Debt, Obligation, Empathy

We're continuing the beautiful meandering discussion from the last time we met. The pieces below are just for reference, we can pick and choose what we need.

This first part is from the end of the Business or Friendship discussion guide:

What's a transaction? What kinds of transactions are there? Is there a difference between a 'transaction' and an 'exchange'? Are transactions always fair?
Exchange is all about equivalence. Both sides are keeping accounts, it's okay for both sides to keep account! Also, the entire relationship can be canceled out, and either party can call an end to it at any time. (paraphrase of) Debt p.103
What is the relationship between people in a transaction? Are they equals?

How much do you have to know about someone to make a transaction with them? When in a transaction with someone, to what level do we have to think about them as a person? How much do we have to think about their feelings, their concerns? What kinds of transactions require more knowledge of the other party?

Do we make transactions with friends? Is the feeling different? How do we differentiate between the transaction and the friendship?

Is it a good idea to run a business with a friend? Is it a good idea to sell something to a friend? Is it more or less complicated than transacting with a stranger?

So, do we have enough information to create a working definition of "transactional relations"?

What's the difference between a debt and an obligation?
"On one level the difference between an obligation and a debt is simple and obvious. A debt is the obligation to pay a certain sum of money. As a result, a debt, unlike any other form of obligation, can be precisely quantified. This allows debts to become simple, cold and impersonal--which, in turn allows them to be transferable.*

If one owes a favor, or one's life, to another human being, it is owed to that person specifically. But if one owes forty thousand dollars at 12-percent interest, it doesn't really matter who the creditor is: neither does either of the two parties have to think much about what the other party needs, wants, is capable of doing--as they certainly would if what was owed was a favor, or respect, or gratitude. One does not need to calculate the human effects; one need only calculate principal, balances, penalties, and rates of interest. If you end up having to abandon your home and wander in other provinces, if your daughter ends up in a mining camp working as a prostitute, well, that's unfortunate, but incidental to the creditor. Money is money, and a deal's a deal. Debt, p.13-14
What's the difference between sharing and trading? Friendship and business? Communal and transactional relationships?

Could money substitute for communal relations? Does money displace communal relations? Does introducing money end communal relations?

This part is the tail-end of our conversation last time:

-Going back to the Japanese guy (who supported the outside network of suppliers even though he made the same products himself), is it altruism or wider self-interest?
-I think it's altruism
-Really? why?
-What do you mean by wider self interest?
-It's my back-up system, so i need to feed them business.
-Or it can be both?
-Altruism is thinking about the other, and wider self-interest is doing for my own good.
-Oh, I do good for you, but in the end it's for me to do well
-Does altruism always involve sacrifice?
-Parents who are very good to their children will sacrifice themselves
-Is there altruism in parent-child relations? Isn't it self-interest?
-The definition for altruism in miriam-webster, it includes 'may not be helpful to' or 'does not benefit the originator animal'
-But does 'animal' include 'human'?
-In my opinion, altruism is similar to wider-self-interest, but there is just a difference in level
-For short-term relationships compared to long-term, does altruism happen more easily in a long-term or short-term relationship?
-My guess would be that people would be more willing to invest in a long-term relationship.
-But! That's actually wider self interest, not altruism.
-Investment is expecting return
-Altruism does not expect return
-Who is actually an altruist in this world?

-Empathy might be self-interest for species
-Because empathy comes from compassion, you have a common passion with others, so that's a kind of self-interest
同情 = sympathy
同理 = empathy

Here's a link to an article that Susan provided for us, it relates to this discussion: Can altruism be good for business?

And finally, this part's a quote from a book I've been reading this past week, which seems to be related:

The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible
Even as the old world comes apart around us, or even as we leave it in disgust, still we carry its conditioning. We have been colonized through and through by the old Story of the World. We are born into its logic, acculturated to its worldview, and imbued with its habits.
We take for granted the very things that are at the root of the crisis, helplessly replicating them in all we do.
As we become more attuned to a new way of seeing the world, the more we wish to rid ourselves of the burdensome habits of the old. Not only do they no longer resonate with who we are and who we are becoming, but we recognize that trapped by those habits, we cannot help but create the world in their image. To release the habits of separation is therefore more than an issue of self-cultivation; it is also crucial to our effectiveness as activists, healers, and changemakers.
The debate over debt reduction versus fiscal stimulus takes for granted economic growth as an unquestionable good. The question of immigration reform takes for granted the social conventions of borders and ID. Statistics on Third World poverty take for granted that money is a good measure of wealth. The choice of news stories on television implies that these are the most important, relevant things happening. Signs all over public space saying things like “Emergency brake. Penalty for misuse” imply that it is penalties that maintain social order, just as ubiquitous security cameras imply that people need to be watched. Above all, the normalcy of society’s routines tells us that this way of life is normal.

For many people, the most powerful enforcer of the habits of separation is money. Usually, the actions that love inspires don’t redound to our financial self-interest; to the contrary, it is money that often seems to thwart such actions. Is it prudent? Is it practical? Can you afford to?