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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.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
It also includes manipulating others for one's own ends; whereas an enlightened egoist will work with others, a narcissist will manipulate them--that is, exploit their emotions (or psychological mechanisms) to make them do what they otherwise might not do.
The Freewoman's radicalism surpassed Orage's editorials so much that Marsden's later co-editor of The Egoist, Harriet Shaw Weaver (1876-1961), alluded to Zarathustra's loneliness and quipped that the later New Freewoman 'must have been edited on a mountain top it breathed so heavily the spirit of freedom'.
In this way the egoist is portrayed as solitary, isolated, and solipsistic--whether by choice or hope.
If this is possible, then the traditional answer that philosophy gives to the egoist loses its bite.
While this 'physiological novel theory', as Dames terms it, has been almost entirely overlooked by a literary critical tradition still in thrall to the exclusive concern with production in the theoretical formulations of Henry James and George Lukacs, its concern with the role of factors such as intermittency, periodicity, discontinuity, and acceleration in print consumption had an important impact on the form of many canonical nineteenth-century novels, and Dames offers impressive close readings of The Newcomes, Daniel Deronda, The Egoist, and New Grub Street.
"No Safe Haven: Casino, Friendship, and Egoism" seeks to defend the egoist, in this case the character Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci), against the presupposition that one who values the self above all else cannot engage in friendship that benefits both parties.
In this article, we illustrate how the CoC provides a framework for understanding how the transition from a virtuous person to an egoist can occur.
Fixed Effects Tobit Regression Estimating the Amount Contributed in the Public Goods Experiment, by Subject Type Variable Egoist Model (SE) Altruist Model (SE) Intercept -2.856 2.678 *** (1.096) Age -0.033 0.050 *** (0.018) Education 1.276 0.171 Missing family members -3.999 ** (1.911) -1.359 *** (0.462) Predicted amount received 0.724 *** (0.262) 0.050 N 83 245 [R.sup.2] -148.00 -565.41 * p < 0.10.
Our culture is one of rabid consumerism, egoist entitlement, video violence, cult of celebrity and seeking spiritual support from a Pilates mat.
Her self-description was not entirely flattering: "a pessimist if I'm not careful, a feminist always, a Black, a quiet egoist, a former Baptist, and an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty, and drive." The Washington Post offered a shorter, more fitting evaluation, calling her simply "one of the finest voices in fiction, period."
Nozick's justice as entitlement carried to the extreme is social Darwinism, which is less justice than egoist ethic).