HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!


Weak Psychological Egoism
Weak psychological egoism is the theory that “people always intend to do something when they expect to get something out of it even if they do not intend to.”   There is something not other-centred about doing good when you expect some good for you MAY come from it.  Knowing something good for you WILL come for it makes it more egoistic or more about you even if you have no intention.  It is easy to think you do not intend to get something when you do intend.  Intending and expecting can go together.  You can know if weak psychological egoism is the default but you can never know if anybody really is one or going a step further. The next step is strong psychological egoism.

Strong psychological egoism is about the idea that people consistently and without exception act when they intend to achieve something that suits themselves.”

Weak psychological egoism is an interesting theory. It says that there is a bit of self-interest in all that we do no matter how sacrificial it seems.


If expecting a benefit for yourself to come from what you do is self-centred even if you don't intend it then clearly the more you expect the good the more self-centred you are.  The major expectation is not that say people will praise you or that you will feel good.  The biggest expectation is that you will feel that you can do what you choose to do and that feeling even if dull is still a reward.  That feeling is behind every reward you see for what good is any gift or reward if  you are going to feel like a machine?  The feeling is ultimately what other rewards are about.

Some supporters think that we intend to get at least a small benefit from what we do. They would see the fact that we like to fulfil our will as a benefit. You must like something a bit otherwise you won't do it. Liking means you take some pleasure in it.
Other supporters think that the former are wrong and that weak psychological egoism means that the person does not necessarily have to intend to get a reward but merely expects a reward. It is impossible to see how you can be egoistic without intending to gain.



Take an example. It could be charity work or it could be playing football or anything. We are going to choose the example of charity work.

To enjoy charity work is to take pleasure in the charity work. Some say that it is not about getting experiences of pleasure through doing the work. And others say it is not JUST about attaining such experiences.

