Archives for posts with tag: altruism

“Jack goes to his friend Mike and says, “I’m sleeping with the pastor’s wife.
Can you hold him in church for an hour after services for me?”

The friend doesn’t like it but being a friend, he agrees.
After the services, he starts talking to the pastor, asking him all sorts of stupid questions, just to keep him occupied.
Finally the pastor gets annoyed and asks Mike what he’s really up to.
Mike, feeling guilty, finally confesses to the pastor… “My friend is screwing your wife right now, so he asked me to keep you occupied.”

The pastor smiles, puts a brotherly hand on Mike’s shoulder and says… “You’d better hurry home now.
My wife died five years ago.” “

Found on HotRodders.com

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Just another proof that so many of us, theists and atheists alike, make the same mistake, unknowingly.
Basically there is no way to determine whether the world has been made by a god or even if one exists at all yet both sides try to prove their point by invoking what each of them thinks he did or should have done:
“I know there is a god because he told me so – ‘we all have a close and personal relation with God’ “
“Why the almighty god would allow…”
What about trying another tack?
How about keeping our intimate convictions to ourselves?
Do you know what all religions have in common?
‘Love thy neighbors as if they were your brothers’!
At some point the atheist said that each of us interpret the notion of god according to the culture into which each of us has been raised.
How about each of us taking a step further – as in out off the bubble into which we isolate ourselves – and notice that we have a lot of things in common and very few differences?
So, in reality what’s keeping us from truly respecting our neighbors?
Our pride, maybe?
Did I tell you that this is the second thing that most religions have in common?
That pride is considered by most as the hardest obstacle on the road to redemption?

huge errors

a. Asking your broker for advice. If he had any reliable understanding of the market he would have been trading his own money for his own profit, not your money for a lousy commission.

b. That you can buy your way out of every situation you’ve got yourself into. You will, eventually, use all the canned goods and ammo you were able to buy. And no, buying huge amounts of any of them won’t help either. The more goods you have the more ‘attractive’ to the thieves you become so you’ll have to hire a lot of guards. Who, at some point, might decide that they don’t need you to tell them what to do: they have the real power and all that you really have under your ‘command’ is the receipt for the goods. What good will that do for you in a lawless world?

How about becoming your own man? Learn to make your own trading decisions, to grow your own food and to become a person who is respected for his ability to help those around him, not for what he owns. Canned goods, ammo, whatever…

I believe you are already familiar with this meme.
Here’s what I’d have used as a caption:
The older I get the more I realize that during my last days I might depend heavily on those around me.
Hence I started to treat them fairly, just as I expect them to treat me towards the end of my life.
Most of them responded in kind.
Therefore the older I get, the more I enjoy life.

Boy… do I see it coming?
Yes!
So what?!?
Like the man just said, it’s our duty as human beings to act as such.

And here is the other side of the story:

In Roma antica se spunea ‘Fiat justitia, ruat caelum’.
In general aceasta fraza este tradusa prin: ‘Sa se faca dreptate chiar de ar fi sa cada cerurile’.
Am propus mai demult o alta interpretare: ‘Sa avem grija ca justitia sa fie cu adevarat dreapta pentru ca altfel ne va cadea cerul in cap’.

Lucrurile au inceput din nou sa se incinga pe malurile Dambovitei.

Mi-am adus aminte ca pe aici e mai populara varianta ‘Fiat iustita et pereat mundus’, evident cu traducerea echivalenta: ‘Faca-se dreptate chiar de ar fi sa vina sfarsitul lumii’.

Cum de cativa ani incoace Google functioneaza chiar bine am vrut sa vad ce mai poate fi gasit pe aceasi tema prin cotloanele netului.

Surpriza…

Cica varianta cu sfarsitul lumii nu provine din Antichitate – dupa cum ar sugera limba in care este formulata – ci a fost “Deviza lui Ferdinand I de Habsburg (1563–1564), întemeietorul monarhiei austriece, rege al Boemiei şi al Ungariei (1526), împărat germanic de la 1558 la 1564, fratele mai mic al lui Carol Quintul”.

