There may be no such thing as a selfless act. Even the monk accepts alms. We need self-interest in order to survive. Striving to live in the clarity of Higher purpose, we may recognize its byproduct, glory, and attach to it, but the moment we do, we bond to the physical, and our connection to Higher purpose is lost. Beware of leaders who relish in material luxury. All that we need is already within us. Receiving alms is a result of good karma. May we continue to act in ways that benefit ourselves, so that we may best serve others.
in her book, The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Rand proposes that “selfishness” has root in rationality. According to Objectivist ethics, “the actor or individual must always be the beneficiary of his action” and “must act for his own rational self-interest” (x). Through the process of rationalization, we discover morality. Selfishness seen as a virtue, not an evil (the antithesis of Altruism), will lead to morality. Erving Goffman, in his book “The Preservation of Self in Everyday Life, summarizes that “when an individual appears before others, he will have many motives for trying to control the impression they receive of the situation.” These motives can be rational or irrational. In certain social situations, the actor may either try to protect his own projections, or save the situation projected by another. In the case of the former, the actor may defend himself at the cost of the projections of another (making someone look bad, like a bully), which is irrational. Or, he may find the “step-up” out of the undesirable projection, and so the situation, and appear to others consistent with the rest of his own projections which, he should hope, are rational, and hence “good.” His audience watches for character flaws. They have the advantage over the actor (9). Similarly, in the latter case, the actor may use “tact” to save the situation, projecting himself as benevolent. Others may project his benevolence too, unless they are irrationally thinking beings. (This would be called a “good vibe” at a party). Goffman defines society as being “organized on the principle that any individual who possesses certain social characteristics has a moral right to expect that others will value and treat him in an appropriate way” (13). This “moral right” is one of rational selfishness, for it is through the process of rationality based on the self that morality can be found.
The self and Self are linked, and that is a path to Morality, as well.
© 2014 C.L. Susser