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    Hello all,
    What're your thoughts on altruism - a selfless act? Is such a thing possible?
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    I don't believe so, there is always a self-motivated reason to doing good deeds for others.

    I will be met with severe disapprovement by several people for this comment because they gave a couple of quid to charity and believe it's simply because they are a nice person through and through :lol:
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    I don't think so, unless the beneficiary is someone from your gene pool. We're programmed to protect our family at all costs.
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    Well, I believe the same as you, and I've been shouted down for believing altruism does not exist in the past. Hopefully, if there are people who reply to this who believe altruism DOES exist, we can have some fun debates and examples
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    Hmm. It's a hard topic. Simply because we don't want to see ourselves as being selfish creatures.

    I think altruism really depends on the situation you are in... whether that is good or bad I'm not entirely sure. For example if an old lady fell over in the street, our instinct would be to help, but would you actually help? Of course i would like to think that i would, and i feel that this is a selfless act, because i am helping someone else.

    However if my mum asked me to make my bed necessarily i wouldn't want to do it. The only reason i would do it is because she may shout at me, get annoyed blah blah blah so i would definitely make my bed (because of the consequences) It's a selfless act in one retrospect because i am doing it for my mother, but it's benefiting me much more.

    Researchers have said that there is no such thing as altruism, and in a sense i can agree. Mostly everything we do, we do it so that it benefits us, but i also disagree because if someone was genuinely in a predicament in which they desperately needed my help, i would be on hand to make sure they received that help. Is that necessarily benefiting me? I'm not quite sure.


    P.S. great topic!
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    Nice examples.

    In my opinion though, if I saw an old lady fall in the street, yes, like you, I'd try and help. But then again, deep down, are you doing it so you look good to passers by? Are you doing it in the hope that the old lady might praise you or reward you? Is your girlfriend/boyriend with you, and you want to look heroic to her/him? Or, could you be doing it just so that YOU feel good, inside?
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    Does Mother Teresa count as an altruistic person - or did she have an ulterior motive?
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    (Original post by cb87)
    Nice examples.

    In my opinion though, if I saw an old lady fall in the street, yes, like you, I'd try and help. But then again, deep down, are you doing it so you look good to passers by? Are you doing it in the hope that the old lady might praise you or reward you? Is your girlfriend/boyriend with you, and you want to look heroic to her/him? Or, could you be doing it just so that YOU feel good, inside?
    Haha this is exactly the dilemma! Consciously i say to myself, help the woman up, because i have been taught to help, especially elders, all my life. However subconsciously my brain may be telling me to help and i will get praise, maybe an award, maybe from passers by etc... just like you said.

    I was actually in a similar-somewhat scenario a few years back. Me and my friends were at a train station and we witnessed a man and woman arguing, which eventually turned quite physical. Out of all of us, only my one friend decided to do something, which resulted in her calling the police.

    She received an award about a month later for helping out and to this day i find it hard to think if she did help especially for praise, or genuinely to help the woman.
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    I was considering this question yesterday and I came to the conclusion that I could not think of any truly selfless act, when defining a selfless act to be one that benefits another but not in any way oneself.

    However, there are certainly actions that benefit others more than they benefit yourself, and insofar as people intentionally commit these actions, altruism exists. Personally, I would like to move towards actions which do not in any way privilege myself over any other, though acting truly objectively without self-preference is most likely impossible.
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    (Original post by ttreb)
    Hmm. It's a hard topic. Simply because we don't want to see ourselves as being selfish creatures.

    I think altruism really depends on the situation you are in... whether that is good or bad I'm not entirely sure. For example if an old lady fell over in the street, our instinct would be to help, but would you actually help? Of course i would like to think that i would, and i feel that this is a selfless act, because i am helping someone else.

    However if my mum asked me to make my bed necessarily i wouldn't want to do it. The only reason i would do it is because she may shout at me, get annoyed blah blah blah so i would definitely make my bed (because of the consequences) It's a selfless act in one retrospect because i am doing it for my mother, but it's benefiting me much more.

    Researchers have said that there is no such thing as altruism, and in a sense i can agree. Mostly everything we do, we do it so that it benefits us, but i also disagree because if someone was genuinely in a predicament in which they desperately needed my help, i would be on hand to make sure they received that help. Is that necessarily benefiting me? I'm not quite sure.


    P.S. great topic!
    As for your old lady example, you could argue that helping her is in itself selfish. The reason behind that simply being that she is the same species. Unless given a reason otherwise we will always feel the need to look after others as it promotes the survival of the species as a whole.
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    Who knows? I wouldn't like to see as I genuinely don't have a clue about her background, other than her being a missionary in Calcutta. Maybe she did something wrong/bad when she was young, and she felt it was her way of redemption? Maybe she wanted to be declared a 'saint' from her hard work, or simply just wanted to feel good in herself for helping others.

    While it probably wasn't true in her case, sometimes we help others because we'd like to think if, in future, it was the other way round, they'd then be more likely to help us in return.
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    (Original post by ttreb)
    Hmm. It's a hard topic. Simply because we don't want to see ourselves as being selfish creatures.

