Selfish Essay

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The issue of human nature and what motivates it is an oft debated one. On one hand, there are no doubt proponents of the idea of selflessness in certain individuals' actions. On the other hand, just as the statement, there are proponents of the idea that all human actions are governed by selfish reasons. After much consideration, though I would like to believe in the former, I believe that all our actions, whether they are deontological or utilitarian in nature, are inspired by selfish reasons.
To justify my reasoning, I would first like to discuss the definition of selfishness. To be selfish is to only care about one's self, in other words, to put one's wellbeing or life ahead of others. Take for example, a typical situation whereby someone is drowning. As is taught in rescue classes, would be rescuers take a very definitive risk each time they decide to jump into a deep body of water after an imperilled person. The risk would be that the drowning person loses all coherence and is so overtaken by a self preservation instinct that he grabs on to anything nearby with a dead man's grip, so much so that rescuers and victim have both drowned together on numerous occasions. This serves to show us that at a very base and fundamental level, in moments of uncertainty and fear, our mindset inevitably reverts to one of survival no matter what the cost.
Another example would be that of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina, when order in the devastated city was non-existent, looting and crime shot through the roof. As comfort levels dropped and reality set in, people looted and robbed to survive in order to feed themselves. This again reinforces that, in the absence of the luxuries of time and certainty, people will take steps without regard for others to ensure their survival.
On a deeper level, I would liken the economic theory of indifference curves to the actions of people. The concept of utility curves basically demonstrates that individuals have differing criterion for the same amount of satisfaction. This forms the basis for my belief that it is due to this that people are motivated to engage in certain actions. For example, it could be argued that a gift to one's newly moved in neighbour could be due to one wanting a favour from them in the future; however if we approach this from an altruistic point of view, it could also be argued that one is a person that gains satisfaction from helping others, there is an emotional payoff. Suicide bombers in Iraq give up their lives selflessly for the purpose of Jihad so they can reap rewards in heaven in the form of many virgins. A monk living in a temple gives up his life because he desires enlightenment and favour from deities. The suicide bomber and the monk are not too different from us in that they are driven by the need to gain satisfaction for themselves; the difference is that their prerequisites for satisfaction are wildly different than ours. A hero fights for fame and glory.
For all these reasons, I therefore believe that no matter what the intents and purposes are, human actions are driven by selfish reasons.

Selfishness Essay

648 Words3 Pages


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