This states that doing the work is the attraction. Its a pleasure to do the work. This pleasure is distinct from the pleasurable experiences on the job.
Altruists say that if you do the job for these experiences you are mercenary and selfish. If that is true, why don't they consider it selfish just because its pleasure to do the work?
You may never feel more free and more happy than when you indulge your desire to help others and when you do it to indulge. You are doing it for you and not them. It follows that even if we might be wrong, we should assume that others help us for themselves and not for our sake. This is not saying we know that each person just cares about themselves and that helping others is their way of helping themselves. That is strong psychological egoism. We are only taking it as a sensible hypothesis - its not proven. Thus it is weak psychological egoism.
Egoism is doing good for others while being motivated to do this simply because you enjoy it. It is the enjoyment you want. The good results for others are really a side-effect. This is harmful in the sense that it puts enjoyment above people's happiness. Its a form of selfishness. But it means that practically speaking you can be one amazing person. In a brutal corrupt world, is it really a big deal if people help one another for selfish reasons as long as those selfish reasons do not have them working to dominate or destroy those they help? Egotism is defined as selfishness which does not work for the wellbeing of others.
Egoism is about indulging desires. If we are naturally egoists, then the notion of God doing miracles as signs is ridiculous. Why? Because all he needs to do is tweak our emotional responses. We have no control over our feelings. We think we do. When I feel miserable and go for a walk to cheer myself up it seems I am controlling the feeling. But I did not make the good feeling. It happened just because I went for a walk. It might not have happened. So I never control my feelings.
If I am an egoist, then my god is me. I can't have another god. God setting up a religion with miracles and a theology to win me would only show God's own ignorance.
Intending to help another means intending to do my will to help another. It is about me, not them.
Egoism is the realisation that whatever you do is for your gain - to fulfil your desire.
Desire is the wish to gain. People say it is the wish to gain or the wish for another to gain. But the latter tries to cover up the fact that your gain is to see the other gain. It is about you though it looks like it is not. The motive is self-interest. Another benefits but that does not mean it is not about self-interest.
We always follow a desire. Desire is to try to intentionally gain even if deprives another person. You always gain from whatever you intend to do. If you give all your money away to the poor you gain in the sense that you did what you wanted to do. It might not have felt that pleasant but it was what you wanted to do under the circumstances. You deprived another of the chance to be as good as you.
People say that if you want to help others, merely wanting to do it does not make you an egoist. Just because a desire is yours does not mean its about you. Just because I have the desire to do x does not mean I do x simply because of the desire.
Even when we hate doing something, we like it enough to do it.
Those who say we should help others without any intention of gaining from it are hypocrites. They are dangerous for they give us an impossible morality that will only lead to frustration and anger and disillusionment.
Self-interest is a drive. We need friends and we need family. We gain from helping them so we help them for ourselves.
When you wish to help another person and do so you do it because you wished to not because it helped them. It is true that just because a desire is mine that does not mean the desire is about me. But that has nothing to do with this problem,
I want to gain fulfilment from seeing good happen to another. Unless I know my action will really benefit the other person forever I cannot be an altruist. In so far as I don't know, I am doing it not because it is right but because I want to be right.
A desire can never be completely about the other person.
Strongest motive is to fulfil a desire. You want to satisfy your desire.
Is to feel love to love the feeling or the person? Is the love that seems to be about another really about the other person?
Many psychologists say that human nature is predominately egoistic. Not totally.
I have no proof that the child I try to sacrifice my life for is a person. So am I then an altruist? If I have the proof, I will forget it then.
The case of the fireman who gives his life to save a child would be considered proof that we are not predominately egoistic.
But he could still be doing it because he likes the idea of heroism, or being remembered as a hero, and not for the sake of the child. People take huge risks with their lives like when they race cars. Risking is not necessarily unselfish. It can be totally selfish. To die because one wishes to be remembered as a hero would be extremely selfish despite outward appearances.
He has no time to think. He is not being himself. You need a lot of time to make a big decision about your life and death. What he is doing is selfish in the sense that you need to believe that you should be happy for if you do not then you can't believe others should be happy either. Unhappy people make others unhappy.
It seems there is no proof that predominant egoism is wrong. That in itself does not mean that it is true only that it might be true.
But there is proof that it is true.
If the fireman gives his life for the child is that really unselfish? It is ALWAYS INTENTIONALLY selfish to give your life when you don't know what the consequences will be. And even more so when you don't have the time to weigh them. Also, you cannot weigh them all for you don't know the future. Maybe a family member will become depressed at your death and commit suicide and so on. You cannot know all about what is going on now. To be an example of such sacrifice is selfish because it influences others to do the same as you.
The fireman is helping the child not because he knows it is the right thing to do - he doesn't. He is doing it because he feels he wants to.
If the fireman knew it was the right thing to do would his sacrifice be unselfish then? He feels he wants to help the child. Is he doing it because of how he feels or is he doing it for the child?
We can do something that benefits somebody else when it is really all about us or mainly about us.
Everybody admits the existence of self-interest. But the existence of other-interest can never be proven. For example, you are considered selfish if you hoard your money up and don't share it. Doing this does you no favours and you will know it. But it is still selfish. And if you give everything away for the poor its considered unselfish even though this may do you no favours either! It is more reasonable to assume that human nature only cares about itself.
Egoism is considered to be a harmless form of selfishness. It is doing good for others while being motivated to do this simply because you enjoy it. It is the enjoyment you want. The good results are really a side-effect. This is harmful in the sense that it puts enjoyment above people's happiness.
Ethical egoism says that all you do should be for yourself and that it is good for others to have you like this for it means you make them happy because you are happy and it makes you feel better. Egotism is the term for an exaggeration of it which demands that you trample over others to get what you want. Altruism opposes both saying that we should be other-centred. But even the altruist does good to satisfy some desire he or she has so altruism is just a con.
Psychological egoism claims that no matter how unselfish we seem to be, we are in fact selfish and can't help it. All it is saying is that the altruist is right to help other people but wrong to pretend that she is not doing this because she wants to, that is, gets pleasure from simply doing it. This is simply what the saying “virtue is its own reward”, is trying to tell us. What happens then is you help others even if you hate doing it for you still want to do it under the circumstances and you are doing it for yourself and not them. You never help others to make them feel better but to make you feel better because you know you have no control or say over how others feel. Others have to respond by letting themselves feel better in order to feel better. They make themselves feel better because of you. You didn't really do anything.
Wanting to bandage John’s wounds means you want to fulfil the desire to help John so it is the desire that is important to you not John or his wounds. Egoism is a major pillar of informed Humanist thought.
Egoism is godless for it implies each person can only serve himself or herself and not God or others. This service of self manifests through helping others. People benefit far more from the assistance of people who have great self-esteem than they do others. The more you love yourself properly the more you benefit others.
To do things for God is egotism despite the outward appearances of holiness. Your self-centred nature should be used to help people not beings that may not exist. 




