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Are humans inherently selfish? If so, should we try to resist this nature?

I have some reasoning for one answer, but I'm wondering what you guys all think about this subject and your reasoning.

As always, feel free to ask for clarification!

  • Feb 23 2014: When babies are first born, and for the next 3 months or so, they do not possess a concept of self. But at about 3 months of age a baby starts to form such a concept, that is a concept whereby he/she is distinctly separate from the world. It is this concept which results in conflict of all kinds, it is the cause of psychological fears and so on. It is this which allows so-called selfishness whereby a fear of the destruction of the self drives inherently selfish behaviour to the detriment of others and the rest of the world. To overcome this state one has to return to the mind state of a baby before this self arises. Certain forms of meditation are designed to do exactly this. In other words once this state has been allowed to dwindle away what remains is a radical type of human being with compassion at the core. This would change human society dramatically.
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      Feb 24 2014: Boy, they DO! Newborn babies are quintessential Selfs.

      You just do not remember -- but if you try to recollect your very first impressions of your existence here, you might "come back" and sense this very overwhelming blissful feeling of Self - you do not need any ID or any name...

      Every animal feels it within. I trust that this crucially important primordial sense of Unique Self is unseparable from one's life.

      However, while growing up in our human society this very instinctive precious Self-recognition is getting suppressed by some artificial Identity glued to everyone by social "establishment". Our IDs and names are not our Selfs but we must accept these conventions for playing our made-up social games, rules and roles.

      Yes, I'd love to see our society to get somehow improved creating more peaceful communications among ourselves and with nature.

      If we would be able to recognize our unique Selfs as we do it in our early childhood and sense again our nature's given primordial freedom of being unique individuals, we, perhaps, could establish better ethics and morals. We would not need to fit and play and mimic non-existing collective prototypes of our society, but be our Selfs.

      Self is a quintessential "nucleus" within every living form without which no individual life would be ever possible.

      But SELFISHNESS, shall not be confused with a vital sense of Self. Selfishness is our defensive act (often driven by desperation or fear) when we feel that our Self is manipulated or in danger..
      • Mar 17 2014: Vera, Thank you for this --
        Your statement fits here -- "Boy, they DO!... Newborn babies are quintessential Selfs."
        " You just do not remember -- but if you try to recollect your very first impressions
        of your existence here, you might "come back" and sense this very overwhelming
        blissful feeling of Self..."
        Vera, It brought me a flood of memories... I was still being held in my Mother's arms
        as she talked with a neighbor lady one day... She said that I didn't talk yet, and that
        I was too young to do so.

        Wow, I still remember how mad I got !!!... I screwed up my face and screamed loudly
        that I could talk... See?... I tried to explain that the words just wouldn't come out right.

        That was 75 years ago, and sometimes the words still won't come out right.
        Go figure...
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          Mar 17 2014: Frank, Your story overwhelmed me..

          I'll share with you with my own experience, tonight. (Must go back to my work right now.)

          Cannot thank you enough for your post !
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          Mar 18 2014: Must confess, I have never felt "home" in my body... I still strongly feel that the body is NOT my Self. I always tried to hide that feeling from others. Some years ago, my friend, biochemist, who was working on that project on brains at that time, said to me: lets scan your strange brain - lets see why you see and think so differently from the rest.. I remember I answered right away - be my guest, but I'm NOT THERE. He smiled but did not really understand that I meant exactly what I said (you cannot find me in that brain).

          Where is Self? It is a fundamental question that we shall answer before analyzing anything else.
          /I'm trying to publish this topic on SELF - but ted editors are very restrictive in some ways ./

          Our very early childhood memories, I think, are the most presious revealing the very powerful sense of self. But these sensations are so easily forgotten.

          The most powerful reminder I had had happened when I was overdosed with those anesthesia drugs
          for a heart terrible tast. Are you familiar with any sort of out-of-body experience?

          That was the most striking and sudden transformation of reality I have ever felt since my very early childhood , when I tried to put up with my very new to me little physical body..

          I was above the operating room at first, saw everything without using my corporeal eyes. Having no slightest interest in my body laying down there, instantly, I turned into the most pure form of Self being nowhere, helpless in deep dark, bodiless, shapeless but ready for something unknown, ready to grow my pure Self into something new!

          Hard to talk about it here and fit in such a tiny space for the post. Self is like a powerful Nucleus of Life. I believe that it creates its own "home" - mind or soul - with its own universe. That is where it lives.

          I have a lot to say about HOW we create our inner realities and why we must be very limited and never perceive that objective to us world. Did I confuse you?
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          Mar 18 2014: Frank, your story is fascinating. "Wow, I still remember how mad I got !!!... I screwed up my face and screamed loudly
          that I could talk... See?... I tried to explain that the words just wouldn't come out right.

          That was 75 years ago, and sometimes the words still won't come out right.
          Go figure.."

          I think, our human, made-up (symbolic) language is extremely superficial and therefore, ultimately confusing. We are trying to express ouselves with words and still barely understand one another.

          As a very young baby you had this super ability to communicate without using artificial language, it is close to what we understand as interacting with others "telepathically" or directly, as all animals and plants do it in any distance. Your mother could not hear you at all, because she could only be "tuned" to pick up conventional made-up words. The rest of her deeper existence was blocked by her shallow physical sense-perceptions. She could only hear you crying, but she could not comprehend the reason.
      • Mar 17 2014: So i believe that the concept of self comes gradually, parcialy still in the womb, but it comes from experiences good or bad, and thats why the selfshness starts even before the concept of self is entirely formed
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          Mar 20 2014: Raymond,
          This is a reply for another comment of yours that does not have a reply option.

          Your comment...
          "I remember i had saw something before about the formation of ID and EGO, something like that
          It was pretty much like what Frank said, but i dont remember seen any date like 3 month
          Its more about the baby learn diference about what is one thing and what is other, the same way he learn to reconise the self as something diferent of the "exterior world"
          It is close related to pscicology and artificial inteligence "

          There is no question in mind Raymond, that babies learn one thing or another at different stages of growth. I had the pleasure of observing my own kid's growth, and it is a wonderful experience.

          I do not believe, and there is no evidence presented so far on this thread, that says babies "distinctly separate from the world" at age 3 months.
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      Mar 13 2014: Is it possible that at this same stage in a babies life, though, they also form the mush important idea of compassion? Am I a greedy person for believing that it is alright to act on my compassion for others only because that is what gives me good feelings and rewards. How else would I know that I am doing the right thing for someone else if I do not reap some of the same feelings as they do when I do something kind for them. We tell someone that they look pretty because we know what it feels like for someone to tell us that we look pretty and when we say the same to someone else, we have such strong understanding of the other persons position that we actually feel good too (empathy/sympathy).
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      Mar 13 2014: Frank,
      You write..." But at about 3 months of age a baby starts to form such a concept, that is a concept whereby he/she is distinctly separate from the world. It is this concept which results in conflict of all kinds, it is the cause of psychological fears and so on. It is this which allows so-called selfishness whereby a fear of the destruction of the self drives inherently selfish behaviour to the detriment of others and the rest of the world."

