Is true altruism possible?

Why or why not?

Just wondering what you guys/ladies think...

Yes I realize the question has probably appeared on TA before but not since I've been here...

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Yes, but it is probably pretty rare.

An example might be an anonymous donation to a cause from which you derive no benefit.

The natural counter argument is that the donor will feel good about their self and that is their benefit, but I don't buy it.  I believe that line of thinking presupposes the answer to the question.

Presumably, the cause would be one you want to succeed.  You don't get the ego-boo of having your donation publicly acknowledged but that's not your purpose. 

If you didn't want it to succeed but contributed anyway, that would be pure altruism and pure stupid.

Is true altruism possible?

Yes I know of several examples, a couple of which I know the donor didn't even receive personal satisfaction to any great degree.

What exactly is true altruism?  It could be argued that whenever we practice altruism, we ourselves benefit in some way.  So I prefer the term "enlightened self-interest". 

True altruism? Bit of a 'no true Scotsman' there methinks. 

If true altruism is defined in such a way that any kind of self interest or gratification has to be excluded then it would debatable, not so much if it is "possible" but if it actually exists, I guess.

The question then arises is whether altruistic behavior is "true" or not is important or makes any difference?

"Yes I realize the question has probably appeared on TA before but not since I've been here..."

Yeah, I think it has, as I recall, Unseen began something similar some time ago, but you know how he's always trying to start trouble. It might have been during one of your name changes, you might have missed it.

There was a time when I would have said yes, but I've come to rethink that position. Even those who donate to charity anonymously or throw themselves on hand grenades or become suicide bombers, do not do so out of altruism, they do it because they get satisfaction from believing they are serving the greater good, or in the case of the latter, setting themselves up for those 72 virgins at the end of the rainbow.

Yes, altruistic acts and moments are the best "stuff" of life.

Yes, I do, because some of us have the capacity to feel empathy and compassion for  other people and animals.   That feeling can be sufficiently strong to induce us to act solely in the interest of others without consideration for ourselves.  On the other hand, there are the Republicans.


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