Everything we do is selfish, no exceptions!

Oct 2012
142
Earth
#2
-mother loves child -> so that the child can live in their name -> so that they feel 'ok' about inevitable end, death (i hope this makes sense)
and more-over at the end of the day love is a 'feel-good' emotion -> smile -> happy -> happy chemicals go off in brain -> reward
I find this Absurd, A mother can raise a child because they love them and want them to grow and develop and be near to God. I wouldn't see that as a selfish act but a act out of love.

Just an example you could give a homeless man food with two motives:
One would be to make yourself feel better and feed your ego because you think you are doing good,
another would be because you have empathy and just out of love would do it because it would bring joy to someone else's heart and in turn you would also feel joy. Although this person would feel joy their motives behind doing the act is not to seek joy for themselves.
 
Dec 2011
219
Maryland
#3
A friend of mine suggested to me that everything we do as a person is selfish in some way or another. I tried to give him many examples but at the end, he showed me how it was still selfish.

examples:
-feed your pet -> you want it to live -> for company/play
-mother loves child -> so that the child can live in their name -> so that they feel 'ok' about inevitable end, death (i hope this makes sense) and more-over at the end of the day love is a 'feel-good' emotion -> smile -> happy -> happy chemicals go off in brain -> reward

i can think of so many...

My question: can anyone give me an example of something that is truly not selfish in any way at all? I can't seem to...

I'm not saying that we are wrong by doing this, it's just an interesting observation. I do however realize that life would almost not exist if we were not programmed to look out for own self-interests.

Thank you
I hope someone can give me one...

eye
I have heard this argument before. What I think it forgets is the value of what it is we are doing. I have 2 cats, I keep them up on their vet appointments, feed them, buy them toys, buy them automatic water feeders, and cat litter. It's EXPENSIVE! Are they really worth the cuddle time and entertainment? Why don't I just buy two stuffed animal cats and cuddle with them? That woudl be so much cheaper. Do these cats really love me or are they just selfish animals themselves that only like me because I feed them?

Yes I do like watching them and getting a kick out of their behavior, but is it financially worth it? Really? I have to say it, no it's not worth it. So why do I do it? I care about animals, I don't want animals to suffer, so I take care of 2 cats, maybe your friend would say that taking care of 2 cats absolves me of my own feelings of guilt and helplessness to do anything about all of the suffering animals in the world. That would be dumb I think and very irrational.

Maybe ask your friend if she has any contact with her family? Are they worth it? Family can drive you insane, so why does she do it? Is it worth it? Would she be better off without them? What is the "return on investment" on her own family?
 
Sep 2012
100
New Zealand
#4
This is quit an enlightening observation, and ultimately selfless acts are rewarded, but if we do them with the reward in mind we don't recieve it. For example if you gave money to charity purely with the intention of feeling good about doing it, the feeling wouldn't occur. However if you wanted to help those who are less fortunate, with no other intention, you would expereince a good feeling. In reality we are more likely to have a mix of these two examples, however its possible to push either to the extreme, and those seeking perfection should develop the latter.
 
Aug 2012
295
USA
#5
Wow! Freshman year college philosophy, I remember studying the guy who philoshophised (? xD) about that, it all just came back to me. But it's a school of thought, and with philosophy, no one is right. :) Interesting though, especially the dog one. Is that why I feed my dog? Not usually, I do it because I feel sorry for her that I eat whatever I want whenever I want, and she just has to sit around and wait. :'( All hungry and cute and sad...

BRB going to feed her.
 
Jun 2011
1,542
Somewhere "in this immensity"
#6
Wow! Freshman year college philosophy, I remember studying the guy who philoshophised (? xD) about that, it all just came back to me. But it's a school of thought, and with philosophy, no one is right. :) Interesting though, especially the dog one. Is that why I feed my dog? Not usually, I do it because I feel sorry for her that I eat whatever I want whenever I want, and she just has to sit around and wait. :'( All hungry and cute and sad...

BRB going to feed her.
I feed my cat homemade food because I want the best for my cat for its own good. I think for my own good (cudlling, playing, etc) I could buy a sack of feed and have all of that on less money and effort. But honestly, I hate this as an example of pure altruism. Here are some better ones.



A mother perishes in a fire so that her child might live...



A brother gives a kidney, that he might oneday need for himself to stay alive, to his sister so she won't die now...


Jesus died on the cross so that mankind might attain eternal life


Baha'u'llah suffered chains and inprisonment that mankind might attain true liberty



I'm sure there is more. Pretty much any situation where someone ends his self for someone else should hold up to being selfless. But I think there is a flaw in the logic that "if something makes me feel good doing it, it cannot be selfless since I if gain pleasure, pleasure must be my motivation." It is very possible for someone to do something out pure altruism for someone else, and the other persons well-being being the only thought. It maybe true that almost always someone well get some degree of pleasure in this, even our writings say so, but this feeling encourages such behavior in us it doesn't necessarily drive it. If someone helps another simply to feel good, this is selfish but if a person helps someone out of no thought but that person's well-being, then this is selfless. If the person feelings good also, that is a knockdown effect and not the cause, so it is selfless.
 
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Oct 2012
13
moon
#7
@DistinctDreamer
bring joy to someone else's heart and in turn you would also feel joy
Selfish.

