Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ego: Friend Or Foe?

Far be it from me to imply ego as intrinsically bad. It is not. However, with the exception of natural disasters and human “mistakes”, bad or “evil” only ever stems from ego.

On the other hand, perhaps we might say many of the greatest feats of humanity are only ever achieved because of ego. In this case, all or much of good stems from ego as well.

It would thus seem ego is neither good nor bad in itself. Rather, it just is. The problem, if you will, is distinguishing “good ego” from “bad ego”. But this discrimination is prohibitively difficult because it requires an absolute definition as to what is good and bad.

Certainly there would be consensus as to a serial killer's acts being “bad ego”. But what about a military leader who is confident and brash through which he achieves victory for his people? He has given them hope and prosperity for the future but has annihilated another country and its people by doing so. Is this “good ego”? I suppose it is if one is on his side.

What about a scientist who finds a cure for a deadly disease only by “cheating” here and there? What about vigilante justice of the JACK BAUER type? GO JACK! What about an athlete that inspires a whole society only because of his mind-boggling feats but is later found out to have doped to achieve all of this? What if a doped up athlete inspires a whole society only because of his ill-gotten abilities but is not found out? Are any of these examples “good ego”?

I suppose it might depend on whether one believes the ends justify the means or perhaps the means justify the ends. But once again, these guidelines themselves are wholly dependent on what is considered good and bad anyway.

In summary, ego will achieve ends considered both good and bad. Likewise, ego will operate under means considered both good and bad. But ego seems neither good nor bad in itself because it only ever has one master: itself. In other words, ego does not exist to better or worsen society. It simply exists to better itself.

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