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Does altruism exist?

Don't misunderstand me. I believe in altruism...sometimes. When I'm thinking about altruism, i'm always thinking about sacrifice, sacrifice our own existence, endangering our survival for benefits of others. There are a lot of altruistic behavior in nature, many animals are exposed to danger to save the life of their own.

But, what happens with altruism in human? It is clear that human helps. But its clear too that human is selfish. When human have an altruistic behavior, the human feels good. Maybe this feeling is the key, maybe the altruistic human does good things for others because human wants to feel good, therefore, if we see like a range of values, human really wants to feel good first and how is it possible? helping others. Is this a real altruism? Or human has an instinct of sacrificing himself for others too?

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    Nov 17 2011: wow !
    I completely agree with what you`re saying !
    I thought no one thinks like me !
    I believe that no alturism and in conclusion no "good" and "bad" exists.
    the people do all things just to their own benefits and "just sometimes and accidently" two people have common benefits.
    maybe I do something to benefit other one which apparently harms me - but actually I did it because of my own mentally satisfaction.
    and I believe that the human has 4 passions : eating - sexual - power (stronest one) and feeling to be useful.
    sometimes that it seemed the behaviors are just because of the fourth passion.
    I hope my thoughts be useful to you.
  • Nov 19 2011: The example of altruistic behavior in nature I suspect is not a good definition. I would suggest it is much more probable that the fight or flight, or in this case protect the young, response is a conditioned response for most of us....as is those heroic acts many perform. By a somewhat strict definition altruism can't exist since in doing something there is, in theory, a reward to the giver and any act can be interpreted that way. On the other hand there are selfless acts that go beyond instinct or self reward. That definition is personal and need only be defined by us individually.
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    Nov 17 2011: Yes, it certainly exists and many people today are highly motivated to prove its nonexistence.
    The very best examples of a truly selfless acts usually occur when humanity is at its worst.
    One example is the older sister who submits to ongoing sexual abuse to save her younger siblings. If you cannot find altruism in the stories from Auschwitz-Birkenau -you are not looking or do not care to see. What pleasure was there in the gifts of self that were offered in these scenarios?
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      Nov 17 2011: Exactly. Excellent example. That's why I said: "I believe in altruism...sometimes" This the best example to define altruism. I think human altruism exists in some cases, like helping people with a degree of kinship; you are altruistic when you have feelings of group loyalty or "honor". In the example that you have just said that older sister was..like... pressured by the situation, and yes, in that case I'm agree with you, there was altruism, because she felt she had to protect her family.

      However, what would happen if they would say that she has to submit to ongoing sexual abuse to save not her younger siblings, but to save another person that she doesn't know, and lives in another part of the world? She would submit anyway? or she wouldn't care..? I don't know what to think. I'm talking about human morality, about human nature. Maybe i'm too young but I think that human is more selfish than generous or altruistic. I base myself on facts... but nature always has exceptions.
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    Nov 17 2011: Please read Dawkin's The Selfish Gene.
    It's a page-turner, you'll love it, I promise.
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    Nov 17 2011: Yes look into Evolutionary psychology. Kinship, reciprocity are the main reasons and a couple of more . Group loyalty. Superiority. There that's me.