      I have never heard about that theory....that a baby at age 3 months forms a concept of being "distinctly separate from the world". At 3 months, a baby is still very dependent on care givers for support and survival, so it doesn't make sense to me that they would form a concept of being distinctly separate. Are there any studies or research to support that idea?
      • Mar 18 2014: Colleen, this is from the other Frank, Frank Barry...

        I must agree with you (with appreciation of course). Such a nice smile...

        I don't believe a baby at 3 months or even 3 years can form a concept as involved
        as being "distinctly separate from the world"... As I recall, I had a sister that I avoided
        when my Mother wasn't looking out for me... But that was survival... Not selfishness.
        I think that all God's creatures have survival mode built in... Maybe from conception.
        I never truly trusted my sister all my life, and that started young, 3 months sounds
        about right... There was something there, in the back of my mind, that told me to
        be careful dealing with her... And, I always have. Call me foolish... I like safe...
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          Mar 20 2014: Hi Frank Barry!
          I've done a little search, and I cannot find anything that supports the idea that there is a theory that 3 month old babies have a "concept whereby he/she is distinctly separate from the world."

          I don't know why Frank Bierbrauer's comment got so many thumbs up, because it doesn't seem to make any sense, he has not provided any research/study to support the idea, and I cannot find anything that supports it.

          It makes no sense to me that a 3 month old, who is dependent on others for survival would develop a concept/feeling that s/he is distinctly separate from the world....makes no sense....oh.....I said that already!!! ! I think it would be very difficult to be that needy and feel that one was distinctly separate.

          I also believe all creatures have an instinctive survival mode....sorry you had to use it with your sister!
        • Mar 20 2014: Colleen,

          I remember i had saw something before about the formation of ID and EGO, something like that

          It was pretty much like what Frank said, but i dont remember seen any date like 3 month

          Its more about the baby learn diference about what is one thing and what is other, the same way he learn to reconise the self as something diferent of the "exterior world"

          It is close related to pscicology and artificial inteligence
    • Mar 21 2014: Very wise, I achieved a certain level of selfishness after losing everything, and my selfishness today remains totally immaterial and only in which to preserve my personality I believe myself having the right to judge people and have an opinion in everything that affects me and my surroundings,. and this noble class of selfishness is the reason human rights exist and it should remain
  • Feb 23 2014: Yes.
    We are also inherently selfless.
    We naturally have both impulses.
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      Mar 13 2014: Could they be one in the same?
      • Mar 19 2014: I believe that impulsively, humans are inherently selfish - or to use some of the other terms mentioned in these posts, self-preservation, self-interest. This is not a bad thing; it's a survival mechanism. Examples above about infants demonstrate this. A baby is wet, hungry, or simply in need of attention, s/he cries out. S/he does not know who is around, but someone needs to come and fulfill his/her needs. As the baby turns into a toddler and then a young child, s/he learns that sometimes s/he needs to wait and cannot have the attention of others immediately when wanted.

        As children age and turn into adults, the self-preservation instinct is still very much alive in them. Driving home, a four car accident has slowed traffic down from six lanes to two, Besides, "I hope everyone is okay," what are the other drivers thinking: "Great, I'm going to miss my TV show," "Looks like we'll need to change dinner plans this evening," or "Why does this always happen when I am in a hurry?" Something terrible has happened to others, and we immediately consider the effects it has on us. This is apparent in people who do not have the affect filter and make these comments aloud with little, if any tact, whatsoever.

        Is it wrong to think of things in term of our own needs and wants? Of course, not, that's part of what makes us human. Another part of being human, though, is learning to interact with others. This includes knowing when to put your needs aside for the moment and consider the other person's needs and wants.
  • Feb 23 2014: Kai

    Is self-interest innate? Or is Altruism? Anthropological and psychological studies show that both are intrinsic to the species, the dominance of one or the other being situational and cultural, rather than biological. Self interest is obvious in the world around us, and often seems dominant, but we are looking at it through the lens of our cultural and economic position.

    It is less obvious in hunter/gatherer communities where private property is often limited to what you are currently carrying. The sharing of food and resources in this circumstance would seem alien to us, as the chief hunter does not always get the best cuts of meat, or the finest tubers, the pregnant female does. Is this in the self interest of the hunter or gatherer that worked to find the food? Conversely, if a member of the clan becomes a real impediment , (through injury, illness, or attitude), they are often simply abandoned in the interests of group health and harmony.I do not assert that there is no self-interest in these cultures, simply that excessive greed is not rewarded and reinforced in the society.

    Altruism and it's causes have long confused anthropologists. Glen Gould inspired, and Dawkins expanded the gene survival theory, stating that we were more likely to risk our lives for close kin because this would allow the continuation of our family genome. So a man is more likely to risk their life for two brothers than one, and less likely to do it for a stranger. Interesting, and perhaps informative, but not comprehensive, because people do risk their lives for strangers. The risk factor is important, they are not giving up their lives to save others, just risking their lives.

    I think that to define humanity as innately selfish or selfless is simplistic. These are survival strategies which we adopt contingent on the situation we are in and culture that raised us. I also believe that history will judge us as the most self-interested and short sighted culture to date.

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    Mar 4 2014: A rose by any other name is still a rose, so you can call self-preservation and self-reliance as selfish. It is still a good value, especially with humans because we are a social animal and know what is good for society is also good for our own preservation.
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    Mar 4 2014: Humans are just about anything that you can think that they may be. Are they selfish, you ask?! Many of them definitely are. Many are not, my friend. To single out one characteristic and apply it to all would be a gross mistake. The reason that we are at the top of the food chain is because we are the most adaptive chameleons this world has ever known.
    Have been away from this site for a while. Life has been getting in the way. Glad to see some old faces still around. ;)
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    Mar 1 2014: I think humans are inherently selfish due to evolution and survival, but I don't think we should try to resist this nature to a degree. Sure we must think of ourselves but I think we must also think of others too.
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      Mar 18 2014: The human evolutionary feature for success has been a skill for communication, cooperation and mutual care.
      If human beings would have been selfish they would have been become extinct even before they left the trees a few million years ago. Even today no one can live exclusively by him or herself alone. People need people.
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    Feb 23 2014: Selfishness is a component of self preservation. It is natural to want to keep what one has earned or created for one's own posterity and security. Hence the value of gift giving and the guilt of theft. Selfishness can not by definition be bad or evil, as so many other things would lose their value in it's absence. I say let's keep it around for a while.

