Selfishness Essay

648 Words3 Pages
Selfishness

Most of us assume that selfishness is both wrong and unhealthy. But is this true?

Selfishness means acting in one's rational self-interest. Contrary to popular opinion, all healthy individuals are selfish. Choosing to pursue the career of your choice is selfish. Choosing to have children—or not to have children—is selfish. Insisting on freedom and individual rights, rather than living under a dictatorship, is selfish. Indeed, even ordinary behaviors such as breathing, eating and avoiding an oncoming car when crossing the street are selfish acts. Without selfishness, none o f us would survive the day—much less a lifetime.

Selfishness does not mean self-destructive behavior. In other words, a car
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Or, consider the envious individual who tries to get you to feel guilty for your hard-earned success. "You are lucky to have done so well," the envious person says. "Now you have a duty to share some of your success with others." Ce rtainly, a selfish person wants to share his success with those he genuinely cares about—his family, friends, or children (greater values). But why should he make sacrifices to individuals he does not know or care about (lesser values)?

Selfish individuals give to charity—if and when they choose. A selfish person is not "stingy." He simply values the use of his own judgment in making decisions about how to spend his money, and when to give it away.

Most of us assume that some selfishness is healthy, but "too much" selfishness will lead to loneliness and despair. This idea rests on an incorrect definition of selfishness. Selfishness means acting in one's rational self-interest. By " rational" I mean that one can logically prove that an action is in one's self-interest—in the long run as well as the short run.

For instance, Mr. Jones might think that it is in his self-interest to cheat on his wife, in the short run. But if he considers the long-term, he will understand that he loses her either way by lying to her. If he really loves his wife, he will feel te rrible if he lies to her. If he no longer loves his wife, it is
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