2008.12.09 13:00 - Is every action taken by a "self" selfish?

    Table of contents
    No headers

    The Guardian this session was Genesis Zhangsun the comments below are hers (or the lack there of...I felt I had so talkative during this session that perhaps there is enough genesis here for awhile...well at least until next week :)

    genesis Zhangsun: Hey sorry for sitting on your head Wol!
    Wol Euler: hello tarmel
    genesis Zhangsun: Hey Scathach , hey Claire
    genesis Zhangsun: Hey Tarmel
    Scathach Rhiadra: Hi Tarmel
    Tarmel Udimo: hey all
    genesis Zhangsun: Nice to see you all :)
    Claire Beltran: Now I'm worried about inner-city gangs a nd Munchausen's Syndrome. Is it possible to be hypochodriacal about mental disorders?
    Wol Euler: heheheheheh, yes definitely.
    Wol Euler: hello ade
    genesis Zhangsun: Hey Adelene!
    Tarmel Udimo: hi ade
    Adelene Dawner: Hi all!
    Scathach Rhiadra: Hi Adelene
    Adelene Dawner: Do we have a topic yet? 'Cause I've got a good one.
    Tarmel Udimo: okay?
    genesis Zhangsun: nope no topic yet
    Wol Euler: fire away.
    Defining Selfish
    Adelene Dawner: I would like to see if we can find a good, useful definition of the term 'selfish'.
    Tarmel Udimo: sorry gen you're the guardian today
    genesis Zhangsun: thats a good topic Adelene what do we think about that
    genesis Zhangsun: how do we define "selfish"
    Adelene Dawner: I can offer a useful example if we need one to get the ball rolling.
    genesis Zhangsun: please
    Tarmel Udimo: was this from that young man at the last group?
    Adelene Dawner: Ok. Some of you know that I'm in the process of leavign my BF and moving to a different state. He thinks that this is selfish of me (obvious from his behavior if not from his words) and I'm not sure if it is or not.
    Wol Euler: it seems pretty selfish of him to think it selfish of you.
    Tarmel Udimo: boy friend?
    Adelene Dawner: yes.
    Adelene Dawner: BF=boyfriend
    genesis Zhangsun: yes selfishness seems to be a matter of perspective at times doesn't it
    Adelene Dawner: Agreed, Genesis... so how can it be defined apart from perspective?
    genesis Zhangsun: don't think it can in a way
    Tarmel Udimo: what does he think he is doing?
    Adelene Dawner: hm, Tarmel?
    Tarmel Udimo: does he feel he is being selfish by wanting you to stay?
    Claire Beltran hugs Adelene around the neck.
    Adelene Dawner: I don't know. He might.
    Adelene Dawner purrs to Claire.
    Tarmel Udimo: it feels very much like the wrong word for what he is feeling...:)
    Adelene Dawner: Agreed, kind of.
    Adelene Dawner: Hm: What other concepts 'go with' selfish? Ownership might be one.
    genesis Zhangsun: I say that it is not possible to define selfishness apart from perspective because each person sees only a fraction of the whole
    Wol Euler: I think it does require perspective, ther must be two people involved in a selfishness: one who takes and another who feels that too little is left for them.
    It takes two
    genesis Zhangsun: they can't judge on an objective level, a universal level whether the other person's actions are truly only self interested
    Wol Euler: (using "take" loosely)
    Adelene Dawner nods at Wol. "Using that logic, I am being selfish - I'm taking me, and there's nothing left for him of me."
    genesis Zhangsun: it can be difficult for someone who is hurting to see that the others actions may not be in fact completely self interested
    genesis Zhangsun: only you know that
    Wol Euler: exactly, ade.
    Tarmel Udimo: agreed
    Wol Euler: which implies that he has a right to some bit of you
    Wol Euler: he is being shortchanged.
    Adelene Dawner: Well, he thinks he does.
    genesis Zhangsun: but again this all assumes the existence of a self
    genesis Zhangsun: so this is why there is no universal/objective way to speak of it
    genesis Zhangsun: it is all on the relative level
    Adelene Dawner: yes, Gen, the idea of 'self' is necessary for the idea of 'selfishness'. Doesn't mean we can't work out some more coherent words for it.
    Wol Euler: inter-relative in fact, a person living all alone is not selfish, no matter how big a piece of cake they cut.
    genesis Zhangsun: but what I am bringing up is perhaps your boyfriend doesn't see and (you may be able to see) that your actions are not necessarily "your own"
    genesis Zhangsun: are you really the doer?
    genesis Zhangsun: have you caused this entire situation?
    Tarmel Udimo: not sure about that wol
    Adelene Dawner rumbles at Gen.
    Adelene Dawner: That's 'blame', Gen, not 'selfishness'... don't think they're closely enough related that we have to talk about one to talk about the other.
    Tarmel Udimo: its all about intent I think. Is ade's intention to be selfish
    Tarmel Udimo: is following her desire for change selfish?
    Tarmel Udimo: is being selfish conscious?
    Adelene Dawner suspects that Tarmel is making an incorrect assumption about her situation... but his points are still useful to the discussion about selfishness. "I think a better question is, when is following the desire for change selfish?"
    Wol Euler: not necessarily, I would say. Your feeling that I take too much might be mis-perception.
    genesis Zhangsun: Ade isn't the label "selfishness" blameful
    Adelene Dawner: Only if you decide it's badto be selfish, Gen, which is a whole other level of abstraction.
    Wol Euler: hello pila
    genesis Zhangsun: Hey Pila
    Pila Mulligan: greetings
    Tarmel Udimo: that's my point
    Scathach Rhiadra: Hi Pila
    Tarmel Udimo: ade I'm sure didn't sit up one morning and go I'm going to particpate in some selfishness here
    Tarmel Udimo: :)
    genesis Zhangsun: but again if there is no "self" then how can one be selfish?
    Tarmel Udimo: hi pila
    Pila Mulligan: hi
    genesis Zhangsun: to be selfish you have to act from a basis that there is a "self"
    Scathach Rhiadra: is selfishness being overly obsessed weith our notions of the self?
    Tarmel Udimo: :)
    genesis Zhangsun: if you are acting out of selflessness ( a notion that what you are doing is not your own doing)
    genesis Zhangsun: then this is clearly not "selfish:
    Adelene Dawner ponders for a minute and turns to Claire. "How could this discussion be more useful to you, my friend?"
    genesis Zhangsun: Yes Scathach I concur
    genesis Zhangsun: sounds right
    Claire Beltran: I'm not sure. I grapple with concerns about potential selfishness all the time.

    If you are not self sacrificing are you selfish?

    Claire Beltran: Have any of you ever heard of the concept that Sigmund Freud called 'moral masochism'?
    Tarmel Udimo: even if we eliminate the idea of a 'self' we are still acting taking action
    Adelene Dawner growls at Tarmel.
    Wol Euler lays a hand across Ade's paws. Gently.
    genesis Zhangsun: yes precisely but perhaps one can take action without being motivated by the self
    genesis Zhangsun: No Claire I haven't :)
    genesis Zhangsun: do you want to say something about it?
    Adelene Dawner nods at Wol... no claws, see? Just getting 'is attention.
    Wol Euler: :)
    Claire Beltran: In its simplest form, as it was explained to me, it boils down to this: if I do not stick my hand in this fire, then I am a weakling and over-concerned with my own comfort.
    Claire Beltran: Of course, there are many gradients to this mentality.
    genesis Zhangsun: perhaps unless we are acting out of that place completely unmotivated by the self we are constantly being "selfish"
    Scathach Rhiadra: hmm, I'd agree with that Gen
    Is everything we do as a"self" selfish?
    genesis Zhangsun: perhaps selfishness describes everything we do as a self
    genesis Zhangsun: that is an odd though
    genesis Zhangsun: *thought
    Adelene Dawner: Perhaps the truest one, Gen.
    genesis Zhangsun: so perhaps the question Adelene is whether you are acting as Adelene?
    Wol Euler: does the speaker have his/her hand in the fire too, Claire?
