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Are all human actions motivated by self-interest?

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Introduction

Are all human actions motivated by self-interest? In the consumer world we live in today, where money is the principle strife and happiness tends to be a sub-category it seems disturbingly apparent that we are becoming more and more egotistical. Despite the worldwide phenomenon of global telecommunication with the age of industry sprouting an ever-increasing drive towards urban city centers in the pursuit of better living. Indeed the American dream is the epitome of this new mentality that has evolved with the skyscrapers and microchips of today's world, in that all one strives for is personal happiness; a stable family life, a beautiful home with white picket fences, a nice car, and wealth to indulge. Yet, is everything truly rooted in a pursuit of one's own happiness? In order to explore the question it must be defined as to what self-interest constitutes. If in saying one performs an action motivated by self-interest, we can then say that self-interest denotes some form of gain or personal benefit from said action. ...read more.

Middle

Firstly, doing good for others, for example helping a blind person to cross the road. The motive is usually something as simple as 'it is a good thing to do', a good deed. The effects are that the person has crossed the road safely and would normally appreciate the gesture possibly even making him feel good, yet in pleasing someone else you have subconsciously made yourself feel good in some way, whether that was the initial motive or not. However the motive is not irrelevant since it could be argued that an action to help someone else rather than an action to make your self feel good is selfless, and the by-product (the good feeling) is irrelevant to the action since it wasn't the immediate aim. In contrast to this is the example of a police officer helping a blind man across the road, only because it is his duty and so is not genuinely selfless. ...read more.

Conclusion

seems that the repercussions of the action seem to be consistent in the way that it is appreciated and the person is honored or greatly praised and admired. Though this diminishes Richard Dawkins' theory of the 'selfish gene' it fails to establish the possible capacity for a selfless action. Selfless acts are unattainable paradoxes, since everything one does benefits one's self in some form or other, because society has heralded the selfless act of charity and rewards it with high esteem therefore turning it into an almost material self-gaining process. Language it seems has created a contradiction in terms through the impact of other perceptional variables on the world and the human mind. It is the wealth of different views and perspectives that one can never ascertain the intentions of another and so cannot truly determine the ability to perform a genuinely selfless act. Though it appears not to exist the practical notions of selfishness and selflessness have been adapted and adopted accordingly by humanity and work effectively despite their inherent philosophical contradictions. Vishal Sookur L6B ...read more.

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