Although this person would feel joy their motives behind doing the act is not to seek joy for themselves.
You can only comment from a conscious level, which is only a tiny part of you, but another topic for that later...(from this book for those who can't wait Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain: David Eagleman: 9780307389923: Amazon.com: Books)

My opinion on your comment: it ultimately is selfish.

Maybe ask your friend if she has any contact with her family? Are they worth it? Family can drive you insane, so why does she do it? Is it worth it? Would she be better off without them? What is the "return on investment" on her own family?
Interesting question...I have thought about it ofc. Think of the difference between identical twins (same everything), except one never had any contact with people and the other did. Now things that a child learns from others apart, there will be major differences in their brains.

There was a girl that was locked in her room till she was some age (13 or something), anyways they found her and they studied her brain. The report said that she was intelligent but she could not grasp simple things such as obviously language, but she also couldn't 'connect' things - she could not identify patterns if that makes sense. I will search for the link soon, just Vbusy atm

So once again in my opinion, unfortunately it's still selfish when it comes to love and your family. But what i'm trying to say is that there is nothing wrong with this, I just wish more people would accept it so they can strive to the 'lowest degree of selfishness attainable'.

Like i said love is selfish. How does love make you feel? Which do you prefer to feel love or hate? My point is not that love is bad however...please don't mis-interpret me.

Love is really a beautiful thing. Thanks for the examples Fadl:
A mother perishes in a fire so that her child might live...



A brother gives a kidney that he might oneday need for himself to stay alive, gives it to his sister so she won't die now...


Jesus died on the cross so that mankind might attain eternal life


Baha'u'llah suffered chains and inprisonment that mankind might attain true liberty
Thanks for all the answers guys. My question has been concluded.

Feel free to carry on the discussion or close the thread, I'll be here.

Good day all
 
Oct 2012
13
moon
#8
Oh one last comment: to everyone who is giving examples to dispute my statement, thanks!...but, I was just thinking to myself when reading some of them, seemed like y'all are trying to prove it false so that you don't feel 'bad' about the implications thereof, just wanted to say -selfish!

haha just kidding guys XD
 
Jun 2011
1,542
Somewhere "in this immensity"
#9
Oh one last comment: to everyone who is giving examples to dispute my statement, thanks!...but, I was just thinking to myself when reading some of them, seemed like y'all are trying to prove it false so that you don't feel 'bad' about the implications thereof, just wanted to say -selfish!

haha just kidding guys XD
Perhaps the reason we jump to reject it, is that although there may be considerable evidence to support the claim, it nevertheless has a ring of untruth from the core that his hard to express yet worth exploring. Maybe the root of it lies in intention, something which is very important in our faith to the extent that even doing something ostensibly good can be rendered worthless when spoiled by bad intentions. Many of these 'bad intentions' could be considered selfish. I will give two examples from the Kitab-i-Aqdas:

1. "Observe My commandments, for the love of My beauty." (K4)


Here we find a command to do what we are commanded because we love God. On reflection, this flies in the face of selfishness, for the reason to obey God is not the common reasons we commonly state such as "it makes sense (for me)", it is good for us (and me)", "it for the sake of justice (I will be protected from injustice)" etc., etc. But if we are faithful, we understand that the reason for doing anything in our faith is not the benefits that they bring, but because we are asked to obey as a sign of our love. That means we should even do the laws that don't make sense or we perhaps feel are not so good for us. Then it is the selfless act, and that may bring us joy too, but so long as our goal is not the joy but the love, then it is the right intention and selfless.



2. "Were anyone to wash the feet of all mankind, and were he to worship God in the forests, valleys, and mountains, upon high hills and lofty peaks, to leave no rock or tree, no clod of earth, but was a witness to his worship -- yet, should the fragrance of My good pleasure not be inhaled from him, his works would never be acceptable unto God." (K36)


Is this not a mindblowing statement? One could literally live a life of good works that is ultimately in vain when the intention is wrong. This verse really encapsulates what it means to me to walk the spiritual path, which demands one to become selfless and God conscious in everything we do. What a challenge!

But I do concur with you, that probably most of what we do in reality can be boiled down to some selfish impulse. That it is different than saying every act is always selfish, or that it is not possible to transcend selfishness because I think we can, even if most of us aren't great at it.
 
Oct 2012
13
moon
#10
1. "Observe My commandments, for the love of My beauty." (K4)


Here we find a command to do what we are commanded because we love God. On reflection, this flies in the face of selfishness, for the reason to obey God is not the common reasons we commonly state such as "it makes sense (for me)", it is good for us (and me)", "it for the sake of justice (I will be protected from injustice)" etc., etc. But if we are faithful, we understand that the reason for doing anything in our faith is not the benefits that they bring, but because we are asked to obey as a sign of our love. That means we should even do the laws that don't make sense or we perhaps feel are not so good for us. Then it is the selfless act, and that may bring us joy too, but so long as our goal is not the joy but the love, then it is the right intention and selfless.
Very well put Fadl. Although I myself too am still struggling to accept this absolutely (my statement), hence why I made this topic...The Faith was what I was trusting most to deliver your message. Lovely interpretations!

And so finally there is a message to this topic after all...The True Source of selfish selflessness (haha i hope that makes sense).
 

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