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(ē`gōĭzəm), in ethics, the doctrine that the ends and motives of human conduct are, or should be, the good of the individual agent. It is opposed to altruismaltruism
, concept in philosophy and psychology that holds that the interests of others, rather than of the self, can motivate an individual. The term was invented in the 19th cent. by the French philosopher Auguste Comte, who devised it as the opposite of egoism.
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, which holds the criterion of morality to be the welfare of others. The term has been variously used, from the benevolent self-interest of the utilitarians to the belief, articulated by Friedrich Nietzsche, that all altruistic sentiment is cowardice. Egoism is frequently associated with the ethics of the early Greek hedonists. Some modern philosophers attempt to reconcile egoism and altruism by adducing the concept of the growing self who invests his interests in an ever-widening field.



an ethical stance in which private interests are viewed as the basic motive for all action and as the chief criterion of value applied to society and to an individual’s immediate milieu.

Egoism arose with the decay of the primitive communal system and the appearance of private property. It reflected the atomiza-tion of social associations and the separation from them of self-sufficient individuals, closed groups, and later, classes, for all of which socially useful activity was, and was regarded as, only a means of consolidating and maintaining their social position.

With the development of the commodity, and especially the capitalist, mode of production, private interests, objectively turned into the goal of action, and the principle of egoism became the universal measure of human enterprise. The principle of egoism underlay the philosophical, political-economic, and moral doctrines of such representatives of the Enlightenment as T. Hobbes, B. Mandeville, A. Smith, D. Ricardo, C. Helvétius, P. Holbach, and J. Bentham, the last of whom advocated the ethic of utilitarianism. With later thinkers, such as M. Stirner, adherence to the principle of egoism frequently took the form of extreme individualism and amorality.

Completely unlimited egoism has always been condemned by ordinary moral consciousness. The principle of altruism was advanced as an alternative to it. Only with the elimination of private property under socialism, however, did egoism cease to be the basic means of motivating social activity; it was supplanted by the principle of collectivism. The final elimination of egoism from human relations will take place in the age of mature communism.


References in periodicals archive ?
Seventeenth-century France saw the first systematic arguments that all motives could be reduced to self-interest and that society would not be destroyed, but might actually flourish, if people acted egoistically.
The higher the salary paid to MPs, the more egoistically do they cling to their benefits, and you get the wrong people seeking election.
Other than that, these voices are as egoistically voluntaristic as Parker seems to make himself in this text; or they exist merely as typified, or have their choices constrained in the same way as the fictive intellectual `other voices' do.
As Heidegger makes clear, we are speaking of the concern for oneself as a human being, that is, as a being-in-the-world-with-others: "To be free is to understand oneself from out of one's own capacity-to-be; but 'oneself' and 'one's own' are not understood individually or egoistically.
Integrity for Benjamin has a communal point only in the sense that we ought not to live egoistically.
When Holly presses him for information about Anna, Kurtz is even more evasive, only telling Holly that she works at the Josefstadt theater, and advises Holly that "You'd better to think of yourself'--an egoistic criminal recommending that Holly think egoistically, perhaps, but also a covert threat to get Holly to back off.
The new vignette of the egoistically motivated Paul told that Paul loves expensive watches but lost his purse with his saved money just before buying the most loved watch.
Genuine caring for others resides in encouraging them to spread their wings and fly, exhorting them to achieve their values and prosper, urging them to live rationally, productively, egoistically.
Two main broadly defined directions have shaped the debate around the foreign policy of the EU: namely one centred on a power based-realist-perspective based on the neorealist and neoliberals commitment to the to the idea states have to maximize their national interest rationally and egoistically through their foreign policy; and a second one that focussed on the Union's uniqueness in the in the international system and that was researched with an interpretive epistemology.
49) Such an image, like the "Idea for a Universal History with Cosmopolitan Intent" (1784), taken as a whole, legitimizes itself by teaching the interests of the individual to stop egoistically exploiting and to become oriented towards the common good.
Self-love in this sense is not being lost in self or egoistically centered-in-self, but it is to be a centered-self, a self that finds its center in the ambience of God's love.
Obviously, the maintenance and improvement of a huge stockpile of weapons is encouraged by egoistically motivated corporate leaders in the military-supply industry.