Wednesday, 8 August 2007

The Virtue of Selfishness?

Like many other, this post comes out of a chance remark and a short conversation with someone. The person in question told me that he was "selfish" and that that was the greatest virtue. A year ago I would have agreed without qualifying that statement. For I do believe that Selfishness is not only a necessity but also a virtue. But now I see a need to qualify that statement. The need arises because this very person's "selfishness" has hurt not only me but other people as well and so, i question the definition of the term itself and all that it implies.

What is Selfishness?
Is it simply the act of being concerned only with oneself? Essentially, yes. That I believe is the first step towards being selfish. But to leave at that implies several things that I personally construe as negative and undesirable. It means that one is so concerned with oneself that one is willing to step on other's toes, to hurt them, to bring them down to achieve one's own goals. It is this definition that has made a primary concern for one's own welfare a vice.

Selfishness, to me, has to be qualified by a conscious choice to not willfully hurt anyone on the way to one's destination; to not plot to bring someone down to pull oneself up; to be self-contained enough to not use anyone for one's ends but to be able to trade value for value and do things together for mutual benefit.

Should I be concerned with my own needs and desires over everything else? Yes. Should I knowingly hurt others for it? No.

It sounds simplistic and I am not yet satisfied with my answer and I shall continue to look but I cannot deny that I do believe that for me I come before anyone or anything else. And to be that way and yet not hurt others, also I believe, is possible.

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