Why is it a bad quality to be selfish?

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Synonyms and related words

Egomania, egotism, egocentricity, self-interest, self-love, self-interest, self-interest, selfishness, greed, avarice, profit addiction, self-centeredness, self-addiction, competitive thinking, striving for power, envy, Manchester doctrine, narcissism, greed for profit, greed, rascality, ruthlessness, self-love, Selfishness, self-love, unscrupulousness, ...


Egoism means raising one's own interests to the absolute maxim of one's own actions. This in no way corresponds to Kant's categorical imperative "Act in such a way that the maxim of your will can also apply at any time as the principle of general legislation." (Edition of the Prussian Academy of Sciences, Berlin 1900ff, AA V, 30 / KpV, A 54 (§ 7 Basic Law of Pure Practical Reason). Egoism thus violates the basic rules of ethics. Your own - often only short-term - advantage applies without restriction. This lack of consideration for the concerns and needs of other people usually only results in forced success for a limited time.

Without appreciation of one's own person, without a positive egocentricity (so to speak, egocentricity light), values ​​such as love for one's neighbor and sociability would not exist. Turning to one's neighbor is probably only possible if one's own self has its own value, in the sense of the Bible quote: “You should love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mk 12:31) Taking care of one's own becomes unworthy Interests when they are carried out in an exclusive, absolute manner and completely disregard the interests of others. In her book on the Russian Revolution, Rosa Luxenburg pointed out that freedom should always be the freedom of those who think differently and that the limits of one's own actions are therefore reached where other people's concerns begin ”. Selfish actions do not respect limits that arise when other people also decide freely and want to realize themselves in the sense of healthy egoism. Egoistic action does not know the freedom of the other, but uses the other as a means to an (egoistic) end. The egoistic person is trapped in himself, as it were bent on himself (homo incurbatus in se). An egoistic person cannot or does not want to perceive general, social, team-oriented concerns in his self-centeredness. He is also unwilling to support such activities on his own initiative and in an effective way.


Julien de Lamare in Guy de Maupassant's novel "Une vie" (Une vie ou L'Humble Vérité, first published in 1883 in the journal Gil Blas, then as a book entitled L'Humble Vérité.)

Jeanne is longing for a second child - Julien does not go into that, but says: "How? What are you saying? Yes, are you crazy? Another child? Oh no! That would be even nicer! Enough already that because one of them is screaming, everyone is busy and costs money. Another child! Thank you! " (Chapter X)

His extreme stinginess is coupled here with the need to put oneself above others. Your own interests come first. Other people's needs are disregarded - with the explanation that it costs money. Immediately after returning from her honeymoon, Julien radically put a stop to the formerly carefree, cheerful life of Jeanne with her parents, which is initially viewed by the in-laws as a ridiculous mania for savings. In truth, Julien's aim is to put his own person in the foreground and to determine the lives of others - to the detriment of others.

At the funeral of his mother-in-law, Baroness Adélaïde, affectionately known as petite mère by Jeanne, Julien was only concerned with his own interests for social recognition: "The whole aristocracy has come, that will be very good." (Chapter IX)