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Passions in Poetry

Give and Take

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Susan Caldwell
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0 posted 11-30-2007 04:46 PM       View Profile for Susan Caldwell   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Susan Caldwell


Is it basic human nature to give only to receive?

This has nothing to do with holidays.  

"too bad ignorance isn't painful"
~Unknown~

Grinch
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1 posted 11-30-2007 05:25 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

Giving, based on the expectation of reciprocal action, is an evolutionary stable strategy that humans share with many members of the animal kingdom, based on the evidence it could be argued that the act of giving wouldnít even exist if the expectation of receiving in kind wasnít present.

Or in short - YES

Stephanos
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2 posted 11-30-2007 08:14 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Asking whether it is human nature to give always in order to recieve, is different than asking whether giving invariably involves receiving.  One is a question of motives, the other a question about the nature of giving.

I'm not so cynical to think every decision to give, is born out of self interest.


We've had this discussion before.
Susan Caldwell
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3 posted 11-30-2007 09:56 PM       View Profile for Susan Caldwell   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Susan Caldwell

does having the discussion before mean we can't have it again and/or nothing new can be related?

I am talking about people that give with the intent of receiving.  It seems like it is human nature to expect something in return. I suppose what I am really looking for is hope.

"too bad ignorance isn't painful"
~Unknown~

Stephanos
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4 posted 11-30-2007 10:53 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Susan:
quote:
does having the discussion before mean we can't have it again and/or nothing new can be related?


Oh no.  I didn't mean it that way.  There are some threads about egoism you might want to explore.  But repitition of several basic themes is not only the hallmark of this forum, but of philosophy in general.

quote:
I am talking about people that give with the intent of receiving.  It seems like it is human nature to expect something in return. I suppose what I am really looking for is hope.


I think people who give for that purpose alone will be disappointed.  Not everyone even appreciates another's giving, much less giving something back.  It's more about being pleased with the rightness of giving.  Of course, one could argue that the satisfaction afforded by giving is itself "something to expect".  But to me, this kind of argument involves a semantic mistake.      


And by "hope" do you mean hope to receive something back for something you've given, or hope that you might be able to give "without strings"?


Just trying to understand specifically what you're asking.


Stephen
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5 posted 11-30-2007 11:19 PM       View Profile for TomMark   Email TomMark   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for TomMark

Human nature is to take, and to take more and expect to be given and to be given more.

why do we need to give something? does human need to give something to live or live better?

To give for receiving?...the purpose of give is to receiving? no. The driving force of giving is not receiving.

Such as I give my mother(or friends) a gift because I love her(them).


Susan Caldwell
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6 posted 12-01-2007 09:55 AM       View Profile for Susan Caldwell   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Susan Caldwell

Hope that there are people out there that give because they want to, because they want to help someone or give to someone.

I want hope that the majority of humanity is not selfish and self indulgent.

Do you not, when you give your love, expect love in return?  

I suppose with that said it isn't always a bad thing but I seem to see, more and more each day, selfish motivation for most of what people do.  It's a bit depressing to say the least.

"too bad ignorance isn't painful"
~Unknown~

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7 posted 12-01-2007 03:36 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
Hope that there are people out there that give because they want to, because they want to help someone or give to someone.


Everyone gives because they want to, itís a conscious choice but that doesnít mean it isnít a calculated choice and that calculation involves whatís possibly going to be gained from the giving. If what you get out of the deal is at least equal to what youíre giving you give, if not you donít.

quote:
I want hope that the majority of humanity is not selfish and self indulgent.


Unfortunately youíre going to be disappointed, every decision to give is based upon calculations based on self-interest which isnít the same as selfishness but could be classed as self-indulgent.

quote:
Do you not, when you give your love, expect love in return?


Definitely not, but the possibility of gaining love in return is worth the cost of giving.

quote:
I suppose with that said it isn't always a bad thing but I seem to see, more and more each day, selfish motivation for most of what people do. It's a bit depressing to say the least.


Ah, now I understand what youíre talking about, you mean there seems to be more selfish people around. In game theory theyíd be called cheats, the good news is they can only exist in a society where the majority of people arenít selfish. For what itís worth selfishness is not an evolutionary stable strategy eventually the selfish people get their comeuppance once the tit for tat rule kicks in.
TomMark
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8 posted 12-01-2007 05:39 PM       View Profile for TomMark   Email TomMark   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for TomMark

==='Do you not, when you give your love, expect love in return?'

We don't give love. We love then we want own what we love.  If we can't, then a big disappointment.  

what is "when you give your love" ?
Stephanos
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9 posted 12-01-2007 09:51 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Susan:
quote:
Hope that there are people out there that give because they want to, because they want to help someone or give to someone.

I want hope that the majority of humanity is not selfish and self indulgent.


That giving invariably involves receiving, does not mean that we invariably give in order to receive.

So your hope remains hopeful.


quote:
Do you not, when you give your love, expect love in return?


It is natural to do so.  But that still doesn't mean that our motive for love springs from self interest alone.  Some forms of love take us closer to the ability to love something or someone for its own sake.  The kind of love that receives, C.S. Lewis called "need-love", and it is not always a bad thing, since need is a part of our human nature.  But the kind of love that is a higher form, he called gift-love, which is more detached from self reception.  

quote:
I suppose with that said it isn't always a bad thing but I seem to see, more and more each day, selfish motivation for most of what people do.  It's a bit depressing to say the least.


I agree.



Grinch:
quote:
If what you get out of the deal is at least equal to what youíre giving you give, if not you donít.


I disagree.

There are exceptions to this rule.

quote:
Unfortunately youíre going to be disappointed, every decision to give is based upon calculations based on self-interest which isnít the same as selfishness but could be classed as self-indulgent.


"Every" is a pretty ambitious word.


The simplest definition of "self interest" is interest in oneself.  Why wouldn't it be possible to make a decision based upon interest in another, and to be somewhat self forgetful?  Must interest in someone else, always be interest in self, in disquise?
  
quote:
For what itís worth selfishness is not an evolutionary stable strategy eventually the selfish people get their comeuppance once the tit for tat rule kicks in.


So the motivation not to be selfish is itself based upon nothing more than consequences to oneself?  I think you're ignoring the possibility of higher motives for morality than just fear of personal pain.  I'm not even saying that you should imagine that self interest isn't always present ... just that it may be concurrent with something else.


And about the interjection of evolutionary ideas ...  To say that something is evolutionarily stable, simply because it exists, is nothing more than a truism.  It is certainly not scientific.  Though, this is a philosophy forum.  And I welcome those kinds of statements as philosophy.  


But if the usual method of suggesting what is evolutionarily fit (sheer existence in numbers) is used, then neither selfishness nor its opposite can be said to be superior.  To discommend selfishness (not just self interest) one must move beyond an inconclusive scheme based upon survival alone.  As long as the selfish do survive (and they have and do), one must make a kind of moral argument against it.
      
The older and more traditional moral arguments against being selfish, are not superceded by evolutionary argument, since they are more in line with our language and emotions surrounding the issue, and since evolutionary survival is simply a head count, never prescriptive or didactic.  
  
Stephen
Mysteria
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10 posted 12-01-2007 09:58 PM       View Profile for Mysteria   Email Mysteria   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Mysteria

Susan, I would hate to think that in the act of giving, anything was expected in return or it could never be a gift.   Your question was Is it basic human nature to give only to receive, and considering I am human, and consider myself a giving individual, I would have to therefore offer you that hope you are looking for, as I expect nada thing in return, ever!  I have found that giving in this way causes a ripple effect, and that always gives me that hope.
Grinch
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11 posted 12-01-2007 10:32 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

quote:
as I expect nada thing in return, ever! I have found that giving in this way causes a ripple effect, and that always gives me that hope.


Thatís good to know Mysteria, would you give me your house, your car and everything you own? Iíve a pocketful of nada if that helps.