Si mai interesant este insa faptul ca Immanuel Kant a folosit o varianta a acestei expresii, pe care a ‘tradus-o’ intr-un mod mult mai folositor pentru oricine este preocupat cu adevarat de problema asta:

“The true but somewhat boastful sentence which has become proverbial, Fiat iustitia, pereat mundus (“Let justice reign even if all the rascals in the world should perish from it”), is a stout principle of right which cuts asunder the whole tissue of artifice or force. But it should not be misunderstood as a permission to use one’s own right with extreme rigor (which would conflict with ethical duty); it should be understood as the obligation of those in power not to limit or to extend anyone’s right through sympathy or disfavor.”

Am dat citatul in engleza pentru ca nu stiu daca voi fi in stare sa traduc suficient de bine si ‘spiritul’ spuselor lui Kant. Voi incerca totusi:

“Expresia ‘Fiat justitia, pereat mundus’ (faca-se dreptate chiar daca ar fi sa piara toate canaliile din cauza asta), adevarata cu toate ca are in ea destula fanfaronada, exprima un puternic principiu de drept si dezvaluie realitatea din spatele cortinei alcatuita din farsa si agresivitate. Mare grija totusi, ea nu trebuie inteleasa ca un indemn catre utilizarea unui drept pana la ultima sa consecinta (acest lucru ar intra in conflict cu ideea de datorie etica) ci ca obligatie a celor de la putere ca acestia sa imparta dreptatea in mod egal, fara sa tina cont de simpatiile sau antipatiile lor.”

Kant nu se osteneste sa mentioneze explicit si ce se va intampla cu cei care nu ii respecta sfaturile.
Sa-i fi considerat oare, in mod implict, ‘canalii’?

Pana la urma chiar si cei mai idealisti dintre noi sunt de acord ca idea de justitie a pornit tocmai de la viata de zi cu zi. In care ne-am convins, cu totii, ca nici o colectivitate umana nu functioneaza cu adevarat bine atata vreme cat membrii ei, toti membrii ei, nu se se simt in largul lor.

Atunci cand unii incep sa fure ceilalti incep sa isi piarda increderea in semenii lor. Relatiile dintre membrii societatii se deterioreaza foarte mult, ba chiar ajung sa se blocheze.
Atunci cand unii incep sa se foloseasca de forta pentru a-si impune punctul de vedere – de la talharie pana la dictatura armata – indivizii obisnuiti, indiferent de tabara din care se intampla sa faca fata, sufera o serie de transformari care, insumate, conduc la o degradare marcata a intregii societati. A se vedea soarta comunitatilor de pirati, a societatilor dominate de Mafie sau a dictaturilor – de orice coloratura.

Daca stam bine sa ne gandim, balanta justitiei nu cantareste doar meritele relative ale celor doua parti supuse actului de judecata ci si efectele produse asupra intregii comunitati  de insusi modul in care este administrata functionarea justitie.
Este foarte important ca o sentinta sa fie justa dar este cel putin la fel de important ca respectiva sentinta sa fie adoptata mergand pe ‘drumuri drepte’ si nu ‘luand-o pe scurtatura’.

Principiul cu ‘mai bine sa scape 99 de vinovati decat sa fie pedepsit pe nedrept un singur nevinovat’ nu are ca scop protejarea vinovatilor ci pe membrii de rand ai societatii, vinovati si nevinovati laolalta.
Respectarea stricta a acestui principiu convinge foarte repede populatia de corectitudinea sistemului judiciar si conduce la cresterea rapida a coeziunii sociale si a cooperarii dintre oamenii ‘obisnuiti’ si ‘oamenii legii’.Iar pentru ca acest principiu sa fie respectat nu este nevoie sa fie ‘lasat sa scape’ nici macar unul dintre cei 99 ci doar ca fiecare condamnare sa fie facuta abia dupa ce au fost administrate probe suficiente pentru a spulbera si orice urma de indoiala cu privire la vinovatia acuzatului. Nu este de ajuns ca o sentinta sa satisfaca ethosul colectiv de la un moment dat. Acesta se poate schimba foarte repede insa soarta unui om nu poate fi data inapoi, ca ceasul.

Dupa cum nici cerurile nu mai pot fi urcate la locul lor, dupa ce ne vor fi cazut in cap.
Si daca mai continuam asa… nu mai dureaza mult.

Scriam cu ceva vreme in urmă că depresia este si o boala a societatii, nu doar a oamenilor. De fapt ideea nu este foarte originală, a fost prezentată pe larg, chiar dacă ușor altfel, de către Durkheim în „Sinuciderea”. N-am menționat acest lucru atunci pentru că mi s-a părut nepotrivit să vorbești despre sinucidere în casa deprimatului.

Numai că viața bate blogul.
La câteva zile după asta tot ce au putut cu adevărat face serviciile de urgență pentru o femeie disperată care amenința că se aruncă de pe bloc a fost să aștepte 35 de ore înainte de a o aduna cu fărașul de pe trotuar.

Foto: Octav Ganea // Mediafax

”Negociatorii Poliţiei Capitalei au ţinut permanent legătura cu femeia, pe terasa blocului, ba chiar au reuşit să o convingă să bea apă şi să mănânce, însă nu au putut să o facă să renunţe, chiar dacă la faţa locului a venit şi soţul femeii, iar cei din bloc s-ar fi oferit să îi plătească datoriile la întreţinere pe care le avea.”

Teoria spune ca cele mai multe tentative de sinucidere sunt de fapt strigăte de ajutor și că pe măsură ce trece timpul și cel în cauză nu trece la fapte cu atât cresc șansele de succes a celor care încearcă să îl salveze.
Pe de altă parte pentru ca această teorie să funcționeze e nevoie de ceea ce spunea Durkheim. Cel care este în situația de a alege să-și învingă depresia și să continue să trăiască să aibe la ce să fie convins să se întoarcă. Legăturile dintre membrii societății din care face parte să fie suficient de puternice pentru a o face atât de funcțională încât cel care se gândea la un moment dat să se sinucidă să aibe motiv să se răzgândească.
Și încă ceva. Salvatorii înșiși vor fi cu atât mai convingători cu cât societatea va fi mai funcțională. Tocmai pentru că și lor înșiși viața le va părea mai frumoasă.

Numai că iată cum descrie poetul Florin Iaru situatia:

„Aşadar, dacă binele e ameninţat atât de rău din ambele părţi, un spectator admirând comédia ar putea spune cu îndreptăţire: „Să piară toţi!“. Comic e faptul că ambele tabere se agită în numele democraţiei, a progresului, a valorilor. Toţi apără un principiu. Şi, în acelaşi timp, sunt surzi la diversitatea fundamentală a naturii umane. Unul e de stânga, altul de dreapta, unul e tradiţionalist, altul, modernist, unul e trist, ultimul, şi mai trist. Sentimentul că fiinţa celuilalt nu te lasă să respiri, să trăieşti, că o conspiraţie a imbecililor, a serviciilor secrete îţi ameninţă viaţa domină România. Nu poate avea cineva o idee a lui, un sentiment, o părere. Nu. E a stăpânului, a mogulului, a ruşilor, a lui Băse, a lui Ponta. Nimic nu e întâmplător. Grupurile se fac şi se desfac şi, mare ciudăţenie – cei care erau duşmani neîmpăcaţi devin prieteni la toartă, iar cei care se pupau în bot la guvernare şi în Parlament şi-au jurat moartea. Dacă iubeşti câinii, vrei să-mi omori pisica.”

Asta să fie oare soluția? O sinucidere colectivă lentă prin marasm socio-economic? Să „pierim” cu toții?

