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  1. #1
    No Cigar Litvyak's Avatar
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    Default Helpfulness and egoism

    The idea of the thread came from the behavior of a girl in my class.

    The willingness to help people / being nice with them etc. is usually percieved as an altruist deed, and is considered virtuous in most communities. What about people who help not for the sake of 'helping' (aiding others because of empathy or kinship), but driven by their own selfish need for being loved or feeling that they're indispensable, because they lack any other qualities to stand out of the masses?

    The outcome is the same, but do you judge them differently? Is there a need for different judgements? Do you see this as a selfish act? Are you able to isolate these two cases of helpfulness?

    I personally find this social phenomenon a little repulsive, and by no means honorable. What about you?

  2. #2
    Kraken down on piracy Lux's Avatar
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    I think it goes back to the sincere motivations, the person's actual thoughts about the action. If the motivations and thoughts are self driven, I think it can definitely lessen the action, whether the action was good or bad. I feel that in most situations the intentions are as important (if not more important) as the outward action. I think being civil is important but there is a difference between being nice and civil in society, and then going out of your way to do something nice when the thought is the opposite.
    "It is not length of life, but depth of life." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

    "Thought breeds thought." ~ Henry David Thoreau

  3. #3
    morose bourgeoisie
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    I think you can analyze everyone's behavior too much. Some would argue that all altruism contains the seeds of ego, but so what? That doesn't obviate otherwise beneficial actions on their part.

    A teacher of mine in HS once argued in clasee that throwing one's self on a grenade was a selfish act, despite the fact that it would save lives and result in your death. The person was doing it for ego-based reasons, which negated any sacrifice or altruism in it... I disagreed with her.

  4. #4
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    In terms of material rewards, one may give without any expectation of reward, they may give with an expectation of an even return, or they may "give" with a calculation of getting more in the long run. On the surface, and at the present time of a transaction, it can be very hard to tell which a person is aiming for.

    In abstract terms, however, we are all, always totally selfish. When you give a poor man a fortune, you do so because it is your pleasure to do so. It makes you feel happy to seem him rewarded, it makes you feel good about your own self-image, and it satisfies your concept of ethics.

    I don't hold it against anyone if they have abstractly selfish motives in being altruistic, because that's how all altruistics actions work.
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  5. #5
    Supreme Allied Commander Take Five's Avatar
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    Yes I have run across many of these "people." I refer to them as "service junkies." I find them repulsive and only fit for the dirty work that is community service. Of all the ones I've known, and I've known several, I have not seen one that actually had a clue about reality. These are the people that are "saving the world" by serving others and working for "justice." They tend not to be critical thinkers and can easily be taken advantage of. They aren't evil, but they are stupid and self-righteous.
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    "If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared. "--Niccolo Machiavelli

  6. #6
    No Cigar Litvyak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nebbykoo View Post
    I think you can analyze everyone's behavior too much.
    I don't see the problem with that. Perhaps you think analyzing everyone's behavior rips their masks and makes them seem vulnerable as they are, so what? Truth is truth either way.

    Quote Originally Posted by nebbykoo View Post
    Some would argue that all altruism contains the seeds of ego, but so what? That doesn't obviate otherwise beneficial actions on their part.
    "The outcome is the same" as I've already stated - but considering that being an altruist who helps people is based on the idea of the act itself (= helping for the sake of it, solidarity etc.), I think the results are only moderately important in this case. If we presume that every "altruistic" act is at least partially egoistic in its nature, it makes me wonder if altruism ever existed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    In terms of material rewards, one may give without any expectation of reward, they may give with an expectation of an even return, or they may "give" with a calculation of getting more in the long run. On the surface, and at the present time of a transaction, it can be very hard to tell which a person is aiming for.
    I think the first case is the only one fulfilling the criteria of selflessness. Everything else is "social investment", where I give just as much as I recieve (the promise of future support at least), so in case I can clearly tell what a person is aiming for, do I even have to thank him/her? After all, it's simply "business".

    Quote Originally Posted by Take Five View Post
    They aren't evil, but they are stupid and self-righteous.
    My thoughts exactly.

  7. #7
    Striving for balance Little Linguist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Litvyak View Post
    The idea of the thread came from the behavior of a girl in my class.

    The willingness to help people / being nice with them etc. is usually percieved as an altruist deed, and is considered virtuous in most communities. What about people who help not for the sake of 'helping' (aiding others because of empathy or kinship), but driven by their own selfish need for being loved or feeling that they're indispensable, because they lack any other qualities to stand out of the masses?

    The outcome is the same, but do you judge them differently? Is there a need for different judgements? Do you see this as a selfish act? Are you able to isolate these two cases of helpfulness?

    I personally find this social phenomenon a little repulsive, and by no means honorable. What about you?
    Personally, and I know this is going to sound very bizarre to someone who is Fi-based tert, but I find it very hard to distinguish my own happiness from the happiness of others. That means that if I help people, and they are happy, and I can tell they are developing, my heart just leaps out!!!

    In other words, it is hard for me to dissociate myself.

    In some cases, this tendency is good, because you can genuinely 'feel' with the other person. On the other hand, this tendency can be bad, because if you take it to extremes, you do not know what YOU want anymore, and you sacrifice yourself for others, even to the point of illness (I know some people like that). Kind of like Te can make you productive, systematic, and goal-oriented but if you become Te's slave, you will work yourself sick and organize yourself and the people around you to the point of obsession.
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  8. #8
    morose bourgeoisie
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    [quote=Litvyak;954771]I don't see the problem with that. Perhaps you think analyzing everyone's behavior rips their masks and makes them seem vulnerable as they are, so what? Truth is truth either way.
    No. I see over-analyzing as a waste of my time. Let's face it: most if the time the ego payoff is simply a smug, transitory feeling for the 'giver'. How does it benefit me to plum the depths of another person's mind to discover what I already can assume is there, i.e. ego.
    "The outcome is the same" as I've already stated - but considering that being an altruist who helps people is based on the idea of the act itself (= helping for the sake of it, solidarity etc.), I think the results are only moderately important in this case. If we presume that every "altruistic" act is at least partially egoistic in its nature, it makes me wonder if altruism ever existed.
    What if you look at it from another perscective? How does the altruist define their action? I highly doubt that someone would say "I think I'll perform an act that appears selfless, so I can seem like a wonderful person." I think they might use words like 'social responsibility" or "compassion".

  9. #9
    No Cigar Litvyak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nebbykoo View Post
    What if you look at it from another perscective? How does the altruist define their action? I highly doubt that someone would say "I think I'll perform an act that appears selfless, so I can seem like a wonderful person." I think they might use words like 'social responsibility" or "compassion".
    That's not "a different perspective", that's the same assumption explained away. Btw I know full well that an altruist would never say such things, might not even always think through it; the question is the cause of selflessness, knowingly or unknowingly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Little Linguist View Post
    Personally, and I know this is going to sound very bizarre to someone who is Fi-based tert, but I find it very hard to distinguish my own happiness from the happiness of others.
    I think this is closer to real 'helpfulness' - I mean, you love to help and feel good if you've managed to help someone without even thinking on the possible gains.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Soar337's Avatar
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    I help people and sacrifice things because I hope it will make me an unselfish/better person. And I like helping people. Everything a person does has a selfish intent in the end :P
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