Nietzsche and the perils of denying your self

Selflessness as weakness

Is there such thing as a truly selfless act? Nietzsche criticized selflessness and altruistic deeds as often being a display of weakness, decay and a lack of belief in one’s self and one’s own goals. To help your neighbour is often to hinder yourself. However, if you are going to pursue a selfish life, you had better make sure your goals, and your self, are worth it, writes Guy Elgat.


Should one be altruistic and act for the sake of others, even at a cost to oneself? Should one’s actions be free of any egoistic motivations? Is selflessness a virtue one ought to strive for and cultivate? To many of us the answer to such questions is so self-evident that even raising them would appear to be either a sign of moral obtuseness or an infantile attempt at provocation. For Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th Century “immoralist” German philosopher, however, the answer to these questions was by no means straightforward and unequivocal. Rather, he belie

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