    Adelene Dawner has always found 'acting as Adelene' to be a very fuzzy concept.
    Claire Beltran: Who?
    Wol Euler: let's IM, we are cutting across the group.
    genesis Zhangsun: yes I hear you Adelene
    genesis Zhangsun: np Wol
    genesis Zhangsun: this is still an open discussion
    Adelene Dawner is interested in Claire's thread, actually...
    Wol Euler: well, as we wish :)
    genesis Zhangsun: sure me too :)
    Wol Euler: [13:24] Claire Beltran: In its simplest form, as it was explained to me, it boils down to this: if I do not stick my hand in this fire, then I am a weakling and over-concerned with my own comfort.
    Wol Euler: who made the suggestion that you should do so?
    Wol Euler: (yes, I know that it is a parable :)
    Pila Mulligan: Jung referred to masochism as an excess of extraversion, so perhaps extraverts are more suspectible to the dare of moral masochism
    Claire Beltran: It was my therapist, in response to some of my statements about myself and my way of thinking/
    Adelene Dawner: No...
    Wol Euler raises an eyebrow.
    Adelene Dawner: your therapist noticed you doing it, sure, but I'd be downright shocked if he therapist suggested that it was a good idea... and this is me, I don't give 'em an inch of credit.
    Wol Euler: She's suggesting that you are avoiding life?
    Adelene Dawner: [13:28] Wol Euler: who made the suggestion that you should do so?
    Claire Beltran: No, you don't get it. Moral masochism is HARMFUL. That's the mentality that goes with it.
    Claire Beltran: It causes people to make decisions that hurt them... because they feel they are morally inferior if they don't/
    Adelene Dawner: yes, it's harmful. So who has pushed you into doing it, directly or indirectly?
    Wol Euler: ah, you are accusing yourself of weakness for not putting your hand in the fire.
    Claire Beltran: I have. Well... you know who has, Adelene, but it's too painful and exhausting to speak of any longer.
    Claire Beltran: It just rouses feelings of hate now.
    Adelene Dawner: Ok, so you know who. Wol's question has an answer, whether you choose to share it or not. *looks expectantly at Wol*
    Wol Euler nods
    Adelene brings it back to her original thread...
    Adelene Dawner: ok, back to 'acting as Adelene'...
    Adelene Dawner: it's fuzzy at the best of times, so how could I know?
    Adelene Dawner: In this case, for example, yes, I did consciously choose to leave... but that choice was made as it was because it was becoming impossible to safely stay (don't worry, I'm not in physical danger), so...
    Tarmel Udimo: to be honest I do find it difficult in these situations to be exploring words/situtions of a personal nature when not all the cards are on the table
    Adelene Dawner is willing to answer questions, but isn't sure what information you'd find useful.
    Tarmel Udimo: it means that we are talking circles and may unintentionally be hurtful
    Adelene Dawner: And, I'm difficult to hurt or offend, so don't worry about that.
    Pila Mulligan: this may sound facetious, but it is not -- an occasional gentle foot massage does wonders for heavy hearts
    genesis Zhangsun: :)
    genesis Zhangsun: small gestures of kindness
    genesis Zhangsun: that is if the other might be willing to receive them
    Adelene Dawner nods acknowledgement.
    genesis Zhangsun: a foot massage though I agree is difficult to say no to
    Pila Mulligan: or paw massage, as the case may be
    Tarmel Udimo: when we explore PAB experiences that feels impersonal where as specific personal situations seem different
    Tarmel Udimo: please don't misunderstand me I am not saying we shouldn't discuss things but its hard to if we don't really know what we;re discussing
    Adelene Dawner: This was intended to be an example only. We can discuss the idea of 'selfishness' from a different angle if you want... but I've found that having a real, not hypothetical, situation to work with is often useful.
    genesis Zhangsun: me too Adelene
    Adelene Dawner: Also: I'm rather explicitly NOT looking for a solution to a problem.
    genesis Zhangsun: I think we have come up with some useful ways of thinking about selfiness both on the personal and general level
    Wol Euler: ok, saying htat changes the picture.