Something tells me the answer is no, that you choose carefully what you give, to whom and when, if Iím right that choice is a conscious decision based on the possible consequences of your choice. I maintain that the main consideration when making that choice is what you get in return - that may be as little as a feeling of inner warmth through doing a good thing but itís never ever nada.
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12 posted 12-01-2007 11:03 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

It's more about being pleased with the rightness of giving.  

It can't be said better than that and anyone who says they don't feel that way is a masochist.

Susan, you speak of love and return expectations. Let me ask you  this. Why do you love a specific person? Is it because you love his qualities, for example, or his outlook on life, or his spirituality,  or his etc, etc, etc? What would you feel if you went up to that person and said, "I love you" and he replied, "That's nice but I don't think much of you at all." would that not make a little difference? It shouldn't....but I think it would. Unconditional love is a rare commodity indeed.

She said I was  handsome
And charming and then some
And I was the one to adore
So how did I come
To be such a bum
Because I don't love her no more?
Grinch
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13 posted 12-01-2007 11:27 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

Stephen,

quote:
I disagree.

There are exceptions to this rule.


Have you an example?

quote:
"Every" is a pretty ambitious word.


Iím ambitious, give me an example that disproves my claim and Iíll concede the point.  


quote:
The simplest definition of "self interest" is interest in oneself. Why wouldn't it be possible to make a decision based upon interest in another, and to be somewhat self forgetful? Must interest in someone else, always be interest in self, in disquise?


Every action has a reaction, the simple act of choosing to give proves that the possible benefits they get from that reaction have been weighed against the possible consequences, thatís what people do when they choose to give or not to give.


quote:
So the motivation not to be selfish is itself based upon nothing more than consequences to oneself?


Yes.


quote:
I think you're ignoring the possibility of higher motives for morality than just fear of personal pain. I'm not even saying that you should imagine that self interest isn't always present ... just that it may be concurrent with something else.


Are we talking pixies or witches?  


quote:
And about the interjection of evolutionary ideas ... To say that something is evolutionarily stable, simply because it exists, is nothing more than a truism. It is certainly not scientific.


Actually itís very scientific.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_stable_strategy

quote:
But if the usual method of suggesting what is evolutionarily fit (sheer existence in numbers) is used, then neither selfishness nor its opposite can be said to be superior. To discommend selfishness (not just self interest) one must move beyond an inconclusive scheme based upon survival alone. As long as the selfish do survive (and they have and do), one must make a kind of moral argument against it.


I think youíre confused about what an ESS is:

Lets take a simple example, vampire bats need to feed fairly regularly or they die, they donít always manage to but theyíve developed a strategy whereby if they do find food they tend to share it by regurgitation with a bat that hasnít. You could call it an altruistic act but it isnít because the payback is that when they donít feed thereís a good chance that another bat will reciprocate. However in these colonies of bats some cheats (selfish bats) exist who donít give but always beg for a handout when theyíre hungry, sounds like a good strategy but it isnĎt.

If evolution favoured the cheats theyíd dominate the colony and, because none of them are sharing, theyíd all die the first time they failed to find a meal. If that wasnít enough to keep the numbers down the honest bats have another trick up their sleeve, they use a strategy called tit for tat. If a cheating bat refuses to cough up a meal (pun intended) to them they reciprocate and donít cough up to the cheat the next time he comes begging. Which is why cheating isn't a stable strategy that can ever dominate a colony.

Cheating in bat colonies to some extent always exists of course, the sheer numbers of honest bats that will cough up at least one meal ensures that it can sustain a number of cheats but the ESS is tit for tat.

No moral arguments were needed in the creation of this example just basic self-interest.

[This message has been edited by Grinch (12-02-2007 04:22 AM).]

TomMark
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14 posted 12-01-2007 11:55 PM       View Profile for TomMark   Email TomMark   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for TomMark

Dear Sir balladeer==="What would you feel if you went up to that person and said, "I love you" and he replied, "That's nice but I don't think much of you at all." would that not make a little difference? It shouldn't....but I think it would. Unconditional love is a rare commodity indeed."

