Can Egoism and Friendship Exist Together?

After watching Martin Scorsese’s film, “Casino”, the question of egoism popped into my mind. Can egoism live beside friendship?

Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro), manages the Tangiers, a casino owned by the mob in Las Vegas. His “friend”, Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci), exploits their friendship for his own enrichment. He is the maximum egoist in the film. Egoism is the view that a person’s self-interest is of paramount value in their life.

Nicky says Ace is his friend, but is there such a thing as egoist friendship? They are conflicting terms.

Nicky has a special relationship with Ace, sort of enforcer bodyguard, but is it a friendship? A selfish person can wish another well, but really selfishness and egoism are incompatible.

The philosophy of egoism states that people are motivated by their own interests and desires. Altruism is the opposite of egoism.

Questions arise:

Can an individual ever act only with regard to their own interests, completely disregarding the interests of others?

Can an individual ever act only for others without thinking of their own interests?

The theory is: that people ALWAYS act in their own interests, even though they might disguise their motivation saying that they are helping others, but their altruism is still self-serving.

My opinion is that a person should pursue their own interests as long as it doesn’t hurt others.

There are different degrees of friendship. Even an egoist can wish another well and can be very attached in a relationship, but real caring for others is incompatible with egoism.

In Casino, Nicky always asks himself:

“What’s in it for me?”

His priority is making sure his life goes well. So, an egoist would take advantage of a “friend” when it is in his self-interest.

Nicky believes in maximizing egoism, which means to promote his good to any extent, even to the determent of Ace. In the film, Nicky’s extreme egoism leads him to a horrible end.

But, there is such a thing as satisficing egoism. Some people reject maximizing egoism and take up satisficing egoism instead, which means to pursue a course of action that satisfies their minimum requirements to achieve a goal. Now, this would leave room for friendship. In other words, to make sure your life goes good enough but falling short of the BEST possible life.

This discussion has reminded me of the quip:

Some of us veer to the left and some of us swing to the right, but MOST of us are SELF-CENTERED!





The Minds Of Others

After reading “Othello”, I was amazed how Iago, Othello’s “friend” and ensign, dupes everyone in the play, particularly Othello. Nobody knows what is going on in Iago’s mind. They think he is honest and trustworthy. But, he is a master of linguistic manipulation, in other words, he speaks falsely but people think he speaks the truth. Iago is Shakespeare’s ultimate villain. He is a liar who delights in inflicting pain and suffering on others through his deception.

All this brought to my mind the philosophical problem of our supposed knowledge of other people’s minds. We tend to make inferences about what other people are thinking, but these inferences are fallible. This makes us skeptical of what people say. What’s behind their eyes?

You can observe what a person says and does but you have to guess what’s really going on in their head. The other person’s mind is hidden from you, only the person themself know what’s going on in their mind.

I look at another person and they seem to me as opaque, not transparent, their mind is out of my view. I also know my mind is hidden from them. It’s a funny feeling, at tim