Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Wikipedia.
Related to egoism: utilitarianism


(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.
..... Click the link for more information.
, 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 ?
Bloomfield sees Rand as working on a 'shared, rough idea of "the good life"' (75), and he draws attention to many characters in the history of philosophy (including recent contemporaries) to show that her egoism is not so much in contrast to the mainstream.
Egoism and utilitarianism are consequentialist theories that incorporate values related to an individually-based versus a community-based focus.
Third, altruism and egoism motivations can reside in the same individual.
Factor analysis was used to identify the underlying ethical constructs in each scenario, and led to four ethical dimensions: justice, relativism, deontology, and egoism.
Egoism possesses a powerful lure over our thinking, which has, I believe, two sources.
Rational egoism is not synonymous with selfishness.
The two Asian giants, regardless of how fundamental the issue is, have shown their own egoism.
16) But Dostoevsky does not, at this stage in his career, pose Sadean egoism and nihilism as central problems, nor does he devote himself to answering them.
The analytic discussions of the tensions and integrations between narcissism (which provides the substratum for egoism and self-interest) and object love (as potentially related to altruism) embrace the scope and complexity of the issues addressed in this volume.
Parker aims to ease suffering and promote peace in a society he deems fundamentally driven by egoism, consumerism and individualism.
Dorothea and Lydgate end up submitting to the narrow-minded egoism of Casaubon and Rosamond respectively, as well as the prejudices of the Middlemarchers.