If you do something good for selfish reasons, does it really count as a good deed?

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I guess I should start by stating that in my childhood, I really cared about being a “good guy” but after a while, I guess I lost that. And now I’ve faced a dilemma. You see, I don’t really care much about right or wrong (or at least I don’t think so) but only about securing my own future. But now, I can’t really seem to look away when someone needs help. And when I do a good deed, I can’t help but to feel that I’m only trying to make up for all the bad I’ve done in my life. Thank you.

Category: Tags: asked May 28, 2014

5 Answers

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It's still a good deed and if you're doing it you're probably not being totally selfish about it because you're probably not actually that selfish and in reality you do care about what is right or wrong because you're not a psychopath but a normal human being who naturally cares about other people. You don't have to be a "good guy" to be a decent person, but you don't have to be an insensitive douche either, just don't think on it too hard I'd say.
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Honestly, if there's another option that's easier and more selfish, such as not caring, and you decide to choose caring for people over that, it counts as a good deed. Trying to make up for past wrongs is a good deed in the first place.
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You are not alone, there are huge amounts of literature and philosophical theories that relate to altruism.

The argument is basically does altruism exist?

Altruism is doing things that do not benefit yourself in anyway. It is being selfless and showing concern for the well-being of others over oneself.

People who do good deeds, who help the old lady on the road, who bring their friend their favourite chocolate when they're sad, volunteering to help disabled people to ride horses, or donating money to charity often do it because they want to help others.
Even though these things cost them, in time, money, effort, they choose to do them because they will help somebody else.
The other side to altruism is that it does not technically exist.
The argument is that altruism cannot exist because human beings are at base, selfish creatures. When we do something to help others, we do it because it makes us feel good. Whatever the cost of the donation, the time, the effort, it equals out with how good we feel about ourselves.

Personally, I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with believing altruism doesn't exist. I think it's great to know that for each person who does something nice, it makes them feel good. Imagine a world where that was the norm? Feeling good after doing a good deed activates the reward system in the brain, it makes us feel good and it makes us want to do it again (like gambling in a way).
The fact that you do something good and you do it for reasons that benefit yourself, does not devalue the good deed that has been done. The soup still feeds the poor, your friend still feels loved and the ducklings get to not be squashed on the road.
The more people can do things without expecting an explicit reward or acknowledgment, just for their own happiness, the more good deeds would happen. Just look at random acts of kindness as an example.
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Selfishness is not a bad trait until it is within some limits. But you need to do something selfish for yourself, and there is nothing wrong about it. For example, I like to play online Rich Prize casino sometimes. And I do not blame myself for losing some money on it. For me, it is a great pastime. I like to relax making bets, receiving pleasant bonuses and even some little profits.
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Relax and take a deep breath. Just continue to help those who are in need of assistance. If we were to think about the selfish times we helped someone we would have never helped the next person.

At the end of the day I am glad that the person has received my help. It made me feel good to see a smile on people faces. To take someone out of the darkness.I just use the persons happiness as an inspiration. I remember helping someone and I was being egotistic about it and I just say to myself,
"Dude, the next time you want to help someone, don't hog them to yourself."
"Everyone needs to hear different opinions to the solutions of their problems. "

Continue doing what you are doing and live one day at a time. When you are truly tested then you will know the answer to that question.