Ayn Rand suggests that we are fundamentally selfish creatures, and that such selfishness is not a bad thing (we touched briefly on this in our Pride post). Her philosophy of objectivism argues that even an act of apparent charity is at its core a selfish act, a moral transaction of sorts - the recompense you receive for your "selfless" act on another's behalf is the sense of satisfaction or boost in reputation which you experience as a result.
One of these days, I intend to write an essay on the origin and nature of morality. It is a topic that has fascinated people throughout history, and arguably one that underpins some of the most remarkable accomplishments of this species. Anything with such a lengthy history that has already been tackled by so many other people is full of risk - what peculiar hubris is it to think that I have anything original to contribute to such a supersaturated field? - so for now I continue to think and ponder, without putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard on the broader topic. Yet that does not stop me from occasionally exploring a subset of that larger framework, as I intend to do here.