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    Rational selfishness vs. Altruism

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    Rational selfishness vs. Altruism

    Postby SwordMaster » 12 Mar 2009 15:46

    This is a debate that is sort of taking place right now. Where do you stand on it?

    Rational selfishness refers to a person's efforts to look after their own well-being, to cultivate the self and achieve goals for the good of the self. This is, in essence, the basic rule of capitalism.

    Altruism (from Latin: alter: the other) is the deliberate pursuit of the interests or welfare of others or the public interest.

    I think it is obvious that when you help others, and the less fortunate, you in turn help yourself. By educating the uneducated and giving them a chance to be productive, you reduce crime, and create stronger communities for example.

    I’m very much in favor of altruism, at the end of the day I would rather help educate someone and give them a chance, because the alternative is to own more guns to defend yourself and family. A classic American Argument. Most other nations of capitalism have embraced a more altruistic stance, but there seems to be a fear of socialism that I have difficulty understanding.
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    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 12 Mar 2009 15:57

    I guess like I said before I would be afraid of pure socialism, but not partial. I stand in the middle, not sure where in the middle, but probably fairly close to the actual center.

    I think you can be both, and ironicly I think we have to be both in order to be selfish. If we don't take care of the people around us we'll end up in the dirt ourselves.
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    Postby Drunken Idaho » 12 Mar 2009 16:21

    I saw an interesting article about altruism in infants. This study by some university found that toddlers as old as 2 1/2 would help out volunteers (pick up something they had dropped or give them blocks) without expecting anything at all in return. They would happily continue doing whatever it was they were doing before helping out the volunteer. I think there was more to it but it was a long time ago, so I can hardly remember. Anyway, what I had gotten out of the article was that perhaps humans have purely altruistic capabilities embedded in their psyche, but this fades quickly with age, probably due to materialist lifestyles, and perhaps out of fear as well.

    There's a word for the other way of thinking and I think it's Consequentialism. It is rather selfish, but I can't say I'm completely free of it. The problem with the theory however, is that consequences are always relative. For instance, having a gun for protection of one's family might seem inconsequential if you never have to use it, but meanwhile there are wackos acquiring guns relatively easily and using them for harm. I'll agree with Sword Master in that I don't care for the way it's been embedded into the so-called American dream. To me, that's not living intelligently, it's living like an ostrich.
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    Postby Schu » 12 Mar 2009 16:57

    I think genetically, we have a degree of "altruism" programmed into us because it's in our own best interests as a species. So I guess that's rational selfishness.
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    Postby DuneFishUK » 12 Mar 2009 17:17

    Schu wrote:I think genetically, we have a degree of "altruism" programmed into us because it's in our own best interests as a species. So I guess that's rational selfishness.


    Exactly - while selfishness is the best mechanism we have to promote the best to be the best and reward quality and hard work - some of the evil socialist ideals are good ideas worth investing in - for selfish reasons.
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    Postby SwordMaster » 12 Mar 2009 19:48

    Drunken Idaho wrote:I saw an interesting article about altruism in infants. This study by some university found that toddlers as old as 2 1/2 would help out volunteers (pick up something they had dropped or give them blocks) without expecting anything at all in return. They would happily continue doing whatever it was they were doing before helping out the volunteer. I think there was more to it but it was a long time ago, so I can hardly remember. Anyway, what I had gotten out of the article was that perhaps humans have purely altruistic capabilities embedded in their psyche, but this fades quickly with age, probably due to materialist lifestyles, and perhaps out of fear as well.

    There's a word for the other way of thinking and I think it's Consequentialism. It is rather selfish, but I can't say I'm completely free of it. The problem with the theory however, is that consequences are always relative. For instance, having a gun for protection of one's family might seem inconsequential if you never have to use it, but meanwhile there are wackos acquiring guns relatively easily and using them for harm. I'll agree with Sword Master in that I don't care for the way it's been embedded into the so-called American dream. To me, that's not living intelligently, it's living like an ostrich.


    Indeed. The way to fight crime has to be through a foundational education system for all people regardless of the income of their parents. More guns is like fighting fire with more gas. But I do understand this pull to get a level of motivation that is capable of pulling the best out of people. It has to be a mixture of both these things.

    The article you mention sounds familer to me as well. I would agree with that idea, we are born with altruism.
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    Postby Bijaz » 12 Mar 2009 20:58

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    Postby Ampoliros » 13 Mar 2009 00:01

    I can't think of a society we've had that was actually socialist. The fear of this in our culture comes from the fact that the two great "socialist" powers of our time are Russia and China, both of which where actually autocratic dictatorships.

    my personal view is that capitalism is good for creating a powerful society but not maintaining it. While America is considered for all intents and purposes to be a democracy, we still aren't a pure one. Money matters, not just in quality of life but it actually has the ability to make people with money more equal than others. If you have the cash you can buy yourself out of unfavorable court verdicts, your children have an automatic "pass" to a higher level of education and status.

