• Benj96
    248
    If we're honest with ourselves, the internal monologue of our minds is often very different to the words we speak out into the world or the actions we do.

    I mean this in the sense that we all wear a social mask. This mask is compiled of etiquette, behavioural cues, social and cultural expectations and mannerisms along with what is "okay to say" in public and we refine this mask as we grow up and mature. But I often wonder what people really think. There is a level of dishonesty in effective social interaction because if we were all 100% truthful some nasty things would be said.

    So how does one know who is genuinely nice and doesnt have to put any effort into a social task because they are authentically kind and who is a "chameleon" so to speak and knows how to behave in such a way painting a superficial fascade of kindness without really being all that nice?

    Also can we ever not be self-serving. You can take any example of being nice and describe it as self-benefiting because it makes you "look good" to others, gives you "moral highground" or simply "personal reward" - a dopamine hit etc.

    I have thought about this and come to the conclusion that the only truly selfless act (one that it is impossible to personally gain from) is sacrifice of ones life in order to protect another. Like a person throwing themselves into traffic to save a strangers instead.

    I sometimes wonder if I am a nice person or not. But I take a little comfort from the fact that I asked it at all in the first place. Because I imagine those who never consider whether they are nice, who dont self reflect on such matters, are probably the worst kind of people.

    Is being a nice person completely relative to others concepts of "nice" or is there a genuine objective measure of kindness/niceness? What do you think?
  • Isaac
    3.3k
    we all wear a social mask. This mask is compiled of etiquette, behavioural cues, social and cultural expectations and mannerisms along with what is "okay to say" in public and we refine this mask as we grow up and mature. But I often wonder what people really think.Benj96

    How is the 'social mask' not part of what people really think?
  • Benj96
    248
    How is the 'social mask' not part of what people really think?Isaac

    That is my question. For some the social mask is their authentic personality. It is what they really think. And these people must be genuinely kind if their "social perception" or "outgoing character" or "social mask" isnt really a mask at all. But for others what they want people to see and what they actually are inside are two very different things.

    What I'm asking is how does one know who is genuinely nice and who is a very good actor at being nice. And also if I pretend to be nice but am not very personally sincere yet someone else believes i am nice and it has that positive effect on their life does that make my actions qualifiably nice or not?
  • Isaac
    3.3k
    what they want people to see and what they actually are inside are two very different things.Benj96

    What I'm struggling to understand is the means by which you're distinguishing how people want others to see them from the way they really think. Isn't how you want others to see you one of the things you really think?
  • unenlightened
    5.3k
    I imagine those who never consider whether they are nice, who dont self reflect on such matters, are probably the worst kind of people.Benj96

    Some of the nicest people you can find are those with Downs Syndrome. They are usually super affectionate, trusting, generous, and it is because they don't self reflect very much that one can be quite sure they are genuine. Folks like you and me who are always second-guessing what they are and what they appear to others, and worrying whether the twain are congruent or not - we are the worst, most false people. Above all, stay away from social scientists and philosophers - they are all psychopaths.
  • Mww
    1.9k
    the only truly selfless act (one that it is impossible to personally gain from) is sacrifice of ones life in order to protect another.Benj96

    Just like practically everything else....there may be two sides to this coin.

    Given that a man’s primary, unalterable and final consideration is preservation of his life, perhaps for no other reason than life is absolutely not something one can inhabit more than one of, wouldn’t it be rather more selfish of him to disregard the best interests of such preservation?

    Life....not living a life, but life itself....is conditioned only by its negation, insofar as there is life, or there isn’t. No such thing as a partial life, or a life of different forms at different times, with respect to mankind as a specific entity. While preserving another’s life may indeed be selfless in the immediate sense, sacrificing that which is a sole representation of one single, fundamental, altogether entire existence, would appear to be catastrophically selfish.

    Still, people do self-sacrifice, which reduces to intentionality, which in turn reduces to some personal attribute: honor, respect, obligation, love.....something. Between the selfishness of self-preservation, in juxtaposition to the selflessness of self-sacrifice, the reality of a moral condition is humans, is given with apodeictic certainty. And whether or not one is “nice”, derives exactly from extensions of such condition.