    But to reflect on it's cousin, Greed, as I so often do. Whether it is natural or not to covet those things we have neither earned nor created ourselves, is not the question, but rather how to abolish it completely from the human condition.
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      Mar 18 2014: Selfishness isn't natural and a cause for self destruction. See for explanation my response to Ryan Corpus.
  • Feb 23 2014: I think yes, and for evolutionary reasons. We should not resist it, it is human nature. But, put this human nature into the current economic system and it can be destructive. Most (not all) of the things we have were built by the greedy (selfish) and ambitious (that's how they 'got rich').

    This is why I think the money game needs to change so that human nature (selfishness/greed/ambition) moves all of society towards where it wants to be, as opposed to just satisfying the individual at the expense of others.
  • Feb 22 2014: What you resist, persists.......C Jung

    Is Selfishness a symptom of something else? Fear, perhaps? I do not know.
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    Mar 11 2014: We are both ...... at times selfishness works as our survival instinct some other time despite of risk we become selfless.
  • Mar 10 2014: On aircrafts, there is a rule: If oxygen masks are needed, the first one you should take for yourself! Not give to an old lady, not to a little child, not even to an expecting mother. If you do, you'll pass out and help no one.
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      Mar 12 2014: GREAT point Cica Mica!

      I friend and I were discussing this recently, and she used the oxygen mask comparison. She is ending a relationship that has been draining for her because she is a caretaker, and she loves taking care of others. She is realizing now that it is not good to continually give to others without replenishing her own resources in herself.

      If we are so depleted that we cannot help support others, it is not beneficial to anyone. I believe it is important to know our self and find the balance.
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    Mar 5 2014: No, I do not think people are inherently selfish; they are certainly not born that way. However, that type of behavior can develop overtime if the right environmental circumstances are present, such as perceived scarcity.
  • Mar 5 2014: Hi Dear Kai,I think humans inherently neither selfish nor generious...all of that cuased by educaition.
  • Mar 4 2014: It can be useful at times to sometimes redefine a problem. It may produce different answers. For example, there is a common sort of genetic study called "twin concordance", which counts how often monozygotic twins share a condition vs. dizygotic twins. IF the monozygotes share the condition more often, then the condition is deemed to be "heritable" or to have a "genetic component". Okay, that's nice. Over the decades, it has been determined that this is very often also QUITE USELESS. Why is this? Because it is only useful when there is 100% monozygotic twin concordance. However, in recent years, we have started redefining the problem. Instead of looking for concordance, we are now looking at "discordance". Thus, what is interesting is the percent of monozygotic twins who do not share a condition. That's the extent of interesting stuff--that's where we can say "Okay, that much of it is not genetic, what differences in their lives led to the different outcomes?"

    Anyway, that was just to illustrate that redefining the question may be fruitful. In this case, let's throw out "selfish" and instead look at the question in terms of a whole-mind value system, of which "self" is just a single possible value. The reason that high value on "self" would be very common is that everyone has a "self", nearly everyone is aware of having a "self", and if you put no value at all on "self", you die and no longer factor in to society. So, there will always be a "self" factor--but there are also other factors. When "self" becomes just another factor, then "selfish" is really nothing other than "high value for the self factor", however, it has little inherent difference from any other factor.

    So, why value "self" so very much? 1: You die if you put zero value on it. 2: You have a nervous system that gives you a relative of heroin every time you do certain things.
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      Mar 5 2014: @last 2 sentences:
      1. You may die if you are never selfish, but you might be happier if you keep sharing and connecting to people.
      Ours brain are indeed wired for survival, but not for welfare / happiness optimazation.
      2. I suppose you mean serotonine, what do you want to say with that? That your motivation only depends on positive feedback from you nervous system on certain actions?

      Human biology is overrated, an update would be most welcome.
      Time for technological evolution in biology, heheh :)
      If we still live in the 22nd century, the mentally retarded will be todays einsteins, maybe... :P
      • Mar 5 2014: If you place absolutely zero value on self, you will starve to death simply because you don't consider it of any importance at all to eat. Free your mind from narrow absolutism. There is a difference between placing value on the self and "selfishness". IT IS NOT AN ALL OR NOTHING AFFAIR! We are lied to all our lives and told that if you place any value at all on yourself you are "selfish". This is propaganda that virtually guarantees most people will never rise above selfishness. After all, if only utter self-immolation is truly not being "selfish" why bother trying at all?

        As Aristotle (among many others) long ago observed, virtue lies in moderation and vice in the extreme. Placing zero value on yourself is merely a form of wasteful suicide. Placing excess value upon yourself is selfishness. As I tried to point out, the issue is not really "selfishness", the issue is balancing different subjects of value, of which the self is but one.

        However, so many people are so thoroughly indoctrinated in narrow all-or-nothing thinking that they are not capable of accepting this. For their poor, stunted minds, they see any admission that there might be some need at all to value the self as an advocacy of "selfishness".
      • Mar 5 2014: As for serotinin (correct spelling), no, I was not being nearly that simple-minded. I'm a neuroscientist. Trying to reduce everything to serotonin is what quacks do. That being said, there certainly are "purely biological" factors, but I challenge anyone to produce a quote from me that says "Only biological factors matter." Indeed, in terms of selfishness, the only thing I mentioned that approached a biological factor is that complete disregard of the self will lead to death. I did not mention specific neurotransmitters, or neurotransmitters at all.
  • Mar 1 2014: Selfish is a species of fish which is not found in any ocean ,river,pond or lake, but it is only found inside the ocean of ego of human beings.

    Let us first find out the pattern.


    When any person suffer from diabetes then he/she says that I didn't eat much sweets but how come diabetes happened to me. We all know that whatever food we intake for survival , all the food is converted to glucose which is the source of energy for our body.And most people not aware of it think that those who take extra sugar in the form of sweets suffer from diabetes. That means they perceive that when body produces glucose then people suffer from diabetes.Which is not.

    It is not the Glucose which is responsible for the Diabetes , it is the uncontrolled and unregulated production of Glucose which cause Diabetes. The glucose level in the body controlled by the Insulin hormone.And the pancreas malfunction and stops producing sufficient insulin then Glucose level of the person goes high, and then we call it by the name Diabetes.

    KEY POINT 1 : Glucose is not responsible for Diabetes , But It is the uncontrolled and unregulated production of Glucose causes Diabetes, Excess of Glucose.

    SALT :

    Similarly we human beings need salt also, but what happens when we take excess of salt then we suffer from High Blood Pressure.

    KEY POINT : Salt is not responsible for High Blood Pressure, It is the unregulated or uncontrolled intake of Salt causes High Blood Pressure.Excess of Salt.

    Similarly need and desire itself are not responsible for being Selfish, It is the Uncontrolled and Unregulated Need and Desire which makes a person Selfish.Scarcity and Excess of Need and Desire.

