Monday, April 3, 2017

654: The Meaning of Altruism....

When you drop the axiom “homo sapiens is primarily driven by selfishness” in the philosophical discourse
then it is logical, as Spock would say, that altruism is out of the question on this planet. It is contradictory to the goal of life,  which is to be selfish and thence shape your life.
However, as Spock would continue, who says that this is unquestionably true. Ayn Rand of course, but there is so much scientific evidence, 
which refutes this axiom, that you can dismiss it as a caricature of human existence, even when “Atlas shrugged” is even more popular than the Bible in the US.
Even primates and other animals, not gifted with the consciousness we have, show clear signs of altruism, 
showing behaviour where care for the other prevails over individual gain or profit. So, is this the meaning , the purpose of our life, to help eachother?
Sounds good, but it has a smell, for how altruistic is altruism, when it feels so good to  help someone else.
We love to experience that gratitude of the helped person and can even feel offended when he doesn’t show his gratitude.
The philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804) was quite clear about this. When you’re altruistic because it makes you feel good.
then helping the other is not the goal, but just a personal means to feel good. And that is not good. Your fellow man may never be a means to an end.
So, the urge to help the other must be felt as a moral obligation, an obligation you can not deny, independent of your personal feelings.
I think, however, that this is an equally sterile and cerebral way of looking at the organism “homo sapiens” as we saw with Ayn Rand.
Why does anyone need help? There are two reasons we have to help people. One is that they suffer from a shortage of something 
that we think their situation is thus reduced to a level below that of subsistence. This is the case when we help those who are sick, hungry or living in poverty.
The second reason is that we want to help people who may have just enough recourses to make more of their lives. 
This may be because we have more than we need and can understand that a little of our wealth, companionship or expertise can be  much more to others than it is worth for us.
Whether we feel good about helping is not really relevant in these situations. When I feel that living in hunger is bad for me,
then I can only conclude that this has to be bad for everyone else too. When living in comfortable circumstances feels good to me,
I only can conclude that it will feel good for everybody. Our morality isn’t based on feeling good by helping others,
but it is based on a kind of recognition of the equality between me and my fellow men. We share the same needs, the same joy, the same sorrow.
This leads to an interesting observation. Helping others can not be the purpose of life clearly, because helping others is only a means to an end.
We help others not primarily because the activity of helping others in itself is good, 
but because it is good for people to liberate them from their misery or improving their quality of life.
And if life needs a meaning, then it is not in helping others as such, but in the consequences of our actions.
Thank you for your attention… ^_^


