Selfishness denotes an excessive or exclusive concern with oneself, and as such it exceeds mere self interest or self concern. Insofar as a decision maker knowingly burdens or harms others for personal gain, the decision is selfish. In contrast, self-interest is more general. Self-interest is merely including one's own needs and desires in the schema of priorities, and is inclusive of both cooperation and selfishness.

Selfishness is the opposite of altruism
Altruism is a concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and a core aspect of various religious traditions, though the concept of 'others' toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism is the opposite of...


Game theory

Given two actors, oneself and someone else, there are four types of possible behavior directly impacting the welfare of the actors; selfishness, altruism, spite, and cooperation. Selfishness is the ability to go as far as to even harm someone else in order to help oneself; Altruism is the ability to go as far as to even harm oneself in order to help someone else; Spite is harming oneself in order to harm someone else; Cooperation is the process of working or acting together and may thus lead to either of the previous acts.

The implications of selfishness have inspired divergent views within religious
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, philosophical
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, psychological
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

, economic
An economy consists of the economic system of a country or other area; the labor, capital and land resources; and the manufacturing, trade, distribution, and consumption of goods and services of that area...

 and evolutionary
Sociobiology is a field of scientific study which is based on the assumption that social behavior has resulted from evolution and attempts to explain and examine social behavior within that context. Often considered a branch of biology and sociology, it also draws from ethology, anthropology,...


See also

  • Egotism
    Egotism is "characterized by an exaggerated estimate of one's intellect, ability, importance, appearance, wit, or other valued personal characteristics" – the drive to maintain and enhance favorable views of oneself....

  • Enlightened self-interest
    Enlightened self-interest
    Enlightened self-interest is a philosophy in ethics which states that persons who act to further the interests of others , ultimately serve their own self-interest....

  • Ethic of reciprocity
    Ethic of reciprocity
    The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a maxim, ethical code, or moralitythat essentially states either of the following:* : One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself....

     (the "Golden Rule")
  • Generosity
    Generosity is the habit of giving freely without expecting anything in return. It can involve offering time, assets or talents to aid someone in need...

  • Little Miss Selfish
  • Narcissism
    Narcissism is a term with a wide range of meanings, depending on whether it is used to describe a central concept of psychoanalytic theory, a mental illness, a social or cultural problem, or simply a personality trait...

  • Objectivism
    Objectivism or Objectivist may refer to:* Any standpoint that stresses objectivity, including;* Philosophical objectivity, realism, the conviction that reality is mind-independent* Moral objectivism, the view that some ethics are absolute...

  • Solipsism
    Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist. The term comes from Latin solus and ipse . Solipsism as an epistemological position holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure. The external world and other minds cannot be known, and might not...

Further reading

  • A Theory of Justice
    A Theory of Justice
    A Theory of Justice is a book of political philosophy and ethics by John Rawls. It was originally published in 1971 and revised in both 1975 and 1999. In A Theory of Justice, Rawls attempts to solve the problem of distributive justice by utilising a variant of the familiar device of the social...

    (by John Rawls
    John Rawls
    John Bordley Rawls was an American philosopher and a leading figure in moral and political philosophy. He held the James Bryant Conant University Professorship at Harvard University....

  • Twilight of the Idols
    Twilight of the Idols
    Twilight of the Idols, or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer is a book by Friedrich Nietzsche, written in 1888, and published in 1889.-Genesis:...

    , Friedrich Nietzsche Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (February 15, 1990), ISBN 0140445145
  • The Evolution of Cooperation
    The Evolution of Cooperation
    The evolution of cooperation can refer to:* the study of how cooperation can emerge and persist as elucidated by application of game theory,* a 1981 paper by political scientist Robert Axelrod and evolutionary biologist W. D...

    , Robert Axelrod
    Robert Axelrod
    Robert M. Axelrod is an American political scientist. He is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Michigan where he has been since 1974. He is best known for his interdisciplinary work on the evolution of cooperation, which has been cited in numerous articles...

    , Basic Books, ISBN 0-465-02121-2
  • The Selfish Gene
    The Selfish Gene
    The Selfish Gene is a book on evolution by Richard Dawkins, published in 1976. It builds upon the principal theory of George C. Williams's first book Adaptation and Natural Selection. Dawkins coined the term "selfish gene" as a way of expressing the gene-centred view of evolution as opposed to the...

    , Richard Dawkins
    Richard Dawkins
    Clinton Richard Dawkins, FRS, FRSL , known as Richard Dawkins, is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author...

     (1990), second edition—includes two chapters about the evolution of cooperation, ISBN 0-19-286092-5
  • The Virtue of Selfishness
    The Virtue of Selfishness
    The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism is a 1964 collection of essays and papers by Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden. Most of the essays originally appeared in The Objectivist Newsletter, except for "The Objectivist Ethics", which was a paper Rand delivered at the University of Wisconsin...

    , Ayn Rand
    Ayn Rand
    Ayn Rand was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism....

    , ISBN 0451163931
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.