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If every act is selfish, is it impossible to perform an unselfish act?

Down to the root of every action it is selfish or is it? If it is, is then impossible to perform an act that is unselfish, that doesn't serve you in any way shape or form?
Can something truly be done mindlessly, like giving an homeless person change, can that act be done without any selfish actions?

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    May 8 2012: What most people care about are actions because only actions have consequences.

    While I am one who think that what or how one thinks can contribute to their future actions it is hard to tell if one is truly being selfish or unselfish.

    Nonetheless if someone saves a life for the sake of an reward what is more important to you: that a life was saved or that one had selfish intentions?

    While I am not condoning selfish motives, I have to say that to a degree most people will look after their own before other beings that we are the only ones who know what it is like to be ourselves.

    in spite of this I think that is more of survival (referring to the sentence above) than it is selfishness..I personally think that selfishness is something that is socially constructed as opposed to be a trait of human nature

    but instead of saying that all actions are based off selfishness, I would say that most of our actions are designed to serve our own benefit but I personally do not see how this is a bad thing unless the consequences are destructive.
  • May 7 2012: You're thinking of the theory of egoism, the theory that states that everyone performs good/moral acts only for their own benefit. Even if it is something as altruistic as handing money to the poor, egoism still dictates that one would performs these actions to bolster their self-righteousness, and so on and so forth.

    There are several problems with this theory, though. For example, let's say a manager at a store is about to employ one of two men for the role of Assistant Manager. One of them is barely equipped for the job, while the other is brilliant and bound to rise to the top quickly. The egoist, in fear of the exceptional individual taking over his position, would offer the job to the lesser man. Does this seem like a morally justified decision?

    Of course, this is only a theory, just like all the other attempts to explain our morality. You are free to agree and disagree however you may choose.
  • May 6 2012: If we take every act to be selfish then I think there is a new line of definition to create.

    Someone who is outwardly destructive taking everything they can from everyone around them is what we classically term as selfish and it's presented as a pejorative both because it's terrible to be around a person like that but also because it's often terrible to be a person like that.

    I don't think it's unreasonable to connect outwardly destructive behaviour with an inwardly destructive emotional state.

    We divide actions into selfish and selfless and perhaps that is a meaningful distinction but an inaccurate one.

    In both cases the act is selfish but is it outwardly positive or outwardly negative? Perhaps that is what we really should be focusing on.

    That might also allow us to see what could be damage in another person’s emotional state instead of demonising them for their selfish behaviour. Maybe it would allow guarded but companionate reactions to those we traditionally see as "the one that ruins it for everyone else".

    This discussion doesn't have to be the destruction of the meaning of selfishness, it can be a more accurate re-construction of its meaning.
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      May 6 2012: Hi Luke,

      Once you understand how empathetic convergence works, then you can get a handle on behavioural improvement.

      All agency committed by an organism is at the service of survival.
      Agency is based on perception - what you cannot percieve, you cannot change for advantage.
      In the social animal (humans etc) we have a device that greatly enlarges perception - it is communication.
      To enable communication, each human creates 2 "proxy" selves - one for self and one for "other".
      AS the individuals interact, these proxy selves converge - my proxy for you will converge with your proxy for self and vise-versa. THis convergence has the amazing ability to produce self models in each that are very close to matching - on a way, your proxy for me and my proxy for self will become almost exactly the same.
      In this way, even though I cannot be you physically, I can be you in my proxy.
      My proxy for you is stil me, but it is functionally you - because we mutually converged these proxies by experience.
      THis raises a few issues:
      Firstly, the body connection with an "other" proxy can be blocked - this curtails convergence and whatever happens to the "other" proxy does not elicit a body response. This is called "herdenning your heart" or sociopathy.
      It takes time to fully converge resonant proxies, and proxy pairs can be in different levels of convergence.
      When making decisions about actions involving others, we compare relative body reactions between the pair and usually commit the decision to the least discomfort for both. Decisions based on unconverged pairs will be inaccurate.
      The selfish person gives the benefit of the doubt to self, the unselfish person gives the benefit to other.
      This all occurs within self, but has an affect within community. Each strategy has pros and cons. For instance, giving charity to an unconverged "other" might be the wrong thing to do - hence "charity begins at home". Taking advantage over an unconverged "other" could lead to unknown advantage to other.
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      May 6 2012: I need to add an apology for my mode of language in these contributions.
      Let me explain:
      Firstly, have a look at Damasio's talk on the self and consciousness.