The Discussion

[13:20] Joseph Bard (science24): Why do we have to  feel offended when someone doesn't show his gratitude for help ?
[13:20] Joseph Bard (science24): do we feel *
[13:20] herman Bergson: we dont have to Joseph....some people do
[13:21] Joseph Bard (science24): yea, why do they feel so ?
[13:21] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): I think people feel used when someone doesn't say thank you
[13:21] CB Axel: Used. That's a good way of putting it, Beertje.
[13:21] herman Bergson: Because their helping doesn’t bring them their feelg good experience caused by the gratefulness of the other
[13:22] herman Bergson: That is the other side of the medal Beertje....indeed
[13:22] Joseph Bard (science24): but if it is a goal for us here to help others, no need to feel offended , because it is  a step to reach that goel
[13:23] herman Bergson: in a way yes, but we are still humans....
[13:23] Joseph Bard (science24): that's the point
[13:23] CB Axel: Maybe people who feel that way think the meaning of life is to feel good and not to help others.
[13:24] CB Axel: Helping is a means to the end of feeling good.
[13:24] herman Bergson: The issue here is that altruism isn't focused on helping others, but on the consequences of the help we give
[13:24] Joseph Bard (science24): exactly CB
[13:24] Joseph Bard (science24): so it is a bit selfish ?
[13:24] Joseph Bard (science24): isn't it
[13:24] herman Bergson: Yes indeed.....
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok
[13:24] CB Axel: But people are selfish. °͜°
[13:25] herman Bergson: Some others help to clear their conscious....
[13:25] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): we are not all Mother Theresa :)
[13:25] herman Bergson: give money  for the poor for instance....
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): if we all helped out the world would indeed be a  better place
[13:25] herman Bergson: That's the point Beertje
[13:26] herman Bergson: IN FACT IT WOULD BEJIITA...
[13:26] herman Bergson: oops
[13:26] CB Axel: And some help others to get themselves into heaven which is what give their life meaning.
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and the selfish problem can clearly be seen in that less then 50 people own over 50 % of all the worlds money
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and refuse to share
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): large companies drain contries of rsources and use the people as slaves or even murder them
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): awful stuff
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): a really big problem
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we need to share more between us in general
[13:28] herman Bergson: It is the Animal Farm problem.....
[13:28] Joseph Bard (science24): the strongest will survive :(
[13:28] herman Bergson: As I said morality starts with assuming that all men are eaqual.....have equal needs and so on....
[13:28] herman Bergson: But as the rule was in "Animal Farm"
[13:29] herman Bergson: All animals are equal but pigs are more equal
[13:29] herman Bergson: so they took everything for themselves
[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and thats why we call greedy bastards pigs
[13:29] CB Axel: That's what makes them pigs. :)
[13:30] CB Axel: ^5
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:30] herman Bergson: It still puzzles me.....
[13:31] herman Bergson: some people possess so much that even in 10 lifetimes they will not be able to spend all their money
[13:31] herman Bergson: But now I is not about money...but about power.....people love to control.....
[13:31] CB Axel: Exactly.
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:32] herman Bergson: We are still far away from the conviction that all men are equal and have equal rights
[13:33] herman Bergson: Maybe realizing this equality of man is part of a meaning of life...
[13:34] CB Axel: Trump may have more money than all of us here put together, but to me he is worthless. Money doesn't give a man worth, in my opinion. Being kind, generous, and fair is what I value.
[13:34] herman Bergson: but here again it is philosophy....a cerebral product....
[13:34] herman Bergson: we have this observation that in the group some are better than others....
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but also Trump is a REALLY BIG GREEDY PIG, he thinks he is good because he is rich and think all others can go screw themselves
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): that’s how many of these types are
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): power crazy and think they are something because they are rich when in reality everyone hates him
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): being like that is no good thing
[13:35] herman Bergson: based on what you have achieved you feel to be better , a bette rperosn than others
[13:35] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): I can't imagine, that Trump will say that man are all equal
[13:36] herman Bergson: He already have said the opposite, Beertje :-)
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): he will say all rich men are equal
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): or maybe not even that, i just know i don’t like that pig
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): he stand for everything bad
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): greed, hate, racism and so on
[13:37] herman Bergson: Not everybody  (in the US) will agree with you Bejiita
[13:38] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): is it his character or his money?
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well many seem to support hom
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but i think he is scary
[13:38] CB Axel: His money is his character.
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): he is so full of himself
[13:39] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): maybe I should be glad that I don't have money:)
[13:39] herman Bergson: Ok..altruism is wasted on him, I guess
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well if i would be rich i certanely would not be like that
[13:39] CB Axel: Breathable air is wasted on him.
[13:40] herman Bergson: That too CB....
[13:40] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but sore some people having lot of money does something
[13:40] Joseph Bard (science24): the first thing he did in just few weeks after getting in the white house , is stropping EPA to communicate with public media , EPA is the scientific agency that reported the VW scandal , ( it is all about money )
[13:41] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): are there leaders of countries who realy take care of their people?
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed, especially since we soon will have no breathable air anymore if he continues with his wishes about increasing burning of oil and coal
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): to him the china smog is a made up myth
[13:41] Joseph Bard (science24): and he said, the US will revise its agreement on the paris agreement ( climate )
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and i bet the moonlanding is too
[13:42] Ciska Riverstone: no not moon landing bejiita - America first ;)
[13:42] Joseph Bard (science24): even nature and climate will suffer from those greedy pigs , not only ppl
[13:42] Ciska Riverstone: he would not deny that
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm
[13:42] herman Bergson: Well...I guess we should return to the more philosophical issues here and leave Mr. T Mr. T
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): one thing we can conclude, and that is that trump is NOT the helpful type but the total opposite of that
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and we need more helpful people
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): together we can solve a lot of the problems in the world
[13:43] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): isn't the meaning of life not different for everybody
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): meaning of life or not
[13:43] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): for me it is not the same as for you maybe?
[13:44] Joseph Bard (science24): the meaning of life is making the word a better place together :)
[13:44] Joseph Bard (science24): and here where help come in
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): YAY! (yay!)
[13:44] herman Bergson: Which means we should not die of famine....
[13:44] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): why should we make the world better? it was perfect in the beginning
[13:44] herman Bergson: there should be food for everyone on this equal shares
[13:45] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): we made a mess of it
[13:45] herman Bergson: Ok Beertje...
[13:45] Joseph Bard (science24): good could be better Beertje :)
[13:45] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): good is good enough for me
[13:46] herman Bergson: then I'll give you a whole weekend to think this over and come up with suggetsions to give life a better meaning.....homework :-))
[13:46] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): more homework..oh my !!!
[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehee
[13:46] herman Bergson: SO..thank you all for your participation again :-)
[13:46] herman Bergson: Class dismissed....
[13:46] Joseph Bard (science24): no one will solve it from a psychophysical point of view ;)


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