- the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others (opposed to egoism).
- Animal Behavior. behavior by an animal that may be to its disadvantage but that benefits others of its kind, as a warning cry that reveals the location of the caller to a predator.
Origin of altruism
Examples from the Web for altruism
And the men, of course, cannot always, or probably even usually, be acting out of altruism.Have Sperm, Will Travel: The ‘Natural Inseminators’ Helping Women Avoid the Sperm Bank
November 29, 2014
He believes brain chemistry undermines his sense of free will and personhood and that psychology explains away love and altruism.Frank Schaeffer, the Atheist Who Believes in God
August 3, 2014
Of course, Ford was motivated more by self-interest than by altruism.Henry Ford Understood That Raising Wages Would Bring Him More Profit
January 6, 2014
The Ant and the Peacock is about two disagreements between Darwin and Wallace: altruism and sexual selection.What Richard Dawkins Reads: Jerry Coyne, Helena Cronin and More
September 27, 2012
The downside of altruism is that closely bonded communities also tend to be more closed off to outsiders.Why We Riot: How Fans Turned an Egypt Soccer Match Into a Bloodbath
February 3, 2012
What are the instruments for securing the preponderance of Altruism?Critical Miscellanies (Vol. 3 of 3)
Pleasurably, for a moment, he considered the altruism of that aphorism.The Paliser case
I must get that part of me off in my journal, but a book about—Altruism?Man and Maid
She knew almost as much about altruism as a dog does about the celestial sciences.The Silver Lining
It has been charmingand I am so interested in your experiment in altruism.
- the principle or practice of unselfish concern for the welfare of others
- the philosophical doctrine that right action is that which produces the greatest benefit to others
Word Origin and History for altruism
1853, "unselfishness, opposite of egoism," from French altruisme, coined or popularized 1830 by French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798-1857), from autrui, from Old French altrui, "of or to others," from Latin alteri, dative of alter "other" (see alter). Apparently suggested to Comte by French legal phrase l'autrui, or in full, le bien, le droit d'autrui. The -l- is perhaps a reinsertion from the Latin word.
There is a fable that when the badger had been stung all over by bees, a bear consoled him by a rhapsodic account of how he himself had just breakfasted on their honey. The badger replied peevishly, "The stings are in my flesh, and the sweetness is on your muzzle." The bear, it is said, was surprised at the badger's want of altruism. ["George Eliot," "Theophrastus Such," 1879]
- Instinctive behavior that is detrimental or without reproductive benefit to the individual but that favors the survival or spread of that individual's genes. The willingness of a subordinate member of a wolf pack to forgo mating and help care for the dominant pair's pups is an example of altruistic behavior. While the individual may not reproduce, or may reproduce less often, its behavior helps ensure that a close relative does successfully reproduce, thus passing on a large share of the altruistic individual's genetic material.
A selfless concern for others.