
[13:44] Lizzy Pleides: it is egoism too, people want an everlasting life after death
[13:44] Debbie Dee (framdor): yes, and religion was used to make the soldiers fight.
[13:44] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's all about ummm 'macht'
[13:44] herman Bergson: power
[13:44] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): thank you:)
[13:44] Debbie Dee (framdor): yes...
[13:45] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yes, 'Might' is probably the nearest sounding word to Macht
[13:45] Debbie Dee (framdor): maybe an sl religion is a good idea? Our avis can be immortal as long as linden labs is in business.
[13:45] herman Bergson: indeed Merlin..:-)
[13:45] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes Merlin
[13:45] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): :)
[13:45] herman Bergson: the All Mighty himself
[13:45] Lizzy Pleides: lol debbie
[13:45] herman Bergson: Sounds good Debbie....
[13:46] Elia Scribe: I missed 10 minutes. So you are all saying that ego is purely functional?
[13:46] Merlin (merlin.saxondale) laughs
[13:46] herman Bergson: And then we as avis pray every Sunday for Linden Lab
[13:46] Debbie Dee (framdor): And the lindens can be god, and the money is Lindens.... just like reality.
[13:46] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yeah, Mr Linden is like God here
[13:46] herman Bergson: No just missed 10 minutes ^_^
[13:47] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Sees all
[13:47] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Can know our innermost souls
[13:47] Elia Scribe: Can I read the log?
[13:47] Elia Scribe: Can someone send it to me?
[13:47] herman Bergson: There is a blog Elia :-)
[13:47] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): You tell Her Herman
[13:47] Debbie Dee (framdor): And leads us into immortality... a life in a computer which will be there when you aren't.
[13:48] herman Bergson: Yes Debie...THE fascinating question...
[13:48] Debbie Dee (framdor): I love reading about the augmented human, and the post human condition that results.
[13:48] herman Bergson: What is your avatar doing when you are not online :-)
[13:48] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): lol
[13:48] Debbie Dee (framdor): he he... mine listens to the radio, and goes shopping ;)
[13:48] herman Bergson: Maybe it is better that you don't know :-)
[13:49] Debbie Dee (framdor): Its a bit like Schroedingers cat....
[13:49] herman Bergson: Well...still a lot of unanswered questions...
[13:49] herman Bergson: I suggest we get together on Thursday and see what we can make of it ..:-_
[13:50] Debbie Dee (framdor): hey.... great idea prof..
[13:50] herman Bergson: So, thank you all for you stimulating participation
[13:50] Debbie Dee (framdor): thanks for this stimulating lecture.
[13:50] Qwark Allen: was very nice and interesting
[13:50] Qwark Allen: thank you hermann
[13:50] herman Bergson: Class dismissed :-)
[13:50] Qwark Allen: AAHH!!!
[13:51] Fred123 Aiten: many thanks herman
[13:51] herman Bergson: Bye Julietta :-)
[13:51] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you and good night!
[13:51] Julietta Moonshine (marguerite.lemondrop): Good bye
[13:51] herman Bergson: See you all onThursday again :-)
[13:51] Debbie Dee (framdor): I always feel that there is more to discuss. A great way to make me think.
[13:51] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yes, Thanks Herman and bye everyone
[13:51] Elia Scribe: Where is the blog herman? Link?
[13:51] herman Bergson: Oh there is Debbie !
[13:52] Debbie Dee (framdor): he he
[13:52] Debbie Dee (framdor): There always is.
[13:52] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): look at your IM Elia
[13:52] herman Bergson: Gave the URL to you yesterday Elia :-)
[13:52] Debbie Dee (framdor): anyway... cu soon... and bye friends and Prof
[13:52] herman Bergson: Bye Debbie
[13:53] Elia Scribe: Thanks Beertje
[13:53] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): you're welcome

No comments:

Post a Comment