I am asking the members of the SDMB to render judgement unto me. I, as the thread title implies, am a selfish bastard. Every action I do or do not take is judged soley on its benefit to me personally. I do not lie, cheat, or steal, as a rule, because as an amoral bastard, I find a reputation for honesty very helpful. I do favors for people, when required, because it makes them more likely to help me when needed. So, am I immoral, or moral for the wrong reason?
Right now I’m too selfish to spend time answering.
You’re lazy but you have the energy to create two self-absorbed threads in a row? Get thee to a clue, dude!
So this rich young man goes up to Jesus one day and asks what he has to do to attain eternal salvation. (This is in the mid-to-late Matthews somewhere.) Jesus asks if he’s been keeping the commandments, to which the young man answers in the affirmative. He still wants to know what more must be done. Jesus answers, “Sell everything that you have and give it to the poor.” The young guy mumbles something incoherent and wanders off, depressed.
Point being not that we’re all required to sell everything we have and give it to the poor. Point being, however, that to fully experience the human mystery requires something more that merely obeying a bunch of legal/ethical/moral maxims, but to actively live for one’s place in the larger context of humanity, rather than entirely for oneself. It’s great that you don’t lie, steal, chear, pillage or plunder, but there’s something still not there. The human person is incomplete without being driven by a spirit of charity.
So I guess the question to ask is, how do YOU feel about being a self-proclaimed selfish bastard? Do other people ultimately shun you? Do you like looking in the mirror at the end of the day? Your honesty might be admirable, but would you enjoy the world more if everyone were like you? (I’m not asking this in an accusatory tone. I do think that ultimately you’re the only person who can answer this.)
Fatal flaw here.
So, like, where do you live–among the Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania?
Only place I can think of where a reputation for honesty would be helpful.
I’m such a cynic.
Sounds like you’re selfish, but not a selfish bastard. There’s a difference.
Everyone’s selfish if you define “selfish” to mean “being concerned for one’s own welfare”. A “selfish bastard”, on the other hand, is a person who’s concerned with his or her own welfare in disregard of others.
Looks like you’re in the clear.
Well, Your Great Selfisness brought I smile to my lips.
So, in that way You have helped someone in Your Incredebly Selfish way.
Thank You, robertliguori
You were (we all were) a sperm out of millions swimming around trying to find our final goal.
It was Your first battle of life and You were the best of all those other millions of sperms!
You were the Champion!
So, naturally You was born as a selfish egoist. As we all have been.
Then “mama and papa” begun to fix You in the middle of their life. In every thinkable situation.
You did not only believe that the world was built only for You.
You actually knew it. (Like we all did).
Then one day, the ungrateful parents of Yours, dragged You to an institution called school. They abandoned You and there was the main inqvestor asking stupid questions and the others were teasing You!
Naturally You begun to keep everything even more to Yourself!
The amazing thing is that all the others also seems to limping through this same shit as You; wasps lingering around Your feet, the Hope of Your very soul hanged itself in its intestines.
But You have still some hope, because You have had brain enough to ask this question.
The others has not (that kind of brains), so You are once again The Champion!
So now You have once again ejaculeted Yourself to Higher Spheres and there You are, on the top of the hill.
Well, this should be signed by God, but he is busy right now, so I will sign it for Him.
Surely, instrinsically, all humans are selfish and function primarily to meet their owns ends? Even those who perform the most altruistic acts may well do so because of the gratitude they reap and they can look favourably upon themselves for being such good people.
This is probably a very basic and perhaps depressing view of human nature, I know.
There is also a difference between engaging in behaviour purely to sate our own needs, irregardless of how our behaviour affects others, and only being interested in our own needs, but paying attention to whether or not our actions impinge upon the happiness of others.
That’s the rub. I care about other people’s feelings ONLY because unhappy people are less entertaining and helpful than happy ones, am I truly being compassionate?
Do you feel compelled to be compassionate?
Compelled by whom? I’ve always been up front with my selfish bastard-dom (which, incidentally makes it very hard to get chicks).
I don’t give change to the needy, I don’t leave tips at restauraunts, and I don’t feel guilty, although I do try to be unobtrusive at restauraunts, lest my next meal contain a gob of the soon-to-be stiffed waiter’s saliva. My OP still stands: Is a bad person who does good things for the “wrong” reasons less good than than one who is less up-front than I am?
Just out of curiosity, is that a hard and fast rule? If you saw a chance to promote your own interest by lying, cheating, or stealing, and you were totally certain that you would never be caught so your reputation wouldn’t be damaged, would you do it?
So, am I immoral, or moral for the wrong reason?
I’d say that your actions, which you describe as good, matter more than the reasoning behind your actions.
When you use the same reasoning to do things that aren’t good. If you suddenly decide that it would be more beneficial to yourself to lie, cheat, and steal. Until that happens, the reasoning behind your good actions doesn’t matter.
I am reasonably well-off. Most of the time, the potential reward for theft is more than counterbalanced by what would happen if you were caught. But, if the oppertunity offered itself for theft with no consequences (file sharing, for example), I’m there. Of course, since theft with no consequences is generally limited to MP3s and french fries, I have yet to steal anything that anyone would care about even if they had found out about it.
Ayn Rand would be proud of you.
Well, that depends on whether or not anyone recognises their altruism. I think it’s a greater good to do something and either be unrecognised as the giver or be cursed for doing it.
[Under Christian Hat]
Matt. 6 1:4
Be careful not to do your “acts of righteousness” before men, to be seen be them… So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets… But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.
If you are found to be a selfish bastard, robert, then be the BEST selfish bastard you can be!
All kidding aside, this killed me:
“Every action I do or do not take is judged soley on its benefit to me personally.”
Who brought you up?
Whatever you do, don’t ever have kids, k?
I admire your bravery for at least admitting that it’s all about you shrug
[what does a Christian Hat look like, anyway?]
If there is no God, and I can’t remember if you said you thought so or not, but I’ll assume you believe there is no God - then your strategy is the smartest, most productive, and probably most fulfilling way to go. (Ayn Rand was right.) Read Machiavelli for a basic primer in this kind of life.
If there is a God, you’re screwed, of course.
But if I did not believe in God this is the way I would try to live. (I was inculcated early in selflessness – not that it took entirely – and it would be impossible at this point to change my strategy in to a grab-the-world-by-the-balls one.) I think all the basic Christian virtues are pretty much worthless if Christianity is not true. (Although if Xtianity is not true, I do benefit from the virtuousness of others. Their loss, my gain.)
The self-sacrifice that is Christianity is less complicated than the selfish way of life, though. The “right thing” is usually clear and you don’t have to be worrying all the time that you are losing out in some way.
Some (if not most) evolutionary psychologists are of the opinion that altruism is an illusion. Our psyches have evolved to motivate us the most strongly toward whatever actions will best preserve and proliferate our genes. If your behavior involves looking out for your brother or taking care of your kids, it’s only because your brother and your kids each carry about half of your genes in them. If it involves looking out for your social group, it’s because your chances of survival within a social group are greater than they are if you’re alone.
So even the most altruistic-looking actions are for selfish, or at least genome-selfish, goals.
The Pope wears this tall, pointy thing…