Egoism means extreme selfishness; that is, the total disregard for the consequences of personal actions on others. It also denotes the individual's refusal to act in the best interest of his community, even when such cooperation will in the long-term be to his own benefit.

In religious terms, egoism is the basis for sin, since acting only in one's immediate interest causes harm to others and is the ultimate root of all suffering.

In psychological terms, pure egoism exists only in the sociopath, which is the only mental illness which is no defense in a court of law, but which will certainly increase penalties for a convicted defendant.

In Libertarian philosophy, two different theories are labeled egoism:

Generally, the term egoism has been used with pejorative connotations; it has been applied to philosophers such as Bernard de Mandeville and to many other materialists of his generation, but none of them declared themselves as such. The first Western philosopher to apply the label of egoism to his or her own work was Max Stirner—although he did, in effect, re-invent the meaning of the term to suit his philosophy. The most famous modern philosopher to advocate a moral system based on egoism is the novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand, who based her ethics of amorality on the principle of "rational self-interest."

In eastern philosophy, the debate around equivalent terms has been somewhat broader, not merely questioning the ethical validity of "serving oneself", but questioning what the self is, and whether such an entity can be defined or presumed to exist, ie introspection leading to ego death.

Debates of this kind span such religions as Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism (see Atman, Anatman and Pudgalavada). Typically, egoism is the product of a lack of genuine spirituality and shows an individual's submersion in materialism.

A related word is egotism. Ayn Rand makes a distinction between egoism and egotism, but some philosophers do not.

External Links

fi:Egoismi fr:gosme ja:利己主義 pl:Egoizm sv:Egoism


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