Monday, December 14, 2015
Animals seek their own pleasure and do not think about the consequences to others. Those species that do live together have the fewest appetites to gratify. This clearly shows that selfishness is not only the trait of humans but it is also prominent in animals. The plant species is also the same. They try to absorb minerals and water for themselves first. They even change their directions for getting enough sunlight which decide their growth. “Evolutionary biology is quite clear that “What’s in it for me?” is an ancient refrain for all life, and there is no reason to exclude Homo sapiens,” writes David Barash. .
As I already mentioned any living organism has an intrinsic call towards selfishness. Man being at the top of the pyramid with intellect, reason out this intrinsic nature a bit more intensely for his own self-interest. “Everyone does what he really wants to do — otherwise, he wouldn’t do it.” Or “No one ever really sacrifices himself. Since every purposeful action is motivated by some value or goal that the actor desires, one always acts selfishly, whether one knows it or not.” .
It is pretty clear that the nature of existence catapult a drive in every living organism to take care of its growth, sustenance, and survival. May be we call it as selfishness. However, we need to question ourselves, how can we survive in the competitive world without looking to one’s own needs and progress? It is a healthy note for anyone to be what one ought to be. But some of us go a few steps further than this limit in the world of ‘me and me’ only.
Ayn Rand in her essay, The Virtue of Selfishness, defines selfishness as “concern with one’s own interests.” . It is very dangerous as it leads to corruption and manipulation in the world. A genuinely selfish man chooses his goals by the guidance of reason — and because the interests of rational men do not clash — other men may often benefit from his actions. But the benefit of other men is not his primary purpose or goal; his own benefit is his primary purpose and the conscious goal directing his actions. . For Spinoza, “The more each person strives and is able to seek his profit, that is to say, to preserve his being, the more virtue does he posses; on the other hand, is so far as each person who neglects his own profit, is impotent.” . What I mean by selfishness here is the tendency to seek and promote my own comfort and satisfaction before that of anybody else. They grab the best for themselves before anyone else. Selfish people in this sense are the people who (for instance) always try to get the finest piece of chicken, or the largest glass of wine, or the best seat for themselves.
Dawkin’s argument would substantiate the selfish gene theory that everyone is born selfish and we are selfish at our gene level. The fundamental unit of selection, and therefore of self-interest, is not the species, nor the group, nor even, strictly, the individual. It is the gene, the unit of heredity. .
Thus, I would not hesitate to doubt that it is the man’s selfish gene and the ability to reason which drives him to be selfish and thereby leads to egoism.
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
To be selfish is to be motivated by concern for one’s self-interest. This requires one to consider what constitutes one’s self-interest and how to achieve it — what values and goals to pursue, what principles and policies to adopt. If a man were not concerned with this question, he could not be said objectively to be concerned with or to desire his self-interest; one cannot be concerned with or desire that of which one has no knowledge.
The selfish person is interested only in himself, wants everything for himself, feels no pleasure in giving, but only in taking. The world outside is looked at only from the standpoint of what he can get out of it; he lacks interest in the needs of others, and respect for their dignity and integrity. He can see nothing but himself; he judges everyone and everything from its usefulness; he is basically unable to love. .
According to Thomas Hobbes, “man in the state of nature seeks nothing but his own selfish pleasure, but such individualism naturally leads to a war in which every man's hand is against his neighbor.” . Hobbes describes man as being naturally vain and selfish. He declares that:
Whatsoever is the object of any man’s appetite or desire that is it which he for his part calleth good; and the object of his hate and aversion, evil; and of his contempt, vile and inconsiderable. For these words of good, evil and contemptible are ever used with relation to the person that useth them….
In other words, man by nature perceives a thing as being good or evil not in terms of how it may affect the interests of others, but in terms of how it affects his own self-interest. Hobbes argued that the basic attribute of human nature is egoism, which inevitably leads to a savage and brutal competition for resources in the absence of constraints imposed by a ruling monarch. . John Stuart Mill Wrote, "Of the social virtues it is almost superfluous to speak; so completely is it the verdict of all experience that selfishness is natural." . Selfishness makes human beings individualistic rather than a social being. Because, man has a code of ethics primarily for his own sake, not for anyone else's. . Human beings operate on this code which is intrinsic to their nature. No one is devoid of this nature. Thus, this traditional understanding of human behavior by exalting a psychological mind-set utterly divorced from anything outside the self. . Hence, there is a need for breaking that core nature which is selfishness. And Dawkins would put it sarcastically yet seriously, let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to. .It is almost impossible to think about CSR when people operate with selfishness. The “selfish individual who is the product of the stunted moral development environment is not likely to contribute to the social good,” . because there is very little to be said in favor of an individualism which takes its orientation from a conception of the individual as essentially “the proprietor of his own person, for which he owes nothing to the society." But the next question that persuades us would be, is everyone in the world selfish? What is the level of selfishness that can be noticed around? Unless we delve into the nitty-grittys of this concept, it is difficult to bring an awareness in the society to work for the progress and development of it.
(For more details read the book "CSR an Antidote to Selfishness by Joji Valli)
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