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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 ?
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.
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.
In short, he is as egoistical as one would expect most human beings to be.
In Barry Levinson's 1999 spoof, Wag the Dog, a slick-talking Washington spin-doctor (Robert DeNiro) backs a famous Hollywood mogul (Dustin Hoffman) into an egoistical corner claiming the filmmaker's talent can resolve a dicey situation looming on the horizon.
He was an inveterate liar about so many other matters, including his own nationality and origins, and, according to Dr Emyr Wyn Jones, an egoistical narcissist.
In such a case, we cannot regard Jesus as merely saving us from an evolutionary drive to be solely egoistical.
Even though it may sound slightly egoistical, as a Bulgarian tourist, I think we can well benefit from the Greek crisis, because this year the holiday in our southern neighbor will be even more financially attractive than last year.