TED Conversations

Jordan Reeves

TED-Ed Community Manager, TED Conferences


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In ten words or less, what is a question no one (yet) knows the answer to?

Is there life outside of our planet?

What's a bigger factor in our development: environment or genetics?

Is there any real truth, or is everything relative?

What will the earth be like in 100 years?

Topics: answers questions

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    Dec 8 2011: How do you rid the world of greed?
    • Dec 8 2011: Define greed
      • Dec 8 2011: According to OWS, anyone with money.
      • Dec 8 2011: desire for more than what is needed
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          Dec 9 2011: Then define what is "needed"? From my perspective you may have more than needed, and from yours you would still not have what you need. Relative. Everyone is greedy in someone else's eyes, and noone truly desire more than he needs (wants) becouse its just paradox. You always need what you want for some reason, by some (and for sure yours) point of view.
        • Dec 11 2011: "desire for more than is needed."
          define needed. As in needed by me today, ie : btu's of heat, calories of energy, etc... or needed for the security of myself and my progeny, ie: a college fund, retirement plan, World Safe For Democracy, etc...
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        Dec 12 2011: The love of material wealth as an end rather than a means.
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      Dec 8 2011: Why would you like to rid the world of greed? The greed is our nature. We want MORE money, more knowledge, more experiences, more dreams coming true, more love, more happiness... If you take that away we will not live anymore. Greed is what make us develop as humans and society. Greed is what make people interact freely with each other for their own personal gains, making it work like a charm. Why changing it?
      • Dec 8 2011: i think there's a difference between greed and ambition. with negative and positive connotations respectively.
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          Dec 9 2011: Ambition is fueled by greed. It is not defect - its healthy, natural trait.

          edit: Or maybe we should say: "Ambition" and "greed" is the same thing but from different perspectives? ;)
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          Dec 10 2011: Greed is the opposite of being altruistic... Greed is imposed upon us by society; our constant need for more even though we provide less. Why did Madoff need more money? Is there a point in time when it no longer matters? Conversely, there is no real altruism. To be altruistic, one needs to shun all gratification to the benefit of others.... but.... isn't the act of altruism a form of greed in that the altrusitic person receives graification from someone's approval, gain, and acceptance? Ergo, greed is not necessarily a physical experience.
        • Dec 11 2011: As to the existence of Altruism, mathematically the best solution to the prisoners dillema is "Forgiving Tit for Tat", as in do unto others as they have done to you, but periodically extend the hand of friendship no matter what, to see if you can improve the relationship. This would imply the intrinsic benifts of what we call generosity of spirit and compassion have a root in self interest. Or conversely, that self interest benifits from compassion.
          Perhaps anonymous generosity would qualify, but the self-rewards involved in having done the good deed could be classed as self interest.
          personally I think altruism is an abstract we construct, and it is as real as money, as long as we believe in it it works, but when we don't, it loses it's value.
          Respectfully, go read a biography of William Wilberforce and then tell mr there is no altruism.
      • Dec 9 2011: greed: excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions. (dictionary.com). i think the words 'excessive' and 'rapacious' are key parts of the definition. I also think what you mean to say is that desire is a healthy natural trait. greed is by definition unhealthy. ambition is not necessarily fueled by greed. it is a form of desire though.
      • Dec 9 2011: the only things man truly needs is proper shelter and nourishment. greed for material objects and money gives power to transient objects that are subject to destruction and permanent loss of power. But greed is also as you said natural it makes us want things that give us benefit, but when mixed with deception and money it becomes detrimental to society.
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      Dec 8 2011: When we are all equal and treated equally..when there is no poverty and richness..when we all get our share of everything equally and when being complacent is the norm.
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        Dec 9 2011: Now that would be a nightmare. Thanks God its impossible.
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        Dec 9 2011: Boy, sounds like a short story by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. called "Harrison Bergeron."

      • Dec 13 2011: I don't think that ecomonic equality and complacency are predicated on one another.

        There may be a lesson in hunter gatherer societies there for us, where taking more than your needs was often met with shunning, rather than the adulation and reinforcement we give the rich in this culture. After all we don't necessarily want equality if it means everyone is poor, but rather we want everyone to be rich. Or just us.