    The idea that people who work the hardest make the most money is laughable. the top 1% richest people live off their money, most of which is inherited, and do not work. very few people at that level are self made. there are of course exceptions (Bill Gates, et al.) The idea that the people at the bottom are lazy is also inaccurate.

    The problem we have is that humans are not evolved in the direction that would make socialism a workable option. the same however is true for capitalism. in both cases you have people with selfish motives in charge that will inevitably lead us back to one or another form of aristocracy. I think this is what Frank was trying to show with DUNE, that aristocracy is the most stable form of government because it makes the people with power visible as well as putting the most ambitious people in charge. the only rulers that are able to maintain power are those who actually earn their keep, either through an iron fist or popularity.

    while I vote hopeful, I think America has been crippled by capitalism designed to promote constant growth. we need stability and a pause in order to strengthen our foundations. unfortunately rampant deregulation allowed growth to overpass this and now the house of cards is falling apart. Personally my own political opinion is something i describe as benevolent totalitarianism.

    In my view the average person is unable or unwilling to regulate themselves. i think that it is totally within the capabilities of government to maintain strict rules and oversight without overshadowing the 'freedom' of the masses that regulate themselves.

    bail-outs are a sign that the financial market is sicker and more corrupt than we think. a free market cannot have them. are there no more innovators and entrepreneurs to come in and replace and rebuild what fails?...or are the powers that be denying the free market and saving the sick-old whales.

    aside from my free-market ideas, i do not believe that any necessity should be operated by for-profit endeavors. they also will inevitably spiral out of control as demand causes prices to rise until the lower classes cannot afford them. we see this now with health care, there is too much profit to be made in this industry by virtue of the fact that people cannot choose their health condition (influence yes, 100% control no). My brother broke his leg a few years ago in a stupid teenage accident. if he had not been insured it would have cost 13,000 dollars and ruined my family financially (my dad owns his own business and is a military veteran and provided for us a comfortable upper-middle-class life) To someone in a lesser situation, especially when the vast majority of lower class requires physical labor, this foundation for health care is ludicrous, it does not fit the spirit of nor promote the health of the nation. Under social security we'd be paying for that person's convalescence anyway, why not nationalize health insurance and everyone pays a share and no one is faced with choosing between disability and crushing debt.

    I think the argument also that if this is made not-for profit people wont want to work in those fields is also taking into account only those people who live only for personal gain. I think many scientists, offered the funding to do their research and get credit for their discoveries would be more than willing to work for a living wage. Nationalizing the utilities allows us to press forward on more efficient power and resource accumulation and distribution.

    "Taxes" pardon my french but fuck the (super-ultra) rich. Anyone making over 10 million dollars a year is getting paid way too much unless they cured cancer, solved the oil crisis, and donated a year's income to save club-foot kids in the Amazon. Taxes are only the present method to redirect this energy back into the economy rather than sitting in someone's bank accounts and stock holdings doing them and only them any good. My proposal would be to re-evaluate pay structures. Currently my (rough i admit) idea is a 10-block situation, which states that no one working in a company or business can make more than 10 times what the entry level employee makes. entry level pay is based off what the current standard of living is. I also think we should break the stock market in half. I don't think anyone should be able to invest in a company they don't work for. unfortunately new entrepreneurs live off of investment and i think we need many more of them.


    hmm seems i summoned up a wall of text... sorry /rant
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    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 13 Mar 2009 15:13

    Ampoliros wrote:I can't think of a society we've had that was actually socialist. The fear of this in our culture comes from the fact that the two great "socialist" powers of our time are Russia and China, both of which where actually autocratic dictatorships.

    my personal view is that capitalism is good for creating a powerful society but not maintaining it. While America is considered for all intents and purposes to be a democracy, we still aren't a pure one. Money matters, not just in quality of life but it actually has the ability to make people with money more equal than others. If you have the cash you can buy yourself out of unfavorable court verdicts, your children have an automatic "pass" to a higher level of education and status.

    The idea that people who work the hardest make the most money is laughable. the top 1% richest people live off their money, most of which is inherited, and do not work. very few people at that level are self made. there are of course exceptions (Bill Gates, et al.) The idea that the people at the bottom are lazy is also inaccurate.

