difference between selfish/self-centered

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difference between selfish/self-centered

Postby overcast on November 7th, 2006, 7:20 pm 

What would you say is the difference between being selfish and self-centered? Do you believe that being self-centered is a bad thing? I think being self-centered is human nature and there is nothing wrong with that, but I think being selfish is definately not the best way to go, just wanted to hear your opinion.
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Ego

Postby PeSla on November 7th, 2006, 7:38 pm 

As I recall Ayn Rand made this distinction, between egoism and egotism. She did not maintain that for someone to gain something someone else had to lose it.

Self?centered? maybe these questions can be asked on a more general level and mean something, or maybe as a religious idea in that to love yourself, thus know of love, so as then the possibility to love others and something greater than oneself.

Some people have a deep sense of self and apparently some do not. It would seem that a little bit of self interest is a good thing, what is the point if one does not care? I do not mean we should not care for the collective but it seems in this struggle of the individuals in society that those who help others, like the teachers and social workers, they will never get rich if they have to compete so ruthlessly with those who amass things to the point they lose their "souls" for money cannot buy such love in the greedy persuit of riches beyond what the soul needs, beyond perhaps the corruption of wealth that it may then be possible to recall the roots of misery and thus be in a better postion to help others, at least financially.

What are so many of our social and faith based programs but condesending acts of a guilty conscience, not so much for the empathy with others, but for the lonely acts of neglect that something can be more in the world and bonding with others than the petty arbritary lot of ones inheritence and circumstance. This measure of social intelligence is a measure of our self and souls. and ultimately achievement of intelligence. Then again there is still more to this, for with the freedom comes to the responsibility, and sometimes to detract from the others is to squander the capital of being alive that took millions of years for us to ask, why am I and is there anything else, and was my life's script a masterpiece or even worth writing about, especially in the true emulations of others that they too reach an understanding of what is uniquely ourselves that we so can be an example to lead to awakening others.\

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Re: difference between selfish/self-centered

Postby Paul Anthony on November 7th, 2006, 8:02 pm 

overcast wrote:What would you say is the difference between being selfish and self-centered? Do you believe that being self-centered is a bad thing? I think being self-centered is human nature and there is nothing wrong with that, but I think being selfish is definately not the best way to go, just wanted to hear your opinion.


Good question, and I will agree with your conclusion. Of what possible use could I be to others, if I fail to take care of myself? How can I mentor others if I have not looked inward and discovered the nature of my own soul?

"To thine own self be true..." "Physician, heal thyself." Many wiser than I have advised us to be self-centered before we attempt to be of service to others. We are only selfish if we refuse to provide to others what we have that may be worth sharing, or if we insist on sharing those parts of ourselves that may do others harm.
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Postby samoy3d on November 24th, 2006, 6:02 am 

what is a self anyway? seen from a social perspective, human being is a social animal, the existence of one individual can not be seen separate from the society in which he/she interacts.

One can not be selfish or self-centered without the existence of others. Being selfish certainly serves a purpose in the course of one's interaction with the society.

If I give to charity in the hope to gain recognition and the love of others, is that not a selfish act?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Interestingly, I observed that human being have the tendency to interact with himself, or self-interaction. It is the very moment in which you are pondering about the nature of yourself. Am I selfish? is an identical question to: Is he selfish? - and we ask this sort of questions all the time.

as for the notion that self-centeredness is human nature, I disagree with this. In the time of war, many individuals are willing to sacrifice themselves for their countries. Similarly, we tend to gather with others rather than being alone.

Of course, self-centeredness is often associated with the need to fulfill one's own interests. But if we observe closely, each interest that an individual has - is related to other individuals. Imagine you will have all the wealth of the world and also all the power you need, with one condition: that you live alone for the rest of your life. Is such life worth living?

This holistic view is applicable when we put ourselves outside of the society. Once we become a 'player' in the society, we can no longer apply this view, as our desires, our needs, our cravings seem to be very real - as if they come from inside of us. While in reality they exist in relation to our interaction with others.
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Postby Ichibukai on November 25th, 2006, 1:58 am 

What would you say is the difference between being selfish and self-centered? Do you believe that being self-centered is a bad thing? I think being self-centered is human nature and there is nothing wrong with that, but I think being selfish is definately not the best way to go, just wanted to hear your opinion.

Are you saying that self-centered is the 'tendency' of being selfish, and selfish itself is the actualization of self-centredness? So it's ok to be self-centered but we must suppress it? Sorry i didnt get what you're trying to say.
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Postby Paul Anthony on November 25th, 2006, 8:23 pm 

samoy3d wrote:
Imagine you will have all the wealth of the world and also all the power you need, with one condition: that you live alone for the rest of your life. Is such life worth living?