What you said is exactly what happened between man and God.

Tom

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15 posted 12-02-2007 03:36 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

I think we give or receive for the good of giving or receiving.

Read that carefully
Grinch
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16 posted 12-02-2007 05:52 AM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

quote:
What you said is exactly what happened between man and God.


Is there anything man might gain from giving love to his god (or anyone else for that matter)?

Anything that might persuade him that itís a good choice?

If the answer is yes the choice of giving isnít unconditional, itís dependent on the possibility of something in return.

Letís turn that around, what about gods love for man, is that unconditional? If it is she isnít expecting anything in return, sheíll love you regardless of your religion or actions. That doesnít sound like any god Iíve heard of, I seem to recall wrath and a fair bit of smiting when gods donít get what they want.

So given that god seems to only give based on the possibility of getting something in return why is it so strange that man, supposedly made in her image, works in exactly the same way?

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17 posted 12-02-2007 11:45 AM       View Profile for TomMark   Email TomMark   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for TomMark

Grinch
======="Is there anything man might gain from giving love to his god (or anyone else for that matter)?"

The conscience is the driving power. But the expectation of gain is self-motivated.

===="Anything that might persuade him that itís a good choice?"

Will you please define "good" here. By what standard?

===="If the answer is yes the choice of giving isnít unconditional, itís dependent on the possibility of something in return."

"Thinking about something in return" when you give out is one type of Greediness.

====="Letís turn that around, what about gods love for man, is that unconditional? If it is she isnít expecting anything in return, sheíll love you regardless of your religion or actions. That doesnít sound like any god Iíve heard of, I seem to recall wrath and a fair bit of smiting when gods donít get what they want."

You must have met all the little wrong gods. She never been God. looking around yourself and the world, see how every one is living?

"So given that god seems to only give based on the possibility of getting something in return"

It is your perception.

What does God ask one to do? is it the "returns"? or is it for the best for oneself?

[This message has been edited by TomMark (12-02-2007 12:55 PM).]

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Yes, Susan, there is a Santa Claus.

Believe, lovie.

I promise you there are people who give with no thought of return.

I have a list.  

It is one of my very favorite daydreams to be able, some day, to do something lovely for all of the silent Santas I have known.

I often said I wished I were Oprah, and it's not because of the things she has, but the things she can give--she, and others, have the ability to change peoples lives, and that's got to feel amazing.

(And I know you said it has nothing to do with the holidays, too. But I couldn't help  but go there.)
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19 posted 12-03-2007 12:45 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Susan:

I think it is basic human nature to expect a consequence (positive or negative) to any given action if the consequence is consistent.  If I work, I expect to get paid on pay day.  If I receive gifts regularly on my birthday, I expect to receive gifts on my birthday.  If I purchase a gift for someone, and routinely get a gift from them in return, I would probably come to expect that gift in the future.

I don't think giving in anticipation of receiving is human nature, but I think the mechanisms that lead us to expect it are.  Whether our anticipation of a gift becomes the reason for our continued giving depends, I suppose, on the individual.

Jim
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20 posted 12-03-2007 03:13 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Grinch:
quote:
Have you an example?


Do I have an example of someone who gave something, for much less of a return?  Many such examples where pain and loss are endured to give or do something good.  I could name some, but you could probably think of a few yourself if you tried.  Giving ones physical life in a rescue situation, is probably an outstanding example.  But there are many less dramatic examples too.  No doubt you'll say that the exquisite "feeling" gained from giving was itself the gain.  But that's sophistry if you ask me, since in order to believe it, I have to doubt human psycology to the point of believing that such feelings have nothing substantial (no virtue) behind them.  

Do such feelings hold no real insight?  Are they just evolutionary "bait"?  There would be a real deception involved, since most people think there is real virtue in giving, hence the feelings.  We also admire others for giving.  But if we know that they are really just out for themselves, why such admiration?  

Sure you can logically connect your argument, as you can connect a few dots on a page.  I'm just trying to suggest that there are more dots to consider, which might change the picture dramatically.  The reductionism of evolutionary ethics makes it too easy to miss the depth of such moral questions as this.

quote:
Actually itís very scientific.


I'm not denying that science is applied to such theories.  I'm denying that the science is conclusive as to whether the theories best explain reality.  

I've read about ESS.  But I'm still wanting to talk about the sheer existence of "selfishness" in the world.  If natural selection is so geared toward giving then why are there so many live alternatives?

quote:
Lets take a simple example, vampire bats need to feed fairly regularly or they die, they donít always manage to but theyíve developed a strategy whereby if they do find food they tend to share it by regurgitation with a bat that hasnít. You could call it an altruistic act but it isnít because the payback is that when they donít feed thereís a good chance that another bat will reciprocate.


The conscious acceptance of such things would be Nash Equilibrium.  But another evolutionary strategy might be to develop a taste for a totally different food (in addition to the already available food) and kill those who don't have this ability.  I'm afraid the actual history of evolution (if it is to be believed) or the struggle for life on planet Earth, is not so neat and tidy as that.  Many leading evolutionary biologists have remarked on the sheer unpredictability of evolution.  So, in spite of these theories, I don't think that biological evolution is necessarily a guarantor of moral behavior.

quote:
No moral arguments were needed in the creation of this example just basic self-interest.


That stands to reason, since you speak of bats.  Its also pretty obvious that human ethics (a major branch of philosophy) and psychology represents something far different and more complex that that of bats.

Stephen    
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21 posted 12-03-2007 03:52 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Jim:
quote:
I don't think giving in anticipation of receiving is human nature


Jim,

What would you say to the argument which states that the most "virtuous" acts are done soley for the return of neurotransmitters yielding pleasure in the brain?  

Do you find this argument problematic?

Stephen
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22 posted 12-03-2007 07:54 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Stephen:

I think if all I got under the Christmas tree was a box of neurotransmitters, I'd be pretty unhappy.  

I also don't think that behaviorism is necessarily as mechanistic as your question implies.  And I don't think I ever said "soley."

Since you seem to have a problems with the deterministic overtones of behaviorism, what would you say to the argument which states that the most "virtuous" acts are tainted by the stain of sin?  If our souls always bend their knees to self-interest, why would we be surprised that our neurotransmitters do as well?

And I'm sure you realize that the urge you're feeling to answer the questions I just asked is conditioned as well.  

Jim

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23 posted 12-03-2007 10:20 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Jim
quote:
Since you seem to have a problems with the deterministic overtones of behaviorism, what would you say to the argument which states that the most "virtuous" acts are tainted by the stain of sin?  If our souls always bend their knees to self-interest, why would we be surprised that our neurotransmitters do as well?


I'm not surprised.  I have no problem admitting that our most "virtuous" acts are tainted with sin.  I suppose what I'm speaking of is not behaviorism, per se, but any theory which explains morality in terms of sheer biology.  One can believe in the possibility of virtue (or the moral framework), without presuming we are able to be perfectly virtuous.  Since you directly bring up Theology, I would say that it is possible to speak of virtue while being careful not to mistake this framework for the righteousness of justification.  But it is also impossible to speak of justification, without first recognizing the moral framework (or in terms of Christian Theology, The Law).


I'm speaking of the kind of argument that would take perhaps even the actions of Jesus (like feeding 5000) and interpret them purely in terms of self-interest.  It was a political move.  


I understand that you never said "soley".  But there are those whose philosophy says just that.


Stephen
    
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24 posted 12-04-2007 01:40 PM       View Profile for TomMark   Email TomMark   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for TomMark

Jim, (JBouder)

===="I think it is basic human nature to expect a consequence (positive or negative) to any given action if the consequence is consistent"

Since this is philosophy forum

1. If the consequence is not consistent,do people still expect a consequence?  

2. Is the expectation a nature or a trained behavior? (by you given examples).

3. Is it true that human naturally EXPECT a consequences to any given action? (Sir Ron, do you have good examples to support this statement?)

Tom
 
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