Friday, July 17, 2009

Might Selflessness Be Nothing More Than An Illusion?

If evolution is true, why would we not selfishly strive for only those things that better us individually? Because we are a cooperative animal and as such, it benefits us individually even when we sacrifice for the sake of somebody or something else. So in a sense, little or nothing we do, even if believed to be done selflessly, is truly selfless. There is always a benefit for the sacrificer even if it is not obvious or consciously recognized.

For example, when one sacrifices his time to help somebody in need, it is a sacrifice of time and possibly money. But the benefits to the person sacrificing will typically outweigh these costs. It might improve the person's self-image by mitigating feelings of guilt, and as such, stress might be lowered thereby providing a benefit to the sacrificer.

In other words, most if not all altruistic acts are in some way a win-win scenario as both parties likely benefit. Some will say that laying down one's life for another is truly selfless. But almost always, he does it out of the belief that it will lead to some benefit in the afterlife and/or he represents a team or group which he is part of and as a result, even though he dies as an individual, he lives on honorably as part of the group he represents.

Would anybody die for the other team? Not likely. This is simply evolutionary group selection at play. People will act altruistically only when it benefits themselves or their group or some cause they identify with*. On the other hand, perhaps Jesus did die for the “other” team.

*Conceivably many of us might sacrifice for the OTHER team only to offer the illusion (to ourselves and/or others) that we ARE truly selfless. For example, if those that aspire to be selfless become conscious that their beliefs (esp. concerning God) are ultimately fueled by their own personal preferences, they may choose to believe that which they do NOT like to avoid the appearance of being selfish. However, the mere act of believing "selflessly" simply to conceal their innate selfishness is a personal preference and thus ultimately SELFISH! Might selflessness be nothing more than an illusion?

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