egoism


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Related to egoism: utilitarianism

egoism

(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.

Egoism

 

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.

O. G. DROBNITSKH

References in periodicals archive ?
Because she lives isolated in her own world, Hetty fails to recognize that her egoism is dressed up in the mythic clothing of love.
Opting for egoism over morality raises the common "Intro to Ethics" question: "Why be ethical at all?
Eventually most mature people move beyond a simple egoism to identify with others' needs and larger values.
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This study focuses on the relationship between age and ethical judgment in business situations in Japan and in contrast to existing studies, several ethical perspectives (justice, egoism, and utilitarianism) will be employed to explore the relationship between age and ethical judgment.
Fasting and abstinence not only bring certain benefits to our physical well-being, they are, for Christians, primarily a means of mortifying our egoism, avoiding sin, and opening our hearts to the Love of God and our fellow man.
But even the fact that it's all for charity can't quite excuse the rampant egoism on the loose here.