News from the Natural World: Whales have proven that there is such a thing as a selfless good deed.
The question of whether there exists a selfless good deed is something that has puzzled life on earth for centuries. Humans especially have pondered the question at length. The definition of a selfless good deed is doing something good without feeling happy/good/satisfied with it. In other words, if the deed made you feel good then it is in some way selfish. It is something that has pushed the greatest minds of the natural world to the brink. From Owen the Great Wise Owl to Ahmed the Wandering Camel. From Rumi the Ruminating Red Panda to Joey Tribiani, it has long escaped all of the world’s great thinkers. However, all that has now changed.
Planet Earth has witnessed the world’s first selfless good deed. An act that can truly be defined as good but in no way has a physical or emotional benefit to the doer. The deed itself actually makes the person feel and experience pain rather than any positive emotion. All life on earth has been clamoring to find out who committed the world’s first selfless good deed. The Platypus can reveal that it was committed by Humpback Whales.
Whales perform selfless good deed
In Antarctica a pod of Orcas was hunting a Weddell Seal. Several of them were circling a seal that had hidden on top of a floating patch of sea ice. The Orcas were swimming alongside each other in formation and creating a large wave to knock the helpless victim into the ocean. It was clear that death was soon at hand for the Weddell Seal. But then a pair of Humpback Whales arrived, the terrified seal made a dash towards them and a lucky wave pushed the seal up onto the chest of one of the whales. The Humpback Whale arched it’s body raising its chest out the water and kept the seal away from the ferocious Orca. When the seal started to slip the whale pushed it back onto its chest with its flipper. The Orca eventually gave up, left and the Weddell Seal swam off to safety.
This is the first truly selfless good deed that the world has witnessed. Because Humpback Whales can’t experience selfishness they experienced no personal emotional benefit from saving the seal. In fact not only were they potentially putting their lives at risk by facing off against the Orca. They also used up vital energy and calories. The act had absolutely no benefit to themselves or their own species. The two Humpback Whales experienced no cognitive mood boost. They acted out of pure altruism.
Whales perform selfless good deed
But the Platypus uncovered further research that showed that other species of whales had also committed selfless good deeds. A Gray Whale saved another seal that had hauled out on an ice floe, Bowhead Whales have been observed saving an ocean Sunfish. Whales act to improve the welfare of others; the classic definition of altruism. Whilst some argue it is a misdirected extension of their instinct to save their own calves. It is still clearly a selfless good deed. Who are we to judge whether its instinct?
The Platypus argued that humans had a convenient way of explaining that anything that threatened their own sense of self intelligence was always called ‘instinct’. Either the humans had to say that it was ‘instinct’ in which case the whale had no knowledge that the deed would make it feel good and it was therefore selfless. OR the whale was so intelligent that it was acting because it knew that it was doing the right thing and that the act would make itself feel good. It was a philosophical trap for the humans. Either accept it was a selfless deed or accept that another mammal had superior or at least equal emotional intelligence.
Either way, the fact remains, two Humpback Whales have proven that there is such a thing as a selfless good deed.
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