Egoism and altruism are almost always considered to be the two opposing ideologies or, at least, two opposing outlooks on life. But is it really so?
If we look at the definition of word “egoism”, we will see that it means an attitude towards life, the bearer of which always puts his interests before the interests of all the other people. But is it said that his interests are automatically concerned with doing everything that pleases him sensually, while torturing all the other people on the way – just for fun? Yet, it is the way most people tend to perceive egoists.
The reality is different. Why should I take pleasure from torturing other people? Why should I be necessarily concerned with sensual pleasures? Couldn’t it be pleasant for me to help somebody in need? Couldn’t the pleasure from helping somebody be greater than that from doing something for myself? Cannot the pleasure from giving up something I want in order to give it someone else be greater than pleasure of having it?
These are the people we call altruists. Every person does things that reflect his best interests, no matter what these interests are. People who behave in altruistic manner simply feel pleasure while doing it; their inner goals are not that different from those who refuse to take others into account and do everything to please themselves in some other way.
We are all egoists, after a fashion. It doesn’t mean that we are all bad people; it doesn’t mean that good people are as bad as all the others. It is simply the way things are, nothing else.