    The problem we have is that humans are not evolved in the direction that would make socialism a workable option. the same however is true for capitalism. in both cases you have people with selfish motives in charge that will inevitably lead us back to one or another form of aristocracy. I think this is what Frank was trying to show with DUNE, that aristocracy is the most stable form of government because it makes the people with power visible as well as putting the most ambitious people in charge. the only rulers that are able to maintain power are those who actually earn their keep, either through an iron fist or popularity.

    while I vote hopeful, I think America has been crippled by capitalism designed to promote constant growth. we need stability and a pause in order to strengthen our foundations. unfortunately rampant deregulation allowed growth to overpass this and now the house of cards is falling apart. Personally my own political opinion is something i describe as benevolent totalitarianism.

    In my view the average person is unable or unwilling to regulate themselves. i think that it is totally within the capabilities of government to maintain strict rules and oversight without overshadowing the 'freedom' of the masses that regulate themselves.

    bail-outs are a sign that the financial market is sicker and more corrupt than we think. a free market cannot have them. are there no more innovators and entrepreneurs to come in and replace and rebuild what fails?...or are the powers that be denying the free market and saving the sick-old whales.

    aside from my free-market ideas, i do not believe that any necessity should be operated by for-profit endeavors. they also will inevitably spiral out of control as demand causes prices to rise until the lower classes cannot afford them. we see this now with health care, there is too much profit to be made in this industry by virtue of the fact that people cannot choose their health condition (influence yes, 100% control no). My brother broke his leg a few years ago in a stupid teenage accident. if he had not been insured it would have cost 13,000 dollars and ruined my family financially (my dad owns his own business and is a military veteran and provided for us a comfortable upper-middle-class life) To someone in a lesser situation, especially when the vast majority of lower class requires physical labor, this foundation for health care is ludicrous, it does not fit the spirit of nor promote the health of the nation. Under social security we'd be paying for that person's convalescence anyway, why not nationalize health insurance and everyone pays a share and no one is faced with choosing between disability and crushing debt.


    Leaving out the last bit about changes to the stock market and execs making too much cash, and you've pretty much read my mind with this post, almost exactly how I think about socialism vs capitalism.
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    Postby SwordMaster » 13 Mar 2009 19:35

    Is the solution to crime not education???
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    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 13 Mar 2009 19:43

    SwordMaster wrote:Is the solution to crime not education???


    Who's that aimed at? :?
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    Postby Ampoliros » 14 Mar 2009 17:16

    the solution to white collar crime is incarceration in stocks in the town square and seizure of assets. the solution to political crime is public execution. the solution to blue-collar crime is maiming. the solution to rape is castration for the first offense and burning alive for the second.

    the solution to mindless violence in movies is to give all porn movies a G rating. ironically the solution to religious intolerance is to be beaten into unconsciousness with either A: the offender's own porno mags or B: a large pink dildo. the sentence is then posted on YouTube and voted on for best of the year.

    Trying to sell bunk to an art gallery or creating crap music, light jazz, or muzak is considered a capital crime and is punished with lobotomy and incarceration in your own medium for 10 years. KJA's writing fits here.
    Protesters and "fans" receive the incarceration but not the lobotomy, they alredy have one.

    I'm only half-serious with these. I don't really believe that oppressive punishments solve criminal activity or work to minimize it. I do think that the criminal code needs to be reworked and that drug possession should not carry a minimum sentence when sexual assault does not.
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    Postby SwordMaster » 15 Mar 2009 19:03

    A Thing of Eternity wrote:
    SwordMaster wrote:Is the solution to crime not education???


    Who's that aimed at? :?


    I was just tossing it out , no direction intended.

    Clearly there are many forms of crime.
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    Postby Mr. Teg » 16 Mar 2009 22:50

    Ampoliros wrote:I can't think of a society we've had that was actually socialist. The fear of this in our culture comes from the fact that the two great "socialist" powers of our time are Russia and China, both of which where actually autocratic dictatorships.

    my personal view is that capitalism is good for creating a powerful society but not maintaining it. While America is considered for all intents and purposes to be a democracy, we still aren't a pure one. Money matters, not just in quality of life but it actually has the ability to make people with money more equal than others. If you have the cash you can buy yourself out of unfavorable court verdicts, your children have an automatic "pass" to a higher level of education and status.

    The idea that people who work the hardest make the most money is laughable. the top 1% richest people live off their money, most of which is inherited, and do not work. very few people at that level are self made. there are of course exceptions (Bill Gates, et al.) The idea that the people at the bottom are lazy is also inaccurate.

