Selfishness in Generosity

Design By: Margo Brunner

Design By: Margo Brunner

Humans are inherently selfish, but at the same time, are some of the most generous and compassionate creatures in all of the animal kingdom.

These two facts respectively seem exclusive to one another, but exist on the same plane nonetheless. Generosity, according to some philosophers, is entirely fueled by self-interest and is not as wholesome as some may see it. 

The theory that every action humans make is self-interested is known as cynicism. The idea has grown in popularity over the years, especially with the advent of social media and influencers making donations just for publicity purposes. 

Even theoretically, if someone were to make a grand gesture with pure intentions, that action would also equate to a selfish act in a roundabout manner.

In making this generous gesture, the person would be making themselves feel good about their actions, in turn fulfilling the theory, because if the person felt bad about being generous, the person probably would not have performed the gesture. 

So even when someone is being kind, their actions are fueled by personal interest to feel good about themselves, which would fit the theory all the same. 

Of course, this does not mention actions that are not out of the goodwill of the heart to start with, such as Tik Tokers using homeless people in videos to make the Tik Toker look like a better person online.

This is only a theory, but as the rise of Tik Tok “clout” moves continues, the theory continues to gain credibility as well.