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

Martz (
Wed, 30 Apr 1997 00:59:32 +0100

On Tue, 29 Apr 1997, "Wright, James 7929" <> wrote:

>So far you are unwilling to accept my suggestion that
>self-interest benefits only one person, and that mutual self-interest is
>not a contradiction in terms, that there are acts that can benefit two or
>more persons at once that can be called self-interested.

You've not given me any reason to discard the commonly accepted

>Since you will
>not accept my suggestion, I will accept yours and abandon the discussion
>at that point; I cannot argue against your suggestion using your

Likewise. But if it just comes down to terminology we don't need to
abandon the discussion, we just each need to accept the essence of the
others usage. When I say self-interest I mean acting first and foremost
to achieve my own ends but without excluding cooperation. You have a
definition which does. It seems then that we're essentially in
agreement, or at least we haven't found what we *really* disagree about.

>>Yes it is. Unless *you* change the definition of self-interest. "One's
>>personal interest or advantage" he discovers on leafing through the
>>forbidden tome. That definition doesn't care whether any incidental
>>benefit is conferred on anyone else.<
>Isn't that what I started saying a while back? "personal" interest? Or
>are you using the "advantage" part to override the "personal"? If so, we
>are not in disagreement.
>I simply stress the "personal" more.

You seem to stress it to the exclusion of anything else. I find that
unnecessarily restrictive and I think you're inferring more than is
intended by the definition.

>With the understanding that I stress the "personal" part of the
>definition you cited above, and that you stress that "personal advantage
>can also benefit someone else"
>I think we can agree to disagree.
>>I have to agree with Lee here. Cooperation as a consequence of self-
>>interest has been a central element of this thread from day one.
>I may be misreading Reed's original post, but it seems to me he implied
>cooperation is a consequence of society and group organization, not a
>consequence of self-interest.

I said "from *day* one" not "since the first post". I had meant that to
include any direct replies to Reed's post. Admittedly I haven't checked
the dates so a day may have passed before the replies rolled in. You
gotta watch out for those inferences. ;)

>>He didn't introduce it and it's quite frustrating when someone
>>misses the point.
>I am indeed as frustrated as you are; being advised pointedly by Lee that
>I am missing the point is only limitedly useful,
>when I think others are
>creating points out of whole cloth and drawing unjustified conclusions
>from unexamined premises.

Fair point, but to me the premises had been examined but you were
focussing on the wrong parts. By "wrong" I just mean a part of the
premise which wasn't actually being used to support anything.

>I will not perpetuate any more misunderstanding on this subject; you and
>Lee can have the victory. Self-interest can include others by definition,
>and everything I've posted for the last week is irrelevant.

If victory means a better understanding then we've all won. And by the
same token our posts have been equally irrelevant i.e. an excessive
amount of energy expended to arrive at a small understanding. Having
arrived, we can now move on (and find something else to fight about).

>I hope you feel better for winning;

I don't consider it a "win" in the sense you seem to mean it.

>I still suspect we have missed an
>opportunity for communication of ideas, although I can accept that at
>least half (and probably more) of the responsibility is mine.

Not missed, merely postponed.

>IMATDO? Not familiar with that acronym.

That's because I just made it up. "In mine and the dictionaries
opinion". Weak humour, perhaps a smiley would have been justified (I
hate overusing them so I probably underuse them in retaliation).

>I am not offended, and I hope you are not; I've gotten past momentary
>aggravation at Lee for his post, and will try to maintain civility into

Likewise. I promise you I won't succeed though. 8) Take solace from the
knowledge that I know from much examination that any frustration I feel
is *always* aimed at myself. That others bear the brunt is purely
coincidental (selfish motivations again - you just can't get away from


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No more random quotes.