URL: https://prince.org/msg/105/43075

Date printed: Sun 29th Mar 2020 11:50pm PDT

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Forums > Politics & Religion > 'Everyone acts out of perceived self interest' = myth
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Thread started 04/02/03 6:33am

LillianLaughs

'Everyone acts out of perceived self interest' = myth

BanishedBrain said:

Every country involved in this debate: USA, France, Russia, Germany, etc., is acting out of their own perceived self-interest. That is simply how the world works.

This is exactly as true as the existence of Easter Bunny, Santa Claus or God.

And to many people this 'truth' influences their minds like a religion would.

'Self-interest' is a Western rationalization of impulses and motives of any kind, just like the 'voices of ancestors' are in other cultures. Or 'the voice of God'. Or good or evil 'spirits'.

Like the existence of an almighty power of goodness can be questioned by pointing at all the fear and pain in the world, the motive of 'self-interest' can be criticized by the amount of very obvious self-destructive behavior in the world.

Proven examples are suicide, alcoholism and on the positive side people giving their lives for one another.

Many people explain love and evolution in terms of 'self-interest', but they can only depend on circular reasoning so it's not valid.

Meanwhile, the myth has totally taken over Western book- and film litterature, where characters are not seen as convincing if they don't act out of perceived self interest.

A politician is not to be taken seriously if his deeds can't be explained in terms of 'self-interest'.

Fuck 'self-interest'.
Reply #1 posted 04/02/03 6:41am

teller

Selfishness is considered by most people to be a vice. I maintain that it is a virtue.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Reply #2 posted 04/02/03 6:49am

IceNine

Everyone always acts out of self-interest at all times. Even the most altruistic acts have a basis in self-gratification or some other reward mechanism that makes them desirable to the one who performs the actions and are therefore self-serving.
SUPERJOINT RITUAL - http://www.superjointritual.com
A Lethal Dose of American Hatred
Reply #3 posted 04/02/03 6:59am

langebleu

moderator

LillianLaughs said:

...the motive of 'self-interest' can be criticized by the amount of very obvious self-destructive behavior in the world.

Proven examples are suicide, alcoholism and on the positive side people giving their lives for one another.
You started off on the right track by describing it as perceived self interest, and then it all went downhill. You can criticise the motive of self-interest for all you like by showing it leads to self-destructive behaviour, but you have failed to prove that it isn't born out of self-interest, however misplaced that perception of self-interest may be. Lots of people do things in the belief that it will serve them best, even though the consequences result in the opposite.

I might choose suicide because I perceive it is in my own best interest to end my life - despite the fact they I will be destroying myself (at least physically).

I might be addicted to alcohol because I perceive it is in my own best interest to satisfy my craving for alcohol, despite the fact that it is destroying me.

Equally, on the positive side, I might perceive it is in my own self-interst to give my life for someone else because I am satisfying a noble conviction that I hold to, despite the fact that I will be destroying myself in the process.
Many people explain love and evolution in terms of 'self-interest', but they can only depend on circular reasoning so it's not valid.
Maybe, but there are also people who don't use circular argument, and their arguments are very compelling. Richard Dawkins gives some very non-circular arguments in 'The Selfish Gene'.
Meanwhile, the myth ...
We'll stop there as you have failed to demonstrate that it is a myth.
ALT+PLS+RTN: Pure as a pane of ice. It's a gift.
Reply #4 posted 04/02/03 7:03am

TheMico

It's like confession or apologizing. It's mostly done to make youself feel better. And what's with starting new threads in response to existing ones? Why is everyone doing this? smile
Reply #5 posted 04/02/03 8:26am

LillianLaughs

IceNine said:

Everyone always acts out of self-interest at all times. Even the most altruistic acts have a basis in self-gratification or some other reward mechanism that makes them desirable to the one who performs the actions and are therefore self-serving.

That is exactly the myth I'm talking about. It can't be proved, like God can't be proved. It's just a way to look upon things.
Reply #6 posted 04/02/03 8:26am

Anxiety

teller said:

Selfishness is considered by most people to be a vice. I maintain that it is a virtue.


It's not virtue or vice. It just is what it is. People attach a moral anchor to the idea of "selfishness", yet the only counter to "everything we do comes from a selfish motivation" that I've ever gotten is "I don't want to talk about this anymore".
Reply #7 posted 04/02/03 8:27am

LillianLaughs

teller said:

Selfishness is considered by most people to be a vice. I maintain that it is a virtue.

So do I. And people have it in different gradations.
Reply #8 posted 04/02/03 8:40am

m3taverse

Anxiety said:

teller said:

Selfishness is considered by most people to be a vice. I maintain that it is a virtue.


It's not virtue or vice. It just is what it is. People attach a moral anchor to the idea of "selfishness", yet the only counter to "everything we do comes from a selfish motivation" that I've ever gotten is "I don't want to talk about this anymore".


