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  1. #11
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    It kind of defeats the meaning of "selflessness" to say any reward for such an action makes it selfish. I think the word was created to distinguish between those who go out their way to help others from those who don't.

    I understand the point about positive feelings, however I think it undermines the language we are using. Consider that any conscious rational action could be reduced to "for the positive feeling". So the person who loves to paint, actually loves the positive feelings, as does the person who loves to hunt. In the end, separating what causes the feelings from the feelings themselves isn't a very useful distinction.

    However, I can think of a whole bunch of exceptions or weird cases for a thought experiment regardless:-

    1. Someone can either dedicate their life to charity work, or to rising up the ladder of investment banking. In either case they will receive equal levels of happiness, yet the person chooses the former (emotionless reasoning or some such). Selfless choice?

    2. Instinctive actions, reflexive actions, and those without motivation. Can they be selfless?

    3. People who do things to help others, who are either obsessed with it or addicted to it. Seems like no actual desire is necessarily at play.

    4. "Wrong decisions". You may have played a game of some sort, and simply made what you see as a "wrong" decision, whether you knew the "right" one or not. Most often in the heat of the moment, but it happens in turn-based stuff as well. So, part of you went against whichever other part thought it was "wrong". Just copy and paste that onto taking a bullet for someone. It may be related to instinctive actions, I don't know.

    5. People forced into actions that serve others. So the person who loves to hunt, becomes one who has to hunt. You can say they "want" to do it, fair enough, but on some level they don't want to, as they have to be forced into it. It could be something as simple as feeding your family. Is it truly always the case that they get positive feelings from doing it?

    There's also the idea that saying people do things because they want to do them, says more about the English language than reality. Since there aren't many methods of expressing why someone does something without throwing the vague terms "want", "desire" and similar out. In actual fact, those terms may rarely refer to qualitative feelings, and just be an aspect of language.

  2. #12
    What is, is. Arthur Schopenhauer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little_Sticks View Post
    If I designed a robot that was made for the purposes of building various objects by taking materials I give it and repairing certain parts of itself and building the various objects, would all that it does be considered selfish? Even though the robot will eventually be put in disrepair and stop functioning, or die?
    No. It follows a preset function, and cannot think outside of those fixed boundaries. It has no internal desire to function, nor any real knowledge of it's own existence or the world around it.

    It is neither selfless nor selfish. It is comparable to a rock.

    Let's complicate this by saying that I took out its programming to repair itself, then it would stop functioning very quickly, but it still has time to build many objects. Is this robot functioning selfishly?
    No.

    If I give it emotions and I program it to feel some kind of happiness or pleasure in its programming when it builds something or repairs itself, is it selfish?
    Yes. It has gained a small sense of self, and a desire to build. It derives pleasure from the only functions it can process.

    If I program it further to repair another robot, but not feel happiness or pleasure in doing so, then is it being selfish when it repairs another robot?
    No.

    If I program it further so that it feels happiness or pleasure when it repairs another robot, is it being selfish?
    Yes.

    What does it mean to have a 'chemical reaction' and feel 'pleasure' in our minds scientifically?

    Does it really make much sense to label all actions selfish, when from an objective standpoint they can be argued as simply actions, neither selfish nor selfless. Then does the question of what is selfish or selfless become up to the an individual's intellectual perspective?

    If these questions are off topic, please let me know how I can correct them or you can ignore them.
    When something has an internal desire to do, its actions then become selfish.
    INTJ | 5w4 - Sp/Sx/So | 5-4-(9/1) | RLoEI | Melancholic-Choleric | Johari & Nohari

    This will not end well...
    But it will at least be poetic, I suppose...

    Hmm... But what if it does end well?
    Then I suppose it will be a different sort of poetry, a preferable sort...
    A sort I could become accustomed to...



  3. #13
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    okay okay. but if the old lady spends her entire income giving dolls to children, to the point where she can no longer eat or drink, is her selfish action negated?
    "Develop interest in life as you see it...the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself." -- H. Miller
    -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
    Johari the good..
    Nohari.. the bad, and the ugly

    I'm a FiNe SiTe to see!

