View Poll Results: Which society is better?

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  • From each according to his ability, to each according to his need

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Thread: From each and to Each

  1. #21
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    Re: From each and to Each

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    Like I said. I don't like definitions of selfishness that can mean anything a person does. There are interactions that are defined by the gaining and loss of value (however it is defined) and there are interactions that are not.

    When I go to church, I used to pick up a family that had no car of their own. They did not fit in the minivan well and I have literally nothing in common with them. Also, it costs extra gas because it was 3 miles out of my way. The reason I did this was because they wanted to go to church and had no way to get there (the girl came from a broken home and the guy was between jobs, both very young, heartbreaking situation). Ultimately, the only thing I got out of that was the occasional good feeling of doing what I felt to be my duty, but that was certainly not every time. Often, it was just a pain in the ass to do, but it was the right thing, so I did it even when it did put me in a bad mood.

    I know a retired teacher who helps out with a profound mentally handicapped class at a local school. She does not get along with the main teacher, but she does it because those kids need the extra help that the county can not afford to provide.

    I tend to be very nice to people I have just met and I don't get any reward (again, not even a good feeling) but it is the right thing to do, even when they turn out to be jerks, I still try to be nice because thats what my moral system tells me I aught to do. But I get no value from it and I am sometimes insulted for my efforts and can sometimes find myself bitching later on that evening to my wife. I will go back the next day and do it again.

    I think ultimately, if you want to live a life where there is no emotional effort, than yes, your statement is true, but we are people who have a choice to either do the right thing or to do the thing that gives us something we seek (if we are in a situation where the two might be different). People are animals who tend to go with things that benefit us, but it does not mean we have to. I guess I better stop before I start getting religious :P (Since much of christianity is about getting past our internal monkey and being good beings, which I suck at by the way)
    I was hoping this was your point. I've had this thought process before and I just told you my conclusion. I'll explain my thoughts here and please feel free to correct any problems you see in my logic:

    I personally do good deeds. Often times, I don't want to give up the costs of those deeds. But I still help people when I don't want to. But why? What would cause me to do this? Because it is the right thing to do! Just as you said. Independent of religion, there are morals (I know because I am not religious, but have a very strict view on morals and doing 'what is right'). But the question I found I asked myself was: If I were indifferent to morals, if I were ammoral, I wouldn't think there was a 'right thing to do'. And so I wouldn't help those people. You wouldn't have given rides and none of your examples would have happened. But we are moral people. People are moral! That is not arguable, IMO. So I act upon morals because I am not indifferent of them. Because I care about morals. It is human nature to care about morals, IMO. And so I do these good deeds that have a cost of my happiness/money/time to satisfy my desire to be moral. I do it for MY desire. I do it for me. This is off the topic of the thread, but I had to reply. I used to hope that I was wrong. That we were altruistic because it is the right thing to do.

    But if I didn't care, I wouldn't do it. But I do care so I do. And the difference between the two situations is something within me, not within others. And so I've come to the conclusion that people selfishly act in the interest of others and that's what makes a good person good.

  2. #22
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    Re: From each and to Each

    Quote Originally Posted by lizzie View Post
    Then it appears to me that there maybe some emotional problems underlying. As long as emotional gratification is the goal, emotional and physical health will be subject to getting out of whack. Once giving and kindness are done out of true desire, and not out of perceived necessity or obligation, emotional well-being can't be threatened.
    I disagree that doing something out of a sense of moral duty is a mental problem. This is a very normal thing that people do every day.

    I am a little bit disturbed that you do not see this is a healthy possibility.

    Quote Originally Posted by fredmertz View Post
    I was hoping this was your point. I've had this thought process before and I just told you my conclusion. I'll explain my thoughts here and please feel free to correct any problems you see in my logic:

    I personally do good deeds. Often times, I don't want to give up the costs of those deeds. But I still help people when I don't want to. But why? What would cause me to do this? Because it is the right thing to do! Just as you said. Independent of religion, there are morals (I know because I am not religious, but have a very strict view on morals and doing 'what is right'). But the question I found I asked myself was: If I were indifferent to morals, if I were ammoral, I wouldn't think there was a 'right thing to do'. And so I wouldn't help those people. You wouldn't have given rides and none of your examples would have happened. But we are moral people. People are moral! That is not arguable, IMO. So I act upon morals because I am not indifferent of them. Because I care about morals. It is human nature to care about morals, IMO. And so I do these good deeds that have a cost of my happiness/money/time to satisfy my desire to be moral. I do it for MY desire. I do it for me. This is off the topic of the thread, but I had to reply. I used to hope that I was wrong. That we were altruistic because it is the right thing to do.

    But if I didn't care, I wouldn't do it. But I do care so I do. And the difference between the two situations is something within me, not within others. And so I've come to the conclusion that people selfishly act in the interest of others and that's what makes a good person good.
    I agree that people can be moral independent of religion. I was a strong atheist (the kind of atheist who would argue with religious people for the sake of proving them wrong actually) for most of my life so I can certainly appreciate your perspective here.