    Interesting topic, either way.
  • NOS4A2
    3.9k


    If we measure the spatiotemporal existence and its effects, “the internal monologue of our minds” is nothing in comparison to our concrete behavior and action. The fleeting voices and imagery found in the brain activity of an organism is secondary, tertiary, to the movements of the entire organism itself. One can have the most vile and violent thoughts and still be a nice person, because his thoughts affect little while his actions will always reverberate beyond himself. So in a way it is wrong to say our concrete actions and behaviors are a mere mask.

    One cannot be “genuinely nice” or virtuous because his thoughts seem to him to be so. It exists in the actions, the behaviors, the mannerisms, and in how he treats others. What one “truly thinks” doesn’t matter—he can think whatever he wants with no demonstrable affect beyond his surface—but the manner in which one acts is key.
  • Philosophim
    446
    I think you first have to have an understanding of what is good, and what is not good. This understanding of good and not good should extend beyond our own personal interests.

    After considering this, and concluding what is good, and not so good, we can only say if we are "nice", when we encounter an instance of having to act on that good, even if it does not mesh with our desired feelings.

    We have to put our money where our mouth is. Anyone can think about being nice. Anyone can be nice when its convenient or personally beneficial to do so. Truly nice people do nice things because they understand it is an important thing to do, even at a certain risk to oneself or societal standing in society.

    You may have heard the adage, "Nice guys finish last". To my above definition, this is not true. Nice people are generally brave, empathic, and self aware. They are fantastic people to be around, and many people love them. The "Nice that finishes last" is the individual who only acts a particular way because they want to be accepted by others in society. That's not being "nice", that's just trying to act in a social manner that will grant you personal gain. The soldier who was told, "Gas these Jews" in Nazi Germany is the "nice guy that finishes last". They never risk asserting themselves out of fear of societal loss of the society they value. Generally these people are considered cowards, sheep, and sometimes, "Nice".

    Nice is of course a very broad word that matters the context of its use, and cannot really stand on its own due to how society uses it. I believe in using positive words within a positive context, so attribute "Nice" to the person who holds values in something beyond themselves versus a selfish, cowardly, or milquetoast individual. And I do believe most people can be nice. They have to make that decision for themselves.
  • Judaka
    969

    Good question, there is no real answer to this. I am not one to take a nice act as just a nice act, there are simply too many benefits to being nice, too many different motives, fueling all kinds of identities and worldviews. I also believe that people are not entirely honest with themselves, we self-deceive so that others don't see us as the socially calculative beings that we have evolved to be.

    I don't think there's any circumstance where there's nothing else going on and an act can be described as just pure kindness. However, I think that while some of the reasons for being nice are in fact calculative, self-serving or with too convenient an ulterior motive - there are many reasons for being nice that don't really mean that it is no longer fair to say that you were being nice.

    So for me, I can look past the nice act and see reasons why it was done beyond a person simply being nice and I can still think they were being nice. If it makes someone happy or feels good to be nice, they're still nice and so on. Deciding what kind of ulterior motives invalidate the niceness of the act and which don't can be complicated and nuanced.

    Then for actually characterising someone as nice, how nice do they need to be? If someone is nice 99% of the time but then does something really horrible for the other 1% then we likely wouldn't call them a nice person but actually a really horrible person. Yet even that can be very controversial, ultimately everyone just needs to make up their own minds on it.
  • Hanover
    5.9k
    I'm nice as fuck. Like if you said, "Hanover, can I borrow your pants," I'd be totally walking around in my boxers just to see you happy. I'm not just shirt off my back nice, but I'm pants off my ass nice. If anyone here was starving because of the stupid decisions they made in their lives, I'd be completely non-judgmental and wouldn't point out their fuck ups, but I'd just say something nice as shit, like "man, that sucks, starving and all, I wish things weren't all fucked to hell for you." Some people just can't be nice to save their life, but to me, it comes so easy. I think it's my cult leader like charisma that I have. It's extraordinary really.
  • Bitter Crank
    9k
    If we're honest with ourselves, the internal monologue of our minds is often very different to the words we speak out into the world or the actions we do.Benj96

    Some people think there isn't more to the internal monologue than idle mental chatter; I don't believe that.

