hanlon's razor is nice but i'd like to propose that we try not to attribute to fundamental human nature what can be adequately explained by systemic oppression


that is to say, people being selfish in a system that rewards them for being selfish is not evidence that people are fundamentally selfish

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I want to save this argument to my permanent memory.

@tindall I mean, we have an entire chunk of brain called "the altruism center". Most folks have a different chunk of brain dedicated to empathy. Our bodies have a hormone that makes us feel good that's most commonly released during cuddling. All of these biological things are present in a world that has effectively forced us to be cruel and selfish for generations.

"Humans are fundamentally selfish" my ass.

@tindall I agree that how selfish people are depends on their background and circumstances, but on the other hand, if there were no advantage to being selfish then would it count as selfishness? That would be being mean to someone else for no good reason.

What I can tell you is that based on interactions with a certain five-year-old, self-centered thinking starts early and her parents are trying pretty hard to change that.

@skybrian sure! But in the current system, selfishness often leads to long-term positive effects for individuals, who are isolated from the long-term negative effects on the community, nation, and species. See, e.g. Amazon driving waste massively up for profit that Jeffy B uses to play with spaceships.

@skybrian without the ability to centralize power and wealth, selfishness that harms the community comes back around to the individual much sooner.

@tindall I sometimes say 'people are self-interested by nature' but in that I should clarify that I see it broader than the common dictionary meaning. More humane and involving the full range of human virtues, values and emotions.

Like if you present a gift and want nothing in return, still you'll get gratitude and appreciation. If you do something unconditionally and with a good heart you're more likely to get "paid" with goodness in return.

@tindall we need this in our communities, but also to feel good about ourselves. To feel we are on a right path and our morals and ethics aren't mere words.

In this sense there's self-interest to the deeds we do. And it is in a positive meaning of the word this time.

I feel that in our hypercapitalist distrust-first society we hang most to the negative interpretation of these words, but by considering them more philosophically and holistically we can perceive better ways to interact together.


I think there is a real power in this type of interaction. One that our modern society makes us forget. Where only dollar value and status or increase seem to matter.. the ROI.

I redefine that acronym as Return Of Involvement, and with human values, virtues and emotions full at play there, there are many "rewards" and incentives to be better together.

Too optimistic and positive? Maybe. But I'll gladly experiment if that is really so :D

Mental health 

@tindall Agreed. I've been reading up on CPTSD and wow, does that accommodate Hanlon's Razor far better than wildly divergent pathologies having conspicuously similar symptomology that often conveniently respond to therapy as well as if not better than medication.

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