In the News (Stanford News): “Ever since the concept of altruism was proposed in the 19th century, psychologists have debated whether or not people are born into the world preprogrammed to be nice to others. Now, a pair of Stanford psychologists has conducted experiments that indicate altruism has environmental triggers, and is not something we are simply born with.
“In 2006, a study involving toddlers found that the 18-month-olds were willing to provide a helping hand to the experimenters without being prompted. This expression of altruistic behavior in such young children aligned with what many scientists believed to be an expression of innate altruism, and the findings have served as the basis for dozens of studies since. …
“As with most experiments involving toddlers, the researchers behind the 2006 study engaged in a few minutes of play with the children, in order to make them comfortable with new people in a new setting.
“But this interaction, however brief, might have primed the toddler subjects toward altruistic behavior, and affected the outcome of the experiment. …
“Barragan and Dweck designed a novel experiment to isolate the effect of the pretest warm-up period. They enlisted 34 one- and two-year-olds …
“The results suggest that altruistic behavior may be governed more by relationships, even brief ones, than instincts.”
My Comment: This is nothing more than a naïve misconception.
The conclusions of the scientists sound too categorical. I would soften the wording a bit and use the magic words, “as far as it seems.” “As far as it seems, the acts of humans are also managed by altruistic intentions. Among apes there are no intentions like these, while among humans who have developed, it could be that they exist.” After all, the assumption of the scientists is not clear at all.
They say that altruism develops under the influence of communication between people, while I see that under the influence of communication, a person becomes more and more egoistic and doesn’t want to take anything into consideration except personal benefit, pleasure, and enjoyment.
Question: Does this mean that altruism is not created even when there is communication between people?
Answer: Certainly not. While communicating, I only see from whom I can profit, enjoy, and rise above. What we consider as altruism is egoism camoflaged to exploit others better.
Question: If this is so, if altruism doesn’t exist, where does this word come from?
Answer: In our lexicon there are many nice and good words: “friendship, love, connection, and mutual affection.” This is what misleads and confuses a person.
Question: Is it possible to acquire altruism somehow?
Answer: This is impossible because in our world on the level of nature in which we live in the communication between us, altruism doesn’t exist. But with the help of a unique method, we can summon the hidden power of nature (call it a “secret”), that, in addition to our nature, develops the characteristic of bestowal in us, the characteristic of unrequited, irrevocable, unconditional love. This is altruism.
But first we must discover the force of nature under whose influence we can become like this. Then we acquire the power of altruism, this possibility, this characteristic. But in no way do we do this with our own abilities.
The entire Torah talks about this. If we use it correctly, and the correct usage of the Torah is the wisdom of Kabbalah, then we can awaken and summon this force and it will transform us into altruists.
Then we will begin to uphold the general rule, “And you shall love your friend as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18), which is the goal of the method of Torah.
Question: Suppose I become an altruist and someone else doesn’t, how will I be able to exist along with him?
Answer: You will be able to exist with him on the same level in which he and the whole world are. You will be able to talk with him calmly, work together, study, and do business.
Question: If so, how will the altruism in me be expressed?
Answer: Unlike others, you will not be able to cause anything bad in the world. You will receive from the world only as much as you require for sustaining yourself. In contrast to the others who receive in order to get everything in the world, you simply don’t need this; you have no desire for it. Other than that, you behave like all other people.
Question: Doesn’t it seem that science won’t rise to the level of altruistic deeds?
Answer: Science can rise only to the level of its researchers, but no more. So it is necessary to develop the scientists, to raise their level.
Question: Is this possible?
Answer: I don’t know if it is easier to elevate the scientists or all of society. Scientists are people who stubbornly hold onto their nature. But I have recently noticed that the general crisis and the crisis within science and all of its manifestations have begun to influence them also.
Big doubts have appeared among them and all sorts of vacillations have begun to appear within science. Other than this, in the exact sciences, they are already talking about changes in nature, about its other possibilities.
While in the inexact sciences like psychology, they will continue to plod along for some time, tailing behind all of the sciences because they are based on only the material nature of humanity.
From KabTV’s “News with Michael Laitman” 12/28/16