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    Altruisim and modern civilization

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    DopeMasterJFlow
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    Altruisim and modern civilization

    Post  DopeMasterJFlow on Fri Aug 20, 2010 4:07 pm

    I am currently reading The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. I have only read the first chapter and having studied biology in college, I am very familiar with the ideas he is presenting. However, his way of presenting the information is inspiring and has me thinking about the long term social consequences of human behavior.

    I like thinking of altruism and selfishness in regards to our current economic and political debates. It is almost like arguing left vs right on the political spectrum.

    Let's assume there is a rich man who has worked hard his whole life to obtain a large fortune. Should this man be selfish with his deserved fortune he will undoubtedly be more fit to survive in some senses. He will always be provided for and have the best possible health care. But what does his fortune do for society as a whole? Is it his responsibility in the year 2010 to ensure the survival of his species? Should he use his money in an altruistic way to provide education and opportunities for his fellow man?

    Are the ideas of wealth and altruism mutually exclusive? Assuming the man did donate his money to provide education and opportunities to other people. Perhaps this is actually a selfish act.

    I guess the main point I am trying to make is: Imagine the two extremes. One society where the population is completely altruistic and the people of the population are more than willing to sacrifice their own well being for the benefit of the society as a whole. The other extreme is a society of total selfishness. People willing to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival.

    How do you guys think this plays out in American society today? Obviously we are somewhere in between. How about the future? Where are we headed?


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    The Rebirth

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    Re: Altruisim and modern civilization

    Post  The Rebirth on Fri Aug 20, 2010 5:22 pm

    You're waiting for me, Kyle of Matt Mc to answer this. Happy Matt
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    DopeMasterJFlow
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    Re: Altruisim and modern civilization

    Post  DopeMasterJFlow on Fri Aug 20, 2010 5:33 pm

    The Rebirth wrote:You're waiting for me, Kyle of Matt Mc to answer this. Happy Matt

    So what are you waiting for?


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    Re: Altruisim and modern civilization

    Post  The Rebirth on Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:30 pm

    Kyle Happy Matt
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    KCLU
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    Re: Altruisim and modern civilization

    Post  KCLU on Fri Aug 20, 2010 7:02 pm

    ummm.

    I've said a lot on this already, but if you're looking for some core argument in favor of philanthropy (voluntary or forced, lol), its that I think particularism of any stripe is unjustified, that no one is justified in putting themselves before others or a certain kind of person ahead of others. specifically, when you can give without losing any perceivable degree of quality of life, as so many of us in the Western world can do, you ought to do so.

    speaking in regards to our country: the people who've done really well since a couple generations ago have been the extremely rich, and Matt has argued before that politics (i.e. taxes) is only part of the solution, that there's a deeper cultural problem when a CEO can bring home vast personal profits and not being held socially accountable.

    we should demand Bill Gateses and Warren Buffets of all our rich. besides directly help those in need, they also humiliate their peers.
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    Lars

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    Re: Altruisim and modern civilization

    Post  Lars on Fri Aug 20, 2010 7:19 pm

    Every dime spent is in some effect being helpful somewhere to someone. Even if the said rich man were to only spend his money on himself, he is still spending money. When someone buys a jet for them self they are creating a need for someone to build the plane, and now someone has to fly that plane, and put gas in it, and wash it, and store it. These are all opportunities to better things somewhere for someone.

    So philanthropy is not the only way rich people can help poor people. But it is very very common when people become that wealthy they do become very very giving.
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    Meow
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    Re: Altruisim and modern civilization

    Post  Meow on Fri Aug 20, 2010 7:30 pm

    These are really open and loaded questions, I was typing up a long response, but I think I'll change it to tidbits so I don't go rambling for the whole page.

    It's hard to define any pure altruistic or selfish act, decisions we make are definitely based on both, probably more towards the selfish side. I think in America we're incredibly obsessed with image, so many acts that may seem altruistic are only for the good of how we appear to others that probably think in a very similar manner.

    One example of this is this whole "green" thing that's going on nowadays. It's so easy (especially for rich people) to go buy a Prius or donate $100k to charity and feel like they performed some pure act for the good of our future society, but really it may just be to ease the guilt they feel about the Maserati they just bought or the hookers they just killed. So do you focus on the altruistic notions in their act or the selfish ones?

    The grim parts of our future's society is a lot more in your face than it used to be, so I think we are generally creeping towards being less selfish. But then again...



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    The Rebirth

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    Re: Altruisim and modern civilization

    Post  The Rebirth on Fri Aug 20, 2010 7:31 pm

    I think we have a situation here...
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    Re: Altruisim and modern civilization

    Post  Meow on Fri Aug 20, 2010 7:38 pm

    Lars wrote:Every dime spent is in some effect being helpful somewhere to someone. Even if the said rich man were to only spend his money on himself, he is still spending money. When someone buys a jet for them self they are creating a need for someone to build the plane, and now someone has to fly that plane, and put gas in it, and wash it, and store it. These are all opportunities to better things somewhere for someone.

    So philanthropy is not the only way rich people can help poor people. But it is very very common when people become that wealthy they do become very very giving.

    This is true. There are so many angles you could come at this from, though. So he buys the plane, people maintain their plane building/flying/gassing job for now, but the plane uses 5,000 gallons of gas a week and sends even more carbon dioxides into the air. Not to mention that this could be a company jet and now the members of this company only use this jet instead of some no-name jet company who is now out of business because they no longer have this company's income.


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    Re: Altruisim and modern civilization

    Post  DopeMasterJFlow on Fri Aug 20, 2010 9:09 pm

    Lars wrote:Every dime spent is in some effect being helpful somewhere to someone. Even if the said rich man were to only spend his money on himself, he is still spending money. When someone buys a jet for them self they are creating a need for someone to build the plane, and now someone has to fly that plane, and put gas in it, and wash it, and store it. These are all opportunities to better things somewhere for someone.

    So philanthropy is not the only way rich people can help poor people. But it is very very common when people become that wealthy they do become very very giving.


    Yea, good point Erik. So I would think from this that American economics at it's core is both selfish and altruistic.


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