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

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.

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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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Corporate Speak

Corporate Speak

Corporations have a language that they use while talking in meetings or communicating in email. It’s called Corporate Jargon.

Corporate jargon is a forced and complicated way to exp...

Language With No Substance

  • The corporate jargon is often described as fluffy, without any real substance and aimed towards the speaker’s self-inflated ego.
  • Words are substituted for analogies and references that take longer to process, and have the intention of wrapping, hiding or impeding actual, effective communication.

The Emporer's New Clothes

Corporate speak may not mean anything of value to anyone in a meeting, but like the Emperor's New Clothes, no one wants to point out the inefficiency and mind-numbing nature of the constant use of the jargon. Everyone pretends that they are on the same page as everyone else.

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