N-ar fi mai bine să-i demonstrăm lui Florin Iaru că se înșală când spune „Crezul meu e că oamenii nu se schimbă niciodată.”?
Eu unul sunt convins că nici măcar el nu crede cu adevărat așa ceva!. Altfel ce rost mai avea să scrie articolul…
Așa că… la treabă! Dacă suficient de mulți dintre noi ne hotărâm că „așa nu mai merge” și ne îndreptăm în primul rând pe noi înșine cercul vicios descris de Iaru va deveni unul virtuos. Nu e nevoie să ieșim cu parul pe stradă pentru a-i pedepsi pe „ceilalți”  – așa cum au făcut minerii in ’90 la chemarea lui Iliescu. Este suficient să nu mai întoarcem, vinovați, capul când lângă noi cineva își bate joc de altcineva, spunându-ne că „n-are rost să mă bag dacă nu mă afectează direct”!
Păi tocmai d-aia trebuie să te bagi, așa cum și cât poți tu, tocmai ca să nu ajungă să te afecteze și pe tine. Ca să mai fie cine să îți sară și ție în ajutor dacă vei avea vreodată nevoie.

Altruismul are o explicație cât se poate de rațională, nu este pur si simplu un moft. Societățile care au grijă de membrii lor – fără să îi sufoce, supraviețuiesc mai mult iar membrii lor sunt mai fericiți decât cele care funcționează după legea junglei.
Iar asta e tot de la Durkheim citire.

What on Earth is ‘itall’ and why would anyone bother about it?

Let me re-frame that.
Why on Earth are we so obsessed with winning in the first place?
It’s indeed nice to win from time to time but aren’t we overdoing it? Regardless of costs?

“Suppose that you are charged with selling a single food item to at least a hundred million people in a highly diverse society.  You can pick whatever item you wish, but you can pick only one.  If you fall short of getting at least 100,000,000 people to voluntarily choose your item over a rival item that will be offered by a competitor, you lose.  (Your competitor is playing by the same rules that you are playing by.)

Being highly competitive, you hate losing.  So you carefully go about selecting which item to choose.”

Already been there? You must surely understand where I’m driving at. Even if you are not ‘that competitive’ yourself you must’ve been wondering why hamburgers taste the same almost all over the world, and not only those mass produced by McDonald’s.

You see, there are two sides of the winning game. No, not those two obvious ones – the two players.
There are the players and the spectators. None could exist without the others but only the players, and the trainers, are aware of this.
Yet the very existence of the game and the manner in which it is played heavily influences the life of the people belonging to both categories.

As Don Boudreaux explains us in “Insipidness Guaranteed” our very fondness of winning big leads to the market being inundated by the very blandest – but generally acceptable – of products. Originality becomes stifled, contrary to the very fact that, from time to time, it’s exactly the original thing that gets the jackpot.

Three things concur to this.

I already mentioned the first.
Most players, or at least those at the top, know what’s going on while most of the (paying) spectators don’t. This leads to the spectators watching mesmerized what’s happening in the pitch while the players ratchet up the tension till it becomes unbearable least the spectators become bored and leave. So the spectators spend their time, and resources, watching instead of creatively using their brains to build something new – and potentially useful.

Our culturally enhanced obsession for winning.
Those players insist because they are plainly ‘hooked’. ‘Adrenaline is one of the most powerful drugs‘. This is true, if you don’t believe me check it on Snopes.com. The problem with this particular addiction is that adrenaline is produced naturally in our body when we compete and that the winning moment is ‘scored’ in the brain by a powerful shot of dopamine, another hugely addictive natural drug.
On top of winning being highly pleasurable, and addictive, it is also positively sanctioned by the society. Drunkenness and being high on drugs are shunned by a considerable number of people while winning is applauded by all.

It also helps.
Yes, winning helps a lot. Otherwise ‘the quest for winning’ would have withered away a long ago by the very same mechanism that encouraged the advent of the moderate altruistic behavior – natural evolution.
No, this is not about ‘the survival of the fittest’ – that’s a mirepresentation of Darwin’s words, set straight by Ernst Mayr in ‘What Evolution Is: ‘It’s not about the survival of the fittest but about the demise of those who cannot cope’.
So, competition is good in the sense that it’s telling the loosers ‘stop trying this and look for another venture if you want to thrive/survive’. The real winners are exactly those who understand something when they loose.

