Everybody is 100% selfish

  • Thread starter moose
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  • #76
Rade
Kenneth Mann said:
I've noticed that in the discussion that has gone on in this string so far, much of the disagreement (or confusion) has resulted from semantic differences rather than from actual differences in opinion. Put simply, it is quite difficult to express ideas clearly if there are no clear and unique definitions for the terms used. To this end, I have tried to come up with (a start at) more concise (if somewhat arbitrary) definitions for some of the main terms used. These include:
1) selfish (adjective): striving to promote the welfare and advantage of ones-self, at the expense of one or more others. This may or may not include resorting to acts that are unethical, illegal or immoral. An act of this type requires some (overt or otherwise) component which is performed with the express purpose of disadvantaging one or more others. Theft, cheating and class discrimination are examples of this type of activity. [selfishness (noun), selfishly (adverb)]KM
I do not agree with this definition of "self-ish"-- what you define here is the "self-less" person -- the person that requires harming other people to advance self. Consider the word -- a self-ish person is concerned with self only, and a selfish person would never harm another person to advance self interest, except in the justified situation of self defense against action initiated by others. By definition, a truly selfish person lives by the moral code to never "initiate" harmful actions against other humans. All of this is made clear in the book by Ayn Rand, "The Virtue of Selfishness". And consider the many religions that place the highest moral virtue on selfish actions (such as being born again) that insure that one gets to live forever in a very nice place indeed after life on earth --by whatever name that place is called. Such people are truely selfish in the correct sense of the concept as defined by Rand. And do we not look with a questionable eye at those who claim to never do anything for themself, always for the other ? I fear that few people are truely selfish as I have defined above, and hence the great evil we see in this world because so many humans have been incorrectly taught to equate advance of self (e.g., selfishness) with harming other people, as shown by the definition provided above by K. Mann.
 
  • #77
In my experience, I've found there are several groups of people: the selfless, the admittedly selfish, and the closet selfish.

Selfless people are a minority, they truly do everything they can to help others. These are not only the people who move to third world countries and sacrifice everything they have to help people who were born at a disadvantage, but people who ernestly spend most of their time thinking and acting for the welfare of others.

Closet selfish people is a little term I made up for people who deny how selfish they are. They'll often say how kind they are, they'll try hard to help other people, but when push comes to shove, they'd help themselves first. Rich people who make token donations to random charities while driving $70,000 cars fall into this section, as do people who do community service in order to appear like a selfless person. In short, they do a lot of good things for others while reserving the best for themselves so that they can keep a clean conscience. Sadly, a majority of people fall into this category.

Lastly, we have the selfish people, who do nothing unless it serves them in some way or form. It's also pretty clear cut, and there aren't too many of these in the world.

Obviously people can fall at various ends of the spectrum, but just about everyone is in one of those categories, with most in the middle one.

As for myself, I'm not in so much denial as to not consider myself as selfish, because most of what I do is just for me. However, I don't go out of my way to harm others, so I can sleep at night without any problems. Being selfish is what capitalism is all about, anyways. I'm good for the economy ;) .
 
  • #78
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I don't think people are that selfish, but people are more cynical and I am not denying that I myself end up behaving like a cynic most of the time. I tend to assume the worst of human nature and motives; having a sneering disbelief in selflessness of others which is bad and I'm desparately trying to change. I guess cynicism is also a form of selfishness because I'm concerned chiefly or only with myself.
 
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  • #79
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I think the best way to describe the motive for human behavior is "Self Satisfaction", be it through possession of material wealth, or a warm fuzzy feeling after doing something 'nice' like donating to charity.
 

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