HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!



What is altruism?
Serving others without seeking anything in it for yourself including good feelings. Without seeking means you are open to getting something so real altruism implies that you refuse anything back.  An altruism that declares that it is good to work only for the other person (meaning anything else is bad) and leave yourself out of it demands that you consciously leave yourself out.


However -


It is not being selfish that matters. It is being bad. You can be unselfish and bad. You might refuse to help somebody because you know they will help you back and choose to help a stranger who you will never see again. You can be selfish and do things not for the sake of others but because you feel you want to and be considered good. It is only religion that condemns that not society.


There is altruism, doing good without wanting anything for yourself. This is sometimes called unselfishness.
There is egoism which is helping others and looking for benefits for yourself such as feeling good. It is helping others not to help them but because you enjoy it. It is one kind of selfishness.
There is egotism which will not do good. It is the other kind of selfishness.
Three options. There are three only. Only one of them is right.
There is good selfishness which is egoism and bad which is egotism.
Love according to the altruist is sacrificing yourself to suffer for others and avoiding taking any pleasure in it. f you take pleasure regardless that is regarded as okay as long as it is not your fault. Altruists do selfless things so that others can have pleasure instead but if pleasure is so bad then how can it be right to give it to others? So you love others and not yourself.
Love according to the egoist is not sacrificing yourself but making yourself happy through making others happy. You can’t make others happy unless you are happy yourself so it starts with putting yourself first. You want them to share in your happiness which makes you happier. So when the egoist seems to sacrifice she is doing it because it makes or keeps her happy and the egoist recognises that you cannot love others unless you love yourself. This is not real sacrifice.
By loving others the egoist means helping them because you love yourself and put yourself first. The egoist loves herself by doing good for them. She wants to see her reflection of herself and her happiness in them so she helps them.
The egoist only values herself alone because she can’t do other than that for the good is done for her pleasure and not for the other people. When you like something that is finding your own fulfilment in it. Just doing it is reward enough. Its not the act that matters to you but the gratification doing it gives you.


What if you do good for the feeling of having done good and you feel no different?  You are not altruistic because your motive was to get the feeling.


Its not the results of the act that matter but the gratification of performing the act.


Liking means finding personal satisfaction so when you like a person you are not valuing that person but how they make you feel. There is nothing wrong with that for that necessarily makes you more useful to others than an altruist would be.


And no matter what you do it is because you like to do it to some extent so you do it because you like it and therefore for yourself. It is easier to help others if you want to and like doing it which means you are helping them to fulfil yourself. The egoist never sacrifices though he or she may give up things for others but he or she wants to do it and gets the benefit of at least some fulfilment from it. So it is the result of the act that is for others not the intention. This is not sacrifice for it is done for self-fulfilment. Real sacrifice is giving things up to hurt yourself for others.
People will not like the good you do for them if you don’t do it solely for your own growth in your own happiness. We want people to enjoy helping us. Egoism is loving others in the sense of helping them and benefiting them.
The rule of egoism is to love yourself in your neighbour. So you love yourself in the sense that you value yourself alone but you love your neighbour in the sense that you like (take selfish delight in) your neighbour. Love is liking. But you do not value your neighbour as yourself for you cannot and you do not like your neighbour as yourself either.
Belief in God demands that you start not with self-love but with loving God for God is infinitely perfect and deserving of all love so belief in God is harmful and there is no point in worrying about God if you cannot do that. Jesus said we must start with loving God with all our powers. This error proved he was not the infallible prophet he said he was and it plainly sanctions altruism and opposes egoism and egotism.




What is motive?

Your motive is the reason you do or say or think what you do. Philosophy says your motive is one of these: good, bad or neutral (neither good or bad or both which is the same thing). To do something with the intention of hurting another person unduly is to have a bad motive. To do something with the opposite intention is to have a good motive.


But you act from motives not just one motive!


That does not matter.  One motive or a number of them still result in an action.  Even not acting is a response.  Each motive is an individual.  You assess each one for altruism or egoism or egotism.  What the others are is irrelevant when you are looking at this one.  The notion that you are a mixture of selfish and unselfish is wrong if it means they are blended all together.  It is like flour and milk in a mixing bowl which do not combine and can be completely separated.  Its individual things in the one place but they do not form one unit.


What does the individual motives culminating in one act show?


