Can a selfless act exist? (continued)


We’ve explored how all actions are selfish in the sense that all actions are committed with ones self in mind. The word selfish doesn’t actually represent the concept I’m speaking of because in the philosophical realm the words selfish and selfless are useless. These words represent the motives behind the action, but the motives are the same.

Think about the words big and small. The word small is contingent to the word big. Remember the saying, “Nothing is big or small except by comparison?” If you think about this concept you’ll realize the word small has no meaning unless we also have the word big. The same goes for the words selfish and selfless. If the word selfless is meaningless then so is the word selfish in a sense.

These words misrepresent their concepts and we should be careful when using them in this context. What we should say is there are only two types of actions, those being conscious and unconscious. All conscious acts are “selfish” and all “selfless” acts are unconscious (another saying is that the only selfless acts are accidents).

I do not think we should do away with the word selfish but we must understand what we mean when we use it and avoid falling into circles of wordplay (sometimes I feel like philosophy is nothing but semantics). Understand we have a misunderstanding of reality when we speak of motives behind actions. Due to our nature our conscious decisions can’t help but only have one motive (selfishness) but this does not eliminate the word selfless while preserving the word selfish. This shows we must have a new understanding of the nature of our motives and decisions and rethink what the word selfish means.



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