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Gene Doray

Vice Principal, Educator - High School

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What is your greatest passion and how have you been able to develop and sustain it?

I am curious about when people developed a long standing passion and what caused them to become inspired by the topic/activity. Did you discover it on your own or was it the result of the modelling of others. Is there greater motivation to act primarily for self improvement or for the betterment of others?

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  • Aug 31 2011: My passion is simply narcissistic and involves a desire to demonstrate my superiority and be admired for it. I, therefore, need to cultivate my passion in a way that allows me to press my vanity into the service of humanity.

    Also, anyone who, unlike me, doesn't disclose their self-interested desires for the pursuit of their passions is either someone just as vain as me but is lying to save their anonymous face and conform to the politely-veil-your-intentions form of social etiquette that has become popular, or they lack self-knowledge and are unable to accurately excavate and give voice to their intentions...or, a dash of the latter, and a tinge of the former.

    There is a bit of irony here inside social etiquette than only certain astute minds can discern--an irony similar to the one I observe during Halloween. People don a mask in order to disguise themselves and temporarily play a character or a role that is supposed to be pure fantasy. Instead, I observe that the mask only reveals their personality and find that the role they play is just as fantastic. Make-believe is over, kids.

    Another Irony is that the vanity that animates me is the truth to be told, and not some happy-go-lucky, introspectively shallow sense of altruistic "I want to make other's happy" motivation. Yeah, I get more pleasure when I lay down in a cold bed on a hot day than I do pain of knowing that some child from across the seas has just died of bird flu. Self-interest is our primary impulse, and lip and finger service to the contrary is a form of self-deception to which I cannot give temperance.

    The irony with which i will conclude is, in my candid confession, I'm actually the one promoting truth above vanity, as opposed to the bleating sheeple who proclaim altruism. Personally, I think they are people in desperate need to be coddled and approved of, and who deserve to be fleeced and placed naked in front of a mirror to witness themselves in the skin they've been hiding the entire time.
    • Aug 31 2011: I think you can be self- interested and help others at the same time; especially if you happen to like people and like to see things change around you... I think self interest is good because then you are guided by what you really care about as opposed to good intentions... of course approval probably comes into it too... but show me the person who doesn't need somebody's approval!
      • Aug 31 2011: "I think you can be self- interested and help others at the same time; especially if you happen to like people and like to see things change around you"

        That's exactly it. The benefits that reciprocity bestows upon our species is a simple intuitive and rational truth. I think one could modestly assert that it's an intuitive law of our concrete jungle that we are able to rationally and morally reason to. I think it's just as much of a base instinct as fear. However, I only want to make a distinction between the self-interested principles with which nature equipped us, and the feigned self-interested principles with which the deceitful ploys of society equips us. I'm not judging these separate postures as isolated events, instead i'm venturing to judge some of their implications. Granted, I didn't get to exhaust my critique on these matters given the allotted keystrokes, so, whatever opinions and information I hereby submit to you are not an effort to object to your reply. They are merely meant as an addendum to my initial and inadequate post.

        "I think self interest is good because then you are guided by what you really care about as opposed to good intentions"

        I'm not sure what you mean by this. By this logic, it is "good" to behave as one would do without "good intentions", regardless of where those good intentions come from. I could be guided by my thirst for blood and it'd be "good." I understand that it's possible you don't mean to suggest that.

        "of course approval probably comes into it too... but show me the person who doesn't need somebody's approval!"

        Inside this comment is another distinction I would like to make--and it's the difference between the degree of 'needing' and 'wanting' approval--which, by the way, includes the approval one can give oneself. And, may I inquire as to what that person "who doesn't need somebody's approval" may look like when shown to you?
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          Sep 2 2011: QUOTE: ""I think you can be self- interested and help others at the same time; especially if you happen to like people and like to see things change around you. ... That's exactly it."

          This is a very "human" comment; and a very "human" response. Which is appropriate under the circumstances. However, both comments assume that selfishness and selflessness lie entirely in the domain of what we commonly refer to as free will; and they assume there is a difference between what motivates selfish and altruistic behaviour. It also imbues the actions, selfish or otherwise, with a degree of moral rectitude or lack thereof that may or may not be present.