"selfishness" is simply a 20th century word for "primal" survivalism, born out of western world luxury that allowed people, that for the first time had ample access to everything they needed, to come up with these words.
Go to any place on earth where access to live preserving resources is scarse, and you will not find words related to "anti-social behaviour" in their vocabulary.
[This message was edited Wed Apr 2 8:42:17 PST 2003 by m3taverse]
"this especially prepared potato is called pomme de terre"
Reply #9 posted 04/02/03 8:42am

teller

Anxiety said:

teller said:

Selfishness is considered by most people to be a vice. I maintain that it is a virtue.


It's not virtue or vice.

So you consider acts performed in the service of a complete stranger to be no different than acts you perform on behalf of your own interests? What about the fact that you understand your own interests better than anyone else possibly could?
Fear is the mind-killer.
Reply #10 posted 04/02/03 8:52am

LillianLaughs

langebleu said:

You can criticise the motive of self-interest for all you like by showing it leads to self-destructive behaviour, but you have failed to prove that it isn't born out of self-interest, however misplaced that perception of self-interest may be. Lots of people do things in the belief that it will serve them best, even though the consequences result in the opposite.

There is an infinite amount of possible misperceptions and possible interpretations of 'self-interest'. That makes the myth meaningless, at it's best. You provided the examples yourself.
Many people explain love and evolution in terms of 'self-interest', but they can only depend on circular reasoning so it's not valid.
Maybe, but there are also people who don't use circular argument, and their arguments are very compelling. Richard Dawkins gives some very non-circular arguments in 'The Selfish Gene'.
I don't know it, but I expect it to contain a reasoning comparable to 'stone wants to fall, because it falls'.
We'll stop there as you have failed to demonstrate that it is a myth.

I can only demonstrate that it's no more true than the idea that God exists, which I also see as a myth. I'm not saying that it's untrue, it's just a viewpoint you can take and leave whenever you want.
Reply #11 posted 04/02/03 9:05am

LillianLaughs

teller said:

Anxiety said:

teller said:

Selfishness is considered by most people to be a vice. I maintain that it is a virtue.


It's not virtue or vice.

So you consider acts performed in the service of a complete stranger to be no different than acts you perform on behalf of your own interests? What about the fact that you understand your own interests better than anyone else possibly could?

I hope that this thread is not going to be about egoism or virtues, but rather how we see eachother's motivations.

Though I think that the mere ability of identification with other people is one of the things that make 'self-interest' a nonsensual term to me.
Reply #12 posted 04/02/03 10:33am

langebleu

moderator

LillianLaughs said:

langebleu said:

Maybe, but there are also people who don't use circular argument, and their arguments are very compelling. Richard Dawkins gives some very non-circular arguments in 'The Selfish Gene'.
I don't know it, but I expect it to contain a reasoning comparable to 'stone wants to fall, because it falls'
Well, thank you. I explain to you that there is a book that provides at least one very good argument why humans (and all other creatures) act with self-interest despite the fact that sometimes those actions might be self-destructive to the self-same individuals. I also explain that the arguments put forward in the book are not of the 'circular' type you described as invalid.

You then admit to not even knowing the book - but you can miraculously claim that you expect (regardless of my explanation to the contrary) that the book depends upon circular, and therefore, invalid reasoning.

I don't expect you to believe me (you can read reviews on amazon.com, you can even read 14 pages for free!), but if the strength of your argument is ... "if the book says something that I don't believe, then that book is bound to contain circular arguments, and therefore it's wrong" ... then you are not even willing to put your argument to the test. The logic also has an uncanny sense of circularity to it.

Do you conduct all of your arguments by simply ignoring contrary evidence or dismissing it using such weak logic?

That seems a very self-interested approach to life.
.
[This message was edited Wed Apr 2 10:39:12 PST 2003 by langebleu]
ALT+PLS+RTN: Pure as a pane of ice. It's a gift.
Reply #13 posted 04/02/03 10:38am

TheMico

teller said:

Anxiety said:

teller said:

Selfishness is considered by most people to be a vice. I maintain that it is a virtue.


It's not virtue or vice.

So you consider acts performed in the service of a complete stranger to be no different than acts you perform on behalf of your own interests? What about the fact that you understand your own interests better than anyone else possibly could?

I think he's really saying that everything you cannot prove is a myth. This is untrue, as there are many things that happen or exist that cannot be proven. For example: I wore black shoes all last week. Can this be proven? No. I have no conclusive evidence of my footwear for last week. Does that make it a myth? Absolutely not.
Reply #14 posted 04/02/03 10:52am

Therapy

LillianLaughs said:

IceNine said:

Everyone always acts out of self-interest at all times. Even the most altruistic acts have a basis in self-gratification or some other reward mechanism that makes them desirable to the one who performs the actions and are therefore self-serving.

That is exactly the myth I'm talking about. It can't be proved, like God can't be proved. It's just a way to look upon things.


Is there really something wrong if a person acts out of self interest if it is of benefit for other people also? Is there not a 'way' which means that in giving to another, it feels good to give? What is wrong with that? The person giving feels good, the person receiving feels good, everyone's a winner.
Reply #15 posted 04/02/03 10:55am

teller

LillianLaughs said:


That is exactly the myth I'm talking about. It can't be proved, like God can't be proved. It's just a way to look upon things.

