Bill Gates: the Role of Egoism in His Life


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While Bill Gates comes across as a very humble and ethical role model, I believe that traces of egoism and self-interest can be found in him. Just by looking at the massive Bill Gates has amassed for himself I believe that he closely relates with all the three forms of egoism.

Difficult as it may be to use the words like selfishness or greed when we talk about Bill Gates I think when we look at his current net worth it is inevitable to pick that he clearly resonates with self interest in the very basic biological reality kind of perspective of natural selection as proposed by Charles Darwin in psychological egoism . According to Charles Darwin’s theory, if you are too shy to pursue your self-interest natural selection will eliminate you, thus human beings are naturally pre-programmed, in the course of evolution to promote self-survival and self-interest. While Gates may seem like a moral role model, we have learnt that in 1998 under the leadership of Bill Gates Microsoft was found guilty when the US government accused Microsoft of illegally maintaining its monopoly position in the PC market …… the district court ruled that Microsoft’s actions constituted unlawful monopolization, as the company was operating as an illegal monopoly unfairly exploiting their market power by ruthlessly elbowing other players off the market in sort of survival of the fittes mode. If psychological egoism was a person, he would give Bill Gates a thunderous applaud for following the pre-programmed principles of serving self-interest. This basically explain why we see Bill Gates holding on to his Billions while others languish in poverty like the child grant earner. Such actions resonate quite well with the psychological egoism which states that people always act in their own interests, and, will not act otherwise. While a lot of people may question how anyone can dare call Bill gates an egoist considering that he has done so many Altruistic acts through the Bill and Miranda Gates foundation “the largest private charitable foundation in the world, which has a focus on global health and poverty” donating almost half their wealth. Well, this is also a characteristic of psychological egoism propagates that that people always act in their own interests, and, will not act otherwise even though they may disguise their motivation with references to helping others whether they do it consciously or unconsciously their behaviour is still motivated by their own self-interest.

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Furthermore, without a shadow of doubt, Smith will give Bill Gates a huge pat on the back if not a full-blown hug for carrying out the legacy of ethical egoism. Being the beacon of capitalism and ethical egoism, Smith believed that “By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it”. Smith argues in his book the Wealth of Nations that individual interest is the key for the development of the society. We see a very interesting similarity between Smith and Gates who also stated that ‘Now you can say I’m biased because this system (capitalism) has worked very well for me, and I feel — I plead guilty to that….. But as I look overall at the capitalist economies, there are a lot of good things doing, and I think you can tune the tax parameters and get way more equity and get some additional government services and still be in the same basic framework.’Both the pop egoists Smith and Gates, believe that their “self-interest” in a free market is what will result in wealth for the whole nation and this ties Gates to ethical egoism which contends that greed is moral. Although he has not said it in so many words, we see his 103 billion net worth that Bill Gates believes that capitalism is right seemingly trying to make it moral. Smith would have agreed with Gates’s speech and applauded it. in this statement we see that Gates is advocating that capitalism is not only good to pursue his own self-interest but even the interests of the Tax Man as well, no wonder Gates is sitting on so many ever-growing billions while the well qualified professors who strive to work hard can be paid in their thousands by Bill, the Billionaire school dropout.

In my respective view Ayn Rand would have commended Bill Gates for choosing the right thing but also be most reasonable, sensible and rational thing to do. This school of thought claims that one ought to perform some action if and only if, performing that action maximizes their self-interest and that is what is rational. Ayn Rand argued that “the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest.”. So, for those who have been wondering why Bill Gates has not donated at least 90% of his net worth as he promised or why he sits on many billions while child grand earners suffer, well here is your answer Bill Gates probably learnt from Ayn Rand that “not taking full advantage of one’s own freedom is immoral because it opposes the natural fulfilment of human potential which is the best thing for everyone in a society”. As she has also been quoted commenting that businessmen are the great benefactors of human kind, it goes without saying that Rand will have great respect for Bill Gates whom she would consider as a rational egoist with a badge of honour.

To conclude, it can be argued that the fact that Bill Gates gets a nod from each and every mover and shaker of egoism doesn’t come as a coincidence, it is not only because the egoists finds him to have similar views with them but Bill himself actually resonates with the egoistic world view because he is born of that school of thought. Although the great contenders of egoism like Rand and Smith made it clear that they were not promoting greed but rather self-interest, it is quite clear the line between self-interest and greed is quite thin and if taken too far the so-called self-interest can quickly start manifesting as greed. I would like to make it clear that while I believe that egoism can be harmless as each individual strives for in life to pursue self-interest, however if it is not managed, that self-interest can go out of control and breed greed. 

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