What is being selfish?

We explain what it is to be selfish and how a selfish person behaves. In addition, their moral and philosophical doctrines.

  1. What is being selfish?

When a selfish person is called, or accused of practicing selfishness, we usually mean that said person puts his personal well-being or the satisfaction of his desires, the welfare of others or collective needs at all times. A selfish individual, like this, is someone who only thinks of himself, which can lead him to behave meanly before others.

In general, selfish people  feel they are much more important than they really are , or they have themselves as the center of the universe and think that others should be very aware of him and his needs. They are thus incapable of altruism or generosity, even when it costs them nothing.

Commonly, selfishness is had in the West by a defect and reprehensible behavior, which does not contribute to common well-being and is often associated with the earliest stages of psychological training, that is, childhood, since in many cases the Selfish people can behave as a child who does not yet discover their belonging to a much wider community and a more complicated world would.

However, many other moral and philosophical doctrines, when not psychological, have taken selfishness as the central concept. Such is the case of:

  • Psychological selfishness . A psychological current that affirms that human nature is really self-interested and incapable of generosity or altruism, because behind such acts lies a need to compensate for something and feel good about oneself.
  • Moral or ethical selfishness . An ethical-philosophical doctrine that sustains the maxim that the work of individuals must be oriented primarily to their own benefit, helping others only optionally and when it supposes something beneficial in the short or long term for the individual. In this way, the self builds itself and reality is fixed in its own existence.
  • Rational egoism . It is a philosophical thesis that states that the pursuit of one’s own benefit is always rational, thus turning selfishness into a normative mandate. But if psychological selfishness is interested in individual motivation and moral selfishness focuses on morality , the rational is attached to the logic and capacity of human reasoning as north. Economic and social theories such as liberalism and classical economics are based on this thesis .
  • Selfish anarchism . Founded by Max Stirner, a post-Hegelian philosopher, this current of anarchist thought (and therefore philosophical and political) appeared in the nineteenth century as the basis of subsequent individualist anarchism. According to this thesis, the only limitation of individuals is their power, their ability to really get what they want. From this point of view, all forms of religion or ideology are empty and invalid.

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