I would think you either have the intended recipient of the benefit of some action, or the actual beneficiary. What's not to prove?
Fear is the mind-killer.
Reply #16 posted 04/02/03 10:56am

IceNine

TheMico said:

teller said:

Anxiety said:

teller said:

Selfishness is considered by most people to be a vice. I maintain that it is a virtue.


It's not virtue or vice.

So you consider acts performed in the service of a complete stranger to be no different than acts you perform on behalf of your own interests? What about the fact that you understand your own interests better than anyone else possibly could?

I think he's really saying that everything you cannot prove is a myth. This is untrue, as there are many things that happen or exist that cannot be proven. For example: I wore black shoes all last week. Can this be proven? No. I have no conclusive evidence of my footwear for last week. Does that make it a myth? Absolutely not.



I don't know about myth... it is more of a legend at this point!

biggrin
SUPERJOINT RITUAL - http://www.superjointritual.com
A Lethal Dose of American Hatred
Reply #17 posted 04/02/03 11:10am

BanishedBrian

LillianLaughs said:

BanishedBrain said:

Every country involved in this debate: USA, France, Russia, Germany, etc., is acting out of their own perceived self-interest. That is simply how the world works.

This is exactly as true as the existence of Easter Bunny, Santa Claus or God.

And to many people this 'truth' influences their minds like a religion would.

'Self-interest' is a Western rationalization of impulses and motives of any kind, just like the 'voices of ancestors' are in other cultures. Or 'the voice of God'. Or good or evil 'spirits'.

Like the existence of an almighty power of goodness can be questioned by pointing at all the fear and pain in the world, the motive of 'self-interest' can be criticized by the amount of very obvious self-destructive behavior in the world.

Proven examples are suicide, alcoholism and on the positive side people giving their lives for one another.

Many people explain love and evolution in terms of 'self-interest', but they can only depend on circular reasoning so it's not valid.

Meanwhile, the myth has totally taken over Western book- and film litterature, where characters are not seen as convincing if they don't act out of perceived self interest.

A politician is not to be taken seriously if his deeds can't be explained in terms of 'self-interest'.

Fuck 'self-interest'.

I'm kind of late to this thread, but it seems to me that nothing being debated disputes the quote at issue: that every country involved in the Iraq situaton is acting out of its own perceived self-interests.

Whether human beings always act in ways they believe are consistent with their self-interest is a separate and more difficult question... but why would anyone believe that governments do not act in ways that are consistent with the perceived self-interests of their country, or at least the self-interest of the applicable leaders themselves (e.g., their personal political self-interests)?
No Candy 4 Me
Reply #18 posted 04/02/03 11:12am

BanishedBrian

LillianLaughs said:

BanishedBrain said:


By the way, contrary to what some might think, I don't think my brain has been banished yet.lol
No Candy 4 Me
Reply #19 posted 04/02/03 11:12am

SupaFunkyOrgangrinderSexy

With regards to personal self interest, this might not hold true all the time.

With regards to political self interest, it's an absolute truth.
2010: Healing the Wounds of the Past.... http://prince.org/msg/8/325740
Reply #20 posted 04/02/03 11:42am

wildandloose

IceNine said:

Everyone always acts out of self-interest at all times. Even the most altruistic acts have a basis in self-gratification or some other reward mechanism that makes them desirable to the one who performs the actions and are therefore self-serving.
Because human beings are social creatures. Some are social parasites (capitalists), but history has a way of flushing itself of these viruses. Unfortunately, this time around things are as deadly as they've ever been.
Reply #21 posted 04/02/03 11:45am

SupaFunkyOrgangrinderSexy

wildandloose said:

IceNine said:

Everyone always acts out of self-interest at all times. Even the most altruistic acts have a basis in self-gratification or some other reward mechanism that makes them desirable to the one who performs the actions and are therefore self-serving.
Because human beings are social creatures. Some are social parasites (capitalists), but history has a way of flushing itself of these viruses. Unfortunately, this time around things are as deadly as they've ever been.


Makes you wonder if we'd have a world left if the current capabilities of destruction existed during the inquisitions and Crusades for conquest and conversion during the middle ages.
2010: Healing the Wounds of the Past.... http://prince.org/msg/8/325740
Reply #22 posted 04/02/03 2:40pm

JDINTERACTIVE

I wonder what Che would think of this thread? confuse
Reply #23 posted 04/02/03 10:36pm

tackam

IceNine said:

Everyone always acts out of self-interest at all times. Even the most altruistic acts have a basis in self-gratification or some other reward mechanism that makes them desirable to the one who performs the actions and are therefore self-serving.


What he said!

What possible motive could you have to do something if not self-interest? Either you want do do it, or you recognize that it is good for you even thought you don't want to do it, or you recognize that it is compatible with some value you want to maintain for some self-interested reason (being perceived as a good person, going to heaven, whatever). You would have to be severely mentally deranged to truly do something out of anything other than self-interest.

Same applies to nations.

URL: https://prince.org/msg/105/43075

Date printed: Sun 29th Mar 2020 11:50pm PDT