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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 ?
Even a committed egoist can feel good about what amounts to a selfless act of benevolence or generosity--if he doesn't understand why it is selfless.
And this subjective egoist position fails to satisfy these conditions.
Public choice theory mostly agrees with the conventional interpretation that self-interest is either amoral or immoral, and rarely questions its caricatures; it only insists that all actors, in all realms, be modeled, equally, as egoists.
Yet while ethical egoists have always been quick to universalise, ethical anthropocentrists have not.
They do so not only assessing particular arguments in specific dialogues but also regarding if it is coherent to say one could be virtuous and egoist.
Table 4 estimates two Tobit models: one for the egoists in the dictator game and a second for the altruists.
Rather than launching a direct attack upon the rational egoists by claiming that what they have in mind for humanity is not in its best interest, Dostoevsky digs deeper by attacking with a question rather than a declaration: what are our best interests?
They also do not acknowledge that these egoists did indeed usher economic progress while traditional societies--one of which is their favored biblical society--remained in underdeveloped misery.
Whereas advocates of natural rights viewed liberty as more moral than other systems, egoists such as Tucker believed that liberty would enable people to pursue their self-interest more successfully.
That such hoodlums and egoists should then spend their time criticizing Freemasonry is a reflection of how utterly incapable they are of assessing the morality and spiritual integrity of others.
He appears to assume that the egoists of economic models will never find it in their interests to follow moral rules voluntarily, but does not say why.
charismatic egoists who swoop in to save companies.