      Damasio has identified where the proto and core selves operate in our brains.

      When I connect this with my understanding of the topological nature of neural networks, I can extrapolate Damasio's description of the "autobiographical self" to realise that these "actors" are paired-up to enable the code/decode of communication.

      The code/decode is regulated by connection to body control - essential for personal survival.

      Now, as a mathematical forecasting analyst, I understand how the Beyesian forecasting method works. Our "proxy" actors are run through simulations to anticipate outcomes bfrom decisions. The Beyesian method allows for logrithmic convergence via iterations of action and observation. We act on the outcomes of these forecasts.

      Now, when you add the work by topologist Marvin Minsky, you can see that communication phase-locks mutual proxies.

      This is almost magical, that we can have others actually living in our selves. And it's just math (if you want to do math) and it is based on the topological shapes described by synaptic loadings.

      When you look at synaptic topology, it all just looks like river systems, cloud formations, plasma discharge paths, tree shapes etc. And it is all fractal.

      The unification of life is blindingly obvious when we think this way. It gives rise to a lot of shortcuts to wisdom and clarity.
      For instance, I can say, without a shred of doubt, that waht humans call "love" is simply the process of convergence between each alone organism, and others. This is truly remarkable - and it is what humans do better than any other creature on planet Earth.
      • May 7 2012: Hello Mitch,

        Thank you for your informative response :).

        No apology is necessary for your mode of language, I think it's important to use the words which carry the specific and desired nuance of meaning even if it does require more effort to read and completely comprehend.

        I don't think there is anything that you've said which I disagree with. It all makes sense and goes a long way to explain the complexities of human behavior.

        One concept which I've read about which fits well into your explanation is the monkey sphere which suggests a correlation between the size of a primates brain and the number of entities they can empathise with and therefore the optimal community size for them. It goes on to explain different ways in which the "monkey sphere" phenomenon manifests itself in human society and flaws in our moral thinking.

        For me, understanding the mind and how behavioral patterns are defined by systematic differences in the brain lends heavy credibility to the idea that we are all innocent.

        What I mean is that when people encounter a story about someone that has for example put their baby in the microwave, you see an immediate and passionate response. In the same breath they will ask what is wrong with this person and then suggest that the worst torture punishment their mind can fathom is the appropriate response.

        They seem to understand that there must be a functional problem with the brain and if you had a robot with a functional problem with their programming, you'd not blame the robot, you'd firstly put measures in place to protect people from the robot and then try to fix the robot.

        I think a better understanding of mental systems and psychology would do a lot to elevate society and improve interpersonal relationships in general. It's a shame that more people are not more interested in this sort of thing.
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          May 7 2012: Hi Luke,

          It is my current passion to develop this - It will nto let me go!

          I have put a great deal of thought into the monkey-sphere phenomenon, although this is the first time I have heard of it. And I will follow it up.

          Desmond Morris first observed this in the popular litterature .. and he observed the tribe-size limit.

          I have been investigating the topology of resonant pairs, and I have to admit, that there is a limit to how many of these pairs can be converged in a lifetime. There is probably some physiological limit as well - it's a lot of data and information.

          Do you understand that data is converted to information via belief?

          Once again - this is just topological math. But the effect is amazing. Belief is no more than a topological shape - it works, or it gets changed.

          One of the speakers on brain science bemoaned the lack of a "theory of mind". I hope to fill that gap. Before now, this could not be done.

          I offer hypotheses, I am not in a position to garner peer-review outside of forums like this, but I do my best.

          I appreciate your considered reply!

          I offer the resonant empathetic pair to describe the topological process, its action to enable communication, its process in defining community and its power to overcome the topological limit of the exclusive-or as identified by Minsky 30 years ago.

          What this means is that we must re-evaluate all words that were, previously, thought to be "subjective". By resonant topological convergence, these words are stripped of error and become objective.

