selfless acts

I fell upon this argument with a friend of mine .

can a self aware being make a completely selfless act or are all “selfless” acts motivated by some preconceaved notion of cultural rightousness

Selfless acts have some kind of goal in mind, whether cultural oriented or not. This does not make the act any less selfless.

A truly selfless act come’s spontaneously without mediation. The moment a thought is attached to the act, then motivation come’s into play. Some will argue that there is no thing as selfless, that all acts are selfish in nature, but it leaves too many human acts unexplained. Selflessness is that which arises from within with no thought.


you could argue that even acts of giving up your life are self motivated due to ones perception in the after life

martyrs are remembered thosands of years later

Well if one gave up one’s life because of rewards in the afterlife, that would not truly be selfless. One would have to be purely compassionate with no attachments.



There are no “selfless acts”.

All acts stem from self, even if from a delusional or incomplete sense of self. As such they are always motivated by self either directly or indirectly.

A purely “selfless act” would have to come from a completely selfless perspective, a perspective devoid of any conscious self or self interest or self participating within unities.
Since all actions are self willing there can be no action outside self and therefore selfless.

What is mostly considered a “selfless” act is an act which has no conceivable immediate and direct connection to the interests of the acting individual or an act which does not reward or benefit the actor in any way.
In the first case most fail to consider the indirect motivations and interests and the second is a pure myth with no examples.

Even an action seemingly in the interest of another is really the self associating itself with the other and thusly being selfish through self sacrifice.

I agree with Satyr.
I would like to see someone produce an exampe of a selfless act, because I certainly can’t.

Hey Mr. Weasel, sorry to rain on your selflessly spontaneous parade - but subconscious reflexive value judgements could/would put a selfish spin on seemingly spontaneous acts of altruism - even if subjectively - no actual ‘thought’ has occurred. The machine existed before the matrix, and the tail still wags the dog. :wink:

Yes, there’s something called automatic thoughts in psychology that are supposed to be so fast that they travel at the speed of thought and control many of our actions.

Why say “Mr. Weasel” though?

So thoughts on speed travel still faster…? :laughing:

A mother wouldn’t hesitate to jump in front of a moving train to save her child…


she feels as though it is the right thing to do, selfish act.

The easiest way to dismiss an idea is to lock up the conclusion in the definition. “Everything in the world is blue.” So when pink come’s along, we deny it’s existence because it doesn’t fit the definition.

Of course we’ve plenty of proof of subconscious reflexive… :laughing:

Mr. Weasel

One could call any selfless act a mistake, we are not quite perfect yet.

Come on Mr. T. we all make reflex subconscious value judgements all the time… Daydream in the car and find you’ve just driven half a mile on autopilot… Our conscious minds do a lazy backstroke on the surface whilst leviathans twitch and shudder in the murk below…

If selflessness existed, why don’t I give money to beggers every day…? Not just those days when I’m feeling blissfully happy, have some loose change in my pocket and the sun is out…?

[size=75](Stupid but I do it because I’m superstitious - If I’m just TOO damn happy, I feel the need to sacrifice a little something to the Gods of good fortune - the begger is just the altar…)[/size]

The will to selflessness seems far too capricious to be anything but an artifact/glitch of subconscious hardwiring… Why aren’t all people prone to selfless acts to the same extent…? If it’s a learned response, then its roots are already compromized - the behavior is not yours, but the meme’s, if it’s inherited - then the gene should give an edge to those who possess it. But a group of altruists is very prone to exploitation/invasion by those without. Dawkins, my man, Dawkins.

Shellfish Jeans. :smiley:

Frankly, I have no idea why people don’t like the idea of helping others and enjoying it.

What makes this a bad thing?

Hi Tab,

There has been a similar discussion taking place on the Selfish Heaven thread. In that thread, I have brought forward an example of a man who is given the choice to save his wife from torture till death, by giving his own life in exchange. Let’s also assume that he has only 1-2 seconds to decide before it’s too late.

Now Rami and PaleRider have been arguing that this man would be thinking selfish thoughts such as “What is the right thing to do?”, “Will I suffer if I let her suffer” etc. I have been arguing that within this short time frame, no selfish reflections would occur. The overriding thought would be the willingness to do anything to stop his wife from suffering.

Can you see how this is at the very least, plausible? Our unconscious thoughts are really not what matters in this context. All that we are aware of is our conscious thoughts, so couldn’t conscious selflessness exist? Isn’t this the only selflessness that is relevant, seeing as it is the only selflessness that we, ourselves, can be aware of? Unconscious self-ish motivations or ‘thoughts’ are beyond the realm of personal comprehension and are not involved in our experience or general perception.

Yes why don’t you?

My point is that compassion is inherent. We are trained to be selfish. We can untrain ourselves.


terrible twos.

we are trained not to be selfish.

compassion is not inherent.


Ja levels Imp. Levels.