Originally posted by chissler A portion of your post is being confused with "ambition". If you achieve a certain goal, and I make it
my business to top that goal, I do not believe it is a form of greed.
Quite possibly, I'm being picky here, but I see a difference, specifically in mindset.
If you achieve a certain goal, then one must consider my mindset when deciding to top that goal -- am I trying to undermine your achievement, and in
some way take it away from you? Or is it a matter of competition?
Likewise, envy may be considered ambitious. I envy your position (or reputation, or financial status, whatever). It strikes me that while envy & greed
may serve as a 'motivation' to progress, neither path is the most correct way to go about bettering oneself.
If I envy someone of their grades (let's say), and I decidedly work towards getting a better gpa than that person, then my mindset is in the wrong --
I am not seeking to get a better gpa because I wish to reap the benefits of having good grades (i.e. grants, scholarships, resume), or the education
itself (which is arguably more precious than any 'grade label'), but because I have (admitted or not) little to no respect for that person, and wish
to, in effect, steal the spotlight away.
If I have urges/feelings of being greedy, then to what extent am I going to take that? When is 'enough' enough? (This, I think, is the inherent
problem with being greedy -- it becomes very hard to say 'enough'... be it with money or material possessions, there is always the very real danger
of inviting avarice (intentionally or not) because of this urge to secure 'a better future'...)
In the end, I do not think that envy or greed, in any form, is benign or helpful -- while I may not do any obvious harm to another (aside from lack of
respect -- which might very well lead to other behaviors that may inflict harm), I am harming myself by the mindset... if I manage to outdo one person
in gpa status, then I'll be more apt to want to outdo someone else in something else -- not for the benefit of personal achievement, but for the
benefit of my own selfish desire to be better than someone else.
Ambition is all well and good, but the reasons must be well aimed, otherwise the consequent actions will be askew.
I do agree that a certain amount of greed can be expected in the individual, but I do not believe it is an innate behaviour.
IF greed is innate, then it's roots are in the instinct center of the (reptilian) brain. While we may always have greedy urges, this does not mean
that we have to act on them.
IF greed is not innate, then it's roots are in society. Methinks the same applies as above, that we do not have to
act on them. However, to
fight such a fight is very tough... but not necessarily unworthy.