    The problem we have is that humans are not evolved in the direction that would make socialism a workable option. the same however is true for capitalism. in both cases you have people with selfish motives in charge that will inevitably lead us back to one or another form of aristocracy. I think this is what Frank was trying to show with DUNE, that aristocracy is the most stable form of government because it makes the people with power visible as well as putting the most ambitious people in charge. the only rulers that are able to maintain power are those who actually earn their keep, either through an iron fist or popularity.

    while I vote hopeful, I think America has been crippled by capitalism designed to promote constant growth. we need stability and a pause in order to strengthen our foundations. unfortunately rampant deregulation allowed growth to overpass this and now the house of cards is falling apart. Personally my own political opinion is something i describe as benevolent totalitarianism.

    In my view the average person is unable or unwilling to regulate themselves. i think that it is totally within the capabilities of government to maintain strict rules and oversight without overshadowing the 'freedom' of the masses that regulate themselves.

    bail-outs are a sign that the financial market is sicker and more corrupt than we think. a free market cannot have them. are there no more innovators and entrepreneurs to come in and replace and rebuild what fails?...or are the powers that be denying the free market and saving the sick-old whales.

    aside from my free-market ideas, i do not believe that any necessity should be operated by for-profit endeavors. they also will inevitably spiral out of control as demand causes prices to rise until the lower classes cannot afford them. we see this now with health care, there is too much profit to be made in this industry by virtue of the fact that people cannot choose their health condition (influence yes, 100% control no). My brother broke his leg a few years ago in a stupid teenage accident. if he had not been insured it would have cost 13,000 dollars and ruined my family financially (my dad owns his own business and is a military veteran and provided for us a comfortable upper-middle-class life) To someone in a lesser situation, especially when the vast majority of lower class requires physical labor, this foundation for health care is ludicrous, it does not fit the spirit of nor promote the health of the nation. Under social security we'd be paying for that person's convalescence anyway, why not nationalize health insurance and everyone pays a share and no one is faced with choosing between disability and crushing debt.

    I think the argument also that if this is made not-for profit people wont want to work in those fields is also taking into account only those people who live only for personal gain. I think many scientists, offered the funding to do their research and get credit for their discoveries would be more than willing to work for a living wage. Nationalizing the utilities allows us to press forward on more efficient power and resource accumulation and distribution.

    "Taxes" pardon my french but fuck the (super-ultra) rich. Anyone making over 10 million dollars a year is getting paid way too much unless they cured cancer, solved the oil crisis, and donated a year's income to save club-foot kids in the Amazon. Taxes are only the present method to redirect this energy back into the economy rather than sitting in someone's bank accounts and stock holdings doing them and only them any good. My proposal would be to re-evaluate pay structures. Currently my (rough i admit) idea is a 10-block situation, which states that no one working in a company or business can make more than 10 times what the entry level employee makes. entry level pay is based off what the current standard of living is. I also think we should break the stock market in half. I don't think anyone should be able to invest in a company they don't work for. unfortunately new entrepreneurs live off of investment and i think we need many more of them.


    hmm seems i summoned up a wall of text... sorry /rant


    No, I don't think Frank was against capitalism.
    I'm currently rereading The Maker of Dune and the two issues that stood out was education and marketing(advertising).

    My rhetoric teacher back in college (I'm not particularly religious but damn Jesuit trained teachers know how to teach certain topics and hard core Aristolean and knew his Jung) had family who worked in advertising and would anaylsis different ads for us. He called them today's shaman. They reach into the psyche (millions are poured into these ads backed by constant research) when creating their ads.

    Socialism was already dead in theory back in the 1920's.
    Market capitalism is the best to date, but the original freemarket economist (French, Spanish, Scottish and British) didn't have how powerful advertising would become and literally define our last generationsl
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    Postby loremaster » 17 Mar 2009 09:12

    the evolutionary concept is, i believe, referred to as "green beard" genes. Whereby a gene which was evolutionarily beneficial to the species but detrimental to the individual could be passed on.

    Examples MAY include genes for homosexuality. One spurrious but poigniant study suggested that the sisters of homosexuals had, on average, more children. Potentially this suggests a system whereby homosexuals are a "side effect" of genes for increased fertility in women. This lines up neatly with current theories about in-utero oestrogen (yes, with an O) playing a critical role in early brain development in homosexuals.

    Others include hypothetical "suicide gene" whereby a creature made toxic to a predator would be disadvantageous for the creature (for the gene to be any use it has to be eaten). But advantageous for the species (one less predator).

    Then of course there's our huge evolution towards nurturing of the young (which massively surpasses most other species) and the selflessness of sacrifice for offspring - EVEN OTHER PEOPLES (as in, a species recognition going beyond ones immediate family). protection of the young at the expense of the self is a critical component of love, evolutionarily beneficial but individually somewhat detrimental/
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