On the human level, it is natural to expect other people to praise you or be inspired by you if you do something to help another.  That approval makes you a weak psychological egoist.  But what if you have something that can be lived without such as faith in a loving God or a faith in a religion?  That is an extra.  That is a new expectation.  You are more than just expecting approval from others that they may not give.  You are looking for more than that.  Thus religion turns a weak psychological egoist into a strong egoist.  The religious do-gooder cannot ask anybody to really believe that she or he does the good without intending any reward or approval.s
People condemn selfish behaviour as harmful. But if you slap me and I am traumatised, I have caused this trauma not you. I am tormenting myself over you and blaming you. So the question of whether malicious behaviour is selfish or not selfish is irrelevant. Suppose human nature can be selfless. A man can rob a bank out of purely selfless motives. Yet this action is usually condemned as selfish. I can kill for altruistic reasons. I can give up my health to benefit others and do this for egoistic reasons. It is outward action that matters not altruism or egoism. Those who try to control you by saying that such and such behaviour is selfish are bullies. Being malicious, for example, hurts the malicious person - so it can hardly be described as selfish!




Looking away from the person in need to help a friend in need for you get something out of that person is selfish.


Passing the beggar while on your way to the nice restaurant is selfish.


Most of the time we omit to do things for others however great their need.


This increases the probability that we are getting something, even something small, out of everything we do.


Is there more selfishness in a person who knows he will get a lot out of helping A than a person who knows they will get a little?  Does it matter?


Altruism claims to inspire.  The thought is that if you give love to an evil person you increase the hope even a little that they will be a little touched and their evil hearts will melt.  Thus the best good work is to do good for a monstrous child molester than for a saint.  Altruism if good must hold that the main good is spreading selfless love.  Altruism also forbids you to judge the person as unrepentant or evil as it holds you must be open to a person changing for the better any time and not hold the past against them for they can no longer amend the past.  What happened has happened.  In that light, altruism in its true form is very rare if it exists at all.

Altruism is accused of acting for the sake of acting without any thought of any gain for yourself.  But the correct definition is acting FOR ANOTHER PERSON without any interest in gaining anything for yourself.  In fact acting for the sake of the act would not be altruism for it is not even based on what another person needs but on you wanting to act.

If altruism is ridiculous then it is selfish for the same reason as hoarding money and having a miserable life is ridiculous.

Motive is desire. 

I have a motive to do whatever I am doing.

Therefore my motivation is self-interested because it is mine.

This argument is said to be wrong for motive is not always about what I want to do but can be about what I ought to do.  So there is a difference between "I want my desires to be satisfied" and "I want my own satisfaction." 

But what if I feel I ought to do it? 

If we act on desire and on the feeling that I ought to do something then that means a lot of egoism is going on.

There is a difference between acting on desire, acting on the desire to see something as what ought to be done and going for what ought to be done without any desire.


A person who refuses to give to others and who hoards up all the money he can get is described as selfish. Some philosophers say that he is selfish despite how much this hurts him and how lonely it makes him. They say his motive is still to hoard all he can and to refuse to share for he wants it for himself. But if altruism is sacrifice he is sacrificing himself. So why isn't he classed as altruistic?
The preachers of altruism are the biggest egoists of the lot. All they have to do is open their mouths and that is what they become!
I have done my best to stop what makes me unhappy. I am suffering terribly. I accept this as unavoidable. I will not be angry about it for the anger will only make me feel worse.

I have done my best to stop what makes me unhappy. I am suffering terribly. I accept this as unavoidable. I will not be angry about it for the anger will only make me feel worse.