    Freud, and others, proposed a 3 layer model: id, ego, superego. In addition he described the unconscious and conscious mind. There is a lot more to Freud's theory, and you don't have to accept any of it. It is, however, a useful model.

    The id is composed of our most basic, persistent, powerful, and quite often most socially unacceptable desires-the rampant sexual, self-aggrandizing, physical and emotional hungers. The superego represents the internalized societal standards for proper behavior--opposite from the id. The task of the ego is to mediate the id and the superego. The subconscious might be considered the residence of all the emotional turmoil we experience.

    From Freud's POV, we are a mess of wishes, urges, drives, aspirations, fears, hopes, desires, etc. that are NOT compatible with polite society. Most of us, most of the time, are able to keep a lid on the simmering mess and meet social requirements for politeness, propriety, customs, etiquette, other people's feelings, the law, and so on. We have occasional lapses when unedited thoughts are expressed, bad behavior is displayed, and naked desires or fears are displayed.

    In Freud's view, "niceness" is achieved by channeling the destructive power of the id into socially acceptable and constructive activity. Raw sexual energy which might prefer to fuck whoever wherever whenever can be channeled into intellectual achievement or meeting social expectations. This isn't a rare thing -- lots of people do it every day, all day.

    Freud was a pessimist. To put it plainly, he didn't think happiness was in the cards.
  • Bitter Crank
    9k
    A regular Jesus you are. Have you considered announcing your deity status or at least sainthood? I can see a new religion growing up around you: Hanoverism. For instance, guys wearing 5 layers of pants so that they could make big sacrifices several times a day before ending up in holy commando style.

    It would be an unusual religion, of course, featuring a liturgy of snarky comedy performed by pantless practitioners. Going out for the day stark naked would be an act of necessary piety in order to create the need for pants-off-your-ass donations, as well as shirts off your back, shoes off your feet, etc.
  • Gnomon
    1.1k
    What I'm struggling to understand is the means by which you're distinguishing how people want others to see them from the way they really think. Isn't how you want others to see you one of the things you really think?Isaac
    One example of that belief vs knowledge mental phenomenon is the "unconscious bias" of Implicit Racism.

    Implicit Racism : https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/implicit-racism
  • TheMadFool
    7.9k
    genuinely niceBenj96

    First things first. Since not-nice, for reasons that maybe obvious to you/some but not to me, has been, is, probably will be, associated with predatory behavior, I'm forced to ask the question: which species holds the current world title as the apex predator on the planet? Homo sapiens - us.

    I daresay our taste for flesh has been around since we took our first steps out of the African savannah and that, to my reckoning, always involves violence of some kind. This violent trait is still with us, manifesting itself in classic not-nice behavior that we see in our day to day existence. Granted that violence has itself evolved into something complex, it still is violence.

    What's really important, in my humble opinion, is that what are essentially predators, us, violence a part of our our nature, are making great efforts to defy/resist what comes naturally to us. The so-called "social mask" is part of what I suppose is the uphill task to overcome/suppress/keep at bay our predatory instincts. I find that commendable.

    Which is more heart-warming? A violent man refusing to assault another person or a kind, gentle man helping another person? In the former case, there's some, maybe even a great amount of, effort required - the violent man has to resist his innate violent nature. In the latter case, there's no to little effort involved - the kind, gentle man does what comes naturally to him.

    It appears that the "genuinely nice" are actually less impressive in re niceness than people who aren't nice by nature.
  • ssu
    3.5k
    There is a level of dishonesty in effective social interaction because if we were all 100% truthful some nasty things would be said.Benj96
    How you interact and what you say and do to other people is the only thing you are known for. People cannot know what you actually think. So what dishonesty you are talking about? As BitterCrank explain from Freud (just as an example) the id is quite hidden.

    So let's say that you absolutely hate a person and think that the person is such a danger to the environment that you contemplate murdering the person. As you don't want to get to jail and ruin your life and reputation as being a murderer, you hide your plan and actual become the closest friend to the person. And just when are going to do the perfect murder, you are suddenly hit by a car when walking over the street and die. And in your funeral the most tears are shed by the person you planning on killing and nobody knew of your sinister plan, just that you were very nice and for some reason a close friend to that annoying person. But perhaps it was just your niceness, they fathom.

