Why are people selfish and ignorant

Is man an egoist? - egoism (2)

Are we little kings or just pawns in a bigger game? © zeevveez under cc

Is man an egoist because he lives in an environment of selfish systems and consists of these himself? The question is controversial. Systems have a tendency towards self-preservation or autopoiesis. According to the sociologist Luhmann, humans have a share in it social systems, the biological system (Body / brain) and am mental system (Awareness). All these Systems are self-contained and demarcated from their environment and so sit social, biological and psychological Systems With their backs to one another, they all speak a different language. Electrochemical impulses are not words.

If we communicate with anyone in society, we are immediately part of a social system and (as described in the previous post) become its functional assistants. And since Systems are looking for self-support, we are helpers, at least from this point of view, more selfishly Systems.

Is man a system?

To do this, it must be clarified what a system is or what it is. And as is so often the case, one cannot say: “That's the way it is”, but rather: “This is how we see / we look at it.” We are quite sure that we are a unit which is separated from the outside and which in turn consists of parts. And there each system the tendency has to be self-sustaining, so the human being must also want it and therefore be selfish. Or?

Are we born selfish?

In “The egoistic gene”, the former biologist Richard Dawkins expresses this and sees humans on the lead of their egoistic genes:

This egoism of the gene will usually produce selfish behavior in the individual. There are, however, as we shall see, special circumstances in which a gene can best achieve its own selfish ends by promoting limited altruism at the individual level. The words “special” and “limited” in this sentence are important. As much as we would like to believe otherwise, universal love and the welfare of a species as a whole are terms that simply don't make sense in evolutionary terms. [1]

The altruism of people does not seem to be far off, but the question: Is the person an egoist? Seems to have to be answered with “yes”.

In a later publication by the author it says:

"Under some - not so rare - conditions, the genes ensure their own selfish survival best by causing the organism to altruism." [2]

But altruism is always a reciprocal altruism, one in the service of the more basic egoism. In Dawkins' words:

So we now have four valid Darwinian reasons why individuals act altruistically, generously, or "morally" with one another. The first concerns the special case of kinship. The second is reciprocity: favors are rewarded and “in anticipation” of such a favor. This is immediately followed by the third: the Darwinian advantage that comes from gaining a reputation for generosity and kindness. And fourth, if Zahavi is right, there is the special, immediate use of the generosity on display as a means of doing authentic, unadulterated advertising for yourself. [3]

We see that cooperation is possible on the basis of this egoism but it is a cooperation that exists in order to get (more), it is not selfless, not altruistic. But you can egoism ever leave behind? As is so often the case, it is not a question of whether it is so, but of whether you want to see it that way. Having this “choice” is not based on arbitrariness, but on the recognition that other theories are perspectives as well.

Sarah Blaffer Hrdy points out in her book “Mother Nature: The Feminine Side of Evolution” that evolution theory and observations of nature used to be often presented by men and that their point of view may recognize competitive behavior rather than cooperative behavior. Facial expressions and the ability to read and express affects are probably a development of higher mammals, which primarily enables more targeted brood care.

The Dutch biologist Frans de Waal found empirical evidence for real altruistic behavior in monkeys and with Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, Edward O. Wilson there are several biologists of high standing who contradict Dawkins, but how can humans succeed psychologically from the converting them egoism Break out? If biologists see cooperative, caring, nurturing and real altruistic forces in nature, then the supposed encirclement is not that great.

The transformation of the human being from egocentric to team player

But one primary selfishness also recognize psychologists in young children. A newborn is needy and first literally has to get to know its environment and its own body. At first there is no room for others. Where does the body end, where does the bedspread begin? The child has to learn this through learning by noticing that biting into the blanket feels different than the thumb.

From birth, the child gets to know its body and its limits. But that's not all. The child hatches one more time at around 18 to 36 months of age. “The second birth”, as Louise Kaplan calls her book, is an emotional hatching. In this phase, the child has the opportunity to experience itself as an independent being and to rehearse and overcome the fears of being emotionally disconnected from the mother in small steps . An immensely important phase of development.

When the child realizes that other people are really different and feel different and want something different from themselves, a realization that is further solidified in the course of life and is not closed here, the question automatically arises how it relates to them others should behave. In the first phase of life one sometimes speaks of a symbiotic relationship between mother and child, who cannot yet distinguish between his needs and those of others. A magical connection (since the child is convinced that the mother feels his needs immediately) called primary narcissism, primary egoism. This question does not yet arise there.

Is man an egoist? At first, yes. We're actually born selfish, but not what Dawkins thinks. We are not born free, but unfree, lie everywhere in chains of our primary needs and affects, we just do not yet recognize our chains. But we are also always born into a social world and quickly learn that we have to cooperate with others. This cooperation is initially still permeated with egoism. The child does not want to eat the spinach, only the dessert. But it quickly notices that the parents have the upper hand. No spinach, no dessert.

The defiance phase

The first reactions of the child, who knows what he wants, are known to parents as Defiance phase. A radical form of refusal, but at the same time an important step for the child. The child feels his own power for the first time. The child may have been unconsciously narcissistic and selfish before, but be egoism was ignorant. Now it notices that mother can be happy when the potty is full (instead of the diaper), but at the same time it notices that it itself has the power to give or refuse this “gift”. The time of the fight for the potty, the upper one is not emptied, the lower one is not full. The power lies in refusing, in saying “no” and that is exactly what the child tries excessively in the defiant phase; in short, it refuses everything, hurls a defiant “no” at the world. But it learns that within certain limits it is master of its own body. Nature no longer simply runs through the child, but it realizes that it can control its physical and emotional needs. And for the first time in his life he “understands” the meaning of the term “no” and experiments with that term and his attitude of radical denial. A tremendously significant step that the “no” or “not” is a purely virtual term. I can point to the car, not to “no car”, nor can I point to what I am currently doing Not make. The child has arrived in the world of the abstract. It hasn't built a palace here, not even its own home, but it has pitched its tent.

The selfish team player

But the child notices that the parents are still holding the lever. The reality of life catches up with it, the radical denial of the defiance phase is overcome, simply because it does not get you very far. But in the meantime the child has arrived in the abstract, cognitive world. The world of “what if ...?”. No spinach, no dessert, but if I eat half the spinach, will I get half the dessert? The child begins to act, it enters the realm of instrumental reason, in the end to get the biggest piece of the pie with a few concessions. I give to get more We recognize one of the four exceptions, or cooperative variants of the egoismwho Dawkins enumerated. Even if it was realized that one has to show consideration for others, if only because they are stronger or more powerful, one still sails under the flag of egoism.

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