Monday, September 8, 2008

What Do You Think?

Which is more dangerous: someone that preaches evil (I'll leave evil up to your own interpretation) 100% of the time or an individual that preaches good 90% of the time, and evil 10% of the time?

If a person does good, merely to promote themselves- if they make money from altruism- is the good they do is as much value as those that may do less good, but do it with out personal profit?

Which is of more value to humanity- the person who gives a great deal to charity, but it requires no personal sacrifice, or the person who gives much less to charity- but at great personal sacrifice?

Is it better to do the right thing for the wrong reason, than not to do it at all?

(This isn't some random personality test, nor is it a trick question, just some things I've been thinking about and wanting to discuss- and since I work from home and all my friends live in the computer- I'm asking you)


Mr. Roberts said...

Q1) I’d go with the 90/10 as most dangerous, simply because a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down – it’s a lot easier to identify the continual perpetrator of evil and avoid them.

Q2) Having a hard time coming to any real conclusion on this.

Q3) Not to go all religious, but according the Good Book the widow’s mite is worth more than the loads of the Pharisee. And really, people lived for thousands of years on little material goods and did it happily; the world is in greater need of good people than money.

Q4) Yes, simply because doing good begets good and softens the heart of the doer – maybe promoting sincerer acts of goodness in the future.

There it is – random thoughts from a random guy.

Mikie said...

A) Is too subjective to me. Do people know that he's preaching evil 100% of the time? Or are they calling evil good? ;) If the 100% evil is obvious, perhaps 10% evil is more dangerous.

B) Doesn't the definition of altruism say that one is not self-interested and instead is acting completely selflessly for others? It seems to contradict the idea of self-promotion. Also, value is usually determined by the one receiving it, no? I'll just say I don't think there's anything evil about making money or that it lessens the value of good done by itself. What if the person recognizes that the more money they make, the more good they can do? The money alone isn't enough to cheapen the good-- but possible reasons behind pursuing the money could cheapen the good.

C) to humanity... I don't know. If you could get masses of people to give at great personal sacrifice, I think you'd be living in a better world. But if you're just comparing 2 individuals...
How far reaching is the great sacrifice of the one who has little? If it's published and thus influences others (we're given the example of the widow's mite as an example for humanity to follow), perhaps it's of greater intrinsic value to humanity than any larger donation given at much less personal sacrifice.

D) I'm gonna pick "right thing for the wrong reason" as being better than "not doing the right thing". But then this is just another question that for me depends on the variable... what's the nature of the "wrong reason"? Sometimes "wrong reason" has an impact on whether what was done was actually "right" (or good, at least.)

adam said...

Oh good I love these questions.

1-Yeah, depends what "evil" is, but I'd say evil 100% is worse, cause we probably all preach some evil now and again... This is all assuming there are pure "evil" and "good" that are preached. While that may be true, I think most preaching is in a shade of grey, with a good, and a little bad as the outliers.

2-The value of what they do is the same, regardless of profit. How much it helps them personally is another matter.

3-Related to #2, I think greater sacrifice will reap more personal benefit, and will possibly even be of a bigger value to humanity due to their spirit of goodness, to explain it crudely.

4-I think I agree with Mr. Roberts, and that we all do things all the time for not always the best reasons, but overtime we learn to do things for better reasons. Plus, I don't know if there is always a "good" or "bad" reason.

By the way, I do have season 2 of AD. :)

Barowdwngs said...

I think it's easy to discount someone if you see them do one evil deed. But in the real world we're complex individuals and everyone has a very difficult task of working with whatever perspective and collection of experiences they've knitted together for themselves. Everything appears simple in retrospect but in that moment someone can literally overlook what may normally seem a moral high ground and convince themselves that they're justified to make exceptions.

I think it's mostly out of convenience and boredom that we categorize and make absolute judgements about people based on actions the limited perspective we all have as outside observers. It takes more work to judge each act separately and avoid classifications.

Doncha think?

Then again, it's easy to say it but we all do it. But as long as we're talking about philosophical ideals.

Steve said...

Wow, you need a new hobby! haha.

1) I think 100% evil is always more dangerous. Otherwise, you'd be saying someone like Hitler is less dangerous than your friend that drinks too much or cheats on her husband, just for reference.

2) I'm with the less good crowd here, but ONLY if it is truly altruism and not perceived altruism. FAKE people would be the former and we all know people like that. But trying to do what one feels is right isn't altruism.

3) I always notice that people that grew up lower middle class (myself included, thus toss this into altruism :) ) tend to have softer hearts and a better understanding of the real world, softer hearts, and a truer understanding of charity.

4) I agree with adam and Mr Roberts (which was the name of my elementary PE teacher) that the wrong reason is relative and unless it is 100% self gain, thus falling into #2 above, it is ok. Half ass is better than no ass.

PS Do you really think your baby won't pick up the guise of these as political debate questions?!?! ;-)

crazy4danes said...

I would be way more leery of the one who preaches 90% good and 10% evil. It's easy to avoid the 100% evil people, but the ones you have to really watch are the "not" so evil ones. You really have to filter everything to make sure you weed out the evil from the good. Far scarier I think!

I say people can make money from the good they are doing as long as the consumer is getting good use value for the cash they paid. I think people should be able to profit and be "good" people as long as they are working with a creative process, not a competitive one.

