Friday, November 23, 2012

Self Interest

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An axiom of human behavior is that people act. They act in a way that they think will improve current situation. Stated differently, people act in a self-interested manner.

Self interest is often interpreted in material terms. People act in a manner that improves their material income.

But material well-being is not the only possible objective of self-interested action. People can also act in a manners that generate psychic income--i.e., acts that generate feelings or mental states that improve psychological well-being. For example, acts of sharing or charity may generate good feelings about helping others.

Mother Teresa is often viewed as a very unselfish person due to her lifelong efforts to help others. More likely, she was acting in a manner that generated great amounts of psychic income. Perhaps this income included the secure feeling that she would be well-rewarded by her Creator in the afterlife.

Acts of benevolence are not the only possible sources of psychic income. Hostile acts toward others, such as revenge, sarcasm, murder, robbery, etc., may also improve psychological well being. Feelings of superiority, of being right, of facilitating a more 'just' world all may drive, may drive acts of aggression by people seeking to improve their psychological position.

The next time you think that you or someone else is acting 'unselfishly,' think again.

1 comment:

dgeorge12358 said...

There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. This is where the respect and the love and the devotion come in - that we do it to God, to Christ, and that's why we try to do it as beautifully as possible.
~Mother Teresa