Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Egoism basically states

  1. Aug 12, 2003 #1
    my opinion

    Egoism basically states: the motivation for any of our actions is to ultimately benefit ourselves.

    1. Despite the appearance of making some grand, meaningful claim about human nature the theory and the conclusions that can be made to resolve the theory has a very limited realm...that bordering on insignificant. That is, many feel that by resolving the above theory we would find that humans are ultimately selfish, evil, or good. Nevertheless such concepts as "selfish", "evil", and "good" are merely "useful" concepts in their ability to instigate emotional mobilization. That is the latter concepts will always be an opinion...never a fact. Thus in my opinion, the theory has no incremental value whatsoever.

    But let's discuss the matter superficially

    Doesn't it make sense that a human being would ultimately act to benefit oneself? I don't see any "selfishness" in this respect. It seems that theory only instigates arguments where arguments are wanted for emotional orgies sake. There is really nothing to argue about.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 13, 2003 #2
  4. Aug 13, 2003 #3
    I think it was George Bernard Shaw who said that there is no such thing as a purely altruistic deed. I'm afraid he's right. But when you get right down to it why should there be one? Why would anybody do something that s/he got absolutely nothing out of even if it's only a good feeling for have done what they considered the right thing.
  5. Aug 13, 2003 #4
    A truly altruistic deed? On what basis do we even call an act truly altruistic. Just like I was saying above, "altruism" is merely an opinion. When we label something as "good" "evil" or "selfish" is merely to mobilize our emotions, it is an "active-adjective." I hope you all know what I mean.
  6. Aug 14, 2003 #5
    Here is a post of mine from another topic:

  7. Aug 15, 2003 #6
    Selfishness is natural, and not wrong, not a bad characteristic. Everything we do is selfish, we are just programmed that way.

    This is an old, and true, thought. Didn't Hobbes mess with this thought?

    Anyway, a more intersting turn: selfishness is not only natural, it's ethical...
  8. Aug 17, 2003 #7
    This idea that everything that we do has a selfish motivation is very popular, but false.

    Havee you never done anything that you thought was right, without regard to how it will benefit you? Maybe it did benefit you, but we are talking about intent, so if you did not think about how it would benefit you beforehand, then it is not a selfish act.

    Of course acting out of concern for oneself is not inherently bad, but that is not what we are discussing here. We are talking about whether everything is motivated by selfishness, or whether there is such a thing as altruism. Of course, there is altruism.

    In fact, I grow disgusted with people trying to talk about universal constants for humankind (and, of course, we talk about humankind, not animalkind, because our egos drive us to draw a magical line of separation). There is no "people are inherently good" or "people are inherently bad", etc. People are individuals who develop in large part due to their experiences.

    Here's a tricky question: A person has a choice between two actions. Both will benefit the person. However, action A will benefit the person more, but action B will also help someone else. If the person chooses action B knowing all this, is the person being altruistic?
  9. Aug 17, 2003 #8
    Oh, so many possibilities!

    1. He might do that do avoid feeling guilty afterwards.

    2. He might do it to feel like a better person.

    3. He might gain pleasure from doing it.

    4. He might be hoping for something he might get in return (the other person might help him some other time).

    5. It makes perfect sense to help other people, as it helps the species to survive. It's instinct.

    6. He might be trying to avoid punishment / public disapproval his acting the other way would cause.

    7. He might be hoping for rewards in heaven, if he's religious.

    And, rest assured, these are not the only possibilities...

    BUT, as I said, egoism is not "wrong". It's natural and often is what most would consider to be "ethical".
  10. Feb 7, 2004 #9
    Only you can really answer that question

    When a person can see what needs to be done and go out of their way for negative gain to get it done because it helps others then they are truly beginning to be an individual, but these are only words, if you want to understand it do it, a thing each day that puts you out and helps others and be honest to yourself if it makes any difference good or bad to you. Basically we all act according to what's best for ourselves and that's a good thing that keeps one alive but when a person is use to stepping outside of those walls and seeing what is good for everyone involved should it put them out a few years looking at stars, then they are acting as a true individual the trouble often comes in that sometimes people's altruistic motives end up hurting others too and so it depends on careful planning or just doing simple things like picking up nails off the road that obviously are good, that time and effort to change the tire could be better spent.
    I also recommend to try doing things that don't help but are entirely selfishly motivated and even may hurt others to benefit oneself and see how that works out in comparison.

    ...no I make a mistake here after further consideration, anti-altruism would be going out of one's way to hurt others in a constructive way, something hardly anyone does, like when someone says their out of shape and are looking to you for comment you might if bold tell them it's because they are lazy and want to here lies about physical fitness being unimportant and they are asking for pity from the wrong place, and see how that works out for ya. Sometimes sadistic type people are the most constructive of all but it's difficult to judge what should have the desired effect, for me anyway.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2004
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook