Baker H. Pratt|
Why Altruism Does Not Exist
I would like to say that there is pure altruism, but I honestly believe there is no such thing. And that is not because I am a pessimistic person who believes that humanity is dishonest and awful. I have come to this conclusion after thinking about why people do what they do, and how people unconsciously fulfill subconscious desires. I used to think that pure altruism existed, but the more I give it thought, the more that I realize that pure altruism does not exist. It is impossible for humans to do something that couldn't somehow be construed as helping themselves.
As an example I will talk about a person giving food to the homeless. Yes, this is a noble deed, and yes I believe that this person is kind. However, this is not pure altruism. Consciously, it might be, but subconscious desires are being fulfilled. This person needs to be kind in order to feel better about themselves. Since there are helping this person survive, their own self-worth increases and therefore they are gaining something from this "altruistic" act also. But does that mean that this person is any less kind because they are gaining something from this? No, of course not. The act itself is still a very compassionate act.
Another example that many people use as altruism is a person who is stays beside a dying relative. Some argue that a person gains nothing from this act. Actually you can use the same argument as before, that this person feels better about them self for staying by their terminally ill relative. But you can also argue that they are staying by this person because they feel they have a "duty" to do so. So this person is actually gaining a sense of fulfilling duty by staying beside their relative.
So, these two acts are not purely altruistic. In each instance this person is gaining something from this, either consciously or subconsciously, and in both these previous instances the person is increasing their own sense of self worth. But that does not diminish these acts at all. They are still both very noble, and very kind. Even if they were driven to do these acts by genetic influences, or by social influences, they are still acts of great societal worth. Just because humans are innately unable to do something completely selflessly, does not mean that those altruistic acts are any less valuable.