The Best Decisions Ever Made Part 3


Decision Making and the Rational Egotism Principle

Now that we know about the numerous facets of decision making we come to know how multi-layered this daily process is, which should bring you to realize that it isn’t only a burden to you knowing if you made the best decision ever, but it is in actuality something difficult and deserving of thought.  Obviously we don’t want to think so much about every decision all the time, but in this case we should also be easier going on ourselves about what the best decision is or could have been.  The last aspect I wanted to look at in the decision making process is the rational egotism principle.  This principle is linked to decision making because it is applied by some individuals, but also because of the need to point out that this principle is an option for those who don’t use it when making decisions.

Rational egotism (a.k.a. rational egoism or rational selfishness) says that an action is rational when it brings about one’s self-interest to the maximum potential.  The definition and explanation we find on Wikipedia further defines how rational selfishness is different from other forms of egoism such as ethical and psychological (FYI: ethical egoism is based on morality, while psychological egoism entails motivation).  When stated that this principle is based on rationality this includes the idea that the rationality involved doesn’t have to be based on morality, motivation or anything else of that sort; a decision is rational only when the person’s action is based on their own self interest.  A renowned philosopher that talks about the rational egotism principle says that she believes it to be irrational and immoral to act against one’s self-interest.  The philosopher is Ayn Rand and she discusses her ideas in her book The Virtue of Selfishness.

Making Decisions - photo by FNM (luna12780)

I chose this topic as the last part of The Best Decisions Ever Made trilogy because decision making is hard enough as is, but the hardest part of this daily task is trying to figure out if the decision(s) we are making is the best one(s) or not.  Many individuals continuously second guess their decisions due to societal and cultural influences, as well as the input that deciding based on one’s own self-interest is considered selfish (most of the time).  The word selfish mostly contains a negative connotation therefore many do not want to be associated to it.  The problem I find with selfishness being seen as “evil” is the fact that we have one life to live and that if everything we do is on the basis of others our decisions are influenced to benefit everyone else, but not necessarily the individual themselves.  As you will note the definition of rational egotism mentions the principle not including other forms of egoism such as ethical and psychological; this doesn’t mean they have to be excluded or that they are when an individual makes a decision.  In fact if you dig deeper into the definitions of the latter two forms of egoism you will find that ethical involves the individual making a decision based on their own self-interest, while psychological egoism implies that people can only act in their self-interest. 

I do not intend to explain these theories to the depths of their meaning; if I did it would require many more posts.  However, I would like to stress how they all mention not necessarily having to take from or harm others for making a decision based on self-interest (“selfishness”).  In addition to this brief intro to the forms of egoism principles and their relatedness to the topic of selfishness and choosing for one’s self as not being negative, we find other professionals that state something similar as well.  One that comes to mind is Erich Fromm, who in his book The Art of Loving, explains how if one does not love one’s self, one can not expect to love others.  There is some truth behind this when we take a step back and remember how if someone is miserable or unhappy they tend to make those around them the same.

Decisions - photo by FNM (luna12780)

When making decisions, the best decision ever will be the one you feel is right for you and your future.  It will be the best according to the experiences and knowledge you have at the time you are making the decision.  You can not expect of yourself to know any better if you have not lived an experience that has taught you differently.  When you make decisions based on your needs and desires you do not have to take away or hurt someone else.  This means that although you might be considered selfish in a negative way when deciding, your conscience should be clear as long as you tried your best not to impede or affect others negatively.  We are all only humans (as the saying goes) and we can only do our best to make our lives enjoyable and meaningful.  All individuals should do this in such a way to reach the best outcome for themselves, and I repeat this is possible to accomplish without negative outcomes on others.  We always have choices and the person who wants to harm or take from others as their desire(s) or decision(s) is most likely a person who is trying to find happiness to start off with, but who is in a position of turmoil due to numerous reasons that have affected him/her in such a way to make life nothing of what they truly wanted.

(If you want to read the first two parts of The Best Decisions Ever Made trilogy click the following: The Best Decisions Ever Made; The Best Decisions Ever Made Part 2.)



3 comments on “The Best Decisions Ever Made Part 3”

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