I understand that psychological egoism is the idea that everyone will always act in their own interest.
I gather that human dignity is the cornerstone of Kantian ethics.
I am kinda seriously leaning toward the idea that everyone only ever acts in order to maximize their own dignity and never anyone else's. Not that only dignity matters, or that one cannot treat another with dignity, but that it is a given that, psychologically speaking, everyone chooses their own dignity over anyone else's.
- Does that make sense?
- What would you call it?
- And what would you call the denial of it?
A few points. First off, it seems fairly obvious that you can "maximize", though perhaps that word is clumsy (suggesting that our dignity gets bigger rather than is met more fully), an absolute good, like dignity, by repeatedly performing your duties. So it's not obvious, for me, that the question "has nothing to do with Kant's use of dignity".
If performing my duties is always to respect my humanity, as well as yours, but not every duty is for someone else (see section 6 here) that's one (unconvincing) reason to suppose that human dignity is always foremost my own.
It makes sense, unless of course you can show that a purely rational observance of the moral law, the categorical imperative, just does put other people's dignity before your own.
I'm not sure if you could call it "Kantian egoism", a term which exists, sardonically, in the literature (Allison Hills). This states that "you are rationally required to treat humanity in your own person as an end, never merely a means" (p105, The Beloved Self, 2010). However, if that egoism exists and is a perfect duty, then given these cannot admit of conflict, it seems to meet the thesis in the question.
I infer that because if there is no rational duty to put someone else's dignity before my own, then how can their dignity, the other person's, exist? In which case, how can I respect your humanity?