General Question

bodyhead's avatar

If helping someone makes me feel good, and I do it only for that reason, am I a selfish person?

Asked by bodyhead (5507points) September 11th, 2008

I tried to put this on here earlier and it disappeared.

This is a followup to this question

If I seek the feeling that I get from helping others, do my selfish emotions taint the good thing that I’m doing?

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22 Answers

bodyhead's avatar

I don’t actively seek that feeling, I’m just curious as to what the collective thinks.

wildflower's avatar

No. It makes it mutually beneficial.

bodyhead's avatar

Yes but if I strive for any other feeling with no regard for other peoples emotions, that would make me selfish right?

wildflower's avatar

Do you consider the fact that they benefit from your actions a happy coincidence or an unfortunate consequence?

bodyhead's avatar

In this scenario, I could care less whether it benefits them or not.

But it just so happens that it does benefit them. Perhaps greatly.

wildflower's avatar

So, at worst you’re unemotional on the issue – which is quite far from malicious. Why worry about it? I’m sure there’s something else you do care about.

Nimis's avatar

Depends on whether you actually care about them when your actions have no consequence?

AstroChuck's avatar

You might be interested in this thread which is related. Wildflower and I had a pretty good argument going on.

wildflower's avatar

Hehe, fun times :) ......that AC can be so disagreeable at times..

jballou's avatar

I’m a firm believer that there is no such thing as a truly selfless act. Selfishness motivates all people, and that’s not a bad thing at all, as some of the greatest advancements in technology and medicine that benefit millions upon millions of people were often discovered through someone’s quest for recognition or fame or fortune.

marissa's avatar

@bodyhead “In this scenario, I could care less whether it benefits them or not.” Actually, I don’t think that is irrelevant to this issue, because your question states ‘helping’ someone, therefore, you would need to believe that your actions are benefitting (ie helping) them. Because it is the knowledge that you helped someone that results in you feeling good.

loser's avatar

No, you are a kind person receiving a deserved reward. If you were truly selfish, you wouldn’t even be questioning your actions.

emilyrose's avatar

I agree with jballou. I don’t believe in complete altruism. I do a lot of volunteer work myself, but I get a lot out of it. I help move causes forward that I believe in and that benefit me, I sometimes get perks like free food or free entrance to events, and the chance to meet new and interesting people. Not to mention not being bored and having resume builders! I don’t think anyone I volunteer with would refer to me as selfish for being an active volunteer.

charliecompany34's avatar

you’re referring to self gratification. when you feel rewarded in your heart for the good you do, it is not selfishness. selfishness is all about “self” or just “you.” in other words, you did it for a material reaction from the “receiver” aside from “self.” gratification is knowing you did the right thing to help somebody else and you feel the reward of it in your heart. bottom line, you don’t expect anything in return. if you don’t expect material reward in return, you’ve done your job.

loser's avatar


XrayGirl's avatar

I agree with wildflower….that it is mutually beneficial….that is what is so nice about it. We have among so many other things, the desire to help our fellow man, and I think we were designed to do this and that is why it feels good and right when we help someone else… great question….gave you a plug!!!!!

loser's avatar

Go XrayGirl!!!

Spargett's avatar

Literally everything we do is out of reward or fear of punishment. It all really boils down to that.

Jaybee's avatar

No! Absolutly not! Keep up the kind work as long as you don’t have an exterior ulterior motive.

GAMBIT's avatar

No. All this does is confirm that you have insight to why you do things. I don’t think that helping others is totally selfish because you are not the only one who is gaining from the work you are doing. Everyone in the service industry especially grass roots volunteer programs will tell you that they get so much out of what they are doing and it makes them feel good about themselves because they are helping others. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Fight you Fight, Find Your Grace
And All the Things that You Can’t Change
And Help Somebody If You Can
And Get Right with The Man

Van Zant

puttzilla's avatar

It is human nature that we all act to make ourselves “better off”, so in a way we are all inherently selfish. Basically I wouldn’t worry about it.

Pseudonym's avatar

No. You feel good because you know that you did something good.

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