Can a human be selfless: a case for voluntary selfishness

Selfless behaviour, the idea that humans can think of others first: put other people’s needs, interests, or wishes before their own is a wonderful concept. However, it is impossible. Selfish behaviour is putting ones own needs ahead of others.

A selfish individual who stays inside the non aggression principle

A selfish individual who stays inside the non aggression principle

So here is my opinion with regards to human behaviour and the inherent desire to protect, provide for and maintain self at all costs. Voluntary selfish behaviour is essential to being human and following the non aggression principle. When we humans act selfishly it is our desire to protect ourselves from physical discomfort and to promote gain for ourselves.

Acting selfishly can in fact be beneficial to more then just ourselves. For instance when we enter into physical relationships with other consenting adults we desire personal fulfilment and pleasure, a strong relationship is one that is built on mutual trust and fulfilment of physical, mental or emotional desires. Some mutually consenting relationships are formed to fulfil a most basic human desire of procreation. This desire results in children and here another entirely different voluntary selfish end is completed.

A selfish man who does not act within the non aggression principle

A selfish man who does not act within the non aggression principle

Children when infants cry when dirty, hungry or in need of additional attention from their adult role models (known as parents). To prevent an infant from crying and disturbing our rest or causing us auditory discomfort we attend their needs. By voluntarily fulfilling the infants needs we see that both infant and parent are engaging in voluntary selfish behaviour. The positive outcome is a satisfied infant and a happy parent.

As children grow we have the option of continuing to fulfil their desires or teaching them to fulfil these for themselves. In  my experience as an individual who promotes voluntary interactions between humans, children are capable of understanding and even promoting the idea of a voluntary interaction. What many humans (most in my experience) fail to understand is that we should also teach them to embrace self and by default selfish behaviour.

Humans as a whole enjoy the idea that we are somehow capable of being above our base desires. I prefer to embrace our base self and promote it as a positive attribute, something that contributes to society and the advancement of the species as a whole. Denying our base instincts only serves to confuse us and cause us to stagnate socially or even lose ourselves. Voluntaryist Image

As an individual I often contribute to various voluntary enterprises and have been known to give willingly to others, whether it be monetary, personal abilities or physical products. Some humans choose to believe that this is selfless behaviour. However, I know it is not. My behaviour is solely selfish in nature. I do these things because they make me look good, feel good and benefit me directly on occasion.

If my actions benefit others than I am by default acting within the principle of non aggression. If I embrace my base instincts I can live within the non aggression principle quite well. This is what I believe, that we should not attempt to change what we are as humans, rather we should embrace it and promote the merging of that which doesnt change for what we want to see as free humans who rely on the non aggression principle to guide us.

I will be relating this article in its entirety at the Jackalope Freedom Festival and welcome all reasoned debate as it applies to this article. If you wish to discuss other items, ideas and similar opinions I am open, however, during this time I will be addressing only this subject.


Free the mind and the body will follow




About Jesse Mathewson

Jesse Mathewson is the author of the popular blog, and provides commentary to many varied places based on a background that includes education in criminal justice, history, religion and even insurgency tactics and tactical training. His current role in his community is as an organizer of sorts and a preacher of community solidarity and agorism. He also runs Liberty Practical Training, a self defense school specializing in the practical applications of defensive approaches versus the theoretical. As an agorist, voluntaryist and atheist his life is seen as crazy and wild by many, though once they get to know him most realize he is a bluntly honest individual who will give you the shirt off his back if he believes it is necessary to help you. Very simple, "That which is voluntary between all individuals involved is always right, if it is not voluntary, it is always wrong."
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2 Responses to Can a human be selfless: a case for voluntary selfishness

  1. Exactly, and thank you for the comment.


  2. Interesting hypothesis. I have often wondered if selfless behavior is possible because to be entirely selfless the act must be contrary what the person wants or needs. Actions which promote the well-being of others often make us feel good which encourages more like actions but they cannot be label entirely unselfish unless they are of detriment to us in the process. Truly selfless acts may in fact cause resentment and eventually lead to violence or at least violent thoughts.


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