Psychological Egoism: Explained

Psychological Egoism: Explained


The idea of psychological egoism holds that our actions are all fundamentally motivated by self-interest. According to this empirical philosophy, the desire for one's own well-being serves as the motivating factor in all voluntary activities. Psychological egoism makes no recommendations for how one ought to act. This theory holds that everyone acts in their own best interests, which the psychological egoist rejects as being immoral and behaviorally obvious.
The roots of psychological egoism can be found in Greek philosophy and have a long history. But it wasn't until the seventeenth century that thinkers like Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau formally expressed it. Thomas Hobbes is just one thinker who has this opinion. 

Psychological Egoism

•    Psychological egoism is the idea that people are constantly driven by self-interest and selfishness, even when they appear to be acting in a selfless manner.
•    It contends that people seek to assist others largely in order to benefit personally from doing so, either directly or indirectly.
•    According to this interpretation of human nature, all of a person's actions are only motivated by their own self-interest.
•    Psychological egoism asserts that all human behavior is motivated by personal interests.
•    For instance: According to psychological egoism, seeking others' happiness is a means of achieving one's own satisfaction.
•    It thereby rules out the possibility of noble and charitable actions.
•    Psychological egoism just observes the motivation behind such actions rather than explaining their morality, or whether they are good or wicked.
•    It merely notes that everyone's actions are motivated by self-interest or selfishness.

Psychological Hedonism

•    Psychological hedonism is a subtype of psychological egoism in which the desire to experience pleasure or to avoid suffering serves as the primary driving force behind all deliberate human behavior.
•    A person might eat the cake because, in accordance with psychological hedonism, he anticipates it will make him happy either through the flavor or the good feelings that come from indulging. 

Thomas Hobbes:

Psychological Egoism: Explained
•    Thomas Hobbes defined psychological egoism as the idea that every human action is driven by self-interest.
•    Psychological egoism is typically linked to and what drives selfishness.
•    Psychological egoism is descriptive in the sense that it does not prescribe a particular course of action.
•    Hobbes contends that the most frequent justification for why we assume someone is acting out of concern for others is charity.
•    The foundation of psychological egoism is the idea that acts of selflessness give the person performing them a sense of satisfaction.
•    Hobbes disregarded the idea of morally required altruism. He put on us a moral obligation to advance our individual self-interest.
•    To act in morally egoistic ways that benefit our individual existence, specifically.
•    He argues that while behaving only in one's own best interests is ethically acceptable, we can only act altruistically under substantial provocation.
•    According to Hobbes, if people lived in a world without any established social structures, laws, or moral standards, they would be said to be in a "state of nature."
•    There are no universally accepted ways of living, conflict is only resolved by violence, and people are unpredictable and unreliable.
•    Hobbes is in favor of a robust government with appropriate punishments for transgressions and a strong legal system.
•    The danger of being detected and punished should serve as a deterrent to criminal behavior. People must think that breaking the law is not in their best interests. 

Psychological Egoism of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

•    The well-known French philosopher of the 18th century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, had opinions on this idea.
•    Humans are good and giving by nature, according to Rousseau, who also felt that society corrupts people by instilling traits like greed and competition.
•    In his famous article "Discourse on Inequality," Rousseau argued that people were not always motivated by their own interests.
•    He maintained that society's greed and unfairness were rooted in the idea of private property. He claimed that private property bred competition and a desire to gain wealth, which eventually weakened people's capacity for altruism.
•    Rousseau added that as people are social creatures, their behaviors are driven by a desire to uphold social harmony and cooperation. He thought that people are naturally compassionate and that this drives them to lend a hand to others without expecting anything in return.
•    Additionally, he contended that people have a sense of moral obligation that is founded on concepts of justice and fairness rather than self-interest.
•    In "The Social Contract," Rousseau outlined a political theory intended to create a society that is fair and just. He believed that general will principles, which represent the common interests of society as a whole, should be the basis of the state.
•    He believed that the government had a responsibility to safeguard the welfare of its citizens by providing fair opportunities and satisfying their basic needs.
•    Last but not least, Rousseau's views on psychological egoism are completely at odds with those of the theory's proponents. He believed that although people are naturally good and unselfish, social structures and organizations tend to corrupt them.
•    He argued that humans naturally have compassion for others and a sense of moral obligation that motivates them to help others without asking for anything in return.
•    The goal of Rousseau's political philosophy was to create a just and equitable society based on the universal will, which stood for all of society's interests. 


The notion that self-interest is ultimately what drives all of our behavior is known as psychological egoism. This empirical philosophy holds that the desire for one's own well-being is the guiding principle behind all voluntary behaviors. Psychological egoism gives no recommendations for behavior. Egoism examines the ethical and psychological effects of self-interest on behavior. The main difference between psychological and ethical egoism is that ethical egoism focuses that people should act for their own good, whereas psychological egoism emphasizes that people behave primarily for their own benefit.

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