Re: virus: (un)selfishness

Robin Faichney (
Wed, 23 Apr 1997 14:55:00 +0100

Tony Hindle wrote:
> I wrote
>>> I can see the truth in "ultimately all motivation is selfish"..
>Robin asked
>>Well, maybe you can explain it to me then, because seems to
>>me it's literally meaningless.
> Consider all the acts you ever do. Classify into "selfish" and
>"not selfish".
> Now ask yourself why you do "not-selfish" acts. Classify into
>"selfish" and "not selfish" reasons.
> Now ask yourself about the motives behind those reasons,
>"selfish" and "not selfish".
> What about the underlying motives? and so on.
> Actually this might work better for a cynic if you ask the
>questions about another.

Yes, but for another or for yourself, you're wide open to
getting exactly the answer you're predisposed to expect.
I mean, it's pure speculation, isn't it? Sure, we sometimes
have insight into our own motivation, and can see we
were previously kidding ourselves about it, but that's
hardly reliable, is it?

Also, how do you explain the case where I give someone
a present because I want to see their face light up? OK,
so there's an "I want" in there, but the reason I enjoy
seeing someone's face light up is because I empathise
with their pleasure. To me, only an ideologist can call
that selfish. In practice, it's unselfish caring and sharing.
Sorry to get soppy, but life is like that sometimes!

> At the end of the day its a choice, you have to choose for
>yourself, ultimately is everyone good or bad?

Ultimately, you have to decide, is it more useful to
view everyone as good or as bad? Despite the
occasional soppiness, my decision that "goodness"
is more fundamental is based on pure practicality.
And it doesn't blind me to the fact that I have to
lock my office and car doors every time I leave
them, and that people are likely to try to "steal"
my ideas. Life's a complicated business.

> Climbing down off soapbox. (I have seen this expression a lot
>recently, shouldnt it have an abreviation? Cdos, Ah now I know what my
>machine does when its not switched on)


Gawd, I'm going to have to cut down the time I
spend on this list!!!