    I think altruism really depends on the situation you are in... whether that is good or bad I'm not entirely sure. For example if an old lady fell over in the street, our instinct would be to help, but would you actually help? Of course i would like to think that i would, and i feel that this is a selfless act, because i am helping someone else.

    However if my mum asked me to make my bed necessarily i wouldn't want to do it. The only reason i would do it is because she may shout at me, get annoyed blah blah blah so i would definitely make my bed (because of the consequences) It's a selfless act in one retrospect because i am doing it for my mother, but it's benefiting me much more.

    Researchers have said that there is no such thing as altruism, and in a sense i can agree. Mostly everything we do, we do it so that it benefits us, but i also disagree because if someone was genuinely in a predicament in which they desperately needed my help, i would be on hand to make sure they received that help. Is that necessarily benefiting me? I'm not quite sure.


    P.S. great topic!
    In the latter scenario where someone desperately needed your help, you might be helping them to stop you feeling guilty so in a sense, nothing has to be 'benefited', just nothing lost.
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    (Original post by Mockery)
    As for your old lady example, you could argue that helping her is in itself selfish. The reason behind that simply being that she is the same species. Unless given a reason otherwise we will always feel the need to look after others as it promotes the survival of the species as a whole.
    Interesting outlook on it! If that woman got up and told me that she didn't need help, or she rejected the help, potentially am i being selfish for helping her when she didn't need it?
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    (Original post by zumgluck)
    In the latter scenario where someone desperately needed your help, you might be helping them to stop you feeling guilty so in a sense, nothing has to be 'benefited', just nothing lost.

    Very true. The reward of doing a good deed, being able to carry on with my day and know she's okay may in itself be selfish, or simply that two parties are okay and can carry on to live their life.
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    (Original post by zumgluck)
    In the latter scenario where someone desperately needed your help, you might be helping them to stop you feeling guilty so in a sense, nothing has to be 'benefited', just nothing lost.
    What if the removal of guilt was selfish though, as the removal of the guilt would be beneficial to you?
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    For me, if I help someone out, I guess I too benefit, because I end up feeling good about myself - I get this satisfaction out it I guess...
    So thinking in terms of evolution etc, I don't think true altruism really can exist (except when it comes to family). I think there are some acts which appear selfless, whereas in reality, there is some kind of benefit to the 'good samaritan' - be it praise, or simply a sense of achievement.
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    Questions on altruism always make for an interesting discussion!

    I'm the sort of person who hates and actively avoids drawing attention to myself as far as possible. So in the following scenario:

    (Original post by cb87)
    In my opinion though, if I saw an old lady fall in the street, yes, like you, I'd try and help. But then again, deep down, are you doing it so you look good to passers by?
    I'd feel incredibly awkward.

    Are you doing it in the hope that the old lady might praise you or reward you?
    I'd want to avoid any form of discussion as I don't know this lady.

    Is your girlfriend/boyriend with you, and you want to look heroic to her/him?
    Perhaps, but I still think I'd feel awkward overall.

    Or, could you be doing it just so that YOU feel good, inside?
    I'd just feel horribly self-conscious and would walk away quickly thinking, "Why do I feel like crap?"
    In situations that involve displaying 'altruism' in public, I always do it on the idea that "someone should" :dontknow:. I'm not saying I'd help an old lady out out complete selflessness, merely asking what's TSR's take on how I'd feel in that scenario. I'll probably state my view on altruism later on.
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    Also, I know double posting is hated on here, but I'm going to do it anyways

    What do you think the reason is behind people on this forum giving university help and advice to others??
    Do you think it's an ego boost, because others are striving to get where they already are? Do you think it's an attempt to get extra rep? :ninja: Or simply that they sympathise with those asking, and would just feel good by helping?

    I love these philosophy threads :ahee:
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    (Original post by cb87)
    Nice examples.

    In my opinion though, if I saw an old lady fall in the street, yes, like you, I'd try and help. But then again, deep down, are you doing it so you look good to passers by? Are you doing it in the hope that the old lady might praise you or reward you? Is your girlfriend/boyriend with you, and you want to look heroic to her/him? Or, could you be doing it just so that YOU feel good, inside?
    I think initially you would just do it to help the old woman, especially if she looked in severe danger. What you feel afterwards or even if you get a a few seconds to think may not be the first reason you went over to help.
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    (Original post by Rump Steak)
    Also, I know double posting is hated on here, but I'm going to do it anyways

    What do you think the reason is behind people on this forum giving university help and advice to others??
    Do you think it's an ego boost, because others are striving to get where they already are? Do you think it's an attempt to get extra rep? :ninja: Or simply that they sympathise with those asking, and would just feel good by helping?

    I love these philosophy threads :ahee:
    I enjoy it - I've never considered my time here in any way selfless. What I do here is very much to my own benefit - it improves my debate skill, knowledge, challenges and reforms my opinions, introduces me to knew ideas and others' perspectives, lets me practise my writing, improves my ability to give advice, shows me which of my ideas are popular and unpopular, introduces me to people with similar view points, and so on. TSR is really very useful to me.

    In terms of giving advice specifically, trying to help people does in itself feel good. It also makes you feel comparatively knowledgeable and strokes the ego. If I am honest with myself, if I didn't enjoy it I probably wouldn't be here.
 
 
 
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