          These considerations of a moral nature might be totally absent in the processes that underlie and motivate our behaviour. That is, action might be motivated by, say, genetics. And, at that level, "good" would simply be that which leads to survival.

          "Bad" would not exist.

          Why?

          Because any entity that engaged in what we (as humans) would call "bad" behaviour, would cease to exist. The outcome would be quite literally meaningless to "them" ... because there would be no "them" at all. The dodo does not "care" that it is extinct.
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      Aug 31 2011: Hi Christopher,

      A brave (selfish yet paradoxically altruistic) confession.

      I agree with much of what you say. However, I would add that anyone who would assert categorically that:

      "... anyone who, unlike me, doesn't disclose their self-interested desires for the pursuit of their passions is either someone just as vain as me but is lying to save their anonymous face and conform to the politely-veil-your-intentions form of social etiquette that has become popular, or they lack self-knowledge and are unable to accurately excavate and give voice to their intentions...or, a dash of the latter, and a tinge of the former"

      lacks a depth of self-knowledge that would embrace and transcend (without negating) such a statement.
      • Aug 31 2011: Please, explain. I'm interested to hear why.
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          Aug 31 2011: Because of the manner in which the brain processes information, it is a difficult idea to convey.

          One aspect is we mistake information for knowledge.

          I"ll give you a more complete explanation of my comment later ... It's 7:30 a.m. here in China and I am just heading out for work.
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          Sep 1 2011: Christopher,

          I think I will have to give you my reply "in pieces." Time is tight and I'm also tired.

          I'll start with: "anyone who would assert categorically that [insert statement] lacks a depth of self-knowledge ..."

          Your statement assumes a total understanding of human nature, not only as it pertains to oneself, but also as it pertains to all others.

          I suggest the statement is (more likely) based on an internalized, coherent and sophisticated model that purports to explain human volition. In other words, you might be mistaking information for knowledge.

          The problem with models is they are all false. Useful but false. For example, Newtons' model is useful but false - as is Einstein's, and so on. In another field we might use Freud, Skinner, and others as examples of people who have created useful but not completely accurate models.

          From a cognitive, and even a functional, perspective, our models may appear real, accurate and robust. But no model, which is to say no thought, represents reality accurately, let alone completely.

          A useful metaphor might be "the horizon." The horizon appears to exist. It does not. It is a perceptual illusion. It is a model we have constructed, and labeled, to help us make sense of our world - as we see it. The fact that our model "horizon" is not an accurate representation of reality doesn't really matter in any significant sense - unless we are navigators.
      • Sep 1 2011: Ok, I look forward to it.
    • Sep 1 2011: Hi Christopher, you provide much food for thought, though I wanted to clarify that my question regarding the motivation behind people's passions was actually "self improvement" - as opposed to self interest. Perhaps that is 6 of one, half dozen of another, but at least in my mind, self interest may have the greater association to the vanity which you describe, while self improvement could actually contain altruistic intentions. Also, what a person is passionate about may be a source of pride, but it could also be a source of shame - depending on how it is perceived in the eyes of society. What it is that maintains and feeds the passion in light of either situation intrigues me. Thanks for your contribution!
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      Sep 1 2011: Wow! Passion must have dropped the mirror for narcissicm. Maybe start at altruism and work from there!
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        Sep 1 2011: QUOTE: "Maybe start at altruism and work from there!"

        There is a strong argument that, from a biological perspective, altruism, is ultimately a selfish act.*

        * Technically, from an evolutionary perspective: see, for example, Richard Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene."
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      Sep 3 2011: Christopher. I believe it is true what you say but I find something jaded in the frankness of the delivery, an almost "dare me to be wrong" sentiment that smacks more of self interest and ego fortification than the original subject matter. I think it is also very clever that your "ego self enrichment" sounding statement supports your original statements argument, on initial inspection, which makes it very hard to distinguish where or if your sentiments have a flaw. In its truest sense, your statement appears correct but it is also a facet in behavioral terms of the human species and most all other higher level thinking species in a most instinctual sense, one of survival. If one could accept that absolute altruism could not exist in higher level thinking species, due to personal survival needs at the most basic instinctual levels, then I think your statement would fall down. I appreciate your statments and consider it a great discussion point.

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