That you cannot know if the act is really altruistic or egoistic or egotistic.  You cannot know that for each act is given rise to by motives and each motive requires separate assessment.  You never know which motive out of the three different types was the decisive one.  It is hard enough for the doer of the act to know.  The act having altruistic motives or egoistic motives or egotistic motives behind it does not make it all three.  In fact as important as the act is, judging it as egoistic or egotistic or altruistic is irrelevant.  It does not matter - only assessing each motive on an individual basis matters.  It is not really about the act for the act is really just an outcome of motives so it is the motives that need examination and ask for it.

Is motive really good, bad or neither?

No for we do not think of good or bad or neither the very second when we exercise it. It is only good or bad or neither depending on the product and the thoughts and feelings that produced it. It is only indirectly good, bad or neither.  That is to say that if a motive seems altruistic or egoistic or egotistic it is only indirectly so.

What do motives imply about 1, altruism, caring about others and not yourself, 2, the faked altruism in which you love others as yourself or 3, egoism, in which you care for others to please yourself, or 4, egotism in which you do not care for others but please yourself by walking all over them?

Each one of these four philosophies stands or falls not on its consequences but on the nature of the motive that is behind it. When it is the motive that matters, it follows that you cannot pick what you like out of them but have to follow one and one only because there is only one motive associated with each system.

What is the Euthyphro Dilemma?

Should I do good to a person because it is the rule to do good or because it helps that person? If I do it because it is the rule then I don’t care about the person but just about rules or what I perceive as good. We know it is possible to be interested in good only because rules say it is good. In that case, it is the rules we are really interested in - not real good.  And if the rule is good then how can my motive to be good to the person be credible if I don't genuinely care about good? So either way I do wrong which is the Euthyphro Dilemma.
What is the solution?

I can compromise and do both. But some would say that still means I don’t care about the person fully but only half care. I do care for it is the nearest I can get to caring and I am doing my best. [The person who feeds you on rotting chicken because there is nothing else is being a bigger and better person than the situation allows.] And so I also care about goodness. That is the solution to the dilemma for you can’t do more than your best. Another solution is that if I don't care about the person or about good then I am selfish but selfishness isn't bad when properly practiced. So I am not doing wrong after all.


Is the Dilemma confused?

Some say the Dilemma is confused for it thinks the rule to be good is separate from helping so to love the rule is to love helping people and vice versa.  But a rule and goodness are not the same thing.  A rule is an order and thus in itself may be bad or good or even both at the one time!  If the Dilemma requires you to divorce reason in order to imagine that doing good to a dog by giving him a little treat is a rule then it is a licence for manipulators who wish to make rules and pretend these rules are factually and objectively right.


Is the Dilemma about actions or motives or both?


The Dilemma is usually interpreted as being about what actions say about your motives so the focus is on the motives.  The Dilemma would be rubbish if it meant anything different.  To say an action is to be celebrated and rewarded just because it has good results regardless of your bad motives would be to sanction not morality or goodness but vice and hypocrisy.  The dilemma is about the motives not the results.


What about the idea that goodness necessarily implies rules - eg you cannot give a sick baby poison if you want to help it and that is a rule?


It is not a rule it is a method.  Good as in rule is nothing compared to good as in method.  Rules only serve to make a form of good but oppose the real deal.


What if it were a rule?


To love helping people is loving people and none of that is good unless you are thinking of goodness as in rules.  It is a callous ethic.  It is not very encouraging.


What is wrong with the idea that helping others is goodness and that is that?


It is incorrect for it confuses the results with the motives. The good results of helping people are thought to mean that you meant to do good which doesn’t follow.
Does the Dilemma point to egoism as being the correct philosophy?

Egoism is a form of selfishness. To care about rules not good is selfish. To care about good not rules is also selfish for good is associated by us with promoting happiness and wellbeing and because we know that just because something is good doesn't make it moral. You need the rules for determining morality. We hate rules - we only like them when they suit us in which case we only like the fun we find in them not them. Both caring about rules and caring about good is selfish so we can't compromise either. We are selfish in all that we do.
When you do something kind for somebody should you do it because you want money or something off them or do it simply to fulfil yourself?

Do it to fulfil yourself and you will be happy because if you want something else you might not get it! This is as much selfishness as being kind to them for what you can get off them say money or whatever.  The money is no good unless it helps you fulfil yourself and make yourself feel good.