    Adelene Dawner: My choices as far as actions are already made and will not be changed by anything we discuss here.
    Tarmel Udimo: fair enough
    Pila Mulligan: so the topic of discussion is slefishness (sorry to have been late)?
    Pila Mulligan: selfishness*
    Wol Euler: trying to define it, pila
    Adelene Dawner: Yes, Pila.
    Pila Mulligan: beyond the simple use of the term as petty or greedy?
    genesis Zhangsun: yes I think what we discussed has expanded the definition from there a bit
    Pila Mulligan: not to deflate the oportunity for comment :)
    genesis Zhangsun: The one I suggested not to long ago was perhaps selfishness is everything we do as the self
    genesis Zhangsun: which begs the question is there a way to take action without the self involoved
    genesis Zhangsun: what would that look like?
    genesis Zhangsun: how would it feel?
    Adelene Dawner: This reminds me of an image my brain supplied a few weeks ago...
    An image of acting without self
    Adelene Dawner: Acting without self is often described as flowing water... always going downhill...
    Adelene Dawner: the image was of me as a river, and BF standing on the bank with a bowl or cup... scooping up some of the water and holding it.
    Wol Euler: hmmm. But rivers flow past anyway, they refresh themselves without cease. Not like scooping from a pond, where the total quantity is reduced
    Pila Mulligan: well, being generous or sharing is the usually viewed as the opposite of selfish -- this expansive definiiton seems to be looking more at the concept of Self than selfish
    genesis Zhangsun: yes Pila I think that is true :)
    Pila Mulligan: Self is such a deep topic :)
    genesis Zhangsun: I love that image Adelene
    Pila Mulligan: my favorite take on it has always been this question: is karma personal?
    Adelene Dawner didn't like it much.
    genesis Zhangsun: and yes Wol scooping from the river does not deplete it but often the "scooper" is not aware of that possibility
    Adelene Dawner: My dislike was not anything to do with the depletion of the river... it was about the stopping of the progress of the taken water.
    Pila Mulligan: Adelen's brain image of the river relates to the Hindu concept ot Atman -- are we really all one or do we have a peronsal Self
    genesis Zhangsun: what do you think Pila?
    Pila Mulligan: I don't know :)
    Adelene Dawner thinks back... indeed... when he took the water, 'I' was in the taken water, not in the river any more...
    Pila Mulligan: my best gues sis that it is both yes and no -- we are all one river, but each drop has personal expereince
    Tarmel Udimo: I agree
    Wol Euler: ah!
    genesis Zhangsun: yes I like that Pila
    Tarmel Udimo: our own cone of seeing
    genesis Zhangsun: and yet those drops make up the whole and each blends into the other so really there is no personal and universal dichotomy
    genesis Zhangsun: someone wise said this to me recently ;)
    Tarmel Udimo: and yet we can shift hopefully from one persepective to the other
    Pila Mulligan: usually, hand in hand with this question, is the quesiton of free will :)
    Tarmel Udimo: back to your karma Q?
    Pila Mulligan: now there's a deep one :)
    Pila Mulligan: are we doing it or is it doing us
    Tarmel Udimo: depends on whether one believes life force is consciously doing us
    Tarmel Udimo: its a Q I grapple with a lot
    genesis Zhangsun: I must be going all to the Kira Cafe
    genesis Zhangsun: ty for coming!
    genesis Zhangsun: I hope to see you all there
    Wol Euler: ah, yes Gilles' talk.
    genesis Zhangsun: Gilles Kuhn yes is talking about Phenomenology
    Tarmel Udimo: I'll try RL is a calling shortly
    Pila Mulligan: I could not hear the one yeaterday -- are these talks in voice?
    genesis Zhangsun: a philosophy which relates to the Pab practice
    genesis Zhangsun: bye
    Wol Euler: bye to those staying, see the rest of us there
    Wol Euler: yes, it will be voice
    Adelene Dawner: bye, all.
    Wol Euler: gilles only, quesitons in text chat
    Wol Euler: bye ade, take care

    You must login to post a comment.
    Powered by MindTouch Core