In today's discussion I want to talk about egoism. After having to think about this in a philosophy class of mine and later discuss it with a friend, I couldn't help but make a link to a theme that's in a lot of books I have read over the last three/four years. I realise that there is some heavy shit in this discussion so if it's still early in the morning when you're reading this I suggest you grab that cup of coffee first. And no, I didn't type this at 3am in the morning/after having too much alcohol/after the consumption of some funny plants. I'm as sober as can be!
I want to make you think about something you probably haven't thought about when you were reading a book. There's not exactly a right answer for the question I'm stating here, I merely want to make people think about this 'topic'. I'll stop blabbing now and just get on with it...
Character A will do anything to save character B's life.
This is a recurring scene in a lot of books I have read so far. An example: character A and B have fallen in love but unfortunately they live in a world where that's the least of their problems. The climax of the books is here and the characters are given an ultimatum: A's life for B's or B's life for A's.
First of all I want to point out that this is something that annoys me greatly because authors use this trick to build up the tension and it's getting old (but that's perhaps a topic for another discussion). Back to what I was going to say: of course they are both willing to give their life for the other because that's the noble thing to do. Right?
Another example: Katniss volunteering for her sister. Katniss did it purely to save Prim's life. Or did she?
Is it heroism or egoism?
In that moment character A or B made the choice to die (or volunteer) for the other because... what? Because they think this is the right thing to do and are completely selfless in that moment? Because they couldn't imagine a world where the other doesn't exist? Because they would miss the other so so so much? In case of those last two: is it still a heroic deed if you do it for yourself? This is what I have been thinking about ever since the topic of morality and altruism came up in a paper I was typing for my philosophy class. We read about this quite often but have we ever taken the moment to think about what is going on in that situation? I'd completely understand if you said no.
However, if you choose death over feeling loss, are you still a hero? I don't think you are doing a very heroic act in that case. You are only saving yourself from feeling emotions you rather not feel. You are purely thinking of your own conscience.
Are we ever completely altruistic/egoistic?
That's the tricky part about all this. You see, there's no good or bad answer to the questions I am asking here. There's no person completely selfless and no one can be completely self-centred as well. There's so black or white but merely a big ass grey zone.
I'm sure everyone has come across this phenomenon in a book (or movie) before. You might not have thought much about it. I had not thought much about it until I had a serious conversation with a friend about morality a few weeks ago that led to egoism and love and other weird things.
We read about these perfect characters sometimes but are they really all that perfect? Has it ever occurred to you that the character's motive isn't quite as selfless as you thought? We can swoon over characters that seem like the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend BUT can we look past the outside for a second and actually think about the actions some of these characters take and at their motives? Moral of the story: