The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Wipe the Slate and Rethink


An accusation of greed and selfishness. We all have our moments. So how many moments make your selfishness or greed ingrained? An integral part of your personality. How can you tell? Do you ask yourself if you could have acted differently? Do you ask if you hurt people and could care less? Or do you say there’s nothing wrong with greed and selfishness?

I’m walking the crowded middle of the road with all those who have moments. On the edges walk the narcissist and the self-sacrificing altruist. Maybe not so different.

A dictionary definition of greed gives three biggies:  money, power and food. I thought the triad was money, power and sex. Power? Don’t want it. Except over my mind and body. Food? Occasionally. I might hide a Sarris candy bar if there’s only one. But I usually buy for the household. Money? Enough for independence and a feeling of security. Security unless I meet a Bernie Madoff or the stock market crashes. And there are others in my thoughts for the future. With my kind of divorce, that’s all that’s left to consider. A sorrowful but inevitable end. And I am selfish. I want to forsake all others to fly away. But I’m grounded.

I feel gratitude and guilt. Gratitude to feel any security and guilt that others can’t. Should I give it all away to suppress guilt and become an altruist? No. I watched a film about a Hindu contemplating sanyasa. Forsaking his family and possessions. Forever. Or should I be like George Price giving away all worldly possessions to die a homeless suicide? Pointless waste.

But wipe the slate clean. Here from the article The Homeless Man Who Tried To Prove Selflessness Doesn’t Exist by Theo Jolliffe. George Price and Bill Hamilton and others had theories about all these behaviors that I’m still trying to wrap my head around. My son wanted me to read some book about game theory. Haven’t gotten to it yet. Brilliant men with formulas and theories that confuse me and have me rethinking all this shit.

Hamilton’s kin selection theory offers an explanation for how altruism evolves within the extended family. Drive your sister to the airport and you are ensuring half your genes go safely on holiday, but it’s probably not worth getting up at 4 AM for your cousin. Hamilton’s rule (rB>C) elegantly describes how a behavioural interaction could evolve, so long as the benefit (B) to the recipient, weighted by their degree of relatedness (r), is larger than the cost (C) to the actor. This explains why bees sting—the cost of sacrificing their own life is smaller than the benefit of protecting the hive.


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