          I realise that this advancement will be strenuously resisted because incumbent power lies exclusively in the noise generated by exploitation of the uncertainty in classification. The width of the defining line.

          But, by pitching my language in the way I do, the exploiters of teh border cannot possibly know what I am saying.

          I am glad that I am not alone.

          Remember - if you are thinking a thing, there are many others doing the same. Such is resonance.
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          May 7 2012: Let us be happy robots!

          The limit of empathetic pairs is quite a complex thing.

          We have not only single "self" systems, we also have group systems.

          All languages have an array of personal pronouns.

          The most destructive of these is "us and them".

          "them" is the generic "self" we create for those that we cannot process - they are an iteration of "us" with all the unresolved differences applied as a modulus. THis class of "self" is associated with the absolute negative allowed in our store of possible outlcomes in our causal models.

          Let me say a bit about the Beyesian model of forecasting:

          The way the Beyesian function works is to produce 2 evolving vectors:
          1. Is the error-correction in trial and error - one acts and observes. One gains a more accurate model of the subject of observation.
          2. Is the error correction of the causality. The operation of the algorythm of the causal element is refined.


          It becomes obvious why humans give birth to undeveloped foetuses. They cannot build causal models from within the womb - so they are exposed to the blinding light of their senses to begin the process of convergence. This takes 7 years - and it is in this 7 years that the dynamics of internalising others occurs.

          The exposed foetus requires total nurture for this period. Especially the first 3 years before the motor systems develop into perception-agency power for survival. Then the remaining years to 7 years old is dedicated to the development of the empathetic pair. The parental role is vital in this process. Unfortunately, the teaching of "the law odf the jungle" destroys the child's potential to penetrate the full collapse of teh exclusive-or, and they become antithetical to the genome.

          Our society, now holds "law of teh jungle" as a supremem mandate. And in this we ensure our extinciton.

          I urge all who read this to deliver their entire energy to showing the lie that we are killing our entire species with.

          A natural human is a machine for love. Nothing else
      • May 7 2012: I really like the way you've explained this and I think there is truth to your suggestion that "them" is a self which allows a new and unique prospective from which to analyse thought itself. It's interesting that this model is ever present in our thinking but almost impossible to actually recognise for what it is without the interference of another person.

        I would argue that trial and error = law of the jungle = evolution. They are all an expression of the same abstract process of extropy (a word invented by a Ted talk presenter that I can't remember. It is meant to be the opposite of entropy). Our mental abilities are constructed from the youngest age using observation and trial and error interaction with the environment and I see this as a heavily guided and accelerated form of evolution itself.

        As much as I personally disagree with it, it's not surprising to me that people favor a strongly capitalistic system which is probably about as close as modern society comes to law of the jungle without absolute anarchy. It doesn't surprise me because we have been created by the force of evolution, our mind has been constructed by the force of evolution and we can understand the strength which comes from a system which evolves.
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          May 7 2012: Hi LUke,

          "Law of the Jungle" operates as a selector between species and between non-social animals. Humans are social animals. The selective force operates on the society - otherwise known as "group selection", which is highly controversial, but Darwin himself identified this in the social animal. Since then the principle of internal competition has been attributed to Darwin, and it is simply not true.
          Competition, as it is practiced in Western culture, is actually better described as "divide and conquer" - or "make them fight amongst themselves and they will be too weak to fight us".
          I call it "involution". Involution is canibalistic and serves to make the species progressively more vulnerable to other species and natural disasters. We might look around at all our miraculous achievements, but when you look at it from a distance, you see the whole human population teetering on ricketty towers. Water systems, computers, power, internet, food production - all insecure and getting more rickety by the day. It's all held up by the loosers at the bottom of the heap. The system is favoured by those on the top of the heap - I'm sure you would find this if you asked those towards the bottom. ALl long term thinkers are seeing extinction racing towards us as a species. Put simply, the involuted competition is about to burn us out like an over powered lightbulb.

