Exactly as the title says. Tell me why being selfish is wrong.

I'm not of the opinion that a rational, considered self-interest is wrong. I think it's usually the best way to go. In fact, I would say it's kind of like our default setting, but I've seen quite a few people post recently about how being selfless is good. I disagree.

Why do you think that selflessness is good? Why do you think that selfishness is bad? Do you think it's the other way around? Or maybe neither is good nor bad?

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So do you have a substantive comment or just this silly quote that always gets pulled out by trolls whenever Ayn Rand's name comes up?  I've seen it thousands of times attributed to dozens of people.  Enough to make me wonder if someone has organized a campaign.

It's not only the only response that continued Rand worship deserves, it is also far more substantive a response than continued Rand worship deserves.

And far more than you're capable of dishing out yourself I see.

Why waste my time on pseudo intellectual blowhards like Rand and her disciples when I could be doing much more important things with my life, like rearranging my sock drawer?

If you actually have an argument that you'd like to put up for debate, then let's hear it.

No one here is worshiping anyone. I'll be the first to say that "Atlas Shrugged" was twice as long as it should been, had characters that were for the most part some ridiculous facsimile of real people (there were a few exceptions, Eddie for instance), and it had a 90 page monologue-recap of the entire philosophy of the book as if the reader was too dumb to get it to begin with, but that does not mean that she did not present several good points.

Reading through the posts here, I'd say that most people agree in part with the idea of Objectivism. I certainly don't agree with it in whole especially not a binary view of black and white morality, but I do find some parts incontrovertible such as: living a life devoted to altruism is essentially living life as being a slave to the will of others, how committing a real sacrifice is shooting yourself in the foot, and how most people's concept of morality really boils down to a cost-benefit scenario for an individual's values.

So if you have a real argument for why a rational, considered self-interest is somehow morally wrong/neutral/right, then let's hear it.

Otherwise... stop trolling.

Aww, but people who use Ayn Rand as a model for any portion of their life are so easy to troll...

I don't really have any argument I care to get into regarding the initial question.  I think a lot of what's on this thread boils down to semantics, and it's difficult to parse out a viewpoint - opposing or otherwise - if you're operating on different understandings of a word's definition or connotation.

So, I apologize to you for derailing this thread with my Rand mockery.  Not that she doesn't deserve it.

I see objevtivism as mostly a reaction against the conclusions drawn by post-modernists, Personally I find both views illuminating wrt the foundational axioms on whiich they rest, but equally preposterous in the contemporary climate of debate.

The world simply moved on from intelectually lazy considerations.

It's not.  Further, the way you state it, as a 'rational, considered self-interest', I think it's the way to go.  Certainly there is often need to consider the interests of others, or society as a whole, but there is nothing wrong with making yourself a top priority.

Heather - yes, I think you've put your finger on the problem. 

If we say that "the Healing Principle" is the currency of morality - the gift of healing that we can give to others, in a moral situation - and "Heal the Situation" is its application - i.e. to try to ensure that each member of the situation affected by our moral decision receives the maximum amount of healing and the minimum amount of harm - then exactly how do we parcel out the benefits based on our loyalties to the people involved?  Myself, my family, my friends, people I owe something to, vulnerable people, etc etc.  I believe it has to be decided on a case-by-case basis.  It isn't realistic by any means to automatically extend the same benefits to a perfect stranger that I would extend to my mother, for example.  Confucius, he say, we don't owe anything to perfect strangers.  I disagree and think this is an inhuman blanket statement to make. 

@Simon Paynton

I think it is true that we owe absolutely nothing to perfect strangers.  That being said, extending a bit of respect/trust without it being owed is the very foundation of civilization, isn't it?

Heather, I agree with what you say. 

The models (evolutionary, mathematical etc.) where cooperation can be shown to benefit the individual all apply to closed groups where the individuals have long-term relationships with each other. 

However today's world is very different to that in the past.  As a planet, and a species, we are becoming more and more of a closed group in the sense that increasingly, what affects me affects everyone.  Our fates are becoming more shared and we are more interconnected than ever before. 

"the very foundation of civilization" - precisely.  But how to put this in concrete terms where the individual benefits?  This is where The Golden Rule comes in.  If I behave altruistically then I am making a better environment for myself, and within myself. 

"He that does good becomes good.  He that does evil becomes evil.  By pure actions he becomes pure, by evil actions he becomes evil. ... As his works are, so he becomes."  (The supreme teaching of the Upanishad - "Karma")   

(sorry for the casual sexism there. blame the deficiency of the English language.) 

Healing that is a part of me continues to heal.  Evil that is a part of me continues to cause destruction until it is rectified. 

If we help a perfect stranger, then

  • we are learning about healing
  • we are making a better world for everyone, including ourselves and our own people
  • and we are hard-wired to enjoy it. 


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