Wednesday, March 11, 2009

True selfishness

When I was small (well, smaller than I am now) I used to read voraciously: and one writer who had an influence on me for a while was Richard Bach. And hearing this evening of the increased interest in Ayn Rand and her character John Galt, I was reminded of something from one of Bach's books: he discussed the idea that
to be truly honest, one needs to acknowledge that anything you do is done for selfish reasons. You do it because you want to even if you do it to help someone else.
As a young person, this had a profound influence on me: it turned me to realise that I wanted to do things that helped people because I wanted to, not because it was something someone told me I ought to do. And when I do something to hurt someone, I need to accept responsibility.

What I took from it is so different from the Galtian philosophy that springs from the same ideas. So how do we teach children to choose to be helpful, because it is their own selfish nature that makes them want to be that way?

Yours, selfishly,


Joke said...

Adam Smith posited the notion that we ought to act out of enlightened self-interest.

I can go with that.

awareness said...

I don't think its a bad thing if we are selfish in this way because there is nothing quite like the feeling of accomplishment when you've helped someone. Empathy is an emotion we should all learn to strive for more often.

Also, it must have a positive chemical reaction in our systems....seratonin or some such thing.

If we continue to offer our children opportunities to look at life through the eyes of others, than they will grow up to do this automatically. However, there needs to be balance....they also have to be cognitively aware of their own needs and wants and how they make them feel.