Philosophers, researchers and many scientists have overall concluded that selfishness is an inert human trait. It is not possible to refute such an assertion since taking a look into history; selfishness has been more successful than selflessness. Selfishness is blamed by many for the distresses of human association particularly in discourteous and inconsiderate actions. Typically, selfishness is understood in society as a trait that only bad people have. This statement highlights how the concept is loosely understood and how such assertions are wrong since selfishness is part and parcel of everyone and the driving force behind human actions. Selfish motives stir human actions whether utilitarian or deontological. The validity of selfishness as an inert human trait is subjective and depends on personal interpretation as with other similar ethical matters. Selfishness as an inert human trait is a generalization that is both supported by philosophy, psychology, and Scientology.
Human beings are regarded as inherently selfish as this is a pre-requisite for the survival of any living animal on earth. Scientists Richard Dawkins maintains that ruthless selfishness is a primary trait that any successful gene must carry (Davis 17). It is this selfish gene that gives rise to selfishness in human actions. The motivation of self-centeredness is the concern of personal interests, and by doing so, one cannot be concerned or pay attention to that which they do not know. Selfish people want everything for themselves and do not enjoy giving but only taking. Such individual lack interest in what others need and also their dignity or integrity. They see nothing but only themselves, judges' things and people from the perspective of their usefulness and a hard person to love. De Waal while quoting Thomas Hobbes in his philosophical theory asserts that humans in nature seek for nothing else but items for their own selfish pleasures (33). However, such individualism creates conflicts where man's hand rises against his neighbor. Hobbes description of humans is that they are naturally selfish and vain. In fact, he declares that naturally, humans observe a thing as either a vice or virtue relative to how their self-interest is affected and not that of others. In the light of this statement, Hobbes implication is that human attribute is egoism in nature and this is what causes the brutal competition over resources in the event there is no proper form of ruling imposed (Rogers 24). Of all these social vices, it is almost unnecessary to mention of all the experiences that selfishness is natural. Selfishness makes humans individualistic and disproves their social nature since there is a personal code of ethics for own sake and not others. This is the code that humans operate with and is intrinsic, and no one is devoid to this nature. Consequently, the traditional thought of selfishness can be better understood by exalting the psychological mindset.
Besides Thomas Hobbes theory, the nature of humans as inherently selfish is equally evident in Sigmund Freud portrayal of an animalistic and dark nature in people. In the Psycho-analytic theory, Sigmund Freud implies that there is an inherent factor that exists within the body and acts as a strong motivator for the human nature of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Known as the id, this element makes human pursue whatever is in their interest including selfish wishes and desires and will overlook and not care for other wants even when the implication of such behavior harms other lives. In Freud's psychoanalytic theory, the motivation of humans is derived from the unconscious, or specifically, the id. The yearning for pleasure and dodging pain is seen in every aspect of human development and live (Stevens 62). For instance, a child is young to make a distinction between a hot pot and a cold one. However, once this child touches the hot pot and gets burned, they get some undesired effect. As a result of the unpleasurable effect, the child will never touch a hot pot as they associate it with pain. In another example, it can be argued that a mother breastfeeds her child so that she can satisfy her motherly instincts of raising a baby. While this can be correct, what is the case for the mothers who abandon their babies or even murder them right after birth? The answer lies in the fact that virtually every human conduct can be understood from the standpoint that the action is intended to serve some of the many inner selfish desires that act as motivators. This is why humans will go to the edge and participate in war killing each other to attain what the id desires. Ultimately, it is against human nature to act in ways that would cause them pain, and selfish actions are driven by pain and pleasure.
Ultimately, selfishness in human beings is an inert trait that is much reflected in their lives. It is hard to deny this aspect of humans that is evident everywhere especially in how people look after themselves. As in aforementioned, everything in human lives revolves around the desire and the need to survive. The moral philosophy within human nature with the focus on the concept of good and what it means in life acts as another tool in the defense on the argument of selfishness being an inert human trait. Murdoch describes the desires for pleasure and the need to survive as machines powered by some source of energy predisposed and to achieve the desires and survival requirements for humans the focus in on individuals (14). To make the argument clear, Murdoch additionally refers to freedom of choice a gift that offers humans the ability to make decisions on what is right and wrong of which human use for wastefully spending a great deal of it on daydreaming (15). The concept of misusing freedom ties humans to their innate nature and the inclination towards selfishness as people choose to evade the harshness that comes with reality and submerge in a fantasy world. This argument is best illustrated in the nature of people who throw food or even leaves the water running. While it is in the knowledge of people that some people lack these necessities, human nature focuses on personal wants and does not recognize that some people might be needing what they are wasting. From the argument, human selfishness is opposite to the ethics of good and evil and in this term, it is undefinable through the choices people make.
On the contrary, human beings are far more altruistic and cooperative than assumed above. This is as a result of the fact that despite natural selection resulting in selfish ruthlessness in humans, it would be impossible to survive in nature without altruism and cooperation of a group. The underlying theme in evolution is survival for the fittest and the most able will be able to pass its genes through reproduction. To achieve this and ensure collective survival and reproduction, humans had to practice the art of cooperation with members of their species. This is quite evident in the social nature of humans. With increased intelligence, individuals who had not mastered cooperative living and engaging in such acts as mutual grooming would fail to get opportunities for reproduction, and their genes become extinct. Those with altruistic nature would receive reproduction opportunities ensuring that their genes continue to exist within the species. The evidence of altruism as a human trait is not limited to philosophy as evidence o kindness is seen in young children who will try helping adults. This is one act that could be hard to object on the ideology that such kindness is based on selfish motive.
In summary, the statement selfishness as an inert human trait is a fact that is supported by both philosophical, psychological and scientific evidence. Selfishness is ingrained in the human personality as a pre-requisite for survival as supported by Thomas Hobbes. Equally, the id which is part of the human body unconsciously drives for selfish intents in humans in the quest to realize pleasure and avoid pain. Lastly, selfishness is inert since, despite the knowledge of good and evil, humans still engage in selfish acts. However, contradictory ideas show that selfishness is not inert and human beings are more altruistic. As part of survival for the fittest humans have learned to be cooperative with one another for reproductions opportunities and since uncooperative members are denied these chances, their selfish genes have since been cleared from the specie. However, since selfishness is still evident today, this argument can be refuted.
Davis, Nicola. The selfish gene. Macat Library, 2017.
De Waal, Frans. Primates and philosophers: How morality evolved. Princeton University Press, 2009.
Murdoch, Iris. The sovereignty of good. Routledge, 2013.
Rogers, Kelly. Self-interest: an anthology of philosophical perspectives from antiquity to the present. Routledge, 2014.
Stevens, Anthony. Archetype: A natural history of the self. Routledge, 2013.
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