Essay on Selfishness

Essay on Selfishness

Length: 643 words (1.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Good Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

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 thief is not selfish. He has to run from the law constantly, something most car owners never have to do. Even if he escapes the law, he will not experience as much pleasure from possessing the car as would an honest person.

Lying to your spouse, or any loved one, is not selfish. The psychological stress of trying to "live the lie" of an extramarital affair—or any major secret—is enormous. A selfish person understands that honesty is the best policy and the least painful, in the long run.

The opposite of selfishness is self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice means giving up a greater value for a lesser value. Consider the example of a battered wife, who is married to an alcoholic husband who refuses to seek help. She stays with him for reasons o f "security" and "family stability." Yet in the process she sacrifices her self-esteem and physical safety (greater values) to the irrational whims of her husband (lesser values).

Consider the example of the hard-working student who allows a frien...


... middle of paper ...


...ient and doctor benef it from selfishness.

In a rational society, selfishness is encouraged. A rational society is one where individuals are left free to pursue their self-interest. In the process, everyone benefits.
Rational selfishness means acting in your self-interest—and accepting responsibility for determining what truly serves your long-term interest. It is a nice alternative to a life filled with duty, drudgery and disillusionment.

We live in a world which does not even recognize the option of rational selfishness. We are taught, from childhood, that we must be either self-sacrificing or thoughtlessly "selfish."

I maintain that this is a false alternative. Rational selfishness, if practiced consistently, is the means of living both a moral and psychologically healthy life. If you choose to recognize this alternative, such a life can be yours.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Selfishness Is A Disease Of The Soul Essay

- Selfishness is a disease of the soul that a person experiences several times throughout life. To say that one is ignorant of selfishness would be hypocrisy. To say that selfishness is a beneficial trait, however, would be erroneous. Although as humans, we lie to ourselves, selfishness can make a person behave arrogantly. Being selfish consumes us and changes us into someone we are not. Whether it leads to getting people killed, losing love, or abolishing families, selfishness always leads to destruction....   [tags: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jay Gatsby]

Good Essays
1088 words (3.1 pages)

Selfishness Is A Disease Of The Soul Essay

- Selfishness is a disease of the soul that every person experiences several times throughout their life. To say that it has never been experienced would be hypocrisy. To say that it is a “good thing”, would be erroneous. Although as humans we like to lie to ourselves, it is no question that selfishness can make any person act like a fool. It consumes us and makes us into someone we are not. Whether it leads to getting people killed, falling in love, or buying alcohol, selfishness always leads to destruction....   [tags: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jay Gatsby]

Good Essays
1173 words (3.4 pages)

Essay on Selfishness in "Wuthering Heights"

- Through self-centered and narcissistic characters, Emily Bronte’s classic novel, “Wuthering Heights” illustrates a deliberate and poetic understanding of what greed is. Encouraged by love, fear, and revenge, Catherine Earnshaw, Heathcliff, and Linton Heathcliff all commit a sin called selfishness. Catherine Earnshaw appears to be a woman who is free spirited. However, Catherine is also quite self-centered. She clearly states that her love for Edgar Linton does not match how much she loves Heathcliff....   [tags: Classic English Literature]

Good Essays
797 words (2.3 pages)

Odysseus' Selfishness Essay

- Odysseus portrays himself as anything but a hero throughout Homer’s The Odyssey. Odysseus goes through his life believing he is the best. He has no regard for anyone’s feelings but his own, and he believes nothing and no one can harm him, not even the gods. Odysseus feels he is always the leader and no one can tell him otherwise. Odysseus should not be considered a hero because he portrays himself as a selfish man that failed his crew, and is controlled by his hubris. Odysseus portrays his selfishness right as the book begins and this shows how truly incompetent of an individual he is....   [tags: Character Analysis]

Good Essays
914 words (2.6 pages)

Essay about The Selfishness of Oedipus in Oedipus the King

- "Selfishness is the greatest curse of the human race,” as quoted by William E. Gladstone, supports my thought that selfishness is what causes most of our problems in the modern world. Currently, we are living in an era that is filled with much gluttony and selfishness. However, selfishness is a trait that all of us possess, but the amount of selfishness that we have can determine the type of person we are. For instance, parents should always put their children’s needs before their own. Selfish parents would rather buy materialistic items for themselves than anything useful for their children....   [tags: Oedipus Rex, Sophocles]

Free Essays
967 words (2.8 pages)

Selfishness in Ywain the Knight of the Lion Essay

- Selfishness in Ywain the Knight of the Lion In Chretien de Troyes' Ywain the Knight of the Lion, there appears a substantial amount of writing about noble men and women, and noble deeds. These noble acts consist of knights coming to a maiden's aid, regardless of the circumstances, and pravailing in battles in which they are either hopelessly outnumbered, or seemingly outstrengthed. Chretien's romance about Ywain also stresses a love that takes a man prisoner, a love for which man or woman would surely die for, and in which one loves another more than himself....   [tags: Ywain the Knight of the Lion Essays]

Good Essays
2086 words (6 pages)

Essay on Selfishness

- 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....   [tags: Papers]

Good Essays
643 words (1.8 pages)

Ayn Rand, Aristotle, and Selfishness Essay

- Ayn Rand, Aristotle, and Selfishness Selfishness is an act that humans innately have implanted within them. Ayn Rand being a rational egoist had many moral beliefs, one being especially about selfishness. She believed that: “Self-interest, properly understood, is the standard of morality and selflessness is the deepest immorality.”( Ayn Rand 279) This basically emphasizes that you should see oneself, as an end to oneself. A person’s own life and happiness are their highest values, and that they don’t exist as servants or slaves to the interests of others....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
660 words (1.9 pages)

Selfishness Among Characters Essay

- Characters in the stories we have read so far this semester have been faced with a multitude of problems, emotions and impulses to work through. It seems that from three stories the characters carry out very different actions, but they all have an underlying bond, selfishness and the desire to be something there not. It also seems that they are judged in the eyes of the narrator, as either succeeding or failing due to the way they carried themselves throughout the story. In the short story, 'A Pair of Silk Stockings';, by Kate Chopin, the main character, Mrs....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
952 words (2.7 pages)

Selfishness/Unselfishness Essay

- Selfishness/unselfishness The reading of the first short story that was titled,” Everyday Use (for your grandmamma) written by Alice Walker. The people in this story help the reader to see and feel a different way about those with a sense of entitlement. It makes you think and ask yourself why would anyone live there life in such a selfish fashion that it poisons the people around them. Unselfish people seem to get along better in life and don’t seem to struggle. This story reads of a daughter who leaves her home only to return modern....   [tags: Literary Analysis]

Good Essays
522 words (1.5 pages)