Because you don't want the money in itself, you only want the fulfilment you think you will get from the money. You go after the same fulfilment if you do it to fulfil yourself or to get future fulfilment. There is no difference in that way. Do it to fulfil yourself and that is selfishness. Do it to get money etc and that is still selfishness. But the first is the strongest and best selfishness for it is more effective. The more selfish you are then the better! If you do not do it to fulfil yourself then you are being a pushover and urging the person to abuse you. That is actually a warped form of selfishness too. Everything we do is selfish. Altruism is nonsense.

Is it not silly to say that we should want to suffer if altruism is true for that would tell us to hate doing our good works so much that doing them is a torment?


The more you hurt for others the more altruistic you are. In a way or in the best way under the circumstances, the person with a built in aversion to doing good does far more good in giving ten cent to a poor person than a billionaire who at ease gives a million.  Anything less than the fully agony is an insult. Goodness is in the will and not in the emotions so having bad feelings does not make you bad as long as you do not cause them. You have to will the good despite the revulsion.


What do you say to those who say that having bad feelings about doing good is a sign of a bad character?


That is not true morally speaking. If I forget the hate in me heroically to assist an enemy in trouble, I am regarded as deserving a better reward than one who helps the person easily. Practically speaking bad feelings are a sign of a bad or dangerous character for the person could be forced to harm by these feelings but altruism does not care about that. After all it says that if you could cure a tramps’ ulcer by sucking out the puss with your mouth you would be extremely repelled and if you did it, it would mean you are good not bad.
What is your answer to Copleston who argued against Kant’s view that the more you do not want to do good the more good it is if you do it?


The Jesuit, Copelston, wrote in his volume on Kant which was a part of his History of Philosophy that Kant believed that “the moral value of an action performed for the sake of duty is increased in proportion to a decrease in inclination to perform the action” (page 109). He rejects Kant’s view because, “This point of view is contrary to the common conviction that the integrated personality, in whom inclination and duty coincide, has achieved a higher level of moral development than the man in whom inclination and desire are at war with his sense of duty” (page 109).  I think Kant meant the person who could not want to do good but did it while Copelston is thinking of the person who could.  To do good while deliberately making yourself not want to do it would be a sign of a twisted and bad person.  The inclination against doing good does not mean that you are on a low level of morality because it is not caused by your will.


Is it significant and not surprising that Copleston said that Kant’s attitude “may be incorrect” not is “incorrect” (page 109)?




Would a Catholic think that it is bad to wilfully disincline yourself to do good and still do good?


No for God certainly disinclines people.  He puts urges in you that make it hard for you to be good.  The Church believes that temptation is not a sin and God lets Satan tempt us to make us stronger and better people.  For the Christian,  hating the thought of being good is a gift if the hate is inbuilt.  It would be a sin to be happy about liking being good!

If a religious person rejects the notion that the more you hate good involuntarily then the more good you are if you do it then is that rejection merely lip-service?


Yes or a mistake.  He is talking as if the rejection is right because most people think so. It is bad philosophy to put what people think before reason. The person knows fine well that one who overcomes crippling weakness to do good is better than the one who finds it easy if the religious view that suffering is for growing in goodness of your free will is true. The first person is most likely to be doing the thing because it is right while the latter is doing it because it is easy and not just because it is right. Sometimes the religious person is a Catholic priest and needs to say something to "justify" priests having the comforts they are accustomed to.

What do feelings and their constant changing and reversing tell us about motive and duty?


We know that feelings change rapidly and come and go so much that it is nonsense to say that the person who is good feels like doing good out of a sense of duty. Anyway the person who does that is interested in the feeling and not the duty!

What does Jesus suggest about motivation to do good?


That a natural disinclination that makes you battle to do good is the best thing.  Morality is about wanting to help but not about helping.  It is about motive.  The Christian believes that Jesus was right to give his life for the world though he could barely stomach the thought of doing it. The New Testament sees this death as the climax of Jesus’ love. If Jesus liked doing it, it would not have been as good. Jesus implied by his teaching on the cross that the more you like something the more displeasing to God it is for it is more self-centred then.

Would those who realise morality is about motive say that a man who almost got drowned trying to save a child is better than one who never had this life or death crisis?