Just as we need to balance altruism with the need to preserve our own personae, both physically and psychologically, by constantly adjusting that balance according to the prevailing circumstances, we also need to understand where our obsession for winning has brought us.

When all we want is to win, we tend to forget that survival is, most of the times for individuals and at all times for the communities, more important than winning.
Darwin had titled his most important work ‘On the origin of species by means of natural selection‘ and had amply demonstrated there that ‘natural selection’ (= competition) is just a means toward the ultimate survival. Evolution, that is.
That’s why we are hard wired to compete among ourselves – so those more adapted to a certain environment might continue doing what they are good at while the others are ‘encouraged’ to look for something else to do. But natural selection never works on the premises that ‘the winner takes it all’: very seldom competitors that belong to the same species kill each other.

Ernst Mayr demonstrates in the book I already mentioned that overspecialization is bad for you. ‘Survival of the fittest’ is stupid precisely because of that. ‘Being the fittest’ – and doing it for any considerable amount of time – means gradually becoming unable to cope with the slightest change that might occur in your environment.
That’s why natural selection includes a mechanism through which small alterations appear haphazardly in our DNA – those who are benign enough survive and provide the individuals that carry them with additional capabilities, so that they might take advantage of slightly different conditions than those where their ancestors have evolved.

We, the humans, have raised this to a new level. By becoming self-conscious – ‘aware of our own awareness’ in Humberto Maturana’s terms – we have developed a certain individual originality – and the need not only to manifest it but also to convince those around us that our ideas are better than theirs. Sometimes by any means at our disposal.
If you don’t believe me read again Plato’s Republic: “Then, I said, the business of us who are the founders of the State will be to compel the best minds to attain that knowledge which we have already shown to be the greatest of all-they must continue to ascend until they arrive at the good; but when they have ascended and seen enough we must not allow them to do as they do now.”

Maybe it is high time for us to understand that a 2500 years old fallacy is still a fallacy. Plato marked the pinnacle of the Greek civilization, not it’s start. After he published his works, and Pericles had finished building his architectural wonders, Athens went slowly downwards and gradually lost it’s significance. Telling people what to think is the sure fire recipe for disaster. Ask the Soviets if you think what happened to the disciples of Plato isn’t convincing enough.

Coming back to where we started, winning, I have to remind you that a fundamentally aggressive attitude leads to the complete disappearance of respect. The aggressor becomes so engrossed in what he does that not only ceases to respect those around him – “He who is not for us is against us” was how Lenin used to see the world – but also looses sight of what he does to himself and to where he is leading his followers.

At the end of the article that spurred me into writing this, Dan Boudreaux, the author, bitterly ejaculates: “No one should be surprised that candidates for the U.S. presidency transact mostly in platitudes and are forever performing deeds on the campaign trail that any self-respecting person with independent judgment and a genuine sense and appreciation of his or her uniqueness would never in a million years dream of doing.  And the closer a candidate gets to the political promised land, the more intense becomes the pressure for him or her to be the political equivalent of a Bud Lite.”

Why, I ask all of you, would they – or any other of the putatively democratic candidates – do any different if we, the voters, continue to behave as hapless spectators and choose to watch as they fight for power instead of reminding them that they are being interviewed for a job, not wrestling for the privilege to take home the prom-queen?

And if they don’t get it – cause they’re too busy flaunting their feathers, we don’t get it – cause we’ve been hypnotized by those very same feathers as they are, how come the trainers – those close advisers who handle the players at every occasion – don’t get it that the whole bandwagon has started to go astray?!?

Real democracy means that the would be leaders put on the table the important issues, discuss them honestly till the voters develop a real understanding of what is going on and then some of them get elected by a knowledgeable community to implement a set of policies.

