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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 ?
It is enough to note, according to the egoist, that being happy is different from being satisfied, pleased, contented, thrilled, or fun-filled--it is the realization (and its corresponding feeling) of having carried on well in life and of having lived as a human being lives best.
But this approach, ostensibly more "balanced" and "nuanced" in its assessment of the "full range" of human behaviors and motives, in no way questions or refutes the prejudicial caricatures of egoism; indeed, the approach uses those caricatures, for otherwise it would be unnecessary to insist that egoists may feel for others, if by egoist it is meant, quite innocently, one who merely seeks to be the primary (though not always the sole) beneficiary of his own actions.
Either horn we choose will conduce to the same: eudaemonism is another self-regarding theory of the good, and should be avoided for the same reasons we use to avoid the egoist view.
I am generally sympathetic to Parfit's overall view here, but I am not sure his point rules out the kind of ethical egoist I have been imagining.
There is a clear, positive correlation between the egoist attitude and troubled organizations and the virtuous attitude and aspirational-benchmark cultures as demonstrated in Table 3.
It could be that this model misspecifies the behavior of subjects by including egoists with altruists.
The story of The Criterion begins with the death of The Egoist in 1919.
Within the egoist climate, the normative expectation is that the decision-maker likely chooses alternatives that benefit himself/herself the most while ignoring the needs of others.
Ultimately, though, with hindsight those around him will realise anything he has 'interfered in' was a labour of love and not the self-serving actions of an egoist, and Ronan will achieve the recognition he so richly deserves (Temperance).
833 TABLE 3 VALUE SYSTEM MATRIX FOR ALL RESPONDENTS Effective Crusader Virtuous Advocate (Oliver North) (Gandhi, Mother Teresa) 17% (20%) 30% (34%) Independent Honorable Egoist Mazimizer (Arsenio Hall) (Boesky, Trump) 21% (24%) 19% (22%) TABLE 4 VALUE SYSTEM MATRIX MALE VS.
The desires of an egoist are just as well integrated with such beliefs as the desires of an altruist with those same beliefs.
You don't have to have seen the same dramatist's "Brand"--though many probably will, since it is running on the West End concurrently with "Master Builder"--to guess at the fate of an Ibsen egoist who is only marginally less myopic, if far more erotically driven, than the self-denying and anti-heroic Brand from a play written 27 years earlier.