        I read recently that if you have an income of $45,000 in Canada, ( roughly equivilent to the States at present rates) then you are among the richest 1% of the worlds population. The richest 1% of the Canadian population earns an average of $400,000. There are several coutries where $400 per annum is a good income.

        Thism sets up an interesting series of ratio's. the middle class in the wealthy nations resent those who earn less than ten times as much, and forget those who earn more than a hundred times less. True, this is not a scientific point, but it is glaringly unbalanced just the same.
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      Dec 9 2011: Teach the difference between needs and wants. (7)
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        Dec 9 2011: You can lead a horse to water, but can you make him think?
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        Dec 10 2011: THen try to teach the difference between good and evil... its relative, subjective and depends entirely on perspective.
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      Dec 9 2011: remove all the humans from the planet.
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          Dec 11 2011: Jordan,

          My point wasn't negative, but rather realistic in pointing out that greed is part of human nature and fostered by human nurture. Don't believe me? I don't see sperm trying to share an egg very often if they can help it.
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        • Dec 11 2011: All negation is not negativity. Balance requires mitigation of extremes, and inclusion of opposing perspectives. Pragmatism and realism specify that sometimes the glass is half full, sometimes it is half empty, depending on wether you are pouring or drinking. Context is often as important as content.

          Possession is implicit with existence, my food, my mother, etc.. greed, as with all subjective terms is more context than anything else. Is it greedy to feed your children while others go hungry?

          Me... i blame the bag.. think on it , before the bag, (or perhaps the gourd), you could only possess two things at a time, the one in your left hand and the one in your right. Hunter gatherers are, so far, histories only sucessful communists.
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          Dec 11 2011: Negativity can be very healthy when faced with "fright or flight" situations (however, those are few and far between these days) where being positive would get you killed. Unfortunately, people spend more time being negative than being positive and social networking seems to attract that behaviour more than is healthy, so from that point of view, I agree.

          However, my point, back to the original question, was the only way to remove greed from the planet was to remove humans (since it is impossible to remove greed from 100% of the population). There was a movie with Ricky Gervais, The Invention of Lying, that comes to mind that could apply to greed as it did to lying.
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        • Dec 11 2011: In addition to shared language, conventions of understanding are required for communication. You well know that I refer to the poured or consumed substance, rather than the air in the glass, the microbacteria on its rim, or the "potential" it contains. Tell your gas tank there is no such thing as empty, or your stomach. Empty is conditional, and begs the question empty of what? The relevant substance. Potential would only be relevant if I could pour it or drink it.

          Potential is an abstract, not a reality, we conferr potential through perception and prediction, it is not implicit, but inferred. If there were no observer to percieve, there is no potential in the glass. (The potential energy of an elevated object in a gravity well is another matter entirely.)

          You might further note the importance of "Context is often as important as content." to the paragraph, and understand my confusion at your decision to thus take it out of context.

          Edit : this was in response to a comment since deleted.
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          Dec 11 2011: Some see the glass as twice the size necessary for the amount of liquid (looking at it from the liquid's perspective rather than the glass). But even then, from the glasses perspective, the glass is full; half with water and half with air.
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        • Dec 12 2011: I was responding to the universal statement that "negativity is unhealthy". Responding to that comment does not, to my perspective, alter the context one whit.

          Pessimism and optimism are extemes, and I assert a more balanced outlook is more productive. I would not argue against looking for the best in events, but pessimism had real survival value during the Black Death, Stalin's Russia, etc...

          Looking for the bright side when you have wandered into a mine field is simply obtuse.As for the glass, I am afraid your perpective wil not alter the water to vodka when it comes time for a breathalyzer. Perpective gives meaning to events, but the physical environment we all share cares little about your opinion of gravity, or percieved value of your being able to fly. ( I whistle distractedly as I pass a physiscist doing the classic double slit experiment)

          By "out of context" I reffer to the fact that your reponse in no way addressed the question of the viability of negativity. Instead it rehashed old and tired responses to the admitedly over used glass cliche.

          By the way, how did telling your gas tank that there was no such thing as empty work out for you?
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