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jump to last post 1-10 of 10 discussions (20 posts)

Do you believe that people are instinctively selfish or instinctively generous?

  1. leroy64 profile image85
    leroy64posted 5 years ago

    Do you believe that people are instinctively selfish or instinctively generous?

    I was wondering about that when it occurred to me that parents spend a great amount of time teaching their children to share.  Curiosity about peoples opinions is driving this question.

  2. Disappearinghead profile image77
    Disappearingheadposted 5 years ago

    From personal experience of my own character and by observing my children, it seems to me that people are instinctively shellfish. However, this is no different from the animal kingdom where animals compete for survival. For us to not be shellfish requires a choice and a conscious effort.

    1. JMcFarland profile image87
      JMcFarlandposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      we're all shellfish?

    2. Disappearinghead profile image77
      Disappearingheadposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Yes everyone gets a bit crabby now and then.

    3. leroy64 profile image85
      leroy64posted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Nice puns.

  3. maddot profile image79
    maddotposted 5 years ago

    I like the question.
    I think instinctively we are generous but our ego takes over and Mr/Ms Selfish runs the show at times.
    If you examine your feelings when you are being selfish I don't believe they are feelings that are for the good of the herd; they are precisely about the self with no concern for anyone else. This makes  me think that selfishness is not a survival instinct, however generosity is something  that makes us feel good and generates goodwill that ultimately leads to the survival of species.

    1. Tusitala Tom profile image65
      Tusitala Tomposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Concur your views.  Generosity wells up, we go to share...or give and...
      in comes those thoughts about, 'Can I afford it?'  Then the rationalizations: 'They've had same chances I had... They'll not appreicate...they waste it...etc.

  4. jlpark profile image85
    jlparkposted 5 years ago

    Selfish.  However, if you look at it from a purely 'survival' of a person point of view it makes sense.  Take away all the modern schools of thought that we MUST be generous, and the socially niceties, and look at it again.

    If it was going to save your life, and you had no hope without it - would you give to another?  Base instincts say "NO!!!".  Our social conscious may wish to shout something different.

    Sure I'd like to live my life as a generous person, and strive to do so, and most people I know are the same...but, basic instincts are there for a reason.

    1. maddot profile image79
      maddotposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      But what are the basic instincts? Are you saying that we are basically selfish and hateful, greedy and insular? Or do we crave something else?

    2. jlpark profile image85
      jlparkposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Basically selfish. If it risks us, we'll always go for the least risky to us option. Self preservation. Etc

    3. Tusitala Tom profile image65
      Tusitala Tomposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      We know that many a mother, animal or human, will put their lives on the line to save their young children - is that a selfish basic instinct?   We know that real heros will often do the same.  Some people do give their lives that others might live.

    4. jlpark profile image85
      jlparkposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      That is true - but rare. MOST would say they would but when the time came - would they? I know I think I would do it for my kids etc - that's about self preservation though - they are a continuation of ourselves. I don't lk that we r selfish but we r

  5. fpherj48 profile image76
    fpherj48posted 5 years ago

    If humans were "instinctively" generous, or able & willing to "share".....NONE of us would find it NECESSARY to begin at age 2, to begin to teach children to  do precisely that....SHARE.

  6. connorj profile image80
    connorjposted 5 years ago

    I think we are instinctively more selfish than generous. I believe we all had to learn to share from our parent(s) and within our early environments...

  7. tillsontitan profile image87
    tillsontitanposted 5 years ago

    I think there is a difference between sharing and generosity.  While small children have difficulty sharing their toys, if they have a bagful of candy they are likely to give some to their friends and be generous.  I like to believe we are instinctively generous and will give to others as we are able...maybe not selfless, but generous.

    1. fpherj48 profile image76
      fpherj48posted 5 years agoin reply to this

      and I think you're right, Til...there is a difference between sharing and generosity.....thanks for pointing this out to me.....and I'd like to say one more thing.  If my grandchildren have a bag of candy...they didn't get it from ME!  Honest.

    2. tillsontitan profile image87
      tillsontitanposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Effer, I wonder where they DID get the candy wink

  8. taburkett profile image60
    taburkettposted 5 years ago

    NO.  People are not instinctively selfish or generous.  These are learned responses of the individual that begins when they are a child.  The learning starts as the newborn begins to observe the actions of others.  They then learn selfishness or generosity.

  9. RBJ33 profile image61
    RBJ33posted 5 years ago

    Great question leroy - makes you ponder.  Personally I believe most all children are selfish - they learn sharing from their parents.  As adults we are selfish on occasion as well as generous on occasion.  Our instincts change with the situation.

  10. ahorseback profile image77
    ahorsebackposted 5 years ago

    You may not remember and older term . "The silent moral majority " ,  used to discribe Americans in the background doing  things ,so to speak , We are far more instinctivly generous than selfish !

 
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