Selfishness is having more concern for yourself than for others. It is caring, through thoughts or actions, more about your own needs than the needs and well-being of other people. It may be accompanied by a lack of empathy. Selfishness is the opposite of selflessness. It is also different, though related, to self-centredness and self-affirmation. Many psychologists approve of a healthy level of selfishness, in order for some people to stay happy.
In the study of ethics and morality, selfishness is usually considered bad. In contrast, acts of selflessness are praised. Wider debate about it, however, such as in philosophy, psychology and economics, has shown that scholars have had many different opinions about its value and consequences. In most major religions, selfishness is considered an immoral or bad habit. In Christianity, it is associated with pride, often considered the worst of the Seven deadly sins.Aristotle condemned men who would only try to profit themselves; but he approved of those who would try to gain the praise from others that he deserved.
In the context of modern-day economics, there is a much wider opinion. Bernard Mandeville has argued that the economic advancement of society depends on selfish actions.Ayn Rand argued that selfishness is a virtue and the cause of all progress.
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- ↑N. Symington, Narcissism (1993) p. 8
- ↑Dante, Purgatorio (1971) p. 65
- ↑Aristotle, Ethics (1976) p. 301-3
- ↑Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees (1970) p. 410 and p. 81-3
- ↑P. L. Nevins, The Politics of Selfishness (2010) p. xii-iii
The Selfishness Of Man In Steinbeck's Grapes Of Wrath
The Selfishness of Man
Cultural and economical pressures often lead people to behave corruptly. In John Steinbeck?s novel, The Grapes of Wrath, set in the dustbowl era, people act out of greed rather than out of consideration or kindness. Tom Joad and his family have been run off their land by inconsiderate, money hungry businessmen who do not care about the impact homelessness will have on the evictees. The story revolves around the Joad Family?s trip (joined by former preacher Casey) from Oklahoma to California, along route 66, where they expect to find work. Though Casey and the Joads are goodhearted and honest people, they are the victims of dishonesty and dupery when they realize that the jobs they have come so far to acquire pay them much less than they were originally promised. The book focuses
on the family?s struggle to survive, while exhibiting the evil and manipulative power which the tenant owners and businessmen of the era possessed. Throughout the novel, Steinbeck demonstrates the impacts and consequences of man's selfishness and inhumanity by exemplifying the wicked and egotistical actions of the tenant owners and businessmen.
In the beginning of the novel, before Casey and the Joads set out on their journey, the selfishness and inhumanity of the businessmen and tenant owners becomes apparent. In one of the ?plotless? chapters, the reader is exposed to the hardships which the farmers are forced to face while being evicted from their land. Businessmen, sent from the bank, would come to the farmers land in cars and explain to the farmers that they need to get off their land. They would tell the farmers that unfortunately, with the technological advances being made, a tractor can do the work of twelve families- he would tell the farmers that they weren?t needed anymore. This display of insensitivity didn?t end there, ?The tenant man looked up alarmed. But what?ll happen to us? How?ll we eat? You?ll have to get off the land. The plows?ll go through the dooryard. (p.33)? This display of cruelty exemplified by the tenant owners shows the inhumane and pitiless attitudes which they possess. Their cruelty towards their fellow man epitomizes the inhumanity which exists throughout the novel. Along with acting inhumane, businessmen also act selfishly and greedily in the beginning of the novel. Knowing that there will be many people homeless and jobless, orchard owners send out flyers encouraging tenants to come to California and pick fruits on their land. The flyers call for a certain amount of workers, yet they are sent to many more people than they call for, causing inflation at the orchard, the orchard owners receive many workers, and because of the mass number of employees, they can pay the workers less than what was originally promised. The orchard owner?s wily ways shows the lack of care for their fellow man. They exemplify their greed and dishonesty, and do not care that others are starving while they are perfectly content. They...
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