Selfish vs Self-Centered
Today’s workout: sometimes we gotta go though the video vault and dig out the gems:
If ya don’t have the tools for the last combo, improvise!!
SELFISH vs SELF-CENTERED (complete with semi-random photo selections, with the exception of Ayn Rand)
The comments from the last post brought up some good thoughts and got my noggin’ spinning…..
“Selfishness” is often linked with the word “exclusive,” as in this definition:
“…exclusive regard to one’s own interest or happiness; that supreme self-love or self-preference which leads a person to direct his purposes to the advancement of his own interest, power, or happiness, without regarding those of others.”
Now the only reason the second half of this definition exists (anything after the semi-colon) is because of the word “exclusive” in the first half. In fact, the question begging to be asked: since when did self-love and self-preference become so loathsome? I can see how self-preference can be linked to misguided, dangerous ideas of power and dominance, but let’s be simple about it. If there are two people in a room, and you are one of them, which one will you probably want to think about first? This doesn’t have to mean it is at the disregard to the other, in fact we can eventually argue the contrary.
Therefore, again, what blackens the reputation of the word “selfish” is the concept of exclusivity, that your needs are the ONLY important ones. This is contemptuously expressed in phrases like:
“Wisdom ceases to be wisdom when it becomes too proud to weep, too grave to laugh, and too selfish to seek other than itself.” – Kahlil Gabrin
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” – Martin Luther King
Even MLK mentions ‘destructive selfishness.’ He was a fine man of words and wouldn’t give in to erroneous redundancy (In re-reading this I have to ask: is ‘erroneous redundancy’ itself redundant? Is there such a thing as strongly relevant redundancy?). Therefore, perhaps he is offering that there is a non-destructive selfishness that exists, maybe examined by the Bard himself, whose plays are often overrun with selfish behaviors, when he writes “to thine own self be true.” (actually: “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
So what is Ayn Rand saying when she states: “Love is an expression and assertion of self-esteem, a response to one’s own values in the person of another. One gains a profoundly personal, selfish joy from the mere existence of the person one loves. It is one’s own personal, selfish happiness that one seeks, earns, and derives from love.”
According to Ration View, she meant this:
“Selfishness, or rational self-interest, is the ethics of the Objectivist philosophy. To be “selfish,” according to the Oxford Modern English Dictionary, means to be “concerned chiefly with one’s own interest.” Notice that the definition contains no ethical evaluation, either positive or negative.
Ayn Rand chose the word “selfish” because it most closely denotes the concept of living for one’s own sake rather than living primarily for the sake of others. No other word quite captures that idea.
The fact that most people think that being selfish means harming one’s fellow man, that pursuing one’s own self-interest equates to behaving brutally or irrationally, is, as Ms. Rand noted, a “psychological confession” on their part. In fact it is against one’s own long-term self-interest to behave irrationally or trample others. Such actions are the exact opposite of selfish–they’re self-destructive.”
Although I’ve not the Oxford dictionary in front of me, the several I DO have do not leave us hanging with “concerned chiefly with one’s own interest” without following it up with “at the exclusion of others,” and that suddenly makes Rand’s entire concept moot. If we hold onto the concept of exclusion within our concept of Selfishness, then everything in Zac’s comments yesterday were correct, and sort of negates my more ‘Objectivist’ use of the word (an irony being that the Objectivists apparently subjectively redefine words).
I shall, therefor, restate that fitness is a self-centered endeavor. Now even though this dodges the ‘exclusionary’ bullet, there will be a handful of folks who still throw rocks, still finding stigma in that word as well, as if anything related inward is bad, and we’re all supposed to be cosmos-hugging altruists 24/7. But, after squeezing the eyes shut and then opening them again a little wider, we can see that ‘self-centered’ is actually where we need to spend a great deal of time. In fact, we are only safe to be others-centered if we’re pretty aware of our own creamy middle.