Islam students at LUC

week six.

Posted on: February 26, 2013

Today, we had a very interesting discussion on the levels of faith and selfishness vs. selflessness.  As a Psychology major, I tend to base a lot of my rationale for human actions on the Psychological theories.  I feel like there is no such thing as real selflessness.  Everything we do as human beings is done for a purpose, whether that purpose is the Divine or an intrinsic good feeling.  We may be classically conditioned to associate good works with good feelings.  There is such a thing called Operant Conditioning which involves rewards and punishments.  Through our experiences, we have always been rewarded for doing good works, whether it was from our parents, teachers, internal good feeling, or our belief in karma.  There is also something called Social Learning, in which we do not have to perform the task ourselves to know it is good or bad.  We may have seen our parents help our 70-year old neighbor shovel their driveway, so we understand that is the right thing to do.  No matter what it is, I feel that we know we are doing something for a greater purpose or greater satisfaction.  Even with the example of a parent for her or his child, I feel that is not necessarily selfless.  I understand there are many times that parents go out of the way to do things for their children, but I do feel like being a good parent, raising a good child, or maintaining a good family life are things that will either be rewarded immediately by society or in the Afterlife, if one believes.  Therefore, I still feel like none of our actions are truly selfless.  I do, however, believe selfishness can be good in many circumstances, specifically when it comes to such acts of kindness.

In response to greekforgrace:

I appreciate your comment about interpretation.  One thing we grazed on in class today was interpretation and intention.  Specifically with the suicide bomber example, we discussed how that individual could perceive their action as being altruistically selfless, as they are giving up their life for God/rid of occupation/their country/etc.  The interesting idea here is that one can frame such a terrible action in a way such that they truly believe it is correct.  Whether they are brainwashed or pressured or truly believe they are right, we can never really understand what is going on in that individual’s mind to evoke such an action.  So if that person’s intention is for God and if that person’s interpretation of their actions is for God, how do we classify their selfless/selfish actions?  They may be convinced that they are doing the right thing, so how would we explain to them they are wrong and that they are doing more harm than good?

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