Saturday, July 4, 2015


An Egoist Argument for Being Kind

We live in a time where instant gratification is paramount. It rules almost every part of our lives whether it be travel, food, data transfer, phone calls, the weather. We want everything fast. Like NOW fast. The problem with thinking like this is it can also be pretty selfish. Being first is often accompanied by a total disregard for everyone else. In the immortal words of Ricky Bobby, "If you're not first, you're last." This seems to be the motto of many modern day Americans. In that spirit I am going to lay out an argument for being kind for completely selfish reasons.  

When I started formulating this argument in my head I kept coming back to several pieces I had read years ago about a philosophical concept called egoism. There are several kinds of egoism and the differentiation of type mostly deals with the variety of motivations for being selfish. One type of Egoism is called Ethical Egoism. Ethical Egoism has always intrigued me. It deals specifically with the idea that we do what we believe is morally "right" in the interest of making ourselves feel good. Basically doing things that we believe to be good gives us warm fuzzies. Additionally it states that actions whose consequences will benefit the doer can be classified as ethical.  

A topic that is so brilliantly explored in many films by the Coen Brothers is the relativity of morality. Each person has a moral code but they are flexible, they evolve, and they ultimately benefit the practitioner. I also think that our ability to evolve morally is an important part of what makes us human.

I am by no means a neuroscientist but we know that we are basically big chemistry sets. All the time the feelings and emotions we have are caused by or cause a release of chemicals in the brain. Feelings of happiness and well being have a specific set of chemicals associated with them. Remember the warm fuzzies we get from being kind to someone?  Chemicals. Also the flexibility of morals allows our brain to release the same chemicals for a variety of reasons. In the crudest sense we are drug addicts looking for a fix.  

So basically here is my contention. We can be kind because we are selfish jerks. We can be kind to make the world a better place because we don't want to live in a world full of a**holes. We can be kind for the chemical high. Whatever you see as the motivation... be kind.   

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