The selfishness must be discovered and understood before it can be removed. It is powerless to remove itself, neither will it pass away of itself. Darkness ceases only when light is introduced; so ignorance can only be dispersed by Knowledge; selfishness by Love.
—James Lane Allen (1849–1925) American Novelist, Short Story Writer
As selfishness and complaint pervert and cloud the mind, so love with its joy clears and sharpens the vision.
—Helen Keller (1880–1968) American Author
That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it. Every one thinks chiefly of his own, hardly at all of the common interest; and only when he is himself concerned as an individual. For besides other considerations, everybody is more inclined to neglect the duty which he expects another to fulfill.
—Aristotle (384BCE–322BCE) Ancient Greek Philosopher, Scholar
Self-interest is but the survival of the animal in us. Humanity only begins for man with self-surrender.
—Henri Frederic Amiel (1821–81) Swiss Moral Philosopher, Poet, Critic
Selfishness is the only real atheism; unselfishness the only real religion.
—Israel Zangwill (1864–1926) English Playwright, Novelist, Zionist Activist
Selfishness is never so exquisitely selfish as when it is on its knees … Self turns what would otherwise be a pure and powerful prayer into a weak and ineffective one.
—A. W. Tozer (1897–1963) American Christian Pastor, Preacher, Author, Editor
Selfishness is one of the qualities apt to inspire love.
—Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–64) American Novelist, Short Story Writer
The human being who lives only for himself finally reaps nothing but unhappiness. Selfishness corrodes. Unselfishness ennobles, satisfies. Don’t put off the joy derivable from doing helpful, kindly things for others.
—B. C. Forbes (1880–1954) Scottish-born American Journalist, Publisher
A man is called selfish not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbor’s.
—Richard Whately (1787–1863) English Philosopher, Theologian
Self-interest, that leprosy of the age, attacks us from infancy, and we are startled to observe little heads calculate before knowing how to reflect.
—Delphine de Girardin (1804–55) French Novelist, Author
Remember how often you have postponed minding your interest, and let slip those opportunities the gods have given you. It is now high time to consider what sort of world you are part of, and from what kind of governor of it you are descended; that you have a set period assigned you to act in, and unless you improve it to brighten and compose your thoughts, it will quickly run off with you, and be lost beyond recovery.
—Marcus Aurelius (121–180) Emperor of Rome, Stoic Philosopher
The world is governed only by self-interest.
—Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805) German Poet, Dramatist
Heroism, magnanimity, and self-denial, in all instances in which they do not spring from a principle of religion, are but splendid altars on which we sacrifice one kind of self-love to another.
—Charles Caleb Colton (c.1780–1832) English Clergyman, Aphorist
Sordid selfishness doth contract and narrow our benevolence, and cause us, like serpents, to infold ourselves within ourselves, and to turn out our stings to all the world besides.
—Walter Scott (1771–1832) Scottish Novelist, Poet, Playwright, Lawyer
The essence of true nobility is neglect of self. Let the thought of self pass in, and the beauty of a great action is gone like the bloom from a soiled flower.
—James Anthony Froude (1818–94) British Historian, Novelist, Biographer, Editor
Those who live to the future must always appear selfish to those who live to the present.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) American Philosopher
To be saved is only this,—salvation from our own selfishness.
—John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–92) American Quaker Poet, Abolitionist
Selfishness, when it is punished by the world, is mostly punished because it is connected with egotism.
—Arthur Helps (1813–75) English Dramatist, Essayist
Modesty and unselfishness – these are virtues which men praise – and pass by.
—Andre Maurois (1885–1967) French Novelist, Biographer
No man will work for your interests unless they are his.
—David Seabury (1885–1960) American Psychologist
It is not truth, justice, liberty, that men seek; they seek only themselves.—And oh, that they knew how to seek themselves aright!
—Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (1743–1819) German Philosopher
The man who lives by himself and for himself is likely to be corrupted by the company he keeps.
—Charles Henry Parkhurst (1842–1933) American Clergyman, Civic Reformer
If you think only of yourself, if you forget the rights and well-being of others, or, worse still, if you exploit others, ultimately you will lose. You will have no friends who will show concern for your well-being. Moreover, if a tragedy befalls you, instead of feeling concerned, others might even secretly rejoice. By contrast, if an individual is compassionate and altruistic, and has the interests of others in The Mind irrespective of whether that person knows a lot of people, wherever that person moves, he or she will immediately make friends. And when that person faces a tragedy, there will be plenty of people who will come to help.
—The 14th Dalai Lama (b.1935) Tibetan Buddhist Religious Leader, Civil Rights Leader, Philosopher, Author
In retrospect, all these exercises in self-gratification seem pure fantasy, what Pascal called, licking the earth.
—Malcolm Muggeridge (1903–90) English Journalist, Author, Media Personality, Satirist
He who takes but never gives, may last for years but never lives.
Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.
—Charles Spurgeon (1834–92) English Baptist Preacher
Those who do not hate their own selfishness and regard themselves as more important than the rest of the world are blind because the truth lies elsewhere
—Blaise Pascal (1623–62) French Mathematician, Physicist, Theologian
Long before Einstein told us that matter is energy, Machiavelli and Hobbes and other modern political philosophers defined man as a lump of matter whose most politically relevant attribute is a form of energy called “self-interestedness.” This was not a portrait of man “warts and all.” It was all wart.
—George Will (b.1941) American Columnist, Journalist, Writer
One thing is clear to me, that no indulgence of passion destroys the spiritual nature so much as respectable selfishness.
—George MacDonald (1824–1905) Scottish Novelist, Lecturer, Poet
The argument of this book is that we, and all other animals, are machines created by our genes. Like successful Chicago gangsters, our genes have survived, in some cases for millions of years, in a highly competitive world. This entitles us to expect certain qualities in our genes. I shall argue that a predominant quality to be expected in a successful gene is ruthless selfishness. This gene selfishness will usually give rise to selfishness in individual behavior. However, as we shall see, there are special circumstances in which a gene can achieve its own selfish goals best by fostering a limited form of altruism at the level of individual animals. ‘Special’ and ‘limited’ are important words in the last sentence. Much as we might wish to believe otherwise, universal love and the welfare of the species as a whole are concepts that simply do not make evolutionary sense.
—Richard Dawkins (b.1941) British Evolutionary Biologist, Atheist