WRT the question at the end, I don't personally have animosity toward athletes, but I do note that the promise of becoming a big star seems to mislead many kids away from any great respect and desire for scholastic achievement. Further, old artists I've known and in sad many cases watched wither and die as all humans do, continued to make art, even as they went blind or lost the ability to stand up and walk etc. Old athletes, whether stars or discarded in college, cannot generally keep doing their craft into old age. Certainly some old artists lose heart and drive or whatever it takes to keep working. Some also give up for other reasons, one painter who had a strong local following over several decades somehow grew bitter over his constant financial struggle despite hauling the next body of work to galleries year after year. IDK where or why he lost heart, and it was too bad because he had been inspiring to watch work and to discuss art on a practical level with. He had been so excited by and about making art, and also loved teaching at a small local art school and privately. Can't blame the NEA or the NBA for his eventual loss of momentum! An artist I knew who had the first one woman show at the Smithsonian lived in a cottage in Maine, and for years after becoming legally blind, she continued to work with one of those giant magnifying lamps over the drafting table. She never seemed to have any interest in or fondness for fame, despite being "somewhat of an art star". At the end her mind was still sharp but she was in a nursing home, and few visited. I think the human nature you suppose on artists, suggesting that "artists are human beings", is maybe as you said, "where you and I fundamentally part ways". Maybe a lot of normal human beings truly want fame, and seek it or idealize it. That has not been my observation of artists, who primarily want to make art, which is a personal introspective endeavor. Being a rock star artist is probably repulsive to most artists, though all would love to be able to make a comfortable living. I'm not even sure artists want to be the best in town, like your best plumber comparison. In a manner I'd say yes, it may well be correct to generalize that "artists are exempt from that aspect of human nature that is innate in everyone else in Western society". But you have defined what desire they have in a number of ways, and I have been responding to your suggestion that artists want fame, want to be big stars like your comparison to Andy Warhol art star status. When you lowered the definition of what you assume all artists want, to: "being universally lauded"; and ask me if I'm saying that "They don't want critical recognition for their work"; then I'd say those are more likely to fit many artists goals in their work. Maybe not "universally lauded" as much as hoping for "critical recognition of their work". If we go back to your statement about "people, and their essential and necessary predisposition to act in their own self interest" is certainly a statement I would generally agree with. But combine that with "where you and I fundamentally part ways", and one needs to consider that fame and art star status is for many artists NOT "in their own self interest"! Maybe I'm over supposing to suggest that IME the artists I've known or followed who sought fame have not been the most gifted at doing much that is deeply meaningful in art. Though we see many through history who sought to make deeply meaningful art and ended up with fame as well. But art star fame is just not what I see as a core desire of working artists. What society props up as the artist in media and history may ignore 80% of working artists who have local respect and modest art based income that allows them to make their art in peace and quiet. Thinking here about many artists and their work, I realize what a poor job I do of appreciating the art I own. Paintings are stacked up unseen in basement and garage because I just don't have the space to give all of them. When I check the level in the home heating oil tank I have to go around a dozen or more big paintings leaning against it. A quick count in the living area I find 80 hanging pieces of art, only a few of which are by art stars. One piece I've had for 55 years is an original Walt Disney, done by Walt himself, of the ugly duckling looking at his reflection in the water. Walt was an artist I guess before he became a filmmaker star. But not to make pieces to hang in galleries. Hard to say what drove that particular man. In the garage I have a stack of prints by Hokusai and some of his peers, all needing to be framed to hang. These are actual original prints by the artists or from their workshop, no repros. Really in a way art is not properly respected in my home, where so much of it is unseen. Takes a lot of money to manage art, never mind to make, store, frame, market and sell it.