          Extropy is not directly aplicable to competition. All life conducts modulation of entropy to establish survival. Humans have wider field of perception through communication - wider field of perception allows for greater potential agency (potential extropy).
          It is the empathetic convergence itself that allows communication to exist. Anything that is antithetical to convergence is destructive to the genome - it is absolutely dependant on communication.
          Childhood training needs to be shifted away from this false involuted competition model.
      • May 8 2012: Our groups are getting bigger and there are no longer geological boarders which create isolated groups to compete so I don't see how we have group selection acting on our species currently. With medical technology that allows almost any detrimental genetic mutation to survive and reproduce and the population explosion that we're in, I would say that we are in a period of genetic diversion and expansion which might be followed by a great collapse where the fittest survive.

        Whether or not our biological evolution is moving forward; our culture certainly is. At some point in the not too distant future we may master genetic engineering well enough to make cultural and biological evolution one and the same.

        Assuming there isn't a collapse and instead population growth gently falls to zero once we reach the limit of our resources and assuming that genetic engineering will not help us to drive human biology forward, I might argue that having a global tribe means that there can be no group selection and that involution may be the only way to drive our biological form forward.

        That seems like a very unlikely scenario though.
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          May 8 2012: Hi LUke,

          We are not there yet. There is a softenning of borders, but they are still well and truly alive.

          Also, there is a lot of anouncement of technological breakthrough, but not a lot of implementation.

          ANd i agree, that whilever there is functional evolution (culture), then there will be no need for biological evolution. It is going to take a lot more evolution in other species to catch up with us.

          What I am trying to emphasise is that the human capacity for superior extropy is based on the secondary field of perception - the secondary field allows the sharing of perception beyond line of senses - a massive advantage in potential agency (field of extropy) - and this is the exact selective function that works in Biological Darwinian selection.
          That the principle of involution reduces the reliability of the secondary perceptive field and reduces our field of extropy. Involution prevents convergence of the empathetic pairs. In other words, we can not trust each other in the involuted competitive environment.
          In other words, we are narrowing teh selective gap between our species and others - giving them a way to compete with us more successfully. At that point we may need to evolve biologically - but why hasten the event? It will be a bad time.

          I feel this dynamic needs to be educated into humanity and promoted. It is all pretty obvious to me.

          (edit) What is not obvious is whether humans have teh capacity to run variable resonant pairs - we know about the 200-person limit in functional tribe size, what we don't know is whether we have a capacity to set up general pairs, converge them, then pack them away while the generic gets set up for a new convergence. I'd be looking for evidence in teh human brain that synaptic loadings can be dynamically reset via a third connective to teh synapse .. as far as i know, all synapses are simple binary connections. If a trinary synaptic structure is discovered, we will have th re-programable reonant pair. To exceed teh 200.
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          May 8 2012: You know .. The re-programable convergent pairs CAN be done in the higher cognitive spaces .. we all have a super-plastic region in the frontal corteces. These guys never settle - all the synapses remain fluid. So I suspect that our higher sensory, causal, convergent pairing systems can actually make these "pre-settable" structures.
          THe problem with doing stuff in the frontal corteces is that they have no default connection to teh body regulation .. they are not intrinsically convergent.

          But if we train the growing children to make such conections to self, then we can vastly expand our capacity for social engagement.

          Here's a nice insight:

          What is money?

          We have assumed it is the token of our contribution of value.

          It was once this, but now, it represents potential extropy.

          The redefintion from value to extropy is the driving force behind involuted competition.

          We MUST eliminate money if the human species is to survive.

          I know your frameworks of belief are already committed to money.

          Go deep and throw it off - it is a retrograde conceptual parasite.
      • May 8 2012: I'm not really replying to everything you're saying here, I don't have enough knowledge of the brains systems and structure to really add to your musings but I certainly appreciate them, your posts continue to be a very informative read. I hope you don't take my lack of a complete response as a sign of disinterest because it certainly is not.

        I've always found the idea of eliminating money a very appealing one conceptually and if it could be implemented practically, I think it would have the potential to be very beneficial to the quality of life for all humans.

        Unfortunately I don't believe we are at the point technologically and certainly not socially where it can be realized.

        Assuming that the energy crisis is solved and we have a virtually limitless flow of power and that robotics progresses to the point where it can completely replace the need for human physical labour, we could see some amazing things happen economically.

