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Psychological Egoism

Psychological egoism is one of the theories that have been put forward to explain human behavior. It claims that every human voluntary action is done out of self-interest and is thus declared selfish (Shafer-Landau, 2012). The egoist in this regard explains that there is a hidden motive for personal gain behind each of the actions (Shafer-Landau, 2012). This paper seeks to explain how an egoist may interpret some acts done out of self-interest when actually they are not. The paper investigates the act of being thankful and grateful.

Generally, the feeling of gratitude often follows immediately after the other person’s action. It is the act of being aware and appreciative to the other party for the benefit received. This act is predetermined by human nature. It is mostly expressed by spoken words, facial expression like a smile and giving gifts. Many actions can be explained by psychological egoists as driven by self-interest but some can be viewed as an example of thankfulness and gratitude. Nonetheless, these often go against their interpretation (Pojman, 2012). For example, a student lacks school fees, and a volunteer settles the balance for him/her. Generally, the student will be grateful. Does it mean the student is acting in a selfish way? The person volunteered, the student did not know him/her. The feeling of gratitude would make no sense if there is a hidden motive behind it (Pojman, 2012).

Psychological egoists always argue that there is self-interest behind every good action directed towards other people. In the aforementioned case of the school fees, the egoist would argue that the student was offering gratitude, because his interest of lacking school fees was fulfilled. The volunteer would thus seek to support only grateful people and respond to the student’s own interest.

In conclusion, not every action done by human beings is really out of self-interest, but an egoist will argue that it is.

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