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Please rate my essay - AWA Issue - Selfish human nature

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jsl Really wants to Beat The GMAT! Default Avatar
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Please rate my essay - AWA Issue - Selfish human nature Post Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:12 am
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  • Lap #[LAPCOUNT] ([LAPTIME])
    AWA - Issue - Question 2 from Kaplan CAT 1
    30th June 2008 - 17:43


    Human nature dictates that every action, no matter how selfless it appears, is inspired by a selfish reason.

    Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the above opinion. Support your position with reasons and examples from your own experience, observations of others, or reading.
    ----------------

    I believe that humans are unique in that we have developed an understanding of how to survive in this competitive world which we live in. We could not have become the dominant species of our planet without learning to support each other and co-operate in teams. Billions of humans live on our planet and millions live happily with neighbours. Therefore, human nature is not inspired by selfish reasons.

    Firstly, I believe that win/win situations can arise where someone can both reach his desired goal without the other party losing. For instance, if there is one orange and two children, a gut reaction would be that the orange has to be split into two. However, if further negotiation took place, you could find out that one child wanted the orange flesh whilst the other wanted the peel for baking; thus facilitating a win/win situation. From the outset, negotiation would not take place if humans were inspired by selfish reason. The negotiation is able to take place as each boy desires to help the other when he could just take the orange without any further discussion and leave.

    Secondly, there are vast numbers of people who undertake dangerous jobs without recognition. If these roles were taken without recognition, it is safe to deduce that there is no benefit for that person. For example, there are vast numbers of soldiers fighting on our front lines and amongst these, there are those who are even less recognised such as elite forces and spies which must mask their identity. As well as being on the forefront of war zones, these people are also on the forefront of selfless people. Furthermore, on a daily basis, people closer to home perform duties with no recognition such as those who give blood anonymously and without any benefit to themselves.

    It is true that someone may be able to take an action, drill down to a very granular level and state a reason as to how the action benefits the party undertaking the action. However, a proponent of someone who believes selfish ambition is the primary driver, fails to take into account the fact that there are often win/win situations in helping others and thus the differentiation can not be made between altruism and selfish reason.

    In conclusion, humans in the world are inherently good by nature. Whilst there are occasionally times of selfishness, some, if not most actions are performed out of an altruistic, servant heart and not inspired by selfish reason.

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    VP_Jim GMAT Instructor Default Avatar
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    Post Wed Jul 09, 2008 3:45 pm
    You make some good points and are off to an excellent start. One thing I'd change: rather than citing general/hypothetical examples in your body paragraphs, support your points with specific, real world examples.

    So, rather than saying "soldiers on the front lines", use "Japanese kamikaze fighters in World War II" or something like that (note: I am not taking any sort of political position here!). This will really strengthen your argument.

    Overall, pretty good: 4.5

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    Jim S. | GMAT Instructor | Veritas Prep

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    seem02 Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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    Post Thu Aug 07, 2008 7:51 am
    Hi could you please give me some insights on mine? I'm not too confident of my structure!

    The issue of human nature and what motivates it is an oft debated one. On one hand, there are no doubt proponents of the idea of selflessness in certain individuals' actions. On the other hand, just as the statement, there are proponents of the idea that all human actions are governed by selfish reasons. After much consideration, though I would like to believe in the former, I believe that all our actions, whether they are deontological or utilitarian in nature, are inspired by selfish reasons.
    To justify my reasoning, I would first like to discuss the definition of selfishness. To be selfish is to only care about one's self, in other words, to put one's wellbeing or life ahead of others. Take for example, a typical situation whereby someone is drowning. As is taught in rescue classes, would be rescuers take a very definitive risk each time they decide to jump into a deep body of water after an imperilled person. The risk would be that the drowning person loses all coherence and is so overtaken by a self preservation instinct that he grabs on to anything nearby with a dead man's grip, so much so that rescuers and victim have both drowned together on numerous occasions. This serves to show us that at a very base and fundamental level, in moments of uncertainty and fear, our mindset inevitably reverts to one of survival no matter what the cost.
    Another example would be that of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina, when order in the devastated city was non-existent, looting and crime shot through the roof. As comfort levels dropped and reality set in, people looted and robbed to survive in order to feed themselves. This again reinforces that, in the absence of the luxuries of time and certainty, people will take steps without regard for others to ensure their survival.
    On a deeper level, I would liken the economic theory of indifference curves to the actions of people. The concept of utility curves basically demonstrates that individuals have differing criterion for the same amount of satisfaction. This forms the basis for my belief that it is due to this that people are motivated to engage in certain actions. For example, it could be argued that a gift to one's newly moved in neighbour could be due to one wanting a favour from them in the future; however if we approach this from an altruistic point of view, it could also be argued that one is a person that gains satisfaction from helping others, there is an emotional payoff. Suicide bombers in Iraq give up their lives selflessly for the purpose of Jihad so they can reap rewards in heaven in the form of many virgins. A monk living in a temple gives up his life because he desires enlightenment and favour from deities. The suicide bomber and the monk are not too different from us in that they are driven by the need to gain satisfaction for themselves; the difference is that their prerequisites for satisfaction are wildly different than ours. A hero fights for fame and glory.
    For all these reasons, I therefore believe that no matter what the intents and purposes are, human actions are driven by selfish reasons.

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