These are terms that you find used almost interchangebly. but what is the real story and why is it important?

Well Egoism is an ethical system. So, if egotism and egocentrism are bad then so is Egoism. this would refute Randism. Now, If the world exists beyond and prior to our experience and if it is the individual human that is the repository of the faculty of Reason, which is the sole proper guide to knowledge and if human effort is required to survive, then it follows that the person who acts is the rightful primary beneficiary of that application of Reaosn and effort. What he or she chooses to do with the product of that effort is not the issue. the issue is what does the actor have the moral right to claim to be his to do with as he deems proper or good. Beyond that, who knows better what to do with the product of his action. The person who did the work or someone who did not? As to "fair share" the productive person makes life better beyond his place and time by bringing new things into the world. Would you gainsay that? I would not. So for at least 3 reasons, from the most common sense and self-evidient to the most abstract, Egoism stands as correct. The specifics can become complex if there is collaboration or if the product is intellectual. My first inclination here is to say that in the first case, the rights are proportional to the value that each of the collaborators put in but that can be itself non-proportional since each may have contributed an essential ingredient in terms of labor, money and ideas. In terms of intellectual property, I think that upon the death of the creator it goes into the public domain with credit. This I could not legitimately claim as my own a quote from Ayn Rand but I do hold that the articles from 1962 to her death ought be freely reprintable so long as credit is given. In any case, the matter is resolvable to the parties to the creation or invention, not to a third party. As to physical properties well the will of the person regarding their disposition ought be final.

Now you will ask of me "Then are egotism and egocentrism bad and if so, how come"?

What about egotism? This is ill-defined and left to osmosis. The best definition is that it is show-offinesss. It is certainly tacky, obnoxious and de classe so I think it is the mark of an uncouth and self-abosorbed person. However, it is not a primary characteristic but one is within one's rights by being very annoyed with an egotist. This is different from having a big ego, If one continually demonstrates excellence then one has a right to a big ego, in fact, by doing so, the ego grows naturally and in a healthy way. Someone once said to me "If they tried to put any more ego in you, your skull would crack". My response was "that's OK, I'll build a shed in the backyard to hold it".. You can tell the difference: an egotist says "Look what I did." a healthy large ego says "Look what I did": the emphasis, in one case is on the doer and the othe is on that which was done. the brashness of an egotist is just hot air.

Before dealing with egocentrism, I must state that I am writing in and adult and sane context, meaning that the person has a moiety of his marbles and is free to control his mental destiny. A child is by nature egocentric since he has very little experience in the world nor the brain development to process the material in that fashion, which is why he or she is primarily guided by sense of life rather than explicit ideas. The insane are incapable of helping themselves so I need to specifiy that I am not addressing them. Again, though ill-defined, the generally applicable definition of egocentrism is self-absorbedness of mind, that is "what I think is true becuase I think [actuall "feel] it". While not explicitly stated by the egocentrist, you can usually tell by the absence of logical presentation or form. Also, there is the unwillingness to acknowledge being wrong, the dodge of "Well, that's my opinion" when it is shown to be false or wrong. Another symptom of egocentrism is Narcissism. the thing is, if you are giving an egocentric as a present to anyone, you needn't worry about paper; he's all wrapped up in himself. Philosophically egocentrism is called solipsism: "I am alone in the world" and epistemologically, subjectivism and its derivative , faith "I choose to believe" irrespective of facts, logic or other real-world variables. As Pope Urban VIII so eloquently put it to Galileo "Proof destroys faith" and Kant would say a century later of his Critique of Pure Reason which "critique" set up a straw man (by dropping the context of reality) to represent reason, then tore it to shreds, "I have impeached reason to save faith".

While this seems abstract, abstruse, arcane, innocuous and far removed from the day-to-day affairs of Man. Think of the following qoute by Ayn Rand in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal:

Men have only two ways to deal with each other; logic or a gun, that is, reason or force.
Most "solutions" represent (failed and unstable) attempts to do both: With the same tragic results for the last 5,000 years.

when asked what the greatest evil is, Miss Rand said "The man without a purpose...This is the root of all the dictatorships, murders and the other evils". There is one thing worse, Egocentrism, or being self-absoribed. for this is the unwillingness to deal in the real, objective world that engenders purposlessness. If one looks at the world and learns that one must act to survive then one gets on the stick pretty fast.

While most persons confuse theese terms innocently, the same cannot be said of the pseudo-intellectuals that dominate todays culture. You will note that the liberal who wants to tax everything to death or the Environmentalist who wants to destroy the works of Man in favor of the snail darter, caterpillar or some yet-to-be-found microbe, use these ideas interchangebly to describe his opponents as does the "conservative" who cannot use logic to convince us to live as mendicants to some supernatural (read airy-fairy) spirit. What they refuse to tell you is that they are acting in their own interests; usually as some form of psychological spoiled brat that is throwing a temper tandrum at the universe at large because they can't have their littl whim or that they are tyrannists who deserve to be either ignored or put out of our misery.

But how is that possible? That is are they not being as selfish as the rest? Yes, in a twisted sort of way that they, being so fed back into themselves (self-absorbed) may not even recognize. (Osama bin Laden has no idea of the monstrous evil he has and is perpetrating. The "Culture Warrior" has no idea that his Christian teachings are the antithesis of what America is about and the Environmentalists have spent so much time on drugs that they have very little mind left or they are the next generation of those who did and have absorbed that delusion by osmosis). To a large degree, one creates one's self or ego. The ego of a man or woman who will act with passion but from reason is far different from that of one who derives "truth" from feelings, introspection or some other form of self-consultation and demands faith (or force).Now, the ego that you create for yourself has an identity. This identity determines what is in its interests and what it needs to survive and prosper. As to which is the malevolent one. I report, you decide.

Now that you understand what, and why, you need to add this to your arsenal of tools of critical thought.