What is Rational egoism?

What is Rational egoism?

Egoism has a negative connotation and is often used disparagingly. Through school and media, we are told that egoists profit on the backs of others, that they care about no one but themselves, and that they have no consideration for others. Is this accurate? Does it automatically make you a bad person, if you put your own interests first? We will see that rational egoism leads to a better life, as well as to progress for both you, others, and society as a whole.

Rational and Irrational

Liberalists divide egoism into two main categories: Rational and irrational. The former is in line with liberal ethics and morals and means that your own life has the greatest value for you. Rational self-interest is what enables you to achieve real happiness and prosperity. Rationality implies that you relate to the world the way it really is, not allowing wishful thinking and fantasy to control your choices.

Therefore, rational egoism consists of actions and ideas about the best way for you to have a good life, based on facts and things that are observable. Irrational egoism is about attitudes and actions that are ultimately harmful for you, although they appear to have positive effects in the short term. Cutting in line when no one is looking, being unfaithful, and stealing are examples of irrational egoism. It is not in your self-interest for no one to care about morals and rules, or for the strongest to have the right to plunder.

Everyday Egoists

Everyone is an everyday egoist. We breathe, eat, and work in order to maintain our own life. At the same time, we do other things to enrich it, such as watch movies or participate in sports. Most living beings are egoists. They have to be in order to live and develop. No one can consistently live according to the sermon about laying down his life for others, or he will soon be dead. This contradiction between the current prevailing philosophy about self-sacrifice and the actual reality is not positive for the self-image of the individual nor for a civilized society.

A Better World

For instance, rational egoism is about being considerate. This means tolerating other people, meaning never violating anyone’s negative rights. In a society characterized by rational egoism, most will work primarily to further themselves and their lives, but this does not exclude helping others. Voluntarily helping and acting on behalf of others, both friends and strangers, leads to a better world for yourself. If everyone is coexisting peacefully and can cooperate when necessary, this provides the foundation for a harmonious and prosperous society.


  • Rational egoism means furthering your own life according to reality and not by using force against others
  • Irrational egoism means violating both yourself and others to obtain short-term personal gain
  • Most people are rational egoists in their daily lives, even though the culture preaches altruism
  • A society characterized by rational egoism will make things better for everyone



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