“Selfish” may have promoted economic development

In the eyes of economists, “selfish” is not necessarily a very annoying term.

“The Father of Classical Economics” Adam Smith wrote in “The Wealth of Nations” published in 1776: “We can drink milk and eat pork not because of gifts from dairy farmers and butchers, but because they are chasing Interests.” What he wants to express is this point of view: In economic life, the driving force of all behavior does not come from sympathy or altruism, but from self-interest and everyone’s desire to improve their own living conditions.

So Adam Smith went on to say that when people are engaged in labor, they may not have the motivation to promote social interests. However, in a laissez-faire society, people will be drawn by an “invisible hand” and try their best to achieve a The purpose they intended to achieve, that is, please give me what I need, and at the same time you can get what you ask for.

Because of the differences in talents and abilities between people, in order to make money more efficiently, everyone will select jobs that they can engage in production at a lower cost based on their expertise, and then exchange them with other professionals in the market. To get what you need. In this way, a specialized division of labor has naturally formed in the society, and the production efficiency of the entire society will increase accordingly.

Nearly 100 years after the publication of “The Wealth of Nations”, Darwin confirmed Adam Smith’s view from the perspective of a biologist.

The core idea of ​​Darwin’s theory of biological evolution-“natural selection, survival of the fittest” is actually saying that the prosperity and natural selection of all living beings are the result of living things starting from their own desires and motives.

Another 100 years later, in 1976, Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist and a loyal supporter of Neo-Darwinism, pointed out in his book “The Selfish Gene” that human selfishness is not acquired. The result is not only the result of survival of the fittest, but also comes from genes. In other words, selfishness is not a hypothesis, but a genetic instinct.

For example, when a female bird perceives danger, she may pretend to walk limpingly to attract the attention of a predator. Females willing to take the risk of being hunted by predators in order to protect their nestlings may remind you of words like “dedication”. But Richard Dawkins asked almost cold-bloodedly: Could the behavior of female birds be driven by selfish genes? The self-sacrifice of the female bird is purely because the gene can be passed on for a longer time in the chick.

The researches of economists and biologists unanimously point to a consensus that people’s selfish or self-interested behavior can unintentionally create public well-being.

Now, you probably have a new understanding of “selfishness”.

An extremely selfish person has no real friends. He is destined to be lonely and unable to achieve any career. But selfishness itself is not shameful. There are two extreme situations that are shameful: the first is the extreme selfishness of refusing to pay equal, and the second The second is to grab personal gains under the banner of being selfless.

When we can face the selfishness of ourselves and others with a more rational attitude, we will have a clearer understanding of ourselves and the society.