De Unamuno’s egoism

I am the centre of my universe, the centre of the universe, and in my supreme anguish I cry with Michelet, “Mon moi, ils m’arrachent mon moi!” What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? (Matt. xvi. 26). Egoism, you say? There is nothing more universal than the individual, for what is the property of each is the property of all. Each man is worth more than the whole of humanity, nor will it do to sacrifice each to all save in so far as all sacrifice themselves to each. That which we call egoism is the principle of psychic gravity, the necessary postulate. “Love thy neighbour as thyself,” we are told, the presupposition being that each man loves himself; and it is not said “Love thyself.” And, nevertheless, we do not know how to love ourselves.

Source: Miguel de Unamuno’s The Tragic Sense of Life (1913), Chapter 3. A Project Gutenberg version is online here.

Related:

Does religion make you more warlike? Unamuno on war and the soul.
Unamuno on Kant on God.

2 thoughts on “De Unamuno’s egoism

  • April 17, 2017 at 6:54 am
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    Unamuno was an interesting thinker. However I don’t fully understand the quote. The statement about the “property of each” and the “property of all” escapes me. And what is “psychic gravity?”

    On a psychological note, Unamuno said:
    There is something which, for lack of a better name, we will call the
    tragic sense of life, which carries with it a whole conception of life
    itself and of the universe, a whole philosophy more or less formulated,
    more or less conscious.
    (p. 33 of Project Gutenberg, 2005, ePub edition of 1921 Macmillan edition)

    Unamuno, while being able to describe the idea of a metaphysical sentiment — of a sense of life — holds an intensely negative view of the human mind in that book and doesn’t develop the concept clearly in the way Rand did. And his viewpoint is stylistically in radical opposition to Ayn Rand’s view of the potential of the human mind.

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