        If you have a self sustaining (they build and repair themselves) robot work force which maintains the energy system, the food production and delivery systems, the water delivery systems and construction, you are at a point where a human can theoretically live their life without the need to "work" at all.

        Even a partial expression of this utopian system would destroy a capitalistic economy since a company which produces goods for no cost and sells them is basically printing money. The closer we get to this, disparity will potentially increase to the point of where something stupid and crazy like 80% of the population is unemployed and living in poverty and the top 20% like live emperors.

        If we have it in us to revolt and turn this system on it's head, we might see a much better future.
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          May 8 2012: Hi Luke,

          I don't think that technology is going to get there in time.
          Much of human invention in the last millenia has been supressed by vested interests.
          It kind of ensures a collapse. It is how we reform after the collapse that matters.

          I have run scenarios about tribal dynamics, and our obsession with preventing "free loaders" is a false assumption. Freeloaders are not now, nor ever have been a problem because convergent resonance cures them. Sure, they exist, but they have never been a threat to the community.

          Money exists, primarily to prevent freeloading. It is uneccesary. Money has become a major parasitic conceptual construct that uses humans to exist. It is a meta-virus. Whilever community exerts to oversee the sharing of labour and fruit, there will be no need for the virus.

          Modern society must firstly eliminate usury - the concentration of massive amounts of potential extropy into the hands of a few humans gives rise to a few having god-like power, while still remaining simple humans - it destroys them and all they touch.
      • May 8 2012: The problem is that you don't get social change without pain and grief to motivate the apathetic masses into action.

        If people are comfortable enough they'll accept almost any amount of disparity, greed and hypocrisy.

        People are very good at making excuses for the rich and will argue all day long that the rich have earned their place and deserve to live like gods. Furthermore they'll justify poverty and almost any disgusting ill conditions as the punishment of the "lazy". I've heard people argue for the denial of medicine and welfare many times.

        As you say, it's this false perception that everyone will be a lazy freeloader if they can get away with it.

        Things need to get a lot worse before they can get better because it needs to be absolutely blindingly obvious before enough people will accept the truth and actually do something about it.
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          May 9 2012: Sadly, I agree.

          The root driving force for change is the "self". Damasio observed that the self is totaly governed by the mainenance of steady metabolism. Nothing actually needs to be changed unless that metabolism starts to fluctuate - or if there is a threat to that stability.
          As I have suggested, empathy produces a fluctuation in metabolism via the inherited links in the proxies - both self and "other".
          We are seeing a growing concern for those on the bottom of the competition pyramid. If the trend continues, then perhaps, the pain will get too much and change will happen before things get in our faces. Otherwise, it will be when the pain is being visited directly onto the self. And that will probably be too late for most.

          I can see a way for the promotion of empathy to head it all off.

          From another angle, I describe the process of life as a "self-organising system". It has a relationship with "truth". THe environment is percieved and stored in "belief", forecasts are run through those beliefs (simulations), outcomes that result in stability of self are converted via agency to produce physical change.
          CIrcumstances in "truth" are dynamic - change will be happening either by entropy or extropy - if the "belief" becomes outdated, agency will become inaccurate, and teh error forces the belief to shift.

          The problem is getting long term causal beliefs "noise-reduced" in secondary perceptive field. Much of what we are told (communication) is rubbish - it's very noisy. It is the noise in secondary perceptive field that keeps people from making long term decisions.
          Empathetic convergence is essential to trigger that noise reduction.
          The benefit of the doubt starts to drift towards "them" if empathy is allowed to give us a little pain. But not too much. THere is a threshold over which pain will prompt change, but there is an upper threshold beyond which will trigger a shutdown. I suppose this is the art of leadership - the (missing) balance.
      • May 9 2012: You're suggesting that creating exposure to those on the bottom of the pyramid and humanizing them in the larger public's perception is the key to accelerating a belief shift and therefore a shift in the physical changes agencies produce?

        I agree but there is nobody that can or will do so. Mass media is the best equipped to make this happen but their objective is the preservation of the status quo.

        This is a catch 22, you need to convince people to convince the media to convince the people to convince the media... etc

        There is a necessary critical mass and tipping point for this sort of thing and we are no where near it.

