Just as a reminder my inquiry question is: Are Humans naturally selfish
In my last post I talked about what Human nature is/ if it is something that really exists, and how things like social Darwinism play into why some philosophers believe in the concept of human nature. In this post I will be researching if it is our upbringing / society that makes us selfish rather than it being ingrained in us since birth?
I will firstly be looking into how / if our society makes us selfish. In my last blogpost I discussed how the systems of which we live by are a result of our false notions of human nature, because these systems such as capitalism are designed to function around the idea that all humans are all inherently greedy and selfish beings It obviously enforces these things on us just so that we can survive. But it’s not just the systems in our society that make us selfish, it is also the culture. In “western” and “European” culture, it promotes individualism, meaning it prioritizes the pursuit of personal goals rather than prioritizing interests and what is best for others, be it your family, friends, or community (4). In western culture it is also very normal to support policies that only benefit us instead of looking at how these policies might affect others, most often others in marginalized groups (1). Moreover, when we look at eastern philosophies, we see that they focus more so on the collective good, as opposed to western as philosophies being centered around good for the individual (3).
I will now be discussing how the systems of which we live make us selfish. I touched on this a bit in my first round of research, but capitalism inherently pushes us to be more selfish as capitalism is built upon the idea of human nature, therefore, to succeed in our capitalistic society you are almost forced to act greedy and selfish. To conclude, our society plays a large role in people being selfish, from our systems to our culture it is very hard not to be selfish.
For my next round of research, I will be researching what / if there are genetic factors in people’s selfishness, and how selfishness affects us.
1.Crocker, Canevello, Brown, J. C. A. C. A. B. (2017, January). Social Motivation: Costs and Benefits of Selfishness and Otherishness. Annualreviews.Org. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev-psych-010416-044145
2.Jones, O. (2018, February 14). Grotesque inequality is not a natural part of being human. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/24/grotesque-inequality-greed-human-nature-capitalism
3.Lyon, S. (2020, February 20). What Exactly is “Western Culture”? Thebottomline.as.Ucsb.Edu. https://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2020/02/western-mystery-an-analysis-of-western-culture
4.Marsh, A. (2021, May 26). Opinion | Does Individualism Make Americans Selfish? Research Says No. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/26/opinion/individualism-united-states-altruism.html