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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 ?
The debate hinges on whether humans have authentic altruistic motivation that is autonomously functioning in its own right and not as a defense against or transformation of basically egoistic or hedonistic underpinnings.
He endorsed the view of the then vice foreign minister of Japan who called fellow countrymen and women ''frail flowers of opportunism,'' adding that Japanese were ''narrow-minded and egoistic, lacking an international outlook and barren of philosophy.
The respected modern psychologist Harry Harlow's experiments with monkeys led him to the conclusion that "the original infant love is an egoistic love, not of himself or the body image of himself, but simply of organic sensations and satisfactions, initiated by the reflex act of nursing and maintained by the pleasures of food assimilation and the relief of organic tensions"
Basically he is describing the vicissitudes of the egoistic and perhaps to a lesser extent the aggressive drives that Freud set alongside the sexual drive.
Look at the end result of the childish and embarrassingly prolonged fight between egoistic people to grab power in the Indian Olympic Association.
West is known for his egoistic and outspoken image, as in the past the star had compared himself to many historic greats, from William Shakespeare to fictional chocolate maker Willy Wonka, and had raved about himself during a radio interview.
Not all parents will push their children to enter into undesirable wedlock or for the sake of keeping wealth or other egoistic reasons.
It is to take stock of such violations of public trust, and not because of any egoistic reasons, that courts are obliged to proceed against violators - a possibility contemplated in our Constitutionals Article 204, Justice Khwaja adds.
Finally, an intriguing Appendix addresses the subtler aspects of Objectivist value theory in a discussion of egoistic friendship.
Whereas the first carrot suits the egoistic ambitions of deputies specifically, the latter would touch a sizable portion of the Jordanian public in the form of removing obstacles that hinder the active participation in the everyday affairs of the society by people who have brushed with the law over the years.
In that case, it is very easy to become egoistic, not individualistic,'' Kawai, 73, told a luncheon at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo.
In my view, while President Clinton might be guilty of egoistic mental cruelty to his wife and daughter, and if, even under oath, he avoids the complete truth, the context does not warrant resignation or impeachment, any more than does being caught lying under oath about a sexual fantasy that might needlessly hurt your wife.