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In lands I never saw -- they say
Immortal Alps look down --
Whose bonnets touch the firmament --
Whose sandals touch the town --

Meek at whose everlasting feet
A myriad daisy play --
Which, Sir, are you and which am I
Upon an August day?

Emily Dickinson
Learn English in July

Monday Night Owls - 20 January 2020 - Do truly selfless acts exist?

NatashaTNatashaT Posts: 1,207 Teacher
We read an article which looked at examples from the animal kingdom to show that even acts that appear to be selfless have benefits for the helper:


Vocabulary Top 10:

mill around - to walk around in a general area without any particular aim or purpose

symbiotic - the relationship between two different kinds of living things that live together and depend on each other

run counter to - in a way that goes against or does not agree with something

altruism - feelings and behavior that show a desire to help other people and a lack of selfishness

mantra - a sound, word, or phrase that is repeated by someone who is praying or meditating; a word or phrase that is repeated often or that expresses someone's basic beliefs

given half a chance - given the slightest opportunity

fret - to worry or be concerned

proxy - power or authority that is given to allow a person to act for someone else

tenet - a belief or idea that is very important to a group

eusocial - (of an animal species, especially an insect) showing an advanced level of social organization, in which a single female or caste produces the offspring and nonreproductive individuals cooperate in caring for the young

Do you think it is possible for an action to be solely altruistic?
What are other examples of symbiotic relationships in nature you have heard of?

@april @filauzio @Alexa @almog250 @Monik @Shiny03


  • NatashaTNatashaT Posts: 1,207 Teacher
    Some extra questions to answer:

    Question 1: Do the motivations (altruistic or selfish) matter if we are helping people? Are the motivations more important than the results?
    Question 2: Are we becoming more altruistic, or less altruistic?
  • TeachTeach Your Teacher HomePosts: 10,465 mod
    An interesting topic Natasha.

    I think that if you are in need of help, it doesn't matter what the motivation of the person or people helping you is, you will just be grateful for the help.

    However, if you are the person helping, then it matters.

    I am not sure if we are becoming more or less altruistic in general. Maybe people are simply overwhelmed by how much needs to be done to sort the world out.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,441 ✭✭✭✭
    I think a lot of people do good deeds for their own satisfaction, even seeing it as a form of 'good karma' for their next life. Unfortunately I think it's much more rare to find those who do good deeds without expecting anything in return.

    Auroville in Tamil Nadu tries to encourage the idea of giving without expecting anything in return. It's an interesting community that was first set up in the 1970s and continues to thrive.
  • aprilapril Moderator Posts: 11,207 mod
    edited February 1
    I see two groups of people who would act altruistically in our world.
    People who just help others in need, spontaneously, without thinking of the safety of their own lives and without thinking who he/she is helping at that moment.
    They just jump in ice cold water when they see somebody is drowning.

    The other group are people who help others because it is their job, like a fireman or a rescue worker.
    Sometimes rescue operations cost them their own lives; like rescuing alpinists or a cave rescue.

    I admire both groups.
    I believe that everybody has this good instinct to risk your own life for helping other people, but you need such a strong character to be able to do that spontaneously or as a part of your job.
    I'm a coward, I don't have the guts. :)
    I was already happy to be a good unknown, when a lady didn't have enough money to pay her purchase at the checkout and I spontaneously paid it for her. :D

    Post edited by april on
  • NatashaTNatashaT Posts: 1,207 Teacher
    @april , don't you think your job was one of the ones that would be would be classed as helping people? Maybe you have more guts than you think! ;)
  • aprilapril Moderator Posts: 11,207 mod
    Yeah, we are helping people, @NatashaT, I'm proud of it, but would I sacrifice my life for it?
    I don't know.
    I would be ready to take care of patients with Corona virus infection, for example (with all the precautionary measures), but I don't think I would be ready to be sent to the war zones. :(
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