RE: virus: Altruism, Empathy, the Superorganism, and the Priso

Wright, James 7929 (
Tue, 22 Apr 97 09:02:00 EDT

Dan Henry wrote:
>>You personally may display altruistic behavior or not, as you choose;
>>you dispute that any altruistic acts exist?<<
>Yes I do; but after having read sooo many posts on this subject, it
>that we all have our own views. I haven't noticed any memes gaining
>strength. When you say "altruistic," I translate to: "altruistic on
>surface, but self-serving underneath." You, it seems, tend to bristle
at my
>assumption about underlying motives. Fair enough.<

I shaved this morning, so I'm not bristling!<VBG!>

>>If intent of the act is part of altruism, then must the lowest
possible intent always >>be ascribed to a given act? Or is this one of
the background meta-memes at >>work, "All men are sinful and therefore
suspect in motive on all occasions?"<<
>Wait just a minute. Could be some insight here. Why do you assume that
>self-interest is the "lowest possible intent," compared to true
>self-sacrifice? I feel that self-interest is the highest possible
>It's a compliment (as much as one can be complimented for something one
>can't help doing).<

Good point, it is an assumption of mine. Perhaps it's precisely because
you CAN help reacting to every situation as a life-or-death competition
for resources, even though you require a certain amount of resources each
day to survive. Those who are capable of true self-sacrifice are serving
themselvesand the rest of us in a way that runs counter to the obvious,
survival-of-the-fittest/compete-always-and-immediately programming that
we all receive; cooperation is a learned concept, but allows higher
opportunities for all.
Consider this; schooling and learning institutions are all cooperative in
nature; if we all behaved competitively at all times, whoever learned
something would immediately put it to use to out-compete the others,
hoarding the knowledge for his own benefit and that of his descendants.
Yet it is because of combined knowledge that we have universities,
computers, books, etc. Without them we would all be poorer, and all live
on a lower standard of living.

>I think the word "altruism" is just fine, and we all understand what we

But do we understand each other?<VBG!>