Here is a passage on selflessness -- as derivative of our animalistic natures -- and compassion from Alphonso Lingis' book Dangerous Emotions that has been on my blog book list since the inauguration of this blog -- and it's been there for the reason that Lingis has long been one of my favorite philosophers or phenomenologists due to his poetic attention to the sensuous world. Again, opening-up books opens-up or expands minds -- which is any teacher's job.
"Our theoretical ethics from Aristotle to Marcel Mauss and Jacques Derrida finds intelligibility in gift-giving only by reinterpreting it in an economy of equivalent exchange, even if that means calculating prestige as recompense with interest. The impulse to give without calculation and without recompense, when it rises up compulsively in us, as it does every day, we have contracted in our commerce with animal nobility. How rarely do humans find the courage to say those fearful words, 'I love you' -- fearful because we are never so vulnerable, never so open to being so easily and so deeply hurt, as when we give ourselves over in love of someone! But from early infancy we have come to understand that instinct -- in our kitten that so unreservedly gave itself over to its affection for us, in our cockatoo that in all her excitement upon seeing us wants nothing but to give all her tenderness and high spirits."
"How awesome the thirst for truth, when contemplate it sovereign in the great scientist, the great explorer! Here is someone contemptuous of honors and wealth, craving a mind open to the most tragic realities, to the cosmic indifference of the universe to our wishes and to those of our species craving to know with the wounds, rendings, and diseases of his or her own body the oceans and tundra, rain forest and glaciers. Human culture compensates with prizes and honor those who limit their curiosity and their research only to funded projects that will benefit the human species. It is not from human culture that those consumed with the thirst for truth learn to program their lives, but from the albatross that leaves its nest to sail all the latitudes of the planet and all its storms and icy nights for seven years before it touches earth again, in order to give its mature strength to raising offspring like itself. You, researchers and consolidators of knowledge, Nietzsche said, have only turned the ways of the universe into a spider web to trap your prey: that is because your soul does not fly like eagles over abysses" (63-64).
Update: Okay, so maybe I will keep that litho, after all. Funny how the unconscious operates.