    Above all, stay away from social scientists and philosophers - they are all psychopaths.unenlightened
    Great advice on a Philosophy forum.
  • Benj96
    248
    It appears that the "genuinely nice" are actually less impressive in re niceness than people who aren't nice by nature.TheMadFool

    You make a good point
  • Benj96
    248
    What one “truly thinks” doesn’t matter—he can think whatever he wants with no demonstrable affect beyond his surface—but the manner in which one acts is key.NOS4A2

    See for the most part im inclined to agree with you. I think it wouldnt be fair to hold someone to the expectation that their private internal thoughts must always be nice in order for them to be considered nice.

    However I also dont believe that it doesnt matter what one truly thinks at all. Because to constantly lie or act outside or away from ones true nature must be exhausting and I would imagine slip ups happen. Also if you're constantly preoccupied with violent thoughts or say graphic images of sex or other things while trying to behave socially I find it hard to believe you can hide it in every circumstance because of the simple fact that you cannot stop thinking about those things and have an obsessive mental pursuit of vice.

    For example if someone drinks they become uninhibited. This for some means becoming suddenly aggressive or violent. I think this is sometimes "what they truly think" coming through. But who knows it could just be the alcohol talking
  • Hippyhead
    899
    How do we know if we are nice people? — Benj96

    In everyday life niceness is typically defined by the degree to which we support whatever story someone has about themselves.
  • avalon
    11


    In my mind, this is relative. Firstly what is considered "nice" is different depending on the values of your parents, society in which you're raised, the peers you have, your religious or non-religious views, the time in which you live, among other things.

    If you were to to assess the actions you performed on a given day (let's call them x, y, z), you would determine if they fit the criteria of "nice" or "not nice" through the lens / limitations of aspects of your experience I mentioned above. You may determine that all three actions were nice. A spectator or peer may view actions x and y as "nice" but action z as "not nice" and then determine that in their opinion you are "not nice".

    This brings me to an even bigger issue. Someone may think that you're "nice" in spite of the fact that they believe your individual actions are "not nice".

    I can't picture a scenario where being "nice" is something that can be measured objectively.
  • Benj96
    248
    I can't picture a scenario where being "nice" is something that can be measured objectively.avalon

    Well when dealing with subjects usually the larger the sample size the more objective the result. So if we take the largest sample size possible- 8 billion people - I could reasonably hypothesize that one is likely the worst, most unkind not "nice" person alive while another is conversely the "nicest", kindest most loving person and everyone else is plotted in a spectrum between these two poles.

    As to what to define nice as is difficult. What parameters do we based the assessment on? The inherent difficulty here being obviously that the people designing the experiment and setting the parameters are subje ta themselves from within the set and cannot objectively assess themselves on said scale.

    If we were to take "I hate and want to kill everyone" as well as all associated negative attitudes; intolerance, racism, sexism etc. as the philosophy of the worst person and egalitarianism, equity, compassion understanding and love or virtuous qualities as the other pole then some semblance of measure can ba accorded to the set.

    Obviously we havent avoided the issue of objective definition because we cannot define love and hate any better than "nice" but as a general rule of thumb because the nature of comparison is relativistic and the parameters basic and extreme, the nature of the results would still be telling. Alas we cant do such experiments on the whole world population but defintely for subjective matters large scale is needed
  • Hippyhead
    899
    As to what to define nice as is difficultBenj96

    Is it? I type on the forum to persuade myself I am a deep thinker. That's my story about myself that I am telling myself.

    You come along and support my story by praising my comments. To reward you, and encourage you to continue supporting my story, I label you "nice", bestowing upon you a label which has some social benefits.

    It's just a business transaction.
  • A Seagull
    621
    I type on the forum to persuade myself I am a deep thinker. That's my story about myself that I am telling myself.Hippyhead

    Well done! :) We need more deep thinkers..
  • Hippyhead
    899
    Well done! :) We need more deep thinkers..A Seagull

    You are a very nice person! But that's all the payment I can deliver to you now considering how little detail you went in to regarding my deep thinking. :-)
  • A Seagull
    621
    You are a very nice person!Hippyhead

    Lol. Not really!! I just try top be honest. :)

    As for your deep thinking, the proof is in the pudding..... of your future posts.
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