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hardcore_gamer

What exactly is greed anyway?

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Greed ain't good. Most people agree about that. But it seems not everybody agrees about what greed actually is in the first place. It's one of those words that everybody uses but often differently. Some people for example believe that wanting to make money is greedy while others believe that is not the case.

What exactly is greed? At what point does wanting things (money, stuff, fame etc) become (if at all?) greed?

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Greed (Latin, avaritia), also known as avarice, cupidity, or covetousness, is the inordinate desire to possess wealth, goods, or objects of abstract value with the intention to keep it for one's self, far beyond the dictates of basic survival and comfort. It is applied to a markedly high desire for and pursuit of wealth, status, and power.

As secular psychological concept, greed is, similarly, an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs. ...


-Source: Wikipedia

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scifista42 said:

Greed (Latin, avaritia), also known as avarice, cupidity, or covetousness, is the inordinate desire to possess wealth, goods, or objects of abstract value with the intention to keep it for one's self, far beyond the dictates of basic survival and comfort. It is applied to a markedly high desire for and pursuit of wealth, status, and power.

As secular psychological concept, greed is, similarly, an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs. ...


-Source: Wikipedia


But the problem I have with this definition of greed is that according to it everybody in the world is greedy. Nobody lives like a monk by choice except perhaps a handful of people. I agree that lusting for wealth is greedy, but I can't find myself agreeing with the idea that just merely wanting more that what is needed to live is greed.

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If I was gggmork, I would say the rich elites invented this word to spread the idea that wanting more money than you need is bad, therefore keeping all the good stuff to themselves. Or something.

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@hardcore_gamer: So let's extend the definition: Say that a truly greedy person is a person who would never stop feeding his greediness, even if he knew that it's going to harm other people worse than it would harm said person if he stopped his greediness.

Also, in this sentence:

far beyond the dictates of basic survival and comfort

The word "far" adds a factor of subjectiveness to the term. After all, greediness is an abstract and subjective term. It can be (and will be) interpreted differently by different people in different situations. That's just how it goes with terms like these.

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hardcore_gamer said:

But the problem I have with this definition of greed is that according to it everybody in the world is greedy. Nobody lives like a monk by choice except perhaps a handful of people. I agree that lusting for wealth is greedy, but I can't find myself agreeing with the idea that just merely wanting more that what is needed to live is greed.

Just think of it as a spectrum. Most of us are more greedy than a monk, but less greedy than Gordon Gekko. The extent of a person's greed determines how apt the description is. The clear line you are looking to draw doesn't exist.

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hardcore_gamer said:

But the problem I have with this definition of greed is that according to it everybody in the world is greedy. Nobody lives like a monk by choice except perhaps a handful of people. I agree that lusting for wealth is greedy, but I can't find myself agreeing with the idea that just merely wanting more that what is needed to live is greed.

Simply having more than you may need is not greed. Greed requires going above and beyond simply having things, but having a desire to acquire more. One living an ascetic life does not necessarily avoid this either. Greed is innately an internal, psychological manifestation.

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And then hardcore_gamer was hardcore_gamer_monk

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Clonehunter said:

What exactly is a hardcore gamer, anyways?


I am getting the feeling it's a person who's threads are hit and miss..

Am I close?

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scifista42 said:

The word "far" adds a factor of subjectiveness to the term. After all, greediness is an abstract and subjective term. It can be (and will be) interpreted differently by different people in different situations. That's just how it goes with terms like these.

That's why we have to have philosophy professors around to tell us whether we are each within one standard deviation of greediness though.

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Thanks for your replies. I guess I should throw in the way I often look at greed. To me greed isn't actually wantings things or even wanting more things, but rather it is when the desire to have more becomes so out of control that it actually starts to cloud your ability to see clearly and logically. The story about the golden goose is a good example. Even if the goose had contained lots of gold eggs inside it killing it still would not have made sense in the long term since it would have ended the supply of golden eggs, and yet it was killed anyway because the guy wanted more gold NOW and wasn't willing to wait. That is greed to me, not being able to think because you want something so badly.

Beliving you are entitled to things without being able to give a strong justification for it is greed also.

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hardcore_gamer said:

Tkilling it still would not have made sense in the long term since it would have ended the supply of golden eggs, and yet it was killed anyway because the guy wanted more gold NOW and wasn't willing to wait.