        I hate to be negative but I don't see how anything can happen or change to accelerate the natural and slow progression.

        On the other hand the occupy movement is at least something.
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          May 9 2012: Hi Luke,
          The term "Glacial" comes to mind .. but .. well, the glaciers themselves are accelerating .. it's like a hint .. we better "get it".

          THere is a terrible flaw in the one-way broadcast media. I have seen a video of a consulting session between a major British diss-informist and the local power-money people of heis country. Their anaysis is that broadcast media still holds sway amongst the majority, and not be too afraid of the emancipation of teh 2-way media presented in the internet. In a nutshell, the threat will never touch their comfort, but to be on the safe side, constrain the internet as much as possible as a rear-guard.

          Broadcast media is all propaganda - there is very little truth in it, and it does 2 things:
          It programs "sheep" to be shorn, and it injects noise into the secondary perceptional fields of humans to prevent them from exerting agency, and to overload empaths with fear.

          A third outcome is to enforce the economics of addiction - free to play /pay to win which is firstly exerted against the sexual bonding of pubescent humans to pornography, and then exerted against any sense of discomfort that would topple these horrible empires of addiction.

          If I was a terrorist, I would bomb every broadcast antana in the world. And a single housebrick sent into asymetric orbit would remove all the GPS and spy crap sent up to ensure that people onlly recieve pre-digested information..

          But I am not a terrorist. I am a master terrorist. I introduce the poison pill of teh existential prayer.

          This little simple pill will go right through the window.

          We just exert our goodwill to all, without word, without judgement.

          I can present many different versions of the existential prayer - for instance - for an entire day, resolve to smile at all you meet - no eye contact because that would invoke the defenses.

          Personally, my ritual is to "spin" those I am aware of "sunwards". But the pulse of goodwill can be resolved by everyone to develop their own way.
      • May 9 2012: If nothing else a relentless goodwill will have a strong positive effect on your sphere of influence and make both your own life and the life of those around you better.

        A lot of people see karma as either a mystical/spiritual force or a superstitious unfounded belief. I don't believe it is either of those things. If you treat the people around you badly, they will treat you badly for it. Some people try to subvert reciprocity with clever subtlety but there's always someone smarter than you to see through your manipulations.

        I feel like we've come full circle because the next subject which naturally occurs to me for discussion is understanding and forgiving those that do try to subvert reciprocity.

        I'm sure you'd be the first to argue that their behavior is a product of their poorly developed empathic convergence. When they hurt those around them, they do not feel it because they have a poorly defined proxy self for "them".

        If anything is the cure for a poorly developed empathic convergence, it's compassion and understanding.
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          May 9 2012: Ah Look Luke,

          To be viscerally exposed right now,

          My autistic son just showed me a u-tube episode of Mythbusters, and to my shame, I had to point out to him how every single one of their pseudo-scientific demonstrations was falsified .. this was particularly hard for me, because I had promoted Mythbusters in the past as teh layman's champion of science - only for my own son to demonstrate to me that they are no more than perverted propagandists.

          This was hard for me. I had to leave the house while the rage of my betrayal dissipated - I have a policy of leaving my rage at the doorstep so that the random over-blows of my pain do not hurt those I love. All men should learn this - it would go better for us.

          I walked and bought beer to numb my pain. But the sadness remains with me.

          I remember when I experimanted with match-heads -= how I could blow a hole through 1/4 inch plate steel with only 200 match heads - and then myth guys put a million matchheads in a barrel and ignited tehm thermally. I KNOW that if they ignited them percussively, they would have put themselves and their pathetic bullet-proof shield 3 universes over.

          So I gave them the benefit of the doubt - no one needs nukes while you can buy matches at the supermarket. derrr OK,

          But I just saw them doing a car-ballance on teh edge of a cliff with birds sitting on the hood - they deliberately moved the pivot point back enough to make the tipping point enough to drop a bunch of frozen chickens on teh bonnet before it tipped for nothing more than dramatic effect.

          These guys began representing teh scientific method and are now just propagandists at the service of corruption. I feel so betrayed. I wanna grab them and accuse them of teh dammage they are doing!