Yes.  They commend the man who holds his tongue under provocation though he is so angry that he would like to get his own back though he knows he will relieve his rage and the other person will not be very hurt. We find them to be very inconsistent.


Does the God thing make it worse?

Yes - our motive to do good for other is often a burden but religion adds to the burden by bringing in a God who may not exist and who needs us to be motivated to please him!  Making it worse could make people suffer and this is not a sin if it is a genuine weakness.  It will happen that while God who alone matters is looked after people will be forgotten.


And does the God thing make it more judgemental than it needs to be? 


Yes.  It is mad to say that a man who endures great pain and persecution for he cherishes God is good and that a man who hates doing the will of God but chooses to do it regardless is not as good. The two have pain in different ways but it is still pain and to run down one man is to run down the other.  To ridicule one person is to ridicule others in the sense that "If you were him I would ridicule you or if you were like him".

If it is good to love God then is it true that a bad person will develop a revulsion for God and be jealous of good people?


Yes.  But it is not right to judge anybody over a being who may not exist or care if he does exist.


Does Christianity accuse you of developing that revulsion through something called original sin?


Yes.  Catholics believe that Adam and Eve sinned on our behalf in the Garden of Eden and this has put a revulsion towards God’s ways in us which is part of something religion calls original sin so that we are inclined to sin. Copleston being a Catholic, would have blamed Adam for the revulsion and passing it on to us hereditarily. So, that would be all the more reason for him to say that our bad feelings towards make us good if we overcome them so we are not bad but marvellously good for it is harder to be good.


When is the revulsion wrong?


Altruism will only see the revulsion as wrong if the person wants it and only wants it to avoid doing altruistic deeds.


What is the link between actions and thoughts and vice versa?


Bad actions lead to bad thoughts and bad thoughts lead to bad feelings. Bad feelings are good if used to generate and maximise sacrifice if altruism is true.

Is the revulsion a symptom of sin even if not a sin itself?


Some would think the following: “Sin leads to revulsion for good. It makes one hate doing good. You may repent and do good despite the revulsion and that seems to be a great worthy sacrifice. But though the sacrifice is commendable, it is not worthwhile for it depended on sin and the revulsion for good it created to be a sacrifice to the degree that it is.”  The reply is that the revulsion though caused by sin is still there but is now a good thing for the sin is repented and it allows you to do deeply altruistic acts. The revulsion doesn’t depend on sin anymore.

What if we sin anyway for life?

If sins give me a revulsion for good I should let them for I will sin anyway. I should make sure it will be the sins that will result in revulsion that I commit when I do sin so that the possibility of horrible sacrifice for good will exist for the future. So it is better to commit a sin like hypocrisy that makes you hate good than to commit a once-off bank robbery that you will regret emotionally.


What does Christianity mean by love?

As a Christian, Copleston would agree with Kant that to do good because you want to gratify your own feelings is not as good as doing good because it is the right thing to do. In fact to that faith it is not good at all but is the sin of putting evil in a good light.  Christians run down good done by a person who seeks praise for example. To do good because it is your duty feels cold and boring and we conclude that Christianity means altruism when it speaks of love. Christianity is wrong for it is only the denier of free will who affirms egoism can dare to say that caring feelings make a person good and the Christian rejects both egoism and acting to gratify desire your own desire to help others.



Motive is about what I value. I do not value say love because I should but because I just do. How can you value altruism? Do you really care if a baby gets his food because the carer is altruistic? No you care that he gets the food.  That cannot be called immoral though it may not be ideal.  We cannot change how we think so it is not our fault even we think nature should have made us better than that!


The doctrine that motive is what matters says and implies that if you have a fault that forces you not to want to be good and you do good regardless then you are the best person and better than the person who does good because they like it.  It is anti-happiness.  Happiness must be a danger for it stops you developing revulsion for good.  This revulsion is a gift when it is not your doing or fault.  The doctrine is dangerous and morality is just a pack of lies.  The alternative is to say that people matter and not virtues or gods or holy things.  All we can do is do good because we like it and feel good from it and in that morality is about us and not about God or altruism.  And also, we know instinctively that the individual should put themselves first for they are most sure of their own existence.  Helping others to because it is good for your head and heart is putting yourself first in the right way.  Do it!  It might mean you are putting feelings before people but if the good is done who cares?