In the most cynical way, being human is about being unable to control yourself; to any and every thing. Enduring hopelessly dysfunctional relationships, surrendering to societal arbitrariness, rampant selfishness (voluntary or involuntary), slipping down the concentration gradient of laziness~ LET’S BE HONEST HERE, humans are doomed as a species. The plight we face today is, frankly, premeditated. Be it intelligent design, an act of god, or evolution; our final destination is overtly catastrophic.
The concept of ‘humanity’ is a travesty. Even the definintion of the word is a tragic injustice:
1. the quality or state of being kind to other people or to animals
2. all people
As far as I’m concerned, the only acceptable use of the word ‘humanity’ lies in the latter of the duo.
‘Kindness’ is just as selfish as everything else a human can possibly do. You only give to the poor because you obtain personal utility (gratification knowing that you helped someone?). Hopefully it’s psychological in nature, if not then you’re comparatively more of a materialistic degenerate than the rest of us; harvesting tangible yield under a veil of kindness, shame on you… Join the rest of commercialism…
If you’re not convinced as to why a selfless act cannot exist in it’s entirety, I will further divulge for the good riddance of your naivety:
Through virtue ethics, it would be perceivable that we can never be selfless because we stand to gain something in everything we do, even if it’s infinitesimal. You work because you get paid, you’re charitable because you feel good, you help because you’re now a ‘good samaritan’. Your inherent character therefore defines you as selfish because as a human you cannot physically and psychologically do anything without getting something favourable in return, tragically it’s universally human so don’t grieve.
Through consequentialism, you might believe you’re selfless because what you’ve done has incurred positive externalities on society. However, inevitably, you’ve also gained from it, and therefore you’re still selfish. Sorry. Although, slightly less as you’ve offset the internal with the external: you earned $5 but they earned $10, you’re Bill Gates but then you’re Bill Gates… (not taking anything away from him and his foundation; an angel amongst the demons) You cannot possibly eliminate emotional or psychological utility, in fact in most cases it is the only motivating factor. Why do you think hope is legendary in it’s willpower? Because it is!
Then there’s deontological ethics; but let’s be real, deontology is the most subjective of the normative theories. ‘Adherence to rules’ determines ethical action? Total bullshit. We made the rules! However, deontology does raise an interesting case for selflessness (but still invalid): a spontaneous ‘act of kindness’. An old lady falls over and you instantly dive to her aid. Yet it’s an instinctive and impulsive response; humans are creatures of habit. Your consciousness has conformed to the socially instilled value that you as a member of a community is expected to assist the needy. You’re brain has therefore bypassed the decision stage with synapses directly between the orient and act stages (Boyd’s OODA cycle); acting before you’ve even processed the specific situation before you. However, you’ve previously established that by harmonizing with the apparent social normalities you ultimately gain utility (social acceptance, possibility for collaboration, desired perception of oneself, etc). Even though you acted immediately without considering the outcomes, you’ve already premeditated your response. Sorry you’re still selfish.