1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

Debate : Is egoism really a bad thing ?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by AVN, Apr 26, 2005.

  1. AVN

    AVN Deity

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2002
    Messages:
    2,866
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    On request of eyrei I will moderate this debate.

    There are some rules for this debate. If you do not obey them, the offending post will be deleted unless you quickly rectify your mistake. If you do not make an effort to make the correction, you will be forbidden from posting in this thread again.

    1. Your first post will contain your position on the topic, as well as an elaborate explanation of the reasons for your position.

    2. After your first post you are free to participate in the discussion as you like.

    3. If someone addresses a question to you, you will at least attempt to answer it truthfully and completely. If the moderator feels you are being evasive, and have not answered the question, you will not be able to participate further until you do. If this is used to intentionally keep someone out of the debate by asking them too many questions, a penalty may be applied to the transgressor.

    4. Describing someone's argument in a derogatory manner will not be tolerated, just as describing another poster in such a manner will not.

    5. If you have any questions, or wish to report questionable behavior, PM the moderator. Do not post it in the thread.

    6. Remember that the point of such a debate as this is to try to get closer to the truth on a subject in a friendly and constructive manner.

    7. Repetition of the same points over and over will also not be tolerated. The point is to convince the other debaters and the audience. If a particular method of argument did not work the first time, it is not going to work by repeating it over and over.

    8. The moderator for this debate will be me. If I find that one of the rules stated above is not working as I intending, I reserve to the right to change it mid-debate, though I will try not to do so.

    9. Have fun, and try not to give me a headache.

    The topic is "Is egoism really a bad thing?".
    And I think it's good for the debate if you give your definition of egoism in your first post.
     
  2. YNCS

    YNCS Ex-bubblehead

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2003
    Messages:
    3,098
    Location:
    -4 GMT
    Most people divide the universe into two parts: "Me" and "Everything Else." Egotism is when too much emphasis is put on Me. Sociopathy is when egotism is taken to extremes.

    An interest in oneself is normal. It only becomes a bad thing when "Everything Else," and especially, "Everyone Else" isn't considered.

    Moderator Action: This is borderline. What is expected is a complete argument for a position. Please elaborate. Eyrei.
    Please read the forum rules: http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=422889
     
  3. eyrei

    eyrei Deity Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2001
    Messages:
    9,186
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Durham, NC USA
  4. JoeM

    JoeM Imperator

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2001
    Messages:
    2,612
    Location:
    Centre of the maritime world
    My stance is against Egoism, and that it is a bad thing.

    Basing ones approach to life on selfish interests runs against my natural feelings, and my beliefs as a Christian.

    I believe that true fulfilment can only come through enriching the lives of others.

    Though it has been argued that through egoism altruism can be achieved, it is a long philosphical route to take if your goal is altruism.


    -I'm assuming we are debating Ethical Egoism as described in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethical_egoism and hope I've meant forum rules.
     
  5. storealex

    storealex In service of peace

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2003
    Messages:
    3,710
    Location:
    Denmark
    My dictionary defines egoism like this:

    Excessive love and thought of self; the habit of regarding
    one's self as the center of every interest; selfishness;
    -- opposed to altruism.'


    I guess we can argue that we are all egoists to some point, but I truly believe that the amount of selfishness differs from person to person. Some care more for others etc.
    So no, small to normal amounts of egoism is not a bad thing, but actually a quite normal thing. Therefore in theory it would be wrong to yell "You egoist" at someone. The correct term should be "You even more than me, egoist" But that would sound stupid...

    Some would also argue that even good deeds, done for others, is egoism. Simply because it makes the person doing the deeds feel good about themselves. Or if they didn't do them they might feel guilty. And alright, this might be egoism (Though Im not sure if I could agree on this. I'll just play along for the heck of it) but surely this is a case of different egoism than the former.
    The ancient Greeks believed that we should judge people from the result of their actions. Then came Jesus and told us that we could sin in our thoughts too, and therefore we should not judge actions, but the thoughts and motives behind them. Someone might harm people out of purely good intentions. He might be clumsy etc.
    But motive or not, we will always prefer an act that does good over one that does bad. The same way, we will always prefer an egoistic act that help other people, than one that does only helps the person commiting the act. And I really don't think there's any thing wrong with this rating. If anything, it makes the world a better place.
     
  6. eyrei

    eyrei Deity Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2001
    Messages:
    9,186
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Durham, NC USA
    I'll use storeax's definition of egoism, even though it has a negative connotation.

