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Why Do Human Beings Do Good Things? The Puzzle of Altruism

Altruism and evolution

From an evolutionary point of view, altruism doesn’t seem to make any sense - human beings are basically selfish.
From a genetic point of view, it would make some sense to help the people close to us (relatives) to help our genes survive. But there is no real explanation for helping animals or those with no relation to us.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Why Do Human Beings Do Good Things? The Puzzle of Altruism

Why Do Human Beings Do Good Things? The Puzzle of Altruism

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/out-the-darkness/201310/why-do-human-beings-do-good-things-the-puzzle-altruism

psychologytoday.com

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Key Ideas

Altruism and evolution

From an evolutionary point of view, altruism doesn’t seem to make any sense - human beings are basically selfish.
From a genetic point of view, it would make some sense to help the people close to us (relatives) to help our genes survive. But there is no real explanation for helping animals or those with no relation to us.

Egoic altruism

Some psychologists argue that there is no pure altruism, that we help strangers (or animals), there must always be some benefit to us, even if we’re not aware of it.
Maybe helping others makes us feel good about ourselves, we gain the respect of others, we may look more attractive to others, it makes us think we are going to Heaven, or that if we do good, good will be done to us.

Pure altruism

Acts of pure altruism do exist and they are most likely motivated by empathy and a feeling of interconnectedness (We can sense the suffering of other beings because, in a sense, we are them).

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We copy others

A growing number of cognitive scientists and anthropologists think that human beings survive and thrive because we imitate others and don’t think for ourselves.

The benefits of imitation

Inexperienced learners can't judge which steps are relevant and must rely on the wisdom of more experienced elders and peers.

  • The tendency for over-imitation makes it possible to develop skills and technologies over generations.
  • Rituals that aren't connected tangibly with practical outcomes, bond people and demonstrate cultural affiliation.

Imitation and culture

Imitating and performing impractical actions is the key to learning complex cultural skills.

Over-imitation enables us to maintain a distinctively human culture.

Science providing anwers

Science providing anwers

Despite the advances in science over the past century, our understanding of nature is still limited. Scientists still don't know what the vast majority of the universe is made up of or how cons...

Mysterian arguments

"Mysterian" thinkers give an important role to biological arguments and analogies.

Late philosopher Jerry Fodor argued that there are bound to be thoughts we are unable to think. Similarly, philosopher Colin McGinn claimed that all minds suffer from "cognitive closure" about particular problems. Just as animals will never understand prime numbers, so human brains are unable to consider some of the world's wonders.

Mysterians and pessimism

Mysterians present the question of cognitive limits in fixed terms: either we can solve a problem, or we will never be able to.

A possibility that eludes mysterians is one of slowly diminishing returns. We keep slowing down, even as we exert more effort, and there is no point where progress becomes impossible.

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The Universal God

Aldous Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy(1945) is an extraordinary work of synthesis, introducing global (particularly eastern) spirituality into mainstream western culture.

The Phi...

Fresh Take On Religion

  • Modern society has been described as the Age of Noise, and an Organized Lovelessness.
  • Advertising is revealed to be an organized effort to extend and intensify craving.
  • People in the modern age worship progress, technology, and their nation-state, all of which can be described as a 'religion'.
  • The dogma of such religions was profoundly criticized in the classic books, while paving the way towards newer ways to find God, like meditation.

The Author and Philosopher's fresh take on religion, shaping it as an 'empirical spirituality' was a huge influence in the 1960s and which has since then led to more people (now 27% in the US) being 'Spiritual but not Religious'

Constructing One's Reality

Aldous Huxley was heavily criticized after his death by newer philosophers who didn't subscribe to the Perennial Philosophy.

While the author insisted that the ultimate mystical experience is the moment of pure oneness with God where the concepts of 'I', language, image and culture are dissolved, his critics argued that all religions are true and some of them are truer than the others.

One of the critics states that human beings construct reality using their bodies, rituals, words, actions and cultures.

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