  4. #14
    What is, is. Arthur Schopenhauer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by demimondaine View Post
    okay okay. but if the old lady spends her entire income giving dolls to children, to the point where she can no longer eat or drink, is her selfish action negated?
    No. She is still deriving pleasure from the children, even moreso than food or housing.
    INTJ | 5w4 - Sp/Sx/So | 5-4-(9/1) | RLoEI | Melancholic-Choleric | Johari & Nohari

    This will not end well...
    But it will at least be poetic, I suppose...

    Hmm... But what if it does end well?
    Then I suppose it will be a different sort of poetry, a preferable sort...
    A sort I could become accustomed to...



  5. #15
    Post-Humorously stalemate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MagnificentMind View Post
    No. She is still deriving pleasure from the children, even moreso than food or housing.
    I am not sure this matters. Whether or not she gets pleasure does not really get to the point IMO. The point is her motivation and that can't really be known to an external observer.

  6. #16
    What is, is. Arthur Schopenhauer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stalemate View Post
    I am not sure this matters. Whether or not she gets pleasure does not really get to the point IMO. The point is her motivation and that can't really be known to an external observer.
    I forgot a portion of my original argument, and I've taken the time to repost it as an edit to the first post. So please go read that one, as it refutes this one up nicely.

    Her motivation comes from a desire.
    INTJ | 5w4 - Sp/Sx/So | 5-4-(9/1) | RLoEI | Melancholic-Choleric | Johari & Nohari

    This will not end well...
    But it will at least be poetic, I suppose...

    Hmm... But what if it does end well?
    Then I suppose it will be a different sort of poetry, a preferable sort...
    A sort I could become accustomed to...



  7. #17
    Senior Member Little_Sticks's Avatar
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    Interesting. I haven't thought about it this way.

    One last question. What about if a person rationalizes that doing something for someone will cause that someone pleasure or happiness in some way, so they do it, but they also know that doing such a thing will make them-self happy that the someone is happy. Is this considered 'mutual selfishness' or neither selfish nor selfless? If considered selfish, then what if these were the last two human beings alive, then does it change the answer?

  8. #18
    What is, is. Arthur Schopenhauer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little_Sticks View Post
    One last question. What about if a person rationalizes that doing something for someone will cause that someone pleasure or happiness in some way, so they do it, but they also know that doing such a thing will make them-self happy that the someone is happy. Is this considered 'mutual selfishness' or neither selfish nor selfless? If considered selfish, then what if these were the last two human beings alive, then does it change the answer?
    It is still selfish.

    No, it doesn't matter how many people there are, as long as it's not zero or something - since we're talking about people.
    INTJ | 5w4 - Sp/Sx/So | 5-4-(9/1) | RLoEI | Melancholic-Choleric | Johari & Nohari

    This will not end well...
    But it will at least be poetic, I suppose...

    Hmm... But what if it does end well?
    Then I suppose it will be a different sort of poetry, a preferable sort...
    A sort I could become accustomed to...



  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BRMC117 View Post
    only a sith deals in absolutes.

    "If you seek to aid everyone that suffers in the galaxy, you will only weaken yourself… and weaken them. It is the internal struggles, when fought and won on their own, that yield the strongest rewards. You stole that struggle from them, cheapened it. If you care for others, then dispense with pity and sacrifice and recognize the value in letting them fight their own battles. And when they triumph, they will be even stronger for the victory."
    ―Kreia to the Jedi Exile
    lol. Kreia aside, the jedi were so lawful stupid. Thanks to Lucas' excellent writing skillz.

    in relevance to this thread, I've pondered this idea that selflessness doesn't truly exist in a pure form. I still stand by it for the most part, because in my experience every 'selfless' act I've done was carried out for reasons for my true inner desires. To look proper, to impress someone, to make up for guilt, etc. I've never felt truly selfless enough to go give money to some random organization I feel compelled to help just out of pure selflessness. I'm not a selfless person. There really isn't anything to be gained out of being selfless just for the hell of it.

    and because I see evil possibility in most everything, I led myself to believe that the majority of other people had a tendency to fake selflessness too, or at least not possess it in its pure, undiluted form.

  10. #20
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