One of my favorite YouTube channels is called Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell. I'm currently in beautiful Puerto Rico, but resting to recover from laryngitis (yeah, my voice is completely gone). I noticed this on YouTube and absolutely loved it!
A Selfish Argument for Making the World a Better Place
The current summary of my perspective on life is to help create the world we all want to live in. I recognize how my desire to help others is a version of rational, long-term self-interest because it creates a world that gives me joy, love, pleasure, fulfillment, purpose, and more for myself, my spouse, my offspring, and the people I love (which includes more and more people as my circle of empathy expands). It wasn't until this video that I realized a version of this perspective has a name:
As the Kurzgesagt video states, "There is a genuine, selfish argument for making the world a better place." We're living in a positive sum world and the rules of scarcity which dominated war and conquest for so long no longer make sense.
I think STEEM (along with Steemit/Busy/DTube/DLive/Utopian/etc) is an amazing example of the future where we all individually benefit by working to benefit others. This is what a positive sum world is all about. The more value we add to the STEEM blockchain and curate great content from others, the more our personal STEEM holdings go up in value. I almost never self-vote now, as an example, because I personally benefit so much more by voting for others. Those votes create relationships, build my reputation, demonstrate influence, and (I believe) will eventually increase the value of the whole blockchain as worthwhile content and authors are rewarded for their efforts.
I hope you watch the video and maybe even spend a few minutes reading the wikipedia page on Psychological Egoism. I'll quote some of the main points below to give you a better idea of what this is all about:
Psychological egoism is the view that humans are always motivated by self-interest, even in what seem to be acts of altruism. It claims that, when people choose to help others, they do so ultimately because of the personal benefits that they themselves expect to obtain, directly or indirectly, from doing so.
I know many hold tight to the word altruism, but for me, what the word represents seems more like a dillusion. If the neural network of our brain fires in just the right way to cause external action it's because our brain agreed that was the best thing to do given the inputs at that time. It's what "we" wanted.
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Humanity performs altruistic, honorable, and virtuous acts not for the sake of another or because of a moral code but rather to increase the well being of the self.
This makes sense to me. Even someone who might be considered the most altruistic person is acting in such a way to align with what they themselves want to see in the world (otherwise, they would act differently).
Connected to this idea is how humans are primarily motivated by pain and pleasure. I think that also makes sense and many different motivational speakers have gathered rather large followings describing it.
To put it another way:
The psychological egoist asserts humans act altruistically for selfish reasons even when cost of the altruistic action is far outweighed by the reward of acting selfishly because altruism is performed to fulfill the desire of a person to act altruistically.
The main criticism of this view is that it is circular in that we desire satisfaction of our desires for satisfaction.
In a way, it reveals how "we" may be deterministic machines and the self-referencing, circular problem we find here is just a matter of the code trying to understand itself. Many solve this problem by injecting an outside observer or first mover or "god" which handles this concern by divinely implanting purpose and meaning into us. I no longer follow that storyline, but I see why it's comfortable. Maybe Bicameralism further explains how we got the consciousness we understand today and how a divided brain gave us the "gods" who spoke to us directly up until around 3,000 years ago.
I'm fascinated by this stuff because I think so many people haven't done the hard work of figuring out where morality comes from. They try to do "good" and avoid "bad," but get frustrated when their actions cause unintended consequences and seem to make the world a worse place than before. Many government laws which are nothing more than threats of violent force are an example of this phenomenon. If we instead know exactly why something is good and why we, as self-interested actors, would want to do the right thing to help others, then we can be more honest with ourselves and those in our community. This lowers cognitive dissonance and helps everyone more accurately evaluate true motives.
That's a beautiful thing.
What do you think about Psychological Egoism and Altruism?