    It is my opinion that a certain amount of egoism is necessary, and even beneficial. Without it, there would be no competition, and so less innovation. However, when competition becomes harmful to either party, egoism is beginning to become a negative thing. This must be looked at on a scale, and not as a black and white comparison. At the lower end of the scale is financial loss, and at the far end, loss of life. An example would be a businessman whose decisions harm his employees, and, on the more negative area of the scale, a government official whose policies inflict hardship or even death upon those he governs or upon others. Keep in mind, that in all cases it is assumed that there is some gain for the person whose egoism inflicts harm on others.

    On a grander scale, capitalism caters towards the less severe cases of egoism, as it rewards success, even when that success comes with a price for others, as the dollars made in a business deal are still worth the same no matter how severe the harm inflicted. Unfortunately, the moral acceptance of less severe decisions leads to a greater number of occurances of more severe decisions which inflict great harm on others.

    Therefore, I believe egoism must be controlled in some way, particularly in a capitalist society. The most obvious to many people is religion, or any sort of dogmatic moral code. What may be more appropriate, though more difficult to develop, is a code of morals derived from constructive dialogue and implemented in legal code. However, in the USA for example, the legal code still rewards egoism, or at least does not punish it, being more in compliance with the tenets of capitalism than with any moral code.
     
  7. storealex

    storealex In service of peace

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2003
    Messages:
    3,710
    Location:
    Denmark
    But eyrei, the most severe forms of egoism are prevented by US law. You can't go shoot someone and take his money without breaking the law. You can't steal from him etc. There's also tennant laws making it impossible for land lords to simply kick everybody they want out of their home.
    All in all, there's acutally a lot of laws putting strains on " harmful freedoms" or harmful egoism.

    Now I'd say that there's not enough of these laws, but Im sure newfangle would disagree with me. So basically, it's all about the degree of implementation we choose. A matter of personal taste. Therefore people are bound to disagree on this issue, and therefore it's good that we all live in democracies.

    An other interesting point is the one about religion, because many of these laws are actually built upon it. Religion and the legal system actually cooporates in this sense. Religion tells people not to be too egoistic because that's how they ought to behave. The law tells people not to be too egoistic because that's how they shall behave, or they'll end up in a very real prison.
    Though religion and laws often aim at different people (Some are more inclined to follow one over the other) both ultimately have the same goal - a better society.
     
  8. eyrei

    eyrei Deity Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2001
    Messages:
    9,186
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Durham, NC USA
    Sure, but my point was more that US law is affected more and more by capitalism (either a symptom or cause of egoism, I'm not sure), and so the scale moves a slight bit towards the negative end. Regarding the laws about kicking tenants out...well, people find loopholes to get around it often enough.

    True enough, and I also agree that there aren't enough of these laws.

    What seems to be missing from this picture though is a moral code based on something other than religion, or maybe that is the legal code? Maybe the problem is that this secular moral code is based on the economic structure (capitalism in the case of the USA), rather than on philosophy or politics, and there is no room for these? The problem with having only religion as a society's moral compass is that many people disavow religion because they do not believe in God, so all these people have to go on is the legal code based to a large degree on capitalist (egoist) ideals.
     
  9. eyrei

    eyrei Deity Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2001
    Messages:
    9,186
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Durham, NC USA
    Another aspect of egoism which isn't really being dealt with here is the relativist moral standard it uses. As an egotist, a person perceives their own moral values as more important than anyone elses, and more important than any moral or religious structure. In my opinion, this is necessary to justify the selfish aspect of egoism, as, no matter who says an egotists actions were 'wrong', in that he harmed others, the egotist has no problems justifying them. Such a moral system is also necessarily mutable, and, in fact, previous moral judgements made by an egotist can be discarded as soon as they become irreconcilable with his actions. I suppose it is also possible, though rare, for an egotist to have developed a moral system early enough in life, and obey it strictly enough that there is no mutability. So there are two kinds of egotists. The first has a mutable moral system, which changes to validate his actions, and the second has a stable moral system, which he changes his actions to adhere to. The former is true selfishness, and the latter is a lesser degree of selfishness, as it cannot be changed to suit any desire that one might feel, but it was still developed by that individual for that individual. Strangely enough, most philosophers fall into the second category in a way, as, while most wrote down their philosophies later in life, I must assume that those philosophies came from their own lives and may well have been developed (at least the basics of them) very early.
     
  10. Strider

    Strider In Retrospect

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2002
    Messages:
    8,984
    My definition of egoism; is basicly the motivation to do what is in your best interests.

