Competition and Human Relationships



An assessment of the relationship between competition and anthropology must encompass the different relationships in which the human being belongs. In competition, the human being can have a good and loving relationship to itself, based on freedom, rationality, creativity, and self-realization. A self-realization, however, which is materially oriented, narrow, and constrained jeopardizes freedom and individuality and reflects an instrumentalist, destructive, and egotistic view of the human being. A good relation to one’s neighbor presupposes mutuality, charity, and trust. In a competition open to human fellowship and collaboration such a relation is possible, but increasing commercialization and a materialistic self-interest often prevent it. The human being’s relation to nature is here especially linked to economic competition. Its orientation toward growth implies that use, consumption, and exploitation dominate over preservation and holism, threatening the Earth’s sustainability and depriving future generations of necessary resources. The human being’s relation to God, as in Christianity, is not opposed to self-love, self-realization, and freedom but is understood within certain boundaries. Devotion and trust in God and a commitment to one’s neighbor sit prior to a competitive self-trust, self-realization, and a wish to win. Freedom is given a new direction and framed in responsibility, compatible with devotion and responsibility toward God, but incompatible with a competitive understanding of freedom. Of the four, the human being’s relationship to himself or herself represents the least problematic relationship to competition, although this is constantly challenged by the concern for human dignity.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and SocietyOsloNorway

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