          Hey ho. Business as usual. I walked up the street doing my existential prayer.

          And when I got home, my son would not let me in the house untill I helped him chop wood.
          This is the power. Honesty. and even though he is autistic - he's better than me
        • May 9 2012: Hi, guys!
          May I cut in ? :)
          Karma is mystical/spiritual force and scientific/ quantummechanical description of interconnectedness. Don't see any contradiction here.
          And forgiveness is the way out from catch 22 vicious circle. It is summed up in the golden rule : " Don't do to others...." Because there are no 'others'. Instead of asking, why do you do this to me ?- one should ask : why do you do this to yourself ? It would be a correct question that arises compassion for those who hurt you, for 'they do not know what they do. '
          So, Luke, I am on your page here
          ".If anything is the cure for a poorly developed empathic convergence, it's compassion and understanding."
      • May 9 2012: A work colleague of mine has one child with autism and another with Asperger's and occasionally he tells me about the difficulties of parenting them but I have no direct experience with either. I think your son is lucky to have someone with the intelligence and emotional awareness that you seem to have.

        I haven't watched mythbusters or even television for years now. I have no desire to do so when there are virtual spaces like this to interact with people. I would be inclined to believe that misinformation from myth busters is as likely to come from a genuine ignorance on their part as it is to come from a deliberate desire to misinform but, who knows? Even if they are misinforming, their portrayal of science as "cool" is going to have a positive impact regardless.

        There is still a stigma in society with being too smart or "nerdy" which seems to be dissipating over time. That's one thing that seems to be going in the right direction.
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          May 9 2012: Yes, well AUtism has advanced from one in 500 to one in 30 in the space of about 50 years.

          This is the acceleration of glaciers .. so I am not too worried - the Earth does its business, and we just live on it.

          But .. well, my time is soon over. The best i can do is find causal bridges for me and my fellow neanderthals to deilver whatever value we have to give. There is no way that the old homo sapiens can survive what is coming up - but our new children have been cast wide to penetrate the vanishing window.

          This is an exciting and hopeful time.

          I am at peace - I am not afraid, and all will be well.

          I have done my best with eyes open. I now conceded that my eyes can never see enough.

          My legacy will be the reduction of noise in secondary metaspace as a starting point for those far better than me.

          This is not suicidal - I want to see it. And I want to rest and watch.

          I know it is going to be very hard for us neanderthals, but I am ready.

          These new children will be the masters of time. We cannot possibly comprehend, I have had glimpses .. no more .. they will see it all.

          This is well worth the effort.

          ALl the great talkers on TED can see it coming, I take time to let them open my eyes for the briefest glimpse. ANd I know I am not alone.

          At one time I considered fame and fortune, now I seek obscurity and poverty - by this I am a million more times powerful. And all is well. I am the bridge - i will be burned. This is how it must be.

          If I can ease the passage for another human - even one. I will have done my work. And that is more than enough
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    May 6 2012: If doing something to help others is selfish in some way, practically who cares?
    It is better than being selfish and not doing anything to help other people.

    Absolutes are just a philosophical rabbit hole - does absolute selflessness exist?
    Does free will absolutely exit?
    Can be believe we know the absolute truth of anything?

    In practical human terms is does not matter. Some acts are more or less selfish/selfless than others.

    Some beliefs are more or less justified than others.
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    May 6 2012: Hi Abraham,

    The word "selfish" is a very slippery word. IT has been loaded with a pejoritive association via an assumption that is not explicit in the utterance of teh word "selfish".
    That hidden assumption is the inference of "unfair advantage".

    When you strip the hidden inference and clean the word to say exactly what it is "self - ish".
    Then of course, all acts done by the entity are, by definition, self-ish to that entity.
    How then could you say that an act committed by your self is "other-person-ish".
    In that, I'd say that only actors and pretenders strive to be "other-person-ish".
    ANd that can be the only pure sense of un-self-ish.

