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Brainstorming
Brainstorming
Brainstorming session

Can we achieve "pure" altruism?

Can we achieve "pure" altruism?

Image credit: @gruntzooki https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/7c533aae-bc95-4cd1-8042-a2bfee0ed668

By Anja M on Oct 25, 2020

Creative contributions

Altruism is an advanced form of natural selection among the same species

[1] https://medium.com/@nitishsharma0738/beyond-altruism-people-forgetting-liberalism-6107cd508363

by Nitish Sharma on Nov 02, 2020

Anja M 7 days ago
Thank you for your comment!
It is indeed true that it is a combination on nature+nurture and there is basis to contend this is not solely a human trait. However, due to the inconvenience arising when tackling the problem solely for humans, I wouldn' try to go too deep with animals, since we would perhaps not be able to examine them in enough detail. :)
Perhaps we should try and focus more on nurture and different examples of (the lack of) it, as you already suggested in a way.

Most probably multifactorial; there can be no 'pure altruism'

[1] https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/images/uploads/Harbaugh-MotivesForDonations_1.pdf

by Subash Chapagain on Nov 03, 2020

Anja M 7 days ago
Well, thank you for your thorough reply! :)

Reading your article, I came to think this is one of those very good opportunities to face two "lifelong educations", one in biological, and the other in human-sciences, and get something prolific from them.
Basically, we can always turn to different neuro- and generally bio- explanations. However, the problem is this is never actually fully manage to answer the altruism/egoism debate, or any similar debates. That is why contemporary theories, although acceptive of biological grounds do not hold them as exhaustive. And that is what I wanted to point out in my contribution. Take a look at point 1. I made there: "Generally, whichever evolutionary theory we adopt, it remains that none of them explains fully our common understanding of altruism. This is because when we ask whether human beings are altruistic, we ask of their motives and intentions. And this is precisely why we remain unsatisfied with biological/evolutionary theses, always making our step towards finding egoistic explanations that undermine defining altruism."
-Also the difference between desire & desire satisfaction made in point 3.

However, we definitely agree on one important point: it is futile to strive for something as "pure" altruism, because not only we would probably not be able to achieve it, but also we cannot even begin to set the criteria by which something would be considered as such, due to the slipping reasons mentioned. At the same time, it is fallacious to assume this opens space for assuming intrinsically egoistic behaviour, as this would also mean a leap in concluding, and that is where we reach this error of psychological egoism understanding. I will write another contribution on it shortly. :)


Judith Lichtenberg and “the possibility of pure altruism”

by Anja M on Oct 25, 2020

Existence of sociopathy - argument against altruism being in our nature

by Povilas S on Oct 26, 2020

Anja M 22 days ago
Well, nurture with altruism is as with basically any other value: exposition to it, especially in the formative, but in any age really, is essential to its encouragement and embedding as a value we recognize through the spectre of other virtues, like selflessness, thoughtfullness, and general empathy. Of course, heroic acts are still heroic acts and although a cream of altruistic deeds, I am not prone to putting them on an indisputable piedestal of the average altruism measure, because they are not an average deed, although they certainly can stand for a proof of the existence of altruism.

Sociopathy and psychopaty on the other hand, are also something to be take into consideration, but these are also not the norms we take as examples. The usual examples for any behaviour are just that: "the usual/average" examples of people. So, while these cases should be taken into consideration for exploration of their roots, they cannot be taken as the conclusive contra-argument to inspecting whether altruism is inherited or not. At least it is a stalemate: "there are above average altruistic people" - "there are people with no empathy at all", so you can figure why we would quickly get stuck with this.

Also, as you pointed out well, it cannot be just cultivated as a habit. It is something "more". But there goes the debate: how much is nature, and how much nurture.

My additional and primary premise with this session was to try to show that although we already have some well-known nature theses, ultimately, as we get to the finer and more practical analyses, they yield us little results useful for both theory and everyday life. Especially so because they are also not proven to a substantial level, but also just theories. (See points 2. and 3. of my contribution. EDIT: Ok, maybe the whole contribution, now when I think about it. :D )

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