But in the case of a man so intensely ambitious, determined and egoistic as Napoleon, a decision on this interesting question is hazardous.
Thus Christian ethics may be said to insist equally on duty to self and duty to others, while crudely egoistic systems become unworkable if a man renders himself obnoxious to his fellows.
But he does not seriously trouble himself to argue with egoism, or to weigh carefully the amount of happiness that might be generally attained by the satisfaction of egoistic propensities duly regulated; a supreme unquestioning self-devotion, in which all personal calculations are suppressed, is an essential feature of his moral ideal.
And so in the ideal state everyone will derive egoistic pleasure from doing such altruistic acts as may still be needed.
In ethics, egoistic doctrines disregard the ultimate problems of selfhood, and assume the self to consist of a man's person and those things in which he is or ought to be directly interested.
To this conclusion Berkeley seems, in the first place, to have been led by the train of reflection that naturally conducts to subjective or egoistic idealism.
Both of these are original and indispensable, but egoism has the priority, since there must be egoistic pleasure somewhere before there can be altruistic sympathy with it.
So again, in the stress that he lays on the misery which the most secret wrong-doing must necessarily cause from the perpetual fear of discovery, and in his exuberant exaltation of the value of disinterested friendship, he shows a sincere, though not completely successful, effort to avoid the offence that consistent egoistic hedonism is apt to give to ordinary human feeling.
Shaftesbury's philosophical importance (see Ethics) is due mainly to his ethical speculations, in which his motive was primarily the ref utaticn of Hobbes's egoistic doctrine.
Some of these admit of a purely egoistic application, and appear to be so understood by the author - as (e.g.) that goods differ in quality as well as in duration, and that the superior good or the lesser evil is always to be preferred; that absence of a given amount of good is preferable to the presence of equivalent evil; that future good or evil is to be regarded as much as present, if equally certain, and nearly as much if very probable.