Daily Archives: January 23, 2007

Neuroscience of Altruism

Why do you help people or volunteer? Other than a sense of duty or responsibility, most people do it because they feel its fulfilling and feels good. If you’re like me, you sometimes feel helping people is almost selfish, because you feel like your doing it to be happy, instead of to to make the people your helping happy. But emotions and the brain are confusing, and philosophical debate hardly ever -as fun and interesting as it is- gets you to terribly far. So thank goodness for neuroscience.

The guys over at Boing Boing caught an interesting report on altruism. That

(excerpt from what Boing Boing wrote)

suggests that we don’t perform acts of altruism because it feels good but rather because we recognize that other people’s actions and place in the world is meaningful. It’s something like a Golden Rule model that has evolved based on “the simple recognition that that thing over there is a person that has intentions and goals,” says Duke University Medical Center psychologist Scott Huettel. “And therefore, I might want to treat them like I might want them to treat myself.”

It goes on to Explain that this can be theorised because of what part of the brain is firing when you feel your doing something selfless – most importantly, it not the part of your brain responsible for personal pleasure and rewards. Read Boing Boing’s article here. More Links to be found on their site. Read the Original Article here


Theology and the Real World

It was Blog for Choice Day the other day, and though a bit late, Sean over at Cosmic Variance Writes up a good quickie on abortion and religion. Follow the links in his article for more very meaningful writings.

But I still remember my friends who were not like that, and I recognize that for many people abortion really is a clash of absolutes. You can say all you want that it’s the pregnant woman’s body, hands off, etc.; but if it were actually true that a fetus was a person with a soul who was entitled to all of the protections that any post-birth person was entitled to, none of that would matter. The heart of the matter is: people who believe that are wrong.

Just a few more reasons I’m atheist.