Re: virus: Altruism, Empathy, the Superorganism, and the Priso ner's Dillema

Martz (
Tue, 22 Apr 1997 23:28:18 +0100

On Tue, 22 Apr 1997, "Wright, James 7929" <> wrote:

>Must there be a motive?

I think so, but it's a fuzzy opinion probably based on some idea of
cause and effect. I'm prepared to be convinced otherwise.

>if you lose the concept of self, what happens to the concept of motive?

Can you demonstrate that the concept of self can be wholly abandoned?

>Being steeped in a deific culture is a good point: how can you really
>know when you've overcome or transcended a lifetime of conditioning?

It's a difficult one alright. Question authority, question yourself and
don't be afraid to laugh at your own stupidity when you find it.

>I think I'm
>pretty close to abandoning any need for deities at all, now; I don't
>think I need a supernatural protector from the forces of nature.

One would be nice, provided the price wasn't too high.

>Well, if you're going to act like that, I'll just take my toys and go
>home! <VBG!>

Awwwwww. Leave the Action Man. Pleeeeeease.

>>I expect people to act from a prime motivation based on self. To me,
>that means
>>that people are just getting on with living the best they know how <
>Seems fair and accurate to me.
>>and the occasional act which touches my life for good or ill is purely
>If you live among exploitative people, then perhaps this is true. I have
>lived among those who appear, at least to me, to have genuine charity and
>altruism in their natures and who give without thought of reward for
>themselves as a consequence.

I am not unfamiliar with the appearance of altruism.

>To you, in your circumstances, this may seem
>unimaginable or that I am fooling myself regarding their true motives;
>but if they are, they certainly have forgone many instances where they
>could have "taken the money and run" when no one would have been the
>wiser, and helped those who needed it when there was no advantage to be
>gained therefrom.


>>That attitude has served me well so far and is a big improvement over a
>previous >me who thought that selflessness existed.<
>Define "improvement", please?

A life more fitting to that which I would choose for myself, mentally
(first and most important) and consequentially physically.

>We appear to have reached a circularity. If altruism depends on motive by
>definition, and motive is impossible to *prove* in any instance, then the
>existence of altruism is unprovable. Denying that it exists is also
>unprovable, however; the best that we can say is that is exists as a


>>>Thanks for a thoughtfully-written post.
>>You're welcome, but I only did it cos it made me feel good. ;)<
>AHA! Then I did it for altruistic reasons! (prove otherwise!) I will now
>proceed to forget that I did it.<VBG!>



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