Sacrifice is a word that really doesn't fit sometimes. Sacrifice means you are giving something to someone else because you don't think there is enough to go around so you are willing to go without so someone else doesn't have to. Personally I don't think that benefits anyone. There is plenty to go around for everyone. It's a matter of teaching others how to help themselves. Charity can be good sometimes, but more often than not the situation you were trying to help out will remain unchanged. Does that make sense? Or does it make me sound like an @ss?

I think doing the right thing for the wrong reason is stupid...just don't do anything at all! Do something for the right reason, otherwise...don't waste your time!

Steve said...

I think Crazy4danes (I've always wondered why you like Denmark so much!) solidified my answers by being able to play devil's advocate against her answers.

1) But this means everyone has to be 91% or better! This brings in the whole "cast the first stone" rule. Granted, there may be plenty that fit into that group, but to ignore the others isn't very comforting or good for society.

2) I can agree with you here, but then I see all those "self-help" people like Joel Osteen and that Secret of Life book that was big a year or so ago. Those people are just snake oil salesmen.

3) Again, not trying to be a prick, but thus you must think distribution of wealth is somewhat ok, since there is enough to go around. To get more, someone has to go with less. There is a finite pool of almost every resource! I do understand your stance that charity can enocurage dependence and often is a temp solution to a bigger problem, but isn't sacrifice and charity some of the very key things society, especially a Christian society, are based upon?

4) Life is hardly ever black and white, thus not right and wrong. to believe so results in very short sided and poor decisions. Case in point, the last 8 years in this country. How is the economy and general well being of most of the people you know compared to 2000?

Again, not stirring trouble with you Hot4Scandanavians, just using your answers to solidfy mine. :)

Mikie said...

"3) Again, not trying to be a prick, but thus you must think distribution of wealth is somewhat ok, since there is enough to go around. To get more, someone has to go with less. There is a finite pool of almost every resource! I do understand your stance that charity can enocurage dependence and often is a temp solution to a bigger problem, but isn't sacrifice and charity some of the very key things society, especially a Christian society, are based upon?"

Makes you really stop and ponder the meaning of the word "charity". If charity were about people rather than material needs, then charity might be considered helping to teach a man to fish rather than just giving him fish. You care that he grows / becomes self reliant-- rather than just caring that you feel bad that he doesn't have as much as you. (This is a fallacy of socialism, that material things have intrinsic value and that it is thus important that everyone be equal materially).

I really wonder how much "good" or "charity" is motivated by guilt rather than genuine love and hope for others.

Silvs said...

1) If the 90/10 person preaches with the intent of being deceitful, than I'd say it it's about equally as bad as the 100% evil person. It's easy to look at Hitler and say, oh, obviously evil. But what about when it's someone who masquerades as good? I think that's just as bad.

2) a doctor or something like that as opposed to someone who works at a non-profit? I think it would depend partly on the recipients and how much (or how many) their lives are affected by the work being performed. The pursuit of rational self-interest carries a lot of value. It shouldn't be entirely discounted just because there is some reward involved. There will always be an inherent reward in doing good.

3) Widow's mite is an appropriate. Giving out of abundance is not as noble as self-sacrificing.

4) Hmmm...I'm inclined to say it's never wrong to do the right thing, but at what point do wrong motives make it not the "right" thing anymore? It does matter to some degree, I would think. But I'm still more inclined to go with you're almost always going to be safe doing what's "right", even if it's not necessarily borne out of the purest intentions.

You can thank school work for these answers, not because what I'm doing is related at all to the questions, but because I'm avoiding it. School work, that is.

Silvs said...

Oh...and I don't really agree with the finite resources comment. Talking about wealth distribution is different than talking about fossil fuel, or water distribution. I don't feel like elaborating, so hopefully you can figure out why I say that. Not to say that I don't think we should be charitable.

Della Hill said...

Sometimes reading your blog, including the comments, makes my brain hurt.

Steve said...

mikie/silvs, you make a good point about the definition of charity. Time and knowledge are almost always more valuable than physical resources to someone that needs that time and/or knowledge. But in this country, both almost always come with a price tag and if you don't have the means to obtain them (get a decent high school education, get to college, not be spending most of your time worrying about money and working all the time to take time to learn, etc.), then a disconnect occurs between the person willing to give the charity and the receiver, who may not be in a position to readily receive it. Thus, social or community programs are sometimes needed to give someone a hand up. This is where money, often in the case of tax dollars (ie redistribution of wealth if you a Ron Paul devotee), is needed or welcomed.

Mikie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mikie said...

Steve- I don't deny that material resources may be a part of charity (My intent isn't to say that it's an "either / or). My point was simply that the solution to "making the world a better place" is not as simple as throwing money at people, that more is needed than that. (Certainly the good Samaritan used money, among other things, in order to provide care for the man who had been robbed and beaten nigh unto death).

Fortunately there are people like you involved in programs supported by that money who do care about individuals. My lofty ideal is just for the people who the money is coming from to also have some compassion and be interested in the individuals that it benefits-- not simply that it benefits individuals. (I won't argue with you about forced "redistribution of wealth"-- that ground has been covered a few times already, my friend. ;)

Salt H2O said...

This is awesome. I love it when I don't even have to participate in the discussion and I'm fully entertained!

Salt H2O said...

This is awesome. I love it when I don't even have to participate in the discussion and I'm fully entertained!