    Here is where the problem lies:
    YOur true "self" is defined by your reference to your static body functions.
    This is called, the proto-self.
    Then there is the core-self that conducts agency via that proto-self.
    The proto and core selves are tightly linked to the senses, motor and regulatory systems.
    Thes links operate very fast and are largely "sub-conscious"
    THen there are the proxy-selves that we create in order to code/decode communication and run simulations of potential action (agency). THey are like "actors".
    These proxies are not sub-conscious.
    For empathetic resonant convergence (required for communication) we create a pair of proxies - one for personal self and one for "other" - initially they are both copies of core self - complete with connection to body regulation intact.
    It is this connection to body regulation that provides the dynamic for empathetic convergence: what happens to the "other" proxy is felt in our own body (to some extent).
    AS interaction occurs with "other" these pairs mutually converge. By mutual convergence they diverge from core self.
    In effect, all that we recognise as "other" is in fact a version of self.

    What we regard as an "un-self-ish" act is an act that is done on behalf of the "other" proxy.

    Thus, selfish can quite easily be unselfish. It is the basis of empathy that defines us.
  • May 5 2012: Honestly, it depends on the person. Performing a completely selfish act is very rare, but it is possible. When it does happen most of the time it either comes from a naturally selfLESS person or a random act of kindness by a normal person who barely gave it any thought.
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    May 5 2012: I am very happy that it is impossible to perform an unselfish act. I am very glad that when I do something nice for another human being, I feel good about myself... It keeps society working.
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    May 5 2012: I agree with some parts of Mr.Gerald O'brlan.
    First, I think, the key question is "What is SELFISH?" Actually, most of the time, this word is used to describe a person's negative characteristic. However, in my opinion, SELFISH also is just a nature tendency of person's mind.You do something for yourself, maybe that can also be defined as SELFISH.
    So, if you want to answer this question, it just depends on HOW you define this word.
    Maybe you can define it more accurately. I am willing to talk further~I quite enjoy this topic!

    Second, perceptually, I choose to believe that there are some actions is unselfish. :-P But, I have to say, for example, if a person donates most of his money to charity, Is that unselfish? But, what about those positive emotion-- like pride and happiness-- himself produces? He actually acquires something though it is psychological. Further more, what if the money he once owned was earn illegally? He donates for releasing the feeling of guilt......Then, things may go more complicated.
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    May 5 2012: Logically, IF every act is selfish then no act can be unselfish without violating the Law of Non-contradiction which says nothing can be both A and Not A.
    • May 5 2012: I would appreciate if you could elaborate. I try and to research "Law of Non-contradiction", but still don't really understand. I would love more of your insight.
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        May 5 2012: Simply put, Mr.Benitez, rules of Logic do not allow something to both true and false. It is not permissible for a specific act to be completely unselfish and completely selfish.
        Your first statement (aka Premise) is that "every act is selfish." From this initial statement I can build a logical proof (aka syllogism) as follows:
        1- Sharing my food with a needy person was an act.
        2- All acts are selfish.
        3- Sharing my food was selfish. (At this point if I said sharing my food was unselfish I would be contradicting my second statement and that is not allowed in Logic). These three statements together constitute an Argument in Logic. I hope this helps, but remember, check everything for yourself, that's how you learn!
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    May 5 2012: In my opinion it depends on what you think is selfish. What if your goals are not focused on yourself, but rather on the wellbeing of other people, would it be selfish? Even if you let them take their own decisions and only give them the resources or opportunities to achieve a more virtuous life?

    Now, you could say the choice is not yours. You let chance (tossing a coin) decide what your goal in life is, even if it is the opposite of what you want: would that be selfish? Maybe you can only be unselfish if you are unaware of the effects and have not defined any goals to chase after. Though most people would call that insanity I believe.
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    May 5 2012: The problem with giving change to the homeless is that although it may seem like money down the drain (litterarily) it's in fact a by-product of a selfish behaviour.
    It pays to be generous, evolutionnary-wise.

    Also, what about the warm feeling you get when you've been altruistic? Are you not being generous because it makes you happy? A truly altrustic action is one that would get you depressed. Such as paying taxes to finance a fake search for weapons of mass destruction.

    Seriously, though, an unselfish act is an impossible thing to perform. If you're doing it willingly, then you have your reasons. And if you have reasons, then you're doing it for you.