^ That is exactly the rationale of, among others, conmen, hustlers, thieves etc. and opportunistic predators in general, but also emergency taxes and hikes, debt restructurings etc. as well as the core concept behind the "tragedy of the commons".

All of them have in common the fact that somebody wants access to a resource he knows (or thinks) it will be available only temporarily, so it's pretty much a "use it or lose it" situation.

A conman will try to con you of all the money he can right now, because he has no intention of making you a "return customer" (some do, but those are more elaborate/subtle hustles): he will simply disappear after a successful con. Same for the thief. Obviously, the conman or thief doesn't are about any long-term damage he may be causing: any problems are just YOUR problems, not his.

Similarly, a corrupt politician or official will try to grab all he can RIGHT NOW. After all, after he has left office, he'll be hard to track, while he's in office he's untouchable, so (from his point of view) there's no reason to be moderate.

Emergency taxes/hikes, often advertised as "una tantum", "one-off" affairs often are quite hefty, justified by "emergency", often people are even incited to "give anything they can". Sure, they'll probably hurt the economy in the long run by removing good money from circulation and creating mistructs/causing capital flights, but DAMN, WE KNOW THAT, BUT WE NEED THAT MONEY NOW ANYWAY!!!

The tragedy of the commons occurs when every actor in a closed system behaves like an opportunistic predator, though the resource they are preying upon depends on its reasonable use by all involved actors. By behaving in a way that might appear to be "optimal" in the short term, he's actually dooming himself and others, by not allowing the resource to regenerate. And unlike a thief of conman, actors in a "tragedy of the commons" situation cannot simply seek another mark.

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BaronOfStuff said:

What are things?

How does hardcore_gamer work?

And don't forget the classics:

What the fuck is WTF mean?

What is a porn link?

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Greed is a successful survival strategy for opportunistic predators/scavengers in scenarios where resources like food or raw materials are scarce, and when some are found there's no point in saving them for later -you have to harvest all that you can RIGHT NOW, and anything you can't take with you will go to waste or be claimed by others.

How you behave with an opportunistic find in such a scenario doesn't influence the future availability of similar resources -they are just as probable or random as the one you found, so there's no point in "settling down", "taking it easy" or setting rules on how to treat them, other than "grab all you can, while you can".

Of course, in a more organized society with controlled production of resources or "closed systems", this behavior is less desirable and even damaging, and someone behaving this way all the time will probably be -at best- breaking a lot of moral codes as well as actual laws.

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hardcore_gamer said:

Nobody lives like a monk by choice except perhaps a handful of people.

Monks, you mean?

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Greed is the selfish desire to over indulge, at the expense of the collective good.

If it wasn't at anyone else’s expense, I suppose over indulging/compensating would just be considered reasonable in some contexts. For example, if I were on a desert island, I don’t think I would be considered greedy, to over-stock on harvesting whatever food I could get. If I did that, while I shared the island with other survivors, I'd be greedy.

Being frugal is something different. That's just being smart with the resources that you have.

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I think Kontra's got it right here. However I think can be difficult to say when exactly someone's being greedy. Is Mark Zuckerberg greedy? No matter how you look at it, people will be divided over this issue. Staying within the law? Sure. Making it difficult or impossible for other companies to get a foothold in the social media business? Also true. But one is expected to behave this way in a capitalist society. Yet there are rules against monopolizing the market and such which I don't really understand. Also others such as fixing prices. So at least there seem to be attempts to instill a measure of fairness in an environment where the basic driving force is actually based on a type of greed. As somebody else has said, I think it's a continuum, with a grey area. I also like to think of greed as a state of mind that will backfire at some point. If everybody on the island dies of hunger while you're munching away, you might suffer as well because of any positive contributions that they might have had (not to mention that while dying they're going to hate your guts, which is kind of counterproductive to good interpersonal relationships).

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Kotzugi said:

But one is expected to behave this way in a capitalist society.


However, ideally, in a true capitalist society; its supposed to offer the best goods, for the best price. Thus, people who are greedy, are supposed to fail, and be superseded as a provider to someone offering what's best for the collective good. But this farmer's market capitalism, is not the type of capitalism that is prevalent in the world today. Rather, we have powerful private interests, that are buttressed with government support; basically corporate-socialism.

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