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Son Huynh

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Is it true that we do things mostly for our benefits?

I have stumbled across someone saying that "As human beings, everything we do is because of our own benefits. Even when we choose to help someone, we do it because the kind act brings us happiness."

To some extent it is true. What do you think about this point of view?

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  • Jul 20 2013: To the full extent this is true, in prehistoric times humans needed to protect and care for themselves in order to survive, (due to climatic conditions and the very powerful animals they were up against). The humans who ended up helping each other were driven to do so as a result of having genes that released oxytocin (a neuro-chemicle that makes one happy) into their brains whenever they helped someone. The humans not born with this trait died out in the process of natural selection. Basically, Son Huynh, if humans could just help other humans without feeling good, they wouldn't have evolved to feel good whenever they helped another. And by the way, the reason prehistoric humans were never able to rationally determine that, in order to survive, they must help each other like modern humans would was because the rational part of the brain, the neocortex, hadn't existed yet and so the only ones who helped each other needed to have oxytocin released in their brain to want to engage in such prosaically behaviour.
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      Jul 20 2013: "The humans not born with this trait died out in the process of natural selection."

      How sure are you about this?
      • Jul 22 2013: I heard this in a Nat Geo documentary. Basically, it was about why the Neanderthals died out and one of the theories discussed was that they died out because they were not driven to cooperate as much as other humans were, and so they could not distribute food adequately and thus died out.
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      Jul 20 2013: Wow thank you for your information. That is a lot to take it. Is it real though?
      • Jul 22 2013: I first heard the theory on a Nat Geo documentary a long time, so I don't have any articles. Here is something confirming that the neocortex (which literally means new cortex) is important in critical thinking. Also, I made a mistake, the neocortex did exist back then, but the scientists said it was not as developed as it is now, I mis-wrote.

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