Today on Slashdot, there was a super-interesting article on Altruism. Here’s the snippet:
Dekortage writes “The Washington Post is reporting on recent neuroscience research indicating that the brain is pre-wired to enjoy altruism — placing the interests of others ahead of one’s own. In studies, ‘[G]enerosity activated a primitive part of the brain that usually lights up in response to food or sex… Altruism, the experiment suggested, was not a superior moral faculty that suppresses basic selfish urges but rather was basic to the brain, hard-wired and pleasurable.’ Such research ‘has opened up a new window on what it means to be good,’ although many philosophers over recorded history have suggested similar things.”
I have always found altruism interesting, especially since I have children. I read an article when our twins were first born that altruism was something innate. I saw the boy twin exhibit altruism time and time again right when he was two years old. It fascinated me that now they saw that this is something we are born with, (lo and behold, hope for humankind).
Here’s the link to the article that started this all.
If you read the article that’s quoted in the /. article, it suggests that we are hardwired to get pleasure from helping others. Personally, I can relate. In reflection, other people I am drawn too, also exhibit altruism (much to the chagrin to our wives). This is an interesting article and since this is something I’d like to help foster in our children, I have a little better understanding. But given other examples I’ve seen, is this something that can be unlearned so to speak?
Just as much of our characteristics are learned behavior, can being anti-altruistic also be learned behavior? Unfortunately, I think so.
Kids are amazing. I have learned much from them and look forward to continuing to do so.