I am a cynic in the sense that I think that people intrinsically have underlying selfish motives whether they be conscious or unconscious. I have doubts in pure altruism, meaning that I think that most if not all acts have a selfish motive. While some acts may have been acted on in the interest of another, I doubt that those acts do not also have a selfish motive. To me, this can even be the "good" feeling you get from helping another. People will argue that when they perform such an act (which they call an "altruistic" act), they were only concerned about the others well-being. Yet, these same people have high regards for performing altruistic acts, and they get a high from attempting to do so. To me, this is yet another selfish motive that renders the act altruistic-less or at least not purely or only altruistic.

At minimum, we all have an underlying instinct for survival. We are instinctively motivated by this to preserve our own well-being. This primitive instinct seems to be at the heart of most of our selfish acts. Arguments will come up with examples like how a soldier in war might throw himself upun a grenade to save his platoon. How I see it is that this soldier was conditioned to believe that doing so is the right thing to do, and so he does so, because of the feeling he gets from doing the right thing.

I think that "selfishness" has an undeserved bad reputation and so called "altruistic" acts are held in an unwarranted high regard. I'm not trying to take credit away from anyone for anything like that, it is just my observation.

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Tags: Altruism, acts, altruistic, cynic, cynicism, motives, philosophy, selfish, selfishness


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Comment by DaVinci on October 8, 2008 at 10:25am
Taken a step or two further, I'd say we do nothing that is not motivated by self interest. It is the sole motivator for anything we do at all, be it good or bad. Otherwise we'd do nothing at all. I heard once that we (humans) are born with two instincts, the instinct to grasp and suck, else how would we stay abreast of things.
Comment by Lone Wolf on October 7, 2008 at 8:22pm
I disagree that all altruism is based on selfishness. Altruism has evolutionary benefits, a parent who is willing to sacrifice him/her self to protect his/her children would be selected for cause his/her children would survive, as well a person willing to sacrifice him/her self for there tribe (in hunter gather days) and in the modern world there friends, family, group, country and so on, there children would be protected and thus survive.
Altruism would be selected for and thus we are capable of being truly altruistic with out any selfish basis.
But you are partially right, much of altruism is based on selfishness but that good feeling people may get is evidence of altruisms evolutionary benefit.
Comment by TJMorgan on October 7, 2008 at 7:50am
felch grogan, yes, "enlightened self-interest." Cool! There is a term for it already! I love it when I learn existing terms which I was not aware of and their definition reflects what I have observed myself but without influence from knowing the term already. Yes, I think many people claim to perform altruistic acts when really there is an "enlightened self-interest" at hand. Thanks for the vocabulary.
Comment by lOS`AMIGOS on October 7, 2008 at 7:09am
No im of the opinion there is something that is known as altruism .For instance there is no need to donate to charity and often you wont even receive any recognition when you do.People will jump into the water to save somebody from drowning then walk away without waiting to be congratulated or anything.Surely if this selfishness was more often what was on peoples mind we wouldnt hear of cases where these types of things happened .
The same type of practice is found within the animal kingdom cant tell me its a selfish act of a elephant to stand in the danger of a hungry lion to protect its young .

I agree its instinctive behavior and can be about survival ,but i cant see that its selfish .Of course there are some that do things that suggest them to be altruistic when they really have alternative motives but that doesnt mean its always the case .

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