What Does Altruism Mean Essay Sample

Published: 2018-03-07 04:27:40
635 words
2 pages
6 min to read
University of Richmond
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Altruism definition

Altruism and egoism are two terms that people often confuse. From the onset, it is worth noting that the two terms have diverse meanings or applications both in the technical and moral contexts. In the moral aspect, someone is an egoist when they are selfish and only think of their interest or well-being at the expense of others. In  contrast, altruism is mainly used in a situation when a person puts the interest of others or the common good before their own. 

In the technical perspective, egoistical person thinks of themselves ahead of everyone or mainly cares for their needs and disregards the feelings or the well-being of the rest. On the other hand, altruism refers to caring for the fitness of others.  The altruist pays the cost or goes at a loss to ensure that comfort of the rest, meaning that they are willing to sacrifice for the common good without expecting rewards or favors for their acts of courage or kindness. The standard measure of altruism is the manner in which the parents care for their children from the point of birth or the care for kin in general.

The application or the use of the terms, altruism or egoism,  depends on the temporal or the long-term perspective. in the long-term, a question arises as to why someone sacrifice to meet the needs or the demands of other people unconditionally. Survival is the motivation behind egoism, meaning that people tend to be selfish in order to navigate the seemingly murky waters of life. The above assertion is mainly relevant in the short-term, where faced with any danger humanity will mainly choose self as a means of survival. However, in the end the aim is for the organism to reproduce. Nevertheless, in the long-term, both altruism and egoism have a common goal, which is reproduction. The main objective of ego is to bring forth an alter, which therefore means that every living thing is altruistic in the end. 

The confusion in he application of the two terms often arises because many people tend to use the term cooperation as a substitute for altruism.  For example, in a case when a singer performs for the audience people may mistake that particular person intending to meet the audience's needs. In truth, the main aim could be to collect money.  The above example means that survival or ego is a basic instinct while altruism is secondary. The singer's main intent is to earn the money while satisfying the audience is essentially secondary. If the terms ego and altruism had the same meaning or even purpose then the singer would perform and leave without collecting money as a reward for the services. Superficially, the primitive forms of cooperation could easily pass for ego. However, a critical look at the motivation or force behind certain actions, like the performing singer, reveals that altruistic or egoistical actions have profoundly distinct features. 

Egoism is the means to an end. Ego's main concern is the end product, which is the exact opposite of altruism. While egoism advocates for altruistic acts such as the division of labor the objective is always different. For example, during sexual intercourse, individuals will divide duties. Seemingly, in such a situation the two individuals are helping each other, which is not the case.  The real force behind the altruistic actions of the lovers caught up in the heat of the moment is the fact that they both want to satisfy their basic instincts. Notably, in the mentioned case, there is an impressive degree of cooperation, but the motivating factor is eerily selfish. In a sense, ego may at times have characteristics consistent with altruism, but the motivation is often different. As demonstrated, egoism and altruism are different. 


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