Meaning of Altruism

Meaning of Altruism

In French it is where we can find the etymological origin of the term altruism that concerns us. Specifically, it can be determined that it emanates from the word “altruisme”, which means “philanthropy” and, in turn, comes from the Latin “alter”, which could be translated as “the other”.

Furthermore, it is considered that it was the French philosopher Auguste Comte, father of Sociology and Positivism, who coined the term altruism in the mid-19th century. So much so that it is considered that the first time that word appeared was in the book “Catechism” by that author, which was published in 1854.

According to DigoPaul, altruism is the human conduct that consists in offering disinterested attention to others, even when such diligence attempts against one’s own good. It can be understood, therefore, that altruism is the opposite of the selfishness (immoderate love that an individual feels about himself same and it takes inordinately serve their own interest).

For example: “In a display of altruism, the guide decided to hand over his provisions to the rest of the expeditionaries”, “If altruism were massive, there would be no poor in the world”, “Politicians should show a little altruism and not get rich while the people go hungry ”.

The altruist, therefore, tries to procure the good of others, without caring about his own. This subject performs some type of personal sacrifice to provide a benefit to others.

There are different meanings of the notion of altruism, depending on the philosophy or moral system in question. Altruism can be said to be a voluntary behavior that seeks the benefit of others and does not anticipate benefits for the subject himself. For some thinkers, the altruist finds the meaning of his life in something that is foreign to him.

The evolutionary biology and ethology argue that altruism is also a pattern of behavior the animal, which carries a copy to risk his own life to protect and benefit other members of their species.

Many are the studies and investigations that have been carried out for centuries about altruism. Thus, some of those analyzes have come to determine that the human being, like certain animals, is when he really comes of age when he experiences that value of helping others without having any kind of personal interest.

Another of the authors who also made reference to altruism was the Parisian philosopher Émile Littré, a disciple of Comte, who considered it as one more example of love between the beings of the human species.

Certain studies assure that, in human beings, altruism appears around the year and a half of life, which would reflect a natural tendency to solidarity. Certain thinkers, on the other hand, believe that people are not naturally altruistic, but that this condition arises from education.

This last opinion is the one that the English philosopher John Stuart Mill defended at all times. He, who also studied and analyzed topics such as slavery or freedom of expression, was clear that the human being is not born altruistic, but that quality is it becomes part of his personality at the moment he is educated for it.