as the question states. can you actually perform a truly selfless act? an act that has zero benefit for yourself. i feel like when people do good things there is always some sort of benefit to them.
take helping the homeless. even if you help anonymously you would still be benefited because you would get an ego boost. ergo it still benefits you.
even if you were to heroically die to, i don't know, save the planet. the people left behind would know what you did and, even though you'd be too dead to care, you'd still get the ego boost. but would you know you got it? never mind, that opens up a pandoras box of other questions.
i feel like no-one does anything just for the sake of benefiting someone else.its always to be noticed by someone else thus get an ego boost. i feel as thew saying goes never let your right hand know what your left hand is doing. so with that in mind is there a truly selfless act? if there is who performs it?
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- Thread Starter
- 11-11-2015 12:22
- 11-11-2015 14:39
I agree with you that seemingly selfless acts have an advantage to the person doing them, for example as you said even helping the homeless makes others around you have a good opinion of you. However, I think when determining whether an act is truly selfless, the intention of the person doing the act must be considered. Continuing with the example of helping the homeless, if the person were to do this purely out of wanting to help that person, I would say that is selfless. On the other hand, if the person wanted to help the homeless person to help them AND to feel good about themselves/make others perceive them as good people, that it not a selfless act.
- 11-11-2015 20:34
A selfless act is a bad thing. It means that there is no good intention or expectation of the person to be happy. Selfless acts extend above us and all of our actions are determined by evolution through our brain, instincts, mutations and probability. If your talking about single perspective selfless acts they are possible if there in no intention of ones self.
I personally consider this self destructive. Self preservation triumphs most things.
- 11-11-2015 20:43
At the end of the day, doing good deeds and being a kind person makes you a happier person & benefits everyone
Being mean or spiteful helps nothing. It doesnt make you happy, it just increases your bitterness, and hurts other people too
I think the idea of selflessness is irrelevant. If you're making other peoples's lives better, the fact that it makes you happier too should enhance not diminish what you're doing.
- 13-11-2015 14:41
It is based on the heart. A person's intent. if a person is trying to do things only to make themselves look good or get some benefit from an act, there is a small chance for them to actually feel the benefits to being selfless. they would be too focused on what doesn't matter vs. the act in front of them.
Even if someone does it anonymous, feeling good about one's own act is not an ego boost. one would have to gloat - even to themselves.
I can give an example: One year with the YMCA a kid was ultra shy. happens all the time. we were playing football and he was entertained by his own. Also, he did not really want to share or play w/ other kids. well at half time I walked up to the kid's mom and introduced myself. talked to her a bit and then she introduced me to her son. I passed the ball to him during half time and then when the game came up I was able to get him to play (by encouraging him and at times passing the ball on the side even though the game was still on. His mom was ecstatic and said he had not played the whole season.
For above example: either it was selfish or I just wanted to get that kid to have fun with the sport I enjoy and have no reward there after. Not tell anyone for several years until on this board and use it only as an experience to try and use when dealing with a difficult or shy child (skill building).
completely selfless acts? completely possible.
- 13-11-2015 14:49
I think (as the above poster has hinted) this more of an issue of intentions rather than the strict definition of selfless itself.
Whilst certain seemingly selfless acts (e.g. giving money to charity) might have the effect of making you feel good, I think it is whether the person doing said act intended to actively benefit from it in some way, shape or form.
So I believe people can attempt to do acts in a selfless manner, but that there is always a possibility that said act(s) could be selfish.
- 13-11-2015 14:53
people feel good about themselves when they do selfless acts so unless this satisfaction is not factored out, there are no selfless acts.
that doesnt mean the acts these people do are not morally good, moral satisfaction is a perfectly fine reason, in my opinion, to do an act which would otherwise give no other benefit.
- 13-11-2015 14:59
I used to think this until I realised I did a selfless act every day, if I can do one every day then there must be loads of others that exist. My selfless act: our shower used to run off a hot water tank, whenever my sister used the shower she'd always use up so much of it that if I went in after it would run cold quickly. I would nearly always use it first however, knowing that she would want a shower, I'd keep it as short as possible and only have it tepid not hot so she would have enough water. Did this make me feel good? Definitely not, I'd have a crappy shower and be a bit annoyed, she would literally never make the connection that I must be having crappy showers so she could have one, so I never got any gratitude, not that I cared, at the end of the day it's just a shower. But there you go, it was a good deed and I was worse off for it, didn't feel any better about doing it so I think it would qualify as selfless. I know it sound lame, but there must therefore be other examples.
- 13-11-2015 15:02
leaving the last slice of pizza
is pretty selfless tbh.
- 13-11-2015 15:48
The answer to the question I think is yes.
However the overwhelming majority of 'selfless acts' do of course reap some benefit to the instigators.
The most blindingly obvious benefit is that committing selfless acts can only increase ones sense of self worth and usually happiness.(edit unless they end in ones death of course)
I would go as far as to say that any selfless act that merely involves the donating of wealth can never ever be a truly selfless act.
So that means that selfless acts involve the donating of ones time at the very least.
But many people don't realise how valuable time is so they may not be being that selfless.
Then there is the donating of part of ones body while one is still alive.
Here the problem might be that a sense of duty could be playing a part.
However a sense of duty could be said to be synonymous with selflessness so that the donating of a body part I would say could well be a selfless act.
Then there is the selflessness of mothers the world over.To what extent can mothers help making sacrifices for their children? Yet would it not be unfair to say their acts aren't totally selfless when all too often their sacrifices end in tears? That's a tricky one I think.
And of course during the course of our incredibly bloody history countless people have , it seems, made heroic sacrifices for the sake of others.
I think it would be wrong to judge these acts as anything other than totally selfless because compared to the enormous selfishness that we so readily accept as the norm in modern society they are at the very least far more selfless than most of us will ever be in our lifetimes.Last edited by moggis; 13-11-2015 at 15:52.