From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Selfishness means the quality or state of being selfish and selfish means lack of consideration for other people. It is having more concern for yourself than for others. A selfish man aims at obtaining as much happiness as he can for himself and does not care whether other people are happy or unhappy. In order to attain his object, he tries to appropriate as large a share as possible of the good things of this world. It may be accompanied by a lack of empathy. Selfishness is the opposite of selflessness. It is also different, though related, to self-centredness and self-affirmation. Many psychologists approve of a healthy level of selfishness,[1] in order for some people to stay happy.

In the study of ethics and morality, selfishness is usually considered bad. In contrast, acts of selflessness are praised. Wider debate about it, however, such as in philosophy, psychology and economics, has shown that scholars have had many different opinions about its value and consequences. In most major religions, selfishness is considered an immoral or bad habit. In Christianity, it is associated with pride, often considered the worst of the Seven deadly sins.[2] Aristotle condemned men who would only try to profit themselves; but he approved of those who would try to gain the praise from others that he deserved.[3]

In the context of modern-day economics, there is a much wider opinion. Bernard Mandeville has argued that the economic advancement of society depends on selfish actions.[4] Ayn Rand argued that selfishness is a virtue and the cause of all progress.[5]

References[change | change source]

  1. N. Symington, Narcissism (1993) p. 8
  2. Dante, Purgatorio (1971) p. 65
  3. Aristotle, Ethics (1976) p. 301-3
  4. Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees (1970) p. 410 and p. 81-3
  5. P. L. Nevins, The Politics of Selfishness (2010) p. xii-iii

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