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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 ?
Table 4 estimates two Tobit models: one for the egoists in the dictator game and a second for the altruists.
Nevertheless, these brief portraits of gay male egoists eventually amount to a small epic of neurotic behavior that may be endemic to pleasure meccas like San Francisco, but also remind us of how much shit gay men everywhere put up with, and how irremediably selfish the search for sex is: "He chain-smoked cigarettes and dope, wheezed, coughed up muc ous constantly, and mouthed a pocket handkerchief la Camille, but oh that sexy, hoarse voice: Now look here, handsome, do you want to be with me tonight, or what?
charismatic egoists who swoop in to save companies.
We are probably not capable of being transformed into the saintly altruists of socialist day-dreams but, at the same time, we aren't necessarily doomed to remain the greedy egoists described by capitalist ideology.
Politicians (John Dawkins especially) are portrayed as self-serving egoists, reined in by wise mandarins from their predictable excesses.
They now saw themselves not as a community of helpful democrats, devoted to the loftiest ideals, but as a heterogeneous clan of weaklings, fakers, egoists, lovers, haters, hypocrites; little men and women.
Finally, Honorable Egoists score high on moral instrumental values and personal terminal values.
They are, after all, consummate egoists and need to learn that the universe is, ultimately, indifferent to their demands.
Al Davis and his band of eccentrics and egoists left L.
Let us turn next to a pair of films in which the filmmakers (specifically, the directors and writers) portray egoists more negatively, namely, as narcissists, or worse, as psychopaths.
But, we should not become egoists and arrogant, which had led to the downfall of mainstream political parties," the chief minister said in his first official address, after taking oath.
Accordingly, as soon as they are aware that they are being observed, egoists try to conceal their behaviour and pretend to act cooperatively.