    However, I disagree. Sure people have morals and care about them. But I disagree that acting on a moral is a selfish action. In the example in the quote, you identify your primary motivation to be doing it out your desire, which means doing it for you. I cannot say that I agree that one leads into the other. Sure you might do it because you want to, that is a fundamental attribute of free will and your brain's ability to control your muscles. However, I think the crux of the argument relies on motivation and expected results.

    In my scenario, my expected result was to get these three people to church (someone else took them home). Another expected result was the hope that they would continue to value going to church. A third expected result was that they would find the help they sought at church (such as a job offer or charity (they received a LOT of diapers and spare clothing, no job though, unfortunately)). Now I did feel good that I was doing the right thing, but that was not my motivation (in fact the good feeling did not begin until I was well out of the situation for a few months). In fact, if I did it in order to feel good, I would have not felt good because I would have felt selfish and prideful (as I should, according to my internal morality).

    A lot of internal reward mechanisms work that way. They happen when you are not focused on them. But because you are not focused on them, they cannot be considered a motivation or a reason for action and therefore cannot be put into the equation in determining whether an action is selfish or not.

    As we agreed on before, actions and relationships are about exchanging value. In many cases, I agree this is true, however a feeling of (I did the right thing) cannot be given by another person. It is solely internal and is not subject to exchange because it is fully contained in our brain and mind.

    If it cannot be exchanged, than it cannot be a transaction. So that possibility is also removed.

    The only thing left is a nonselfish action.
    Last edited by tacomancer; 06-14-10 at 05:09 PM.

  3. #23
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    Re: From each and to Each

    It sometimes works tolerably well within a family-sized unit. Expanding it to the community level usually results in problems, if not outright disaster.

    The original Jamestown settlers attempted to use that methodology. They suffered from free-rider and lack-of-motivation syndrome and nearly starved to death. Then they switched to a capitalist model and thrived, and their surplus resulted in the first Thanksgiving feast.

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    Re: From each and to Each

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    I disagree that doing something out of a sense of moral duty is a mental problem. This is a very normal thing that people do every day.

    I am a little bit disturbed that you do not see this is a healthy possibility.
    Just because it's "normal" doesn't mean it is healthy.
    Why does my view disturb you? It shouldn't if you are secure with your own view.
    "God is the name by which I designate all things which cross my path violently and recklessly, all things which alter my plans and intentions, and change the course of my life, for better or for worse."
    -C G Jung

  5. #25
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    Re: From each and to Each

    Quote Originally Posted by lizzie View Post
    Just because it's "normal" doesn't mean it is healthy.
    In this case, I view it as both normal and healthy.

    Quote Originally Posted by lizzie View Post
    Why does my view disturb you? It shouldn't if you are secure with your own view.
    because I view your approach as fundamentally unhealthy and causes me to have concern for you and your well being. Also, I believe people with the value system are to be feared because its a bit sociopathic.
    Last edited by tacomancer; 06-14-10 at 08:44 PM.

  6. #26
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    Re: From each and to Each

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    In this case, I view it as both normal and healthy.
    Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    because I view your approach as fundamentally unhealthy and causes me to have concern for you and your well being. Also, I believe people with the value system are to be feared because its a bit sociopathic.
    Correct me if I am not understanding you the way you mean to come accross. I believe that people who willingly give to others actually help themselves via self-improvement. I believe that giving should be done willingly from the heart rather than done due to social pressure and guilt, and you see this as sociopathic? Are you serious?
    "God is the name by which I designate all things which cross my path violently and recklessly, all things which alter my plans and intentions, and change the course of my life, for better or for worse."
    -C G Jung

  7. #27
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    Re: From each and to Each

    Quote Originally Posted by lizzie View Post
    Why?
    There are many motivations to give. Ultimately, the best reason stems from wanting to give. If a person is giving only because there is a perceived benefit to themselves, than that is not giving, but a form of selfishness. If a person can never get past their own self, than they have an emotional issue. You seem to advocate giving, only because it enhances you, even if that enhancement is a good feeling or whatever.

    Quote Originally Posted by lizzie View Post
    Correct me if I am not understanding you the way you mean to come accross. I believe that people who willingly give to others actually help themselves via self-improvement. I believe that giving should be done willingly from the heart rather than done due to social pressure and guilt, and you see this as sociopathic? Are you serious?
    I never mentioned social pressure. I am a pretty introverted guy, who most of the time doesn't even notice when I am in a situation where I should even be feeling social pressure, so trust me, it is rarely a motivation. However, that doesn't mean that doing the right thing doesn't often suck because people can be ingrates. But others being bad does not negate good, nor does it negate good intentions. Those things stand on their own.

