Thursday, October 29, 2015

Selfishness and Altruism

SHORT VERSION -- I wonder:  Even when one is selfish, one cares.  What does one care about?  I think one cares about one's body, but also about the contextual field that supports one's body.  That would encompass family, friends, neighbors, fellows, as well as their states of mind.  I don't see how one can be selfish without caring about others.  And if one cares about others, then one is, in that way, both selfish and altruistic.  I don't think pure selfishness can be separated from some aspect of altruism.  Space and time have separate meanings, even though they are intertwined.  Likewise with selfishness and altruism, or particle and field.  I think altruism is a word that means more than a noise.


LONG VERSION:  When one is "selfish," what is the self to which the "ish" is directed?  Is consciousness necessary for the expression of sellfishness?  Are genes selfish, therefore conscious?  What causes the way the separate selfishness of a gene would be expressed, before or in the absence of its conscious determination?  Is a person selfish to the preservation of his/her stomach or to his body?  Selfish to preservation of his legacy?  Selfish to self programming?  Selfish to the accumulated attachments and field of significance that programs or guides him/her?  How extensive is that field? 

How do you know (or why should you think) that what you take to have caused the expression of your "selfish" choice has not simultaneously reconciled with the choices and apprehensions of others who are within your range of mutual regard and influence?

If "you"  -- what you take at any range or locus to constitute your identity -- is artifactual of the expression of a more encompassing field, and that field sets the determinants for your "choices," which your brain only rationalizes, then how do you know that field is letting you be selfish only to your own body or associated and accumulated identity?  How do you know that field is not being selfish to a wider, connected group?

It is said that each action, thought, decision is made at a subconscious level before the conscious brain even is aware.  Is this merely pursuant to predetermined unfolding?  If so, on that level, there is not even selfishness as the "cause."  Rather, even apparent selfishness would be mere epiphenomena, skimming along the "real" causes. 

So, what are the "real" causes?  Are they the attractions and repulsions of force-carrying particles, as expressed by force fields?  What then is the "real" underlying or connected nature or character of those force carriers and fields?  What is the unifying, reconciling force that expresses and uses the math field that binds them, and that causes their patterns of unfoldment? 

What connects and "maths" the math?  Whatever IT is that expresses you, I think IT is inherently, innately, necessarily -- empathetic.  Otherwise, I don't think the math could math.  There would be no spin to spin. 

If connective conscious empathy were not at some level innate, I cannot imagine how a measurable cosmos could abide.  I think existentiality requires a trinity:  immeasurably connecting Consciousness, relationally measurable Substance, and potently cumulative  Information.  Something of that trinity is spiritually, empathetically, caring and meta (at least, to my belief). 

I do not think it unreasonable so to believe.  Nor unreasonable under that attraction or banner to come and reason together --- in pursuit of assimilating mores, more in good Faith than in force of Legalism.  I think moral assimilation tends to be aided under an umbrella of shared belief in a caring, meta-Reconciler.  Without the Christian umbrella, I suspect we would still be living under a fascist, legalistically-burdensome society.  The more the Christian faith is undermined, the faster I expect we will fall under the complete despotism of elite, legalistic rulers.


FWIW, I don't much trouble myself with trying to measure out heaven. Rather, my main concern for the necessity of a general respect for religious sensibilities has to do with the necessity of respecting the dignity of other people. You share that concern, and so it guides your ideas about morality.
But I rationalize further, to consider that concern to be innate. It can be variously nurtured, but I think it is as innate, connected, and reconciling as one spin attracting or repulsing another spin that is within its field of influence. It is the connectedness of such innate concerns that leads me to rationalize a metaphysical aspect. I say metaphysical, because I think there is no physical component to the ultimate layer of "spin." I don't think there is an ultimate, physical, building block that is spinning, apart from spin itself. I think the ultimate layer is more intuitive, empathetic, and innate than physically demonstrable or measurable.

The reason I think spiritual rationalization to be important is because it can be (even though it often is not) helpful for facilitating decently civilizing assimilations. Spiritual rationalization is a bit like government, in that it can facilitate human decency -- even though it often does the opposite. (To my taste, churches, in recent years, seem to be doing more harm than good.)
Few among us think it reasonable to espouse a complete rejection of government. Rather, the concern is to try to facilitate decent government that protects human freedom and dignity. Ways often thought meet for that purpose include: small central government of limited and constitutionally enumerated powers; delegation of most other legal powers to lower levels of states, counties, and cities; division of powers and functions among checked and balanced branches of government; an armed citizenry that is trained in its rights.

Even so, there is overlap between layers and levels of government, and we don't try to establish hard concrete "walls" of separation between their functions. Too often, in trying to wall religion away from the public square, we establish religious-like authority in minorities among radical secularists to capture the government and impose outrageous affronts on the evolving values of the people at large. As if elitists should be trusted to know and do best, to replace charity with tax redistributions, and to impose elitist moral indoctrination over religious moral indoctrination.

My problem with radical elitists is that so many seem to think they have air-tight, best solutions for regulating every function. As if the ACLU should eventually nail down enough precedents to ensure complete, encompassing, and detailed "fairness" and "tolerance." As if this elitist rule would constitute some kind of "altruism by government."

Some, for example, think air-tight distinctions can be made between what is selfish versus what is altruistic. Or that altruism (spiritual connectedness?) does not even really exist. To me, this is like thinking that space and time are mutually exclusive existents. They are not.

It ought not be said that altruism does not exist, nor that it is not innate. A mother who knows she will be ripped apart and killed will often, all the same, sometimes instinctively, sometimes deliberately, put herself between her children and a grizzly. She is empathetically identifying herself with something larger: the perpetuation of her progeny and her values. And she has those values because she thinks they are more important than her body.

I may not have a rigorous definition by which to separate selfishness from altruism. But, if I can trust myself to know that another person is more than a bot, I believe I can trust myself to know when they are being, at least in partial aspect, altruistic.

I do not believe it is "altruistic" for an elitist to train people under his or her charge to become so dependent as to lose their individual competence and dignity. Nor to believe that they should be entitled, merely by ganging up to raid the controls of government, to assume a complete right to take and regulate the affairs and properties of others. Even a mama bear, in instinctive altrusim, will begin to cuff cubs when it comes time for them to make their own way. There is little that is altruistic about raising a generation and teaching it to be whiny, entitlement-minded, prone to holler "white privilege," incompetent, defenseless and unsuspecting in the face of gathering forces that truly are intolerant.

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