The theory of altruism is a very interesting topic amongst many philosophers. Although not as widely believed or accepted as egoism, which is defined as having concern for the interest of oneself, altruism certainly has its place when discussing values and ethics. Altruism is defined as having concern for the interests of others. There are also different variations of altruism. There is moderate altruism which is also known as “Golden Rule” altruism or reciprocal altruism which takes the interest of others into account while being concerned for one’s own interests as well. There is also extreme or ideal altruism which consists of having concern for the interests of others while disregarding one’s own interests. The idea behind altruism is so intriguing due to the fact that human beings are by nature selfish, and it is human instinct to provide for oneself above anyone else.
The term altruisme was coined by French philosopher Auguste Comte in 1851, and in 1853 it entered the English language as altruism (Altruists International, 2014). Many of Comte’s counterparts considered his ideals rather extreme. Many scientists believe that the idea of altruism isn’t exclusively associated with humans but also with animals and even plants. Many altruists will argue that by practicing altruism, peace and harmony is promoted within communities and people will have a more optimistic view in regards to other people and life in general. They also believe that by unconditionally helping others, they are rewarding themselves. Altruists conclude that positive relationships with others are far more gratifying than any material object, money, or power can offer.
As previously mentioned, altruism isn’t nearly as popular as egoism and there are few philosophers who have held this theory. However, one philosopher who did believe in the theory of altruism was a Lithuanian-French philosopher named Emmanuel Levinas. According to Levinas, “the Other (another human
Cited: Altruists International. (2014). Re-Establishing Altruism As A Viable Social Norm. Retrieved December 10, 2014, from http://www.altruists.org/about/altruism/: http://www.altruists.org/about/altruism/ Rosenstand, N. (2013). The Moral of the Story: An Introduction to Ethics. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.