    If you are looking at this thing from a selfish perspective, than fundamentally all human interaction is an exchange of value, similar to a market. However, from my perspective, there can be times I gain no value in either a resource or emotional sense. I do something good, in the case of the driving the guy to church, it was a PITA because I am always running late to church and the people did not understand the value I placed on my sacrifice in gas, time, etc. Because they did not recognize it, they did not reciprocate. That made the venture not pleasurable sometimes, but I did it anyway because it was the right thing and I am mature enough to do the right thing in the face of negative or neutral response. Now you say I gained value in self improvement. Well I contend that self improvement is not always satisfying for reasons mentioned earlier in this paragraph and is ultimately a neutral thing in terms of emotional positive or resource positive value. It is both emotion and resource neutral. So it does not work in terms of transaction and therefore cannot be a selfish motivation. However, I continue to do these sorts of things because I conclude in my mind that it is the right and proper thing despite what others do.

    But yes, if you only help people because you believe it brings good to you, than you are never not focused on you and there is something very wrong there.
    Last edited by tacomancer; 06-15-10 at 07:06 AM.

  8. #28
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    Re: From each and to Each

    Ahhhh, now I see how you misunderstood my point completely, and I see why you think my beliefs are sociopathic, which is not the case at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    Ultimately, the best reason stems from wanting to give.
    That’s what I was saying.

    However, I continue to do these sorts of things because I conclude in my mind that it is the right and proper thing despite what others do.Well I contend that self improvement is not always satisfying for reasons mentioned earlier in this paragraph and is ultimately a neutral thing in terms of emotional positive or resource positive value. It is both emotion and resource neutral. So it does not work in terms of transaction and therefore cannot be a selfish motivation.
    There’s no problem with doing things because you believe they are right and proper. My point is that it is based in guilt and not love. If that’s the way people are motivated, it’s okay with me, but doing things because you “ought to” rather than because you “want to” does seem to have a tendency to cause resentment, usually subconscious. I believe this is where the emotional and physical troubles you mentioned earlier stem from. And I would disagree that this cannot be a selfish motivation. It’s very common to do things for others in order to seek approval, to feel good about oneself, to look good to others, and any of a number of other motivations.

    But yes, if you only help people because you believe it brings good to you, than you are never not focused on you and there is something very wrong there
    That is not at all what I was saying. I’m talking about results and outcomes- you are assigning a motive that doesn’t exist.
    Last edited by lizzie; 06-15-10 at 01:11 PM.
    "God is the name by which I designate all things which cross my path violently and recklessly, all things which alter my plans and intentions, and change the course of my life, for better or for worse."
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  9. #29
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    Re: From each and to Each

    Quote Originally Posted by lizzie View Post
    Ahhhh, now I see how you misunderstood my point completely, and I see why you think my beliefs are sociopathic, which is not the case at all.

    That’s what I was saying.

    There’s no problem with doing things because you believe they are right and proper. My point is that it is based in guilt and not love. If that’s the way people are motivated, it’s okay with me, but doing things because you “ought to” rather than because you “want to” does seem to have a tendency to cause resentment, usually subconscious. I believe this is where the emotional and physical troubles you mentioned earlier stem from. And I would disagree that this cannot be a selfish motivation. It’s very common to do things for others in order to seek approval, to feel good about oneself, to look good to others, and any of a number of other motivations.

    That is not at all what I was saying. I’m talking about results and outcomes- you are assigning a motive that doesn’t exist.
    Perhaps we missed each other.

    I would feel no guilt from not doing this because I am perfectly fine with me telling myself that I do not have adequate resources at any given time. I would not feel guilty either. I used to, but one day I looked at it and decided that guilt was unnecessary and unwarranted. Since than, I have not felt guilty. Yet I still do things. Last Sunday I went and got a stool for a guy for no personal benefit. In fact, I was pushing a stroller at the same time and it was not easy to do (with having to avoid a three stooges moment with the awkward handling of the stool and stroller, about 400 feet through hallways and stuff with people around). I did it anyway because I felt like it (and I had nothing better to do, so why not help out). I did not do it to feel proud of myself or to seek approval, or any such silly nonsense. I did it because he needed a stool and I saw no reason why he shouldn't have one, but he was busy watching his own kids (he had four) and it made sense that I was the one to do it because he was going to stand in 96 degree weather for another two hours serving popcorn and he deserved a place to sit while he was doing it.

    However, I still think that motivation, being the reason for action, is the ultimate thing to look at when assessing whether an act if selfish. The motivation can be an expected result or something else. If a person expects a positive result, even a good feeling, than they are being selfish. If they want to give for the sake of giving, they are not. People are perfectly capable of doing the latter and many do it all the time, if in small ways (most of us don't have a lot of spare resources).

    If one happens to feel good after such an act, but their primary goal was not something for their benefit, they are not being selfish. This convoluted reasoning of all actions being selfish because there is usually a positive result for a positive action, is silly and distorts the idea of selfishness to meaninglessness.
    Last edited by tacomancer; 06-15-10 at 01:32 PM.

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