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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 ?
Readers have been used to meeting egoistical celebrities and can be taken by surprise in front of her humility because her freedom in writing demands a moral philosophy.
I am not sure I can quite go along with the idea of Adolphe as a sensible crushed by an uncomprehending society (373-74)--Vincent himself points out elsewhere that Adolphe is also excessively vain, egoistical, and self-critical (374, 378)--but the overall argument is extremely compelling.
If the family manager behaves as a steward (Davis, Schoorman, & Donaldson, 1997) or is reciprocally altruistic rather than egoistical, the relative performance of family and nonfamily firms is more difficult to predict, hinging as it does on the trade-offs between hiring committed family managers and hiring opportunistic nonfamily managers who may be, on average, more qualified.
Mechanisms must be created to block mistaken, egoistical and sometimes simply dangerous decisions of certain members of the international community,'' he said shortly after starting the 85-minute speech in the Kremlin.
However, these last authors point out, precedents for intersubjectivity include egoistical intersubjectivity, in which mode an individual tends to regard the other "as a mental representation--as a personality type, a social-category member, or a role-occupant," as contrasted with radical intersubjectivity, during which "we no longer relate merely to our image or mental construction of each other, but instead experience each other's subjectivity more directly through our intersubjective exchange" (359).
In short, he is as egoistical as one would expect most human beings to be.
No one can deny that positions of leadership can be abused for egoistical purposes; the extent of corruption in business and politics (especially in some parts of the world) make it seem strange that Price has little to say on the phenomenon.
The successful husband-lover will, during every act of the love drama, seek to redirect all egoistical impulses, and, like a skillful driver, at every moment hold himself under intelligent control (pp.
Such a culture might be viewed as somewhat egoistical or opportunistic--not in the sense that one person is looking out only for his/her own interest--but in the sense that the college is in pursuit of a vision of institutional prosperity tied to a scholarly research strategy at the expense of personal well-being of 40-50% of its members--many of whom where tenured and would neither leave the organization nor publish articles in scholarly journals.
And the petty tribute I would pay you, the highest of which I am capable, is that I think the egoistical adorable Charlotte Bronte would have loved your book, not thinking of it as 'literature,' but poring over it over the fire as she sat lonely at Haworth, learning from it, adding from it to her pitiful store of world--& people--knowledge, & with it oiling her own stiff puppets.
This passage dialogizes at once Wordsworthian imagination through the assertion that although the speaker's imagination was active, it "still enjoyed the present hour," thus creating an oblique opposition to the egoistical sublime, which compulsively strives for transcendence and immortality as is the case in "Tintern Abbey.