1. MainerMikeBrown

    MainerMikeBrown Senior Member

    Aug 15, 2011
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    Volunteers Really Are Altruistic

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by MainerMikeBrown, Aug 7, 2013.

    Lots of people in this world perform volunteer work because they have good intentions, as they want to help others and make a difference in their lives.

    However, some people point out that those who try to help others by volunteering aren't completely altruistic. They say that those who want to make an impact do so because
    it makes them feel good and helps them feel better about themselves. They do it because they like it.

    Their is some truth to that. But I think it should be noted by everyone that although nobody who helps others do so for completely altruistic reasons, their's still a lot of
    altruism involved. Those who volunteer their time to make a difference in the lives of others really do care about those they're trying to help.
  2. IronPalm

    IronPalm Banned

    Jun 13, 2013
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    To me, the matter is irrelevant.

    People today are obsessed with words. Myself, I prefer to judge by actions. I recall there was a French philosopher in the 18th century who argued there was no such thing as altruism. All "altruistic" acts were either because the person wanted to feel good about him/herself, or simply enjoyed having happy people around oneself.

    That may be true, but in practice, who the fuck cares? It doesn't matter to me why someone helps. What matters is that they helped. That's the only important part.

    Define yourself by your actions, not good thoughts.
  3. chicagoliz

    chicagoliz Contributor Contributor

    May 30, 2012
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    If the argument is that something that appears to be an altruistic act is not altruistic because the actor is, in fact, getting something out of the act for himself (which is the feeling good and enjoyment), then the argument makes no sense. The admirable part of what is considered an altruistic act is the fact that engaging in that action is what makes the actor feel good. Otherwise, people could only be considered altruistic if they did something that they despised and actually caused them some sort of harm and/or bad feelings and displeasure. Why would they do this? Because, objectively, they see that someone must do this work in order for society to function? Does wanting society to function and therefore contributing to that functionality, which might in turn make someone feel good or give someone some sort of positive feelings then negate the altruism?

    The whole point of altruism is that someone does something for someone else or for society without an expectation of some sort of direct monetary or societal reward and additional benefit.

    What about people who do good things solely because they think it will curry divine favor and allow them to enter heaven? Or prevent them from going to hell? Should they be lauded or chastised if they are clear and forthcoming about this motivation?
  4. Wreybies

    Wreybies Arroz Con Admin Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

    May 1, 2008
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    Puerto Rico
    This, this and all of this. Whether a person does or does not commit acts of kindness on behalf of others for reasons that are truly altruistic falls into realms akin to solipsism. Until we have brain-plugs a la The Matrix, the inner clockwork of another mind is a mystery, though we create sciences and philosophies to untangle the pistons and gears. The autonomous reality of the act itself is all we can truly measure and have any knowledge of. For many years I volunteered at an adult model daycare center for clients with memory disorders and certain forms of dementia. Of course I got a warm fuzzy out of doing it. I would be lying if I said I didn't. Does that actually matter? Tangling acts of kindness with terms of piety is a mistake in my opinion.

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