    In theory, egoism is very probable and logic. If everyone takes care of themselves, and worries about themselves. Then everyone will be fine. Now, what really starts making matters "screwed-up" is when inorder to take care of youself, you have the harm, or hamper another persons progress in doing so.

    Egoism, to a limit, is quite possibly the best philsophy someone can have. You take care of yourself, for society doesn't have to. However, as I said, this should not be taken to a radical form. You should try to take care of yourself, without harming others attempt to do the same. Unless of course, if your on even grounds, IE: You both apply for the same job and need it badly.

    Is egoism really a bad thing? As with everything else in this world, taken to an extreme form, it can be very harmful, but taken in a moderate form, it can be very beneficial.
     
  11. WildFire

    WildFire amour

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2002
    Messages:
    5,186
    Location:
    mIRC
    My take

    I believe egoism propels me to be a better person at whatever I'm trying to do. Whether it's academics, sports or my job, I attempt to do the best I can and rarely do I make it so no one knows what I did. I'm not talking about what Dr. Cox did on Scrubs the other night (he was basically feeding his ego for everything that he did and came off as a very arrogant and narcissistic pig). For me, egoism is a way to pump myself up to do something great at that moment. If I get recognition for it later, that's great. If not, I'll try to figure out what I did and what I could've done different.

    After re-reading that, I realize I kind of came off as someone who needs to be the center of attention, or at least someone who needs to be recognized to feel as if they've been recognized. I can assure you, that is not the case. I do things for my personal gratification and what other people think of me, that's up to them. My ego is the basis of my self esteem.

    From mid February to the middle of April I had the best bowling experience of my life. My bowling team was 2nd in the leauge and 8 games behind in mid February and I wanted the 1st place as it was to be my last year in the league (as well as one of my teamates). I have a 171 average but during those final months, I calculated that my average was around a 195 as I had rolled two 625 series, a 617 and a few 560+ series. Everything was clicking and I let people know. The second to last week, the first place team (with one of my best friends) lost all 4 games and we closed the gap to 1 game back. The following week, I jokingly talked trash to the other team and tried to trick myself into really believing in myself and that I would continue my hot streak. This was the last week and we need to win to move to the championship. After an unbelievable day, we came out 3 games ahead as we won all 4 and they lost all 4 (including a heartbreaker of a 2nd game). I was PUMPED.

    I enjoyed people congradulating me and I became very, very, very talkative during the next week. Now, I am an open person but I wasn't feeling like myself. I was just so into it all that I was picturing the trophies and what not and already believing we were to win (the team we were up against finished horribly the 2nd half of the season).

    We lost by 42 pins.

    Everything I had said the past two weeks came right back at me :) But it was alright as I had willingly let myself make a fool of myself because that's the way I compete. I hate to lose (anything). I've already got it into my head that if I now get anything below a 540 series, I've had a bad day. In early January, I would've loved a consistent 540 series. Now that I've hovered around 195 for 2 months, it isn't enough. I want to become better at anything I put my mind to. Being average isn't good enough even though I am exactly that at some things (poker for example). I always play the ass during poker and it 90% of the time comes back at me. But that's ok! If I don't pump myself up enough, I feel as if I'll do less than desirable and it'll stay in my head for weeks. I have one thought on my mind at usually any time of the day and it IS the reason I am this way. I regret it every moment I think of it and push myself to never be the way I was that day. I need a big ego. In my mind, that drives me to succeed.



    Gonna look over this tomorrow, not sure it made a lot of sense (tired)

    failure/success/fear note to self
     
  12. Japher

    Japher Voted for Bush

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2002
    Messages:
    588
    Location:
    ...with plastic eyeballs.
    I agree with eyrei, to an extent.

    Egoism if directed inward. Because then, it is called self-confidence. One should have a healthy and positive opinion of themselves.

    It is when this egoism is directed outward that it becomes a problem. Directed in the either the sense of a "I am right you are wrong, naanaanaa" sort of way as well as a "I am the supreme commander you are nothing to me" sort of way.
     
  13. JoeM

    JoeM Imperator

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2001
    Messages:
    2,612
    Location:
    Centre of the maritime world
    I believe I'm addressing all of the above posters;

    You cannot have 'a certain amount of Egoism' it's a contradiction - Either you base your life around yourself and only yourself or you don't.

    Where this stance leads however, is open to interpretation.

    I agree with eyrie that moral relativism is a necessary consequence of Egoism, which is a Bad Thing TM in itself, but in this case it is the worst kind. Moral relativism based on an individuals selfish needs.
     

Share This Page