Altruism vs Self Interest

Topics: Charles Darwin, Vaccination, Evolution Pages: 4 (1331 words) Published: May 6, 2012
Altruism vs. Self-Interest; Who is the Real Winner?
Altruistic acts extend across the whole world, from humans to all different kinds of animals. Soldiers storming the beaches of Normandy for the freedom of our country to Vervet monkeys sounding loud alarms to warn of threats even though it draws a predators attention to themselves (Crowl 1). Altruism and self-interest are inherent motivations in all species and will continue to be forever. Personally, whenever I hold the door for someone it makes me feel good about my self since I was making life that much easier for one of my fellow human beings. While at the same time thoughts float around my mind that make me think about why I held the door. Was it because I really was trying to help out another person or was it because I was looking for the satisfaction from the thank you I would receive from the individual I held the door for. It would bother me for about a minute or so and then I would come to the rationalization that I was just being a nice guy and trying to do the right thing. Call it altruistic or see it as me acting out of self-interest, either way it is just the right thing to do and I cannot beat myself up too much about it. This controversy between self-interest and altruism has gone through many people’s heads at some points, and both Jenner and Darwin had to deal with this topic of discussion during their lifetime and within their own work. Of course it is always nice to get a pat on the back and be recognized for accomplishments one has achieved over a lifetime, but at the end of the day what are our motives to do these generous things and to help others?

Edward Jenner was surrounded by medical practices his whole life and eventually took up a career of being a successful family doctor and surgeon. Any job in the medical field requires at least a little bit of altruism since you are actually in the profession of helping others. Jenner did not just stick to practicing his day job,...

Cited: Jenner, Edward, Vaccination Against Smallpox. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1996.
Crowl, Tom. "Civilization Systems: Self-Interest vs Altruism - Problems in Scaling the Decision Process." Civilization Systems. Web. 01 Mar. 2012. .
Darwin, Charles. "The Origin of Species." Web. 02 Mar. 2012. .
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