(redirected from egoist)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Wikipedia.


(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 ?
The egoist may not be entirely distorting our ordinary sense of the word "ethics.
These critics say that the egoist occupies the incoherent position of declaring behavior that is patently immoral to be morally obligatory.
Victor and Cullen (1987, 1988), in their original conceptualization of the egoistic ethical climate, argue that egoist organizations encourage individuals to be motivated by personal gains.
He wanted, he says, to learn something about himself: whether he was part of the egoist elect or "a louse like the rest.
Both males and females appear to be heavily oriented toward the personal terminal values associated with Independent Maximizer and Honorable Egoist.
Just as surely as Toomer emerges as the manipulative, sexually obsessed egoist who is fearful of being exposed as a black wolf passing as a white wolf (unfortunately Larson advances a decidedly uncomplex reading of Toomer's extremely complex racial position), Larsen emerges as the principled and disciplined altruist in her final vocation as nurse.
In The Egoist Clara Middleton, accustomed to following along in the tow of her patriarchal father, has drifted into an engagement with the imperious Willoughby Patterne, whom, when her own mind finally rouses itself and makes her true feelings known to her, she discovers she cannot stand.
not the kindly "uncle" but the hard-edged, deeply disturbed, compulsively hand-washing egoist, informer and crusading moralist.
Instead of giving this egoist all your attention turn your focus inward.
An egoist of whatever stripe need not be an egotist (i.
This paper suggests that we understand Aristotle's notion of nobility (to kalon) as what is morally praiseworthy, arguing that nobility is not to be understood impartially, that Aristotle is an egoist at the level of justification (though not at the level of motivation), and that he uses the idea of the noble as a bridge between self-interest and moral virtue.
Based on the novel by Umera Ahmad, Zindagi Gulzar Hai is a compilation of diaries written by an ambitious middle- class girl and an egoist, rich boy on their take on life.