Where do you see this happening in our days?

http://cafehayek.com/2015/04/insipidness-guaranteed.html
http://www.everythingaddiction.com/science-of-addiction/addiction-news/adrenaline-the-strongly-addictive-drug-with-serious-life-consequences/http://thebrainbank.scienceblog.com/2013/11/26/gamblers-mind-the-thrill-of-almost-winning/
https://nicichiarasa.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/altruism/
http://www.amazon.com/What-Evolution-Science-Masters-Series/dp/0465044263
http://books.google.ro/books/about/On_the_Origin_of_Species.html?id=sX_hAwAAQBAJ&redir_esc=y
Animal Talk: Breaking the Codes of Animal Language: https://books.google.ro/books?id=r49kIaUMrC0C&pg=PA25&lpg=PA25&dq=bluffing+instead+of+fighting+natural+selection&source=bl&ots=lI9Po_MjLw&sig=6a-7QhZLVGsZlTpEXU3YK85fm_0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=qlEzVa2KLIKzPNTqgYgO&ved=0CEYQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=bluffing%20instead%20of%20fighting%20natural%20selection&f=false
http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/pub/hvf/papers/maturana05selfconsciousness.htmlhttps://books.google.ro/books?id=xxGttzFXqaYC&pg=PA130&lpg=PA130&dq=lenin+who+is+not+with+is+against+us&source=bl&ots=t1mdQsdmGh&sig=kbxcK2ctK2Q_fw79k0nJN8yBQNs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6V0zVd9GptXIA7uRgcAD&ved=0CEQQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=lenin%20who%20is%20not%20with%20is%20against%20us&f=false

Altruism is a behaviour that has been ‘naturally’ selected at the ‘social’ level,
Communities that encourage it fare better, as a whole, than communities which condone widespread indifference towards the others.
Please notice that the opposite of altruism is not ego-centrism and not even egoism but complete indifference. An egocentric or egoistic individual is one who is aware of his person and values his individuality. As such he will try to take good care of himself and never dare to behave in a completely callous manner because he fears social rejection, provided his egoism is tamed by reason.
If his egocentricity becomes unmanageable he turns into a socio-path that will be, sooner or later, expelled from the society.
If nothing out of the ordinary (extremely good or extremely bad) comes along, naturally (randomly) occurring ‘altruism’ is encouraged by some, faked by others and on the whole a ‘moderately altruistic’ behaviour becomes the modus vivendi of that particular community. Ties between the members of that group gather more and more force but don’t overwhelm the individual autonomy of the members, on one side because of the ‘fakers’ and on the other because the ‘real’ altruism involves a certain degree of respect towards the others.
If a particular social group, for whatever reasons, stops discouraging extreme egocentricity, like the one Caligula and his heirs ‘practised’ in Ancient Rome, that entire group is doomed. The largely disseminated egocentricity gives birth to indifference about the fate of the group, later to lawlessness and eventually to a state described as ‘anomie’ by a certain Durkheim – a French sociologist who discovered the link between the number of suicides taking place inside a community and the intensity of the forces that coalesce that community.
Durkheim had reached the conclusion that although the actual decision belongs to the individual, each of the members of a community is more or less ‘prone’ to consider ‘doing’ it according to the strength of the bonds that exist inside that community. (Suicide, A study in Sociology). He continued by introducing the concept of Anomie “a condition or state in which there is a breakdown of social norms and guidance for the citizens of a society. Anomie occurs when society has little influence on individuals’ propensity to follow rules and norms, and individuals are, therefore, left without moral guidance. Individuals do not feel attached to the collective society.”

Meaning that there is almost nothing to bind together a society whose members no longer value their own lives, let alone those of their neighbors.

Let’s go back in time to Caligula’s Ancient Rome or to the pre-Revolutionary France. The general atmosphere in both instances could have been very accurately described by ‘apres moi, le deluge‘ (‘a huge amount of water will be needed to cleanse after me’) – a phrase attributed either to Louis XV of France or to his mistress.
Well, we all know what followed. Ancient Rome collapsed under the attacks of the barbarians and the famous Bastille was occupied by the sans-cullotes.

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