    A poor person can also be selfish equally as the rich person is.
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    Feb 26 2014: Kai, I seem to remember you as a math/science inclined person. If I remember that correctly, you might find some interest in this: I think to get the picture, you should after listening to part 1, which finishes abruptly, also search for part 2 on the MIT video site.

    Actually what I would recommend first is a short video from Edge that is a much easier listen: This one is from Joshua Greene, also of Harvard.
    • Mar 4 2014: Fritzie,

      I would like to suggest that our difficulty in delaying gratification uses the same organizational structure in the brain as our inclination towards "us" rather than "them". So if we are willing to hurt our "future self" by self indulging in the present, doesn't that move the discussion more towards neuroanatomy rather than ethics?
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        Mar 4 2014: I don't know whether these organizational structures are the same. I wouldn't have guessed they would be.

        Do you have any references from neural science to support your conjecture? This would not be hard to test experimentally.
  • Feb 26 2014: Charles J. Hunsinger

    Trying to resist our selfish nature would, I think, be akin to resist the temptation to breathe. It is not going to happen and it should not. All things are in degrees however, and it is that, that needs to be understood. Without the embrace of the Self we are someone else, defined by someone else. With this then there is no longer any purpose for the individual other then to graze. There are names for this.
    Without Self and Self realization there would be no questioning, creativity, invention, music, all those things that give beauty, meaning and purpose to the human race. All these thing do not come from a collective, but from the individual. All these things come from an intellectual foundation laid down by a multitude of previous generations, a process of growth and maturing captured and exploited by the single mind egotistical enough to think he/she can make it better.
    Of what great value would a selfless individual be? Without a love of Self; where is self preservation? Do we then live for and by a collective definition. What would be the source of that definition?
    All things, to include Man, are in degrees of talent, capability and being. This is a truism, as, "And this too shall pass".
    Let us promote the individual to a full realization of the individual. Let us promote and endear what, I feel, is the essence of human life, our capacity to reason.
    Ayn Rand had it right in her examination of this topic.
    • Feb 26 2014: Charles:

      You are right/ It does not mean that others welfare and working with them is to be be ignored. Pursuit of self includes consideration and well being of others. No man is Island.

      However to cripple less fortunate of their innate nature of self improvement by caring for them thoughtlessly and without guidance and putting them in mainstream is unfortunate.
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    Feb 26 2014: There are no absolutes when it comes to humanity. We continually shift between charity and selfishness; depending on our level of understanding.
    The understanding of a baby would not be compared to that of a mature mind. A baby could wake up in the middle of the night and cry full volume, he or she doesnt know that Mama and Papa may be tired and siblings could be disturbed. Baby doesnt know, baby doesnt care.
    An adult may not do this but would manifest selfishness in many other ways.
    But we've seen examples of charity too: firefighters who perished with the twin towers in 911 while trying to save trapped citizens; Nelson Mandela's gesture to his former oppressors; Mother Teresa's work in India; that dutiful wife who bears with an ungrateful and harsh husband; that husband who plays the fool all the time to keep their marriage going; that dedicated government official who refuses opportunities to pursue selfish gain.

    Humanity is a mix of the best of us, the worst of us, and everything in between. Weakness is human, strength is human; wisdom is human, foolishness is human; selfishness is human, Love is human.

    Perfection is not human.
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    Feb 26 2014: Yes we are inherently selfish.

    but we are also inherently selfless and have empathy

    depending on the individual and situation.

    As to whether we should resist our selfish tendencies, it probably depends on the situation and personal objectives. I guess in most cases I am more selfish than I should be. But there are times where being a bit selfish helps stop you being taken advantage of.

    I suggest sometimes being selfless makes the world s better place but sometimes it is best to require some reciprocity and fairness. f.
  • Feb 24 2014: Human beings are here for a reason, I believe, and so go through a process that reach that goal.

    We let those around us know if we're uncomfortable or hungry. No planning or intentions, just reactions.
    It can take several months before we realize that we have control over our hands and fingers.

    We are born with a clean slate as far as we are concerned, but are 'given' hereditary tendencies to work out and deal with. Sometimes it is an extreme struggle to brake the cycle.

    We are what we love, so that's where the work starts..
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    Feb 24 2014: Sure we are selfish. We have to be taught to love.
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    Feb 23 2014: As others have already implied, resistance is futile - it only perpetuates that which you are resisting.
    If we want to move on from being driven by the selfish aspect of our nature, then the first thing to do is to fully and unconditionally embrace it and accept it is part of how we are right now. By bringing it to the light of our own consciousness we take the first step in transcending it - something we will have to repeat many times.
  • Feb 22 2014: Read Atlas Shrugged. If you fly on airplanes you know the instructions to parents is to put your oxygen mask on first, then assist the child. The first time I heard this I was sounded wrong and selfish. Later I learned it's the parent's duty to take care of themselves first in order to be available to take care of their child.

    There's selfish for self protection, self preservation, self determination etc. and then selfishness as greedy, hoarding, demanding and most of these negative aspects of selfishness come from insecurity and fear.

    I think selfishness is inherent to humans and compassion is also inherent. If I'm starving and find food I will certainly share it with others but only after I feed myself and my family as self preservation is also inherent to humans.
    • Feb 23 2014: Angela

      I have read Atlas Shrugged, and can only conclude that Ayn Rand has a shallow understanding of the human psyche.

      • Mar 17 2014: Ayn Rand has her naysayers,
        I am one who thought she had the right ideas.
        I've planned to re-read the book, so I guess it's time.
        It's only been 40+ years.
        It will be great to compare John Galt's world with Today.

        Ian, I may just come around to your way of thinking... lol
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    Feb 22 2014: Just resisting will not help. One should inquire into it, study it. From where it comes, why it's there ??
    Not only humans are selfish, but also the animals. Selfishness is inherent part of the ego. But we the humans have the ability to question it like you do hereby and to inquire into it.

