Narcissism, Egoism and Altruism

Narcissism, Egoism and Altruism

Narcissus and his reflection

Narcissus and his reflection

The myth of narcissus tells the tale of a man, known as Narcissus, who looked over the shore of a lake and observed his own reflection, commenting that his own appearance was beautiful. However, Narcissus fell into the water, rippling his reflection and leaving him to drown. From this myth, the philosophy of narcissism and egoism (variably referred to as “egotism”) arise, claiming that our own appearance is a proportional reflection on our morality.

Psychological egoism is the theory in which human motivation is intrinsically self interested. Even when we appear (or think ourselves to be) altruistically motivated, It is still all about personal benefit. This philosophy often assumes itself in the role of economics and politics, where businessmen maintain their business entirely for their own economical gain, and politicians are often quick to spend the people’s tax money on their own wage. Particularly in modern society, psychological egoism is abundant as people have the conception that their worth is empirically based on their bank account’s digits.

This philosophy is interesting, and its validity is indubitable. Psychological egoism, narcissism, and general egoism is present in today’s social networking technology, and is never shy to present itself in amidst of society. Even if somebody were to claim that their compliments to another person was entirely in the interest of others, an egoist would argue that generosity towards others is in their own interest because their sense of selflessness is just a foundation for their sense of nicety or virtuousness.

Many philosophers, such as Hobbes, believe in what is known as the social contract. The idea of social contracting is that mankind mutually agrees to expend their unbridled egoism for the sake of maintaining social order. In Leviathan, Hobbes explains mankind is naturally brutish and often willing to harm others for their own survival; in essence, mankind’s brutish mentality leads to man being both prey and predator to each other. With social contracting, however, people band together in order to invest in a Government system with laws and regulations, in order to maintain survival and not live in a state of anarchy.

The strong do what they will; the weak bear what they must.

-Hobbes

The opposite of egoism, however, is what is known as altruism. Altruism is the philosophical belief in which man is naturally self sacrificial at the expense of others. For example, if somebody was required to give CPR to a relative, then they will proceed to do it even if doing so is emotionally unbearable. However, while this may be evident even in today’s society, egoism is certainly far more abundant.

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