I live alone now, by choice. Obviously, I think it is a life worth living. I have no aspirations toward amassing wealth and power, but both would be useless if I had no interaction with others. What use would the wealth be? Power over whom? These things are relative to society and have no intrinsic value in and of themselves. And neither does money.

Imagine that you could have a million dollars - right now - but with a few conditions.

The conditions:
(1) you can't spend any of it;
(2) you can't invest it;
(3) you can't trade it for anything;
(4) you can't borrow against it; and,
(5) you can't give it away.
In other words, all you can do with the money is...HAVE IT! Would having a million dollars make you happy? Probably not.

Money isn't what you want. When you do have money, you don't keep it. You trade it for things: rent, utilities, food, a car, gas for the car, insurance (peace of mind), entertainment, etc. It's what money can buy that you really want. The secret to happiness is to determine what you really want - what you would spend the money on if you had the money - and get that!

And, inevitably what you want will involve some interaction with others.
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Postby samoy3d on November 25th, 2006, 11:03 pm 

What I meant was living alone in solitude and excluded living, not as in living by oneself... sorry I didn't make myself clear the first time. In fact, you grasped my point very well, that is exactly what I tried to say, that amassing wealth for the sake of amassing wealth alone is a futile exercise. But of course people do that 'unconsciously' more on this later...

Money isn't what you want. When you do have money, you don't keep it. You trade it for things: rent, utilities, food, a car, gas for the car, insurance (peace of mind), entertainment, etc. It's what money can buy that you really want. The secret to happiness is to determine what you really want - what you would spend the money on if you had the money - and get that!


The delusion that amassing wealth will eventually lead to happiness or at least satisfaction is precisely what keeping our society stable.

Any man who thinks that he has satisfied his needs will surely stop labouring, or at the very least have no motivation of labouring harder. It is not so much of a problem on individual level. However, should such thing is happening at a societal level, the result will be catasthropic. Doctors will simply refuse to work overtime, even if patients are dying - simply because they think the financial benefit that comes from treating more patients is virtually non existent - since they have fulfilled their needs already. And if they are forced to work overtime, by law. Then no one would want to be doctor, effectively submitting himself to be slave of the society. Cashed up investors will simply invest their money in bonds or low risk and gone on holiday forever, instead of managing their money to invest in startup companies. Farmers won't bother producing a lot, they produce just enough for themselves, and so on.

My point is, something has to keep to work force keep working, in order to keep the economy - and thus society - stable. If nobody wants to go the extra mile, nobody wants to keep working after his simple basic needs (food shelter security, etc) are met. Why should a butcher keep working once he met his needs? but if this happens, then meat price will go up as dictated by the law of demand & supply. Eventually, if everyone cuts down his working time by say 1/3, we will have very high level of inflation, simply because there are more money (because the amount of money stay the same, while the amount of goods produced are reduced sharply).

Adam Smith wrote in Theory of Moral Sentiment, even a beggar lying on the street possess the security which kings around the world are fighting for. The reality is that we only need basic needs, we don't need luxury, hedonism - those things ultimately do not bring happiness. But this world is built upon imagination not reality.

I often ponder myself, why do I bother to work at all? Because I can stop working anytime I want and still have enough. Originally, I planned to retire by 40, now I am presented with the opportunity to do so by the age of 30. But then I thought again, is this right? I mean, if I work until 40, I may be driving a porsche by then, but I can live with a Honda, what's wrong with that? I am a minimalist to start with, I don't really enjoy luxury/hedonism, to me they are just an illusion of the mind. But if I quit, is this morally right? At the moment, the answer is no, simply because if everyone does it, then we have a problem... if young people choose to retire, who then who should work the extra hours? the elderly? the under-aged?

I work because it is the right thing to do morally, I do my time to serve society in the hope that one day when I am old and frail, society will take care of me. And while at it, I am faced with two options:

Believing that I do my work to serve others' interests
Believing that I do my work to serve my own interests

The latter seems to be much workable belief, it does make my work less burdensome.

I know for sure that the pursue of wealth is a grand delusion, however, I hope for the sake of our society - that people stay delusional. At least until a system better than capitalism is found... (but if it ain't broken, why fix it?)
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Postby Paul Anthony on November 26th, 2006, 12:37 am 

That is a very astute observation. And congratualtions on figuring out something that took me many more years to figure out!

Since we agree that money is not the path to happiness, may I suggest an alternative? You asked why you should work at all, and I will tell you that you should work to find happiness.
If you find something that you enjoy...not just like, but something about which you can be passionate!...then doing that will bring you happiness, and it won't even feel like work!

Life needs a purpose. Amassing wealth is a poor excuse for purpose.
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