Moreover this person has already been imagined, widely reported and is famous worldwide. He is Jesus of Nazareth( as described in the Gospels) who is the paradigm case of self sacrifice in the interests of others. Most ordinary people have mixed motives for doing what they do. Parents often sacrifice everything for their child and are constantly ready and willing to do so.
Adam Smith the Scottish philosopher wrote about this in Theory of the Moral Sentiments. He said we rescue someone in danger, possibly endangering ourselves, but only because it is the right thing to do. The wellbeing of the person concerned wouldn't interest us at all in other circumstances. So it is not the person's wellbeing we are aiming at directly, but at the right thing to do in the circumstances. Which doesn't make us self serving, or other serving either. Its the principle that is other serving, not really or directly our intentions, although I'm not sure about that. Hope this isn't becoming complicated?!
(Credit to Julian Baggini, writing in yesterday's Guardian), the reason and probably the evolutionary cause of such cooperation is not simply the right thing to do,full stop, it is that the individual has a better chance of survival in a emotionally tied group than as an individual working solitarily.This explains the emotional ties of soldiers or coal miners who will sacrifice self to save a at least one of the group.
Thinkingcat wrote:Quite so. Unpalatable though it may be, everything we do to help others can be explained by a desire to satisfy our own emotional needs (which is not to say that this is necessarily the case - but it is a sufficient explanation). This can be understood on the level whereby we help someone in order to feel self-worth or avoid guilt, and on the evolutionary level whereby feelings of self-worth or guilt have evolved because it helps the group survive if individuals in the group get gratification from helping others.
Simpleliving apologises for being too simplistic, but I think on the contrary he and Cogito et al are being too complex - or at least they need to explain why we should believe their complex explanations when there is a simpler one. Philosophers even up to the time of Adam Smith did not have the benefit of Darwin's evidence or more recent knowledge of genetics and psychology. There is no longer a need to come up with elaborate explanations - except of course the emotional need that some people have to believe they are somehow 'good'!
Altruism is not only satisfying to emotional needs, it is also logically conducive to the survival of genes of which individual reproducers are carriers.