    It's clear that selfishness is directly related to the survival instinct. But it's also clear that the selfishness is not related only to that instinct. It's beyond that.
  • Feb 22 2014: It varies from person to person.I don't believe all humans begin there life selfish and become selfless later on, though some may , I believe it is a trait that shows early on and sticks with you thru life......but that's just my experience.
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    Mar 21 2014: Not inherently, but most of us have been inadequately parented and so become self focused out of need and then habit.
  • Mar 21 2014: Yes humans are inherently selfish, and they inherited those traits from primate monkeys, and yes they should resist it as their evolution requires them to.
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    Mar 20 2014: From a purely subjective point of view, I'd have to say that humans are innately selfish but I think it's the connotation that precedes selfishness is often negative when, in fact, it seems to me perfectly natural. I'd have to say that reading Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead changed my perspective on what it means to be selfish, particularly with her views on objectivism. We need to redefine our selfishness. It should be perfectly reasonable for a human being to have his or her best interests in mind, that's simply how we work. No matter what you do or who you encounter, you always end up falling asleep at night with your own thoughts and opinions. I think we should see selfishness as naturally doing something for ourselves but be aware of the implications that it may have on another individual and, if those implications are negative, then it should be reevaluated. Because we are selfish beings, we should understand that other people are the same way and that harming others isn't the right way to go about things because its compromising their own happiness in the process of finding yours which is not taking into consideration that other individuals selfish needs. This will define it far better than I ever could:
  • Mar 20 2014: To Colleen, Thanks girl...
    My sister had some selfish problems early on. She's lived a good life since.
    She tended to clash with our Mother when she lost her awkward stage and
    got her beauty, and started dating. My sister was a couple of years older
    than I, and I just watched everything in the family as it progressed and I grew.
    My Mother was the instigator of a friction between the two of them. My sister
    didn't back down at all. Me? I just watched. Like a Stella Dallas radio soap

    Later in life. My Mother slipped into dementia and I received a call from my
    sister in Arizona. She was caring for our Mother, and Mom almost burned
    the house down, and they couldn't leave her alone for long, as she liked to
    boil her water for tea, and would forget to turn off the stove.

    My sister's rather loud lament on the phone gave me two choices.
    Take Mom off her hands immediately, or let my sister put her out into the street.
    I told her to put Mom on a plane and I would meet the plane. She did, I did.

    It was four years+ when Mom passed. I just set my life aside for those four years.
    No big deal. I was separated from my wife for a number of years, and the kids
    were older teens and young adults. I worked my horse race computer program
    that I had designed, and with my best friend, worked a couple hours a day in the
    Senior Citizens Mobile Home Parks to keep the cardiovascular working. We
    washed the senior's coaches, windows, roofs, gutters, etc. We charged $75 or
    $100 depending on the job. My best friend lived with his Mother also. And she
    went the same as my Mom. Only 20 years later. Poor guy, but he was dedicated.
    He called me last night to tell me he'd quit his night job and was going full time
    into horse race handicapping. He is the very best handicapper in the world.
    The best. He and I used to do 15 races each evening by phone, competing with
    each other. Now it's down to a couple only. Seems I got old.
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      Mar 20 2014: Hey're welcome:>)

      Some kids have a very challenging start to life, some adults continue with challenges, and I guess it's all part of living the human life experience. In some ways it may be like horse racing....some days we're on, and some days....not so much!

      I just don't think/feel that babies, at age 3 months, disconnect from the world and become selfish....that's not my experience, and there doesn't seem to be any evidence to prove that idea.
  • Mar 20 2014: That is wonderful to hear such a heartwarming story. Referring back to my first comment, society definitely puts pressure on the ID of humans to act a certain way. Additionally, sometimes unselfish acts can also be selfish in a way that they make the person feel good about themselves. Not to say it discredits the act of selflessness, but it is another angle to look at human selfishness from. It makes me wonder if there are any humans that exist that are truly selfless. Even the monks who live in such a way where they refuse to kill anything at all (eat beans and non-living things, flies), are they completely selfless? Why are they driven to live a life like so, what makes them so different from everybody else? Also, it makes me wonder more about nature vs. nurture.
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    Mar 18 2014: Of course human beings are inherently selfish. Self-interest drives our every action. But because of our amazing brains, it is possible for certain humans to realize and understand that their self-interests - such as food gathering, hunting, fishing, building shelters and protection - are all better facilitated by other like minded humans. That is where society is born and nurtured.

    But today Capitalism has taken hold and anyone with enough money can buy anything they need outside the succor of society. So self-interest runs rampant though those populations where money is more important than people and those simple minded individuals who are unable to grasp, or who are simply indifferent towards, the concept of society.
  • Mar 18 2014: I believe people do what ever is necessary to survive no matter so yes I believe people are inherently selfish but we are also interdependent. People should not resist their selfish nature because our own interdenpdence counter acts it but people must not keep playing the social games because there has be a time when.people stop to ask what was the point and what did it accomplish
  • Mar 18 2014: No Vera, you didn't confuse me.
    I too have had similar experiences.
    Out of body, Up in the ceiling corner of the living room watching as my Mother
    chastised me... And other times also.

    I've experimented slowing my heartbeat, (careful not to go to far) and watched as
    others walked by and slowed down to almost unmoving... I love to experiment with
    my mind and body, and have spent my live quietly doing so... Always careful not to
    harm myself or others... Just experimenting for fun.

    In Ted, and earlier the NY Times (under aka: Genius IQ179) I've explained a few times
    some of my experiences... But, mostly I write stories... All true... Not fiction.
    I need to tell this to you Vera, because it would be selfish of me not to.
    Please do not let your mind-blowing experiences take charge of your life,
    or cause you distress, or harm in any way... Think instead that you are unique.
    And then go on full bore and explore your mind each time you find an idea that
    might help you to understand yourself better... Remember Vera, we are all
    somewhat different... Enjoy your difference... We are evolving creatures.

    I've never actively searched to find others who acted like myself.
    But a story here or there was actually my way to fish...
    Have a wonderful life Vera.
  • Mar 18 2014: Being Selfish is far better than being Selfless. This lesson I learned it the hard way.
  • Mar 18 2014: Humans can be selfish. But, on the other hand they can also be unselfish.
    It depends on the circumstances at the time their decision is made.

    The head of a grand Corporation who makes Billions of Dollars will fight
    selfishly to maintain position and garner more Dollars than can be spent
    in a lifetime.

    The same human when approached by dreamers seeking advise will openly
    give of those experiences that might best aid the dreamers.
    Today, I went for Cappuccino and a Scone at the coffee house, and after ordering
    I found that I left my debit card at home... I had earlier paid a bill via telephone and
    left my debit card lying on my desk underneath the billing statement itself... I had
    enough change in my pockets to pay for the scone, and did so... My Cap was ready
    and I was embarrassed, being in this coffee house for the very first time.

    I felt a light tug at my elbow... There stood a young man of maybe 30 or so... He said,
    quietly, "Would you object to my paying for the rest of your order?"... I agreed, and he
    gave his credit card and paid my tab... I asked his name, he said "Erick"... I suggested
    I repay him... He declined, and although I introduced myself with both my names, he
    didn't give his last name.

    He had been sitting far across the room over by the front windows... How he discovered
    my plight, I do not know... But he did... And it was a unselfish act to which I find myself
    unable to repay.

    Like Jack Webb used to say on the TV Dragnet show... "There are 20 million stories
    in the big city, and this is just one of them."...

    If I recalled Jack Webb wrongly, I am sure a bunch of unselfish peoples out there will
    correct me.
  • Comment deleted

    • Mar 17 2014: Agree, but...
      What if, hipotetically, human kind reaches a level of civilization where everyone do good for each other and are protected from all harm.

      So shouldnt we stop felling those things that evolutionary wouldnt be usefull anymore?
      I mean, at some point fighting fellings like selfshness.

      Consider this would lead to any change to your answer?
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        • Mar 18 2014: About time, what you say was beautyfull, i fully agree, except the part about the future
          The future is a dream that can shape a new world.

          I am pretty sure sun will explode... eventually, and i am even more sure i am gonna die sooner yet.
          This is pretty much sure for almost everybody (subject for religion or crazyness or ignorance) for a long time for now.
          And still we live today, in a beautyfull world, that has passed for so many conflicts and have evolved so much.
          And much of this is thankfully to people who dares to believe in a better tomorow.
          Even if there is no point if all is gonna end and die.
          So why do we live? Why try to survive? why care, selfsh or not?

          How can the end not be a negative thing? I understand the point of view that its not negative nor positive, its just a thing, but it is negative to you, its negative for me
          Deny it and you are being confortably numb, doesnt allowing youself to feel

          I think we should dare to believe that is a way and live to it
          Because the nothing you alread has.
          Lets aim for the good future even if doesnt happens, because what if it eventully does happen.

          If there is no selfless, and selfless is a disorder, what is the selfsh? Maybe a disorder too?

          Maybe the fact we are fighting selfshness exposes a syntom of a world that may not need it, a world that is strugling for change.

          I agree we shouldnt fight ourselves, but acept who we are
          But insead of use it as excuse to avoid change
          We must understand also what we are not
          And understand we have choices and that doesnt change who we are.

          The same way selfshness comes naturally when needed selfless will comes naturally as well.
      • Comment deleted

        • Mar 19 2014: Dont confuse learning with conditioning, when you get conditioned, you have no choice, you cant filter, and you cant uncondition throught reason alone
          You cant be conditioned in conflicting ways, because it overrides, when learning you can learn conflicting things, and choose one as right and one as wrong and even change our mind latter

          Nothing is exactly equal, so why we say "2 apples" for instance, if those 2 object are diferent why we group then like they were the same?

          Because it makes sence, that is why we thrust our feelings, our knowlege, our abstractions, our concepts, our ideas, our "positive and negative assossiations"
          because it helps us, we can use it to understand and to solve problems
          doesnt matter if it is exactlly right, just that is rightter then before
          All that you are saying that is bad, and disorder, has a place, has its importance, is helpfull for us and we are blessed for having it

          So you might say for instance that slavery doesnt exists, what exists is a guy being forced to working for other

          If you put then togheter side by side they are just 2 guys
          if you reason with then they may change their minds and stop slavery
          So you change nothing, they are still 2 guys side by side
          Yet you have changed everything
          So i say slavery is something on our head, but it also does exists

          I think it is very usefull to look to things without pre-conceived ideas, but it is up to us, not to abondon everything we know, but to let the new come in and integrate with alread exists or do the conflict

          "Peace without voice is not peace is fear" from a music.
          You can live in peace to not confront for your ideals and desires
          Or you can live in peace because you have alread confronted
  • Mar 17 2014: Humans have in-born selfishness which is for self-preservation and protection. As we grow, we add more factors into the selfishness. These factors are "greed" and "fear". Greed enables us to acquire more functions of power whether they are real or imaginary. Not being able to control & manage the future (and ensure our safety and preservation), such a fear plays another important part in our life. These new factors add and compound making us more selfish than we start with.
  • Mar 17 2014: all of us are selfish . but its more important how much can we ignore ourselves cause of our love?
  • Mar 17 2014: I used to be selfish, but now I am not.
    It started one night long ago... The girl stepped out of her car and walked towards me.
    I closed and locked the office building door. As I turned towards her, she said,
    "I'm sorry Mr. Barry." and handed me an envelope.
    I'd been served.
    My wife was divorcing me.

    What more could I want. After you get it all, you need nothing else.
    Of course we are all selfish. Babies grab, and miss, and cry.
    They started it.
    It's all their fault.
  • Mar 16 2014: Anything you do, any act you commit consciously is, by definition, selfish. If you put a gun to my head and I do whatever it is you tell me to do I am being selfish. If I sacrifice my life so that you may live I am acting selfishly. If I stop and help you on the side of the road by changing your tire even though I know I will be late for work I am acting selfishly. Any act that is attempted to reach the actors desired end/s is/are selfish no matter who benefits in the long run. If I were the only person infected with a deadly disease that would wipe out the entire human race and I commit suicide to save the world I am acting selfishly. No matter what the motivation is be it danger or fear or to act in a way that improves someone else's position at the detriment to your own the motivation is still selfish by definition because it is yours. I would however say that even though all conscious act are selfish because they are self-serving thy can indeed be selfless.Any act that you commit honestly believing that it will benefit someone else but cause detriment of some sort to yourself without being under duress or coerced.... that might qualify as selfless.
  • Mar 15 2014: Hi, maybe it's already been written in other comments, but I think it's essential to be selfish in order to be happy. I'm thinking about the good way of being selflish that is for example knowing when to say "no". To know where are limits are, how to define them and make other people aware of it. That's something difficult sometime but essential to prevent beeing overcharged with things to do and therefore loosing track with our needs. We have to be selfish to respect ourselves, but not in an extrem way.
  • Mar 14 2014: We are selfish, Who like to get hurt for the cost of saving other from it? but still we shows our softer side by helping others and paying something for that favor. I would say, its a calculation we generally make before taking a step forward to do something better for others. We analyze how much we are going to suffer, if there is some chance, by offering our deeds of humanity to help others. We all can tolerate the pain or any suffering but to a limit and same is taken into consideration while acting self-less. That limit varies from person to person based on the moral grounds and other psychological issues. I am a homeless and I got $10 bucks in my pocket and i try to make best use of every penny before seeing all 10 going out of my pocket but in actual I will try to not spend it and keep it safe while looking for some extra givings from passerby. Even when I have those $10 bucks, I could have different states of mind about what am I going to do with those 10 bucks. I might try to save it for longer, I might go for a booze, I might spend it for small little things I want to have, I might keep it for the worst days when I don't get enough givings from passerby to meet my hunger. In short, I can have 100s of plans for those 10 bucks.

    Then a fellow homelsss I daily meet in street comes to me to check if I got something to eat. I don't have any food but those 10 bucks in my pocket which I dont want to spend so I say NO to him. Even in that situation I can have different state of mind. I might guide him to a place where he can find some giving. I might think about him not getting any giving till next few hours. I might ignore him in anger thinking he might be behind my 10 bucks. I might try to get some giving and offer him that. And I might think of spending some pennies to get him something to eat and get our of starvation. In every possibility I have a different tolerance level about protecting my 10 bucks.

    We see riches donating their billions to charity, W
  • Mar 14 2014: yes, humans are born selfish. it is a sin. we all are born sinners. we can resist temptation of selfishness by the holy spirit.
  • Mar 13 2014: I beleive being selfish is not bad
    When I help someone I am being selfish to get satisfaction

    It all boil down on what make you selfish and what is gained
    Again these two things are completely relative based on race, ethinicity, religion and such
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    Mar 13 2014: I think that humans are inherently selfish, but it is this same selfish nature that allows us to take care of each other as well. By caring for others we are rewarded with good feelings and sometimes larger more tangible rewards. The only reason that we want to make other people feel good is because it makes ourselves feel good.
    I definitely don't think that we should avoid this selfish nature, because without it we WOULD NOT care for each other. Humans use sympathy and empathy to understand how others are feeling. They actually get a glimpse of the same feelings that person is having and will therefore want to help that person. This is not the cause and effect relationship that it appears to be, however. It is the negative feelings that the individual is experiencing for themselves that compels them to help others.
    We take care of the people around us because they take care of us and vice versa.
    I think that it is hard for us to accept this idea of being naturally selfish because sometimes it does not work out as fair as we would have liked due to the greediness of others.
    Maybe greediness and selfishness should be more separated as two different ideas...
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    Mar 12 2014: Hi Kai:>)
    I do not believe humans are inherently selfish. We have the ability to be both/either selfish or selfless. The feelings and actions/reactions of selfishness stem from fear...lack of confidence....fear of not having enough....need to survive without thoughts/feeling of anyone else.

    When we can evaluate our thoughts, feelings and behaviors in a way to learn and better understand our self, we have the opportunity to find a balance which serves us as individuals AND the whole:>)

    I love the oxygen mask example Cica Mica offers. If we give the oxygen mask to others first, we will be unconscious and maybe die, thereby being unable to help anyone else. If we give away all of our resources in favor of helping others, we have nothing to give. In my perception, it is important to know ourselves, be mindfully aware in the moment, and seek balance.
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    Mar 12 2014: a study of Buddhist teachings will reveal to you that the true nature of humans is that of love and compassion. emotions that trigger selfishness manifest in us as we shy away from practices that aim to restore and keep our minds in their true nature. Meditation is one such practice.
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    Gord G

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    Mar 12 2014: If we're selfish why would we resist that nature? And if we aren't selfish our nature is a non-issue.

    Personally, I believe human nature isn't homogenous, but rather it's an expression of countless generations of change and variation. So as much as I would like to be able to predict the behaviour of my fellow homo sapiens I feel I'm at the whim of evolutionary and environmental happenstance.
  • Mar 11 2014: Yes, humans are predisposition to be selfish. The instant reaction to protect, preserve and favor yourself in natural, but should be questioned after a certain point. Once a person is physically/emotionally hurting someone else in order to self-preserve, then a question of morals and ethics should arise.
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      Mar 12 2014: Hi Vicky,
      I agree that it is natural to try to protect ourselves, and in that respect perhaps there is sometimes a lean toward selfishness.

      As humans, we also have the ability to think about others. So if a person is hurting someone else in some way to self-preserve, I believe that s/he has the ability to understand and readjust, thereby finding you insightfully say....our thoughts, feelings and behaviors can be questioned at a certain point and changed?
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    Mar 6 2014: .
    Humans are inherently selfish.
    They need it to make their individual persons strong.

    We should not resist this nature,
    if it does not go beyond its Optimal Point to hurt human symbiosis.

  • Mar 5 2014: Fritzie,

    This does not describe it in terms of a neural map but frames the manual mode as being an energy consuming process that becomes depleted over time.

    "Two important implications of these findings require emphasis. First, all self-control tasks draw on the same energy resource. That is, when you, for example, hold your tongue, resist an urge to smoke, drink or eat, restrain aggression, postpone using the toilet, feign mirth at an inane joke, push yourself to keep working, it depletes some crucial energy and leaves you with less available for meeting the next challenge. Many seemingly unrelated things are therefore linked in this regard."

    The book Willpower is more detailed. I would love your thoughts.
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      Mar 6 2014: Sir..With all due respect, I am not quite sure if I understand what you are getting at....but all depends on knowledge. Your beliefs re personal worth and worth of fellow humans has to be the reason you abstain, otherwise you are simply following orders (CHILDLIKE) If love is not the reason for your actions, then.................
      • Mar 6 2014: I agree. The "following orders" of which I speak are the evolutionary undercurrents of ingroup / outgroup or "us" versus "them". Historically, these undercurrents which you describe as childlike play out in our daily lives in politics, wars, teams, etc. Your belief in the worth of all fellow human beings as a reason to abstain is worthy, but I am attempting to be descriptive, not prescriptive. The above link explains one theory on why it is so difficult for us to override our inherent nature to favor the ingroup.
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    Mar 5 2014: I think it is an important question, because at this time in most sectors you need to be selfish at times to make career, or so it's said. If no one is selfish and not acting on cost or dimise of other people, colaboration, work performance and social coherence and general happiness can be enhanced.

    My personal opinion is that it would be good to resist this 'nature'.
    Talk to people, share (!) and make connections.
    Never attack someone personally.
    Also and maybe especially on the internet!

    Me not being selfish and sharing some interesting stuff from my bookmarks ;)

    History and future of everything:

    Human thinking:

    Lineage history, everyone is family:

    Not being selfish in relationships:


    Often, what other people have to say is even more interesting then your own comment.
    So please start to add external weblinks to your comments!
    I would like some further reading on your subjects!
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      Mar 5 2014: Thank you sir for your thumbs up. I might add that loving oneself is far from being selfish. It is necessary in order to have a life. If one does not care , respect, understand and know oneself then one cannot do that for any other human being. We are all one. I get my ideas and beliefs from the teachings of Jesus and from Dr. Erich Fromm, both consummate psychologists.
  • Mar 4 2014: I am sorry I was not clear. By organizational structures I am referring to the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system. Let me try again.

    Our ingroup is more real to us. The ingroup is geographically present and is more visceral which activates the senses. There is a direct connection between our senses and the limbic system (Sapolsky). The outgroup is one we can't directly see, hear, or touch and usually involves our imagination which doesn't have the same visceral strength. That is why we would save a dying child locally but ignore the same plight of other children that are geographically distant (Peter Singer - the Life You Can Save).

    This same mechanism also works on a temporal basis. The cookie that just came out of the oven activates the senses (limbic) and is much viscerally stronger than the thought (imagination) of not being fat at a future date. We tend to discount the future in relation to the present (Gilbert).

    I am really applying Joshua Greene's "point and shoot" versus manual mode model spatially and temporally. I can dig up some studies if you would like.
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      Mar 4 2014: I do know what the in group and outgroup distinction is as well as time preference that discounts the future. You made reference to these possibly sharing a single neural map as if our future self is sorted precisely as we would an outgroup foreign to us. If you have a source to support that assertion, I would be happy for you to link it.
  • Jude A

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    Mar 3 2014: Hi Kai
    I think humans are amazing creatures capable of exhibiting instincts of selfishness (for the survival as a species) and well-thought about selflessness (for the togetherness as a community). The proportions could be different, but we all posses both the qualities. Since this is one way that gives human beings a separate identity, there is not reason why to deny or resist this nature

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    Mar 3 2014: Hi Kai Demandante! Nice topic. To begin with, selfishness is a human nature from birth to death. However, when maturity comes, selfishness turns into selflessness. Now, maturity is not determined by age alone, but it is a learned behavior in response to the condition at hand.
  • Mar 3 2014: Evolution has endowed us with the emotional architecture to value "us" over "them" (ingroup/outgroup) and "present self" over "future self". The "us" over "them" bias is culturally reflected through our wars, teams and political parties while the "present self" versus "future self" bias is culturally reflected through our obesity, drug abuse, and over indebtedness. Even though these spatial and temporal bias' are not deterministic on an individual basis, the law of large numbers and history reflect these undercurrents will statistically prevail so it will be up to culture to rein them in.
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    Feb 27 2014: It's easy to identify that the kind of education which we have taken. that kind has a base of to be selfisheness ,this kind of education have been getting humans with big goals and big dreams.Actually, almost all the schools around the world have been teching to be like this the most of the times. They have the thesis of "being upgradate , is be sucessfull" but on other way they are teaching us to improve our personal goals ,and not to improve our community goals.
  • Feb 26 2014: Basic design of life is to prey on others to survive and in turn being preyed upon by others for their survival.

    Human advancement has to be mindful of this. If powerful cannot be humble and less ones not aware of their deficiencies, then we are in a difficult spot.

    As we technologically advance, the simple communications between super educated and not, powerful and week breaks down and stops existing. Einstein is impossible without those who can understand complexity of math.

    When America says all men are created equal but we are more equal then others and we have right to boss around others and right to favor one and condemn other just because we feel one a friend and one not so. Unfortunately this nature of humans have not changed and doubt it will change. Even Jesus said he was just a kind of Jews and they were his focus. Apparently Paul concluded Jesus will not sell among Jews but Gentiles are just ripe for the action.
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    Feb 24 2014: Self-preservation, procreation, and survival are part of nature. We may call these instincts selfishness. Love and caring for others are also part of nature. We observe both selfishness and selflessness in the behavior of living things, especially animals. They co-exist. They are the yin and yang of life.

    We, humans, have evolved to put more premium on selflessness. We abhor or detest selfishness, especially excessive selfishness which some of us call covetousness, self-indulgence, and greed.
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    Feb 24 2014: Kai,

    several explanations can be debated around this topic. In my opinion, and no letting it be lengthy, It is all a matter of circumstances such as your upbringing, your parents, your origin, culture, and in brief the world around you.

    Some of us are selfless, while some are moderately selfish I would say and some are extremely selfish. Anyhow let's try to make this world a better one, where we can influence our future generation to be more caring about our society; because TED has idea worth spreading.
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    Feb 24 2014: /

    While we are not inherently selfish, we do have our faults and bad tendencies, susceptible to circumstances during development and later. We inherently seek connection with others. This need may take a negative course and lead to antisocial behavior in a perceived attempt to survive. An autistic child is not hateful but is empathically blind, unable to read the cues of facial expression and body language that express emotional states.

    In desperate situations the power of a gun is attractive. In cases of misguided motives for success and perceived security, and also, mistakenly, self-worth, we may cling to the trappings of life and overlook the importance of connection. We blame or take for ourselves when we should consider the importance of our interdependence. Back to self worth: We bind our self worth to the acceptance of the people around us.

    This neglect of interdependence is so severe nowadays that as a species in this connected age, and considering the global challenges that face us all, a new revival of awareness about love, connection, understanding, interdependence, and empathy is warranted and top priority.

    Even if we were greedy in the sense of being strongly self-interested, it would serve our purposes well to consider making everyone on the planet safe and secure and thriving. In the same sense we are extremely bad at collective intelligence. Even schools of fish put us to shame. Whether out of self interest or generosity, we ought to address this untapped potential, especially since so many are connecting and may soon translate messages into each other's languages seamlessly.

    have fun w that
  • Feb 23 2014: We learn to be selfish just as we learn to fear. we are confusing selfishness with natural self-preservation
  • Feb 23 2014: Personally I don't think human is inherently selfish. I think, Human is inherently social and then the society make it selfish and individualistic.
    I agree with Nathan Cook with the fact that of course, it varies from person to person. It depend on the personality and the nivel of influence on everybody.
    Nowadays, it's a good question as we can see the youngest generation really care about their look,.. On my opinion, we can rely on the selfish aspect with a new generation more superficial.
    In conclusion, if human are inherently selfish, of course we should resist to this "nature" because for me, the nature of human being is the socialization.
  • Feb 23 2014: Yes, we, self-replicating molecules, are inherently selfish but no, we should not try to resist this nature because that is not the problem, not the cause of the Holocaust, child murder in Syria, Anthropogenic Global Warming. It is boring at the top of the food chain. We should spread good ideas amongst ourselves about what to do when we are bored and resist the bad ideas.
  • Feb 23 2014: humans are selfish in nature, we have always been; now more than ever. even when selfless acts are done, they are acted in self interest. we shouldn't resist acting our nature (to an extent) because by being self focused infringing our selfs up we bring the people around us with us. our self interest is directly connected to others.
  • Feb 23 2014: Kai,

    A child is very selfish and self centered. They need to be taught or "socialized" . Some children are never socialized and they are very self centered selfish adults. So I would say we are inherently selfish but can be trained to be less selfish.
  • Feb 22 2014: First, we have to define the selfishness on the person's motivation, purpose and the degree of his sacrifice. For example, if a person in a self defense stance on the danger of being killed, then is his counterattack resulting in harm to conceived attacker as selfish or not? On the other hand, when a person takes action to rescue a stranger from drowning with the possibility of being drowned by himself, this is usually thought as selfless, but if the potential victim is his own child, then his motivation is at least half selfish and half selfless, isn't it?
    Of course, humans are inherently selfish, but there are different degrees of this selfishness. And also, the selfishness has to be characterized in many definitions in such things as wealth collection, personal well being and emotional behavior, etc. Therefore the question of whether we should resist such nature becomes a very complicated problem. In other words, there are all kind of different perception of the "selfishness", among different people or even different customs or political beliefs, it is really an extremely complex consideration.
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    Feb 22 2014: I think we are born into the continuum of a selfishly defined historical evolution. We naturally imprint with the environment around us and conform blindly to the perception of gain (defined by